Using a toaster oven is typically more environmentally friendly than turning on the oven. I’ve used toaster ovens for well over a decade and have learned a lot of things. Here, I answer:
- Toaster oven FAQ’s and what to know before you buy
- Recommend certain toaster ovens for certain foods and ask you to consider the main reason you want a toaster oven
- Discuss the best toaster oven hacks to make the most of this appliance
Toaster Oven FAQs Before Buying
What is the difference between enamel and aluminum interiors?
Enamel or “durastone” as it’s called on some models is usually found in the higher-end toaster ovens. The difference is that enamel interiors are much easier to maintain. To clean, you simply wipe the remnants off. With aluminum, cleaning your toaster oven may prove a little more difficult.
Also, some manufacturers claim that the enamel distributes heat for a more evenly distributed heat supply.
Can I put aluminum foil in my toaster oven?
It is possible to put foil in the toaster oven. Some manufacturers warn against it, due to the heat capacity inside the machine. Use your judgment. If you do use foil, you should be careful to avoid placing it too close to burners or the side of the interior. You also should remain in the area — don’t leave the toaster oven unattended — to ensure there aren’t issues.
How can I maintain my toaster oven?
Some toaster oven interiors are coated with a non-stick enamel, as mentioned above. If this is the case, abrasive cleaners may strip the interior of this protective layer. Therefore, enamel interiors require only mild soap and water.
Also, many toaster ovens are equipped with special features like a crumb tray or self-burning interiors that burn off drips on contact. If these options appeal to you, shop around for the cleanest, most efficient model.
If you already have a toaster oven, consult the owner’s manual to see if yours has non-stick enamel. If you can’t find the manual, look up your model number online.
What is the difference between the toast, bake, and broil settings on my toaster oven?
The toast and bake functions are virtually the same. Some models vary with pre-set temperatures, but both mean that the top and bottom-heating units will be active. Broil simply means that heat will only come from the top.
Other options include convection style cooking, rotisserie, defrosting, dehydrating, etc., which will make your toaster-oven recipes rock. Check our explanation of different types of toaster ovens or the terminology section to find out more.
Are there differences in performance from analog to digital?
Digital controls give you a broader range of one-button options. You can adjust and configure predetermined settings, but the toast gets toasted either way. Usually, digital is handier and more user-friendly.
What is an average warranty for a toaster oven?
Usually, a toaster oven’s warranty length is one year. If you have technical problems or something stops working, it usually means you have to send away for service and repairs. Depending on the expanse of the company, it could be 10 miles or it could be 300.
What is the temperature range at which a toaster oven can operate?
It varies, but most operate around the mid-100’s for warming up to about 500 degrees to bake. For the average toaster oven user, this is more than enough to toast and reheat.
How will I know when my food is ready?
There are a variety of ways to determine when the toaster oven cycle is complete. Some have specific settings for heating things such as pizza or pie and will shut off after cooking for at an allotted temperature for a predetermined time.
Other, more advanced models have heat sensors that determine when to stop a specific cycle. And others still have basic timers that ding or buzz when the time’s up.
What are some safety-related features available in toaster ovens?
If you have small children who could reach the machine, you may want to consider the automatic shut-off option. Most manufacturers make something along these lines.
- Automatic shutoff option
- Cool-to-touch also called Cool Touch exteriors
If the door is down, the heat is off, so you don’t need to worry about it being a fire hazard in moments of forgetfulness. Also, some toaster ovens offer cool-to-touch exteriors. Some that do not offer this can become dangerously hot every time they are used.
Toaster Oven Reviews – Toaster Oven Types
Toaster ovens are an amazing small kitchen appliance with bundle of features comprised within a single cooking device. These are ideal for cooking a wide variety of foods as well as small quantities of foods.
A toaster oven can be used as a second ovens or can be used in place of a large oven to reduce energy consumption.
Types of toaster ovens:
- Conventional toaster ovens – Used for toasting, baking, warming up food, broiling
- Convection (fan forced) toaster ovens – This is based on conventional models but also has a fan to circulate the heated air inside. This results in more even temperature, even when using multiple shelves. More heat is transferred to the food through the combination of convective and radiative heat transfer than through radiative heating alone. This can reduce the time and/or temperature when cooking foods.
Some toaster ovens can be a combination microwave, convention, combination, rotisserie and infrared.
Toaster ovens come in different sizes and colors, and they tend to be big and bulky, so make sure that you have enough space on your counter. They used to sell under the cabinet toaster ovens but those are often hard to come by because of the safety hazards with the cabinets above.
Perfect Toaster Oven – Determining Sizes
Toaster ovens are available in a number of sizes. The capacity of a toaster oven equals the interior of the toaster oven is measured in cubic feet. Broadly speaking, the capacity of a toaster oven can be judged by the number of slices of bread that can be toasted in it at the same time.
Slice Size References
- A 2 slice toaster oven is going to be a small toaster oven, with a capacity of around .12 cubic feet.
- A 4 slice toaster oven is likely to be a large toaster oven of .3 cubic feet or larger.
- An extra large toaster oven of .5 cubic feet may hold 6-slices of bread or more, or a 12″ pizza!
What Size to Choose
- A large capacity oven is a good choice for a family toaster oven, or for a chef who enjoys using toaster oven cooking.
- Mid-sized toaster ovens (4-slice) are sufficient for most consumers, and tend to take up less space.
- Small capacity toaster ovens (1-slice) are perfect for dorm rooms, motel rooms or similar small spaces.
An under the cabinet toaster oven allows you to have a mid to large size toaster while freeing up much valued counter space.
Best Toaster Ovens to Buy
Convection Toaster Oven Information
The basic principle behind the operation of convection ovens is the flow of heat from the heating element through the conducting medium (the air) to the food. This differs from microwave or open flame cooking in that those sources of heat travel directly from the heat source to the food.
The heated air that is circulated by the convection fan allows for a slower, more even cooking process. Every convection toaster oven, from a convection oven rotisserie toaster to a convection digital oven toaster works through this process.
Convection microwave oven toasters switch mechanically between the two.
The best branded convection oven toasters have Quartz heating elements, preferably on the top and bottom, and a reflective crumb-tray. These features can speed up cooking time by 30% or more, depending on the oven wattage.
It is also helpful if the heating element is of the “drop-down” type, which makes for easy cleaning.
Best Combination Toaster Oven
Finding the right convection toaster oven can be difficult. There are a vast number of brand names to choose from. The following list is far from comprehensive, but it does recommend some popular models from the best brand names as a kind of starting-point.
To those unfamiliar with them, toaster ovens sound like a combination in and of themselves, but this isn’t precisely true. A toaster oven is, at it’s most basic, just a small oven in which bread can be toasted. By contrast, a combination toaster and oven is a toaster oven with a built in slot toaster that is otherwise identical to a stand-alone toaster.
Combination toaster and toaster oven models are great for quickly cooking a small breakfast with toast on the side. A microwave toaster oven combination switches from one kind of heating process to another.
That is the direct radiation heat of a microwave and the oblique, heated air circulation of a convection oven. The two don’t work in tandem, so the only advantage is that two separate units don’t have to fight for space in the same kitchen.
Other kinds of oven “combinations”, such as oven/broilers or rotisserie ovens are actually just functions of the oven rather than a genuine secondary mechanical function.
Best Infrared Toaster Oven
An infrared toaster oven may sound a little scary, but there’s no need to fear. Infrared is just the part of the electromagnetic spectrum between light visible to the human eye and microwaves. Best Infrared toaster ovens generally use a combination of near and far infrared light to cook the oven’s contents.
Infrared toaster ovens are fast, versatile and very efficient. They aren’t all that different than using a microwave oven, and share many of the same benefits, though the results are usually much tastier.
Instead of using, for instance, heated air as in a convection oven, infrared shoots the heat straight through the food. As a result there is little-to-no preheating necessary and the food cooks up to 40% faster than in other electric toaster ovens.
Infrared Toaster ovens are more efficient in other ways as well. They require less energy and suffer less heat loss than conventional toaster ovens. And another benefit to infrared toaster ovens is that they actually push moisture into food rather than drying it out, increasing flavor.
Best Microwave Toaster Oven
Combination microwave toaster ovens combine the easy convenience and time saving qualities of a microwave with the cooking options of a toaster oven. What’s more the combo microwave oven toaster’s versatility is matched only by its space-saving qualities, freeing up valuable counter space for other useful appliances.
Note: Some confusion may arise from the fact that the term “combination toaster and oven”.
Sometimes can refer to microwave ovens that feature a built-in toaster on one side. Microwave toaster ovens mechanically switch between heating methods, and act as both kinds of ovens.
Best Microwave Toaster Oven Brands
The hunt for the best microwave toaster ovens is a little harder that some other toaster ovens. These combination toaster ovens convert from conventional convection toaster ovens to microwave ovens with the turn of a dial. This is, of course, ideal for saving space.
It’s unfortunate that so few of the top toaster oven manufacturers carry a line of microwave toaster ovens, but it does make finding one a little less daunting. Here is a short list of suggestions for finding the best brand-name microwave toaster oven.
Best Rotisserie Taster Oven
Rotisserie roasting is one of the oldest cooking techniques known to man. The process allows for even cooking, a crisp crust or skin and allow meat to basted in its own juices. A convection oven rotisserie toaster oven is a perfect way to use this ancient technique in your own home.
The basic parts and accessories of an oven rotisserie toaster kit include. Rotisserie accessories for toaster ovens are normally removable. Most rotisseries need a large capacity toaster oven, like a GE oven rotisserie toaster or convection Deni oven rotisserie toaster in order to hold items such as whole chickens.
Pizza Toaster Oven
One of the great things about electric toaster ovens is the ability to make homemade pizzas. For hot, delicious pies made from fresh ingredients and piled high with the toppings of your choice, a pizza toaster oven can’t be beat. Pizza Toaster oven cooks pizza quickly and efficiently in air-driven convection ovens that can hit 450 degrees F.
But the secret weapon is the pizza stone. With a pizza stone toaster oven pies come out like the best restaurant pizzas. That’s because the stone absorbs moisture to redistribute the heat evenly. This bakes the pizza dough evenly, creating a crisp, tasty crust without drying out the sauce or overcooking the toppings.
The pizza stone also absorbs the flavor of the dough while baking and transfers this flavor to subsequent pizzas. The stone should be washed prior to baking with plain water and a scrub-brush. But never with soaps or detergents, which will be absorbed by the stone and transferred to any food baked on it. Stones are either round or rectangular.
Toasters, as has been stated before, are fairly straightforward, even mundane items, and generally serve exactly one function, making toast. But there are some specialty toasters out there that either take on one specific job and do it well, or pull double duty in various ways.
The bagel toaster will, of course, make toast, but it is designed with the bagel in mind. The slots on bagel toasters are at least 1.5″ wide to accommodate the halved bagels. The 4-Slice Bagel Hamilton Beach Toaster and the Bagel Perfect Toastmaster Toaster.
For a couple of examples, have both wide slots and special settings to toast the cut side of the bagel and keep the other side warm and chewy.
The patented Radio Toaster combines a fully customization radio with, you guessed it, a toaster. This space saving little wonder does both jobs admirably.
For multi-function madness it’s hard to beat Back to Basic’s Muffin and Egg Toaster Cooker and Poacher.
While muffins, bread or bagels are toasted a side unit simultaneously steam poaches and egg and heats a pre-cooked meat patty for a delicious breakfast sandwich in 4 minutes flat.
Best Toaster Oven Features
When it comes time to compare toasters the toaster’s special features can give certain models the edge. Not every toaster can handle bagels, for example, and even a simple toaster cover can make a world of difference when spring-cleaning time rolls around.
Here are some features to look for when deciding which toaster is the best choice for you. Every toaster oven accessory listed below provides another option for toaster oven cooking.
Cookies, toast and pizza are only the tip of the iceberg, though. A toaster oven chef can make casseroles, kabobs and buttery scones, and still not exhaust the possibilities; all that’s needed is the right tool for the job.
Best Toaster Oven Accessories
Toaster ovens make great gifts for occasions like weddings or housewarming parties, but even the best toaster can seem to list a little bit over the utilitarian side of the fun/useful line. One way to supplement the sheer neatness of a toaster is to invest in a few toaster oven accessories.
Everyone love toasted sandwiches, right? Well enough people anyway. But toasting a sandwich in your toaster is asking for a mess. unless, that is, you’ve got the right toaster accessory. A sandwich cage will keep the whole thing from coming apart, as will a toaster safe toasting bag (these really keep your toaster clean).
Both of these devices work best in wide or variable width slots. Toaster cozies (or toaster covers if you want to sound a bit more butch) are a fun and attractive way to keep your toaster clean. They’re especially handy if you toaster is the wrong color for you kitchen, or just plain homely. Toaster covers generally come in vinyl, plastic and quilted varieties.
- Toaster oven crumb tray: a standard extra; reflective trays aid in cooking
- Liner: liners protect the interior and make cleaning easier
- Toaster oven sandwich Cage: sandwiches can be held in these while toasting
- Toaster oven baking Pan: a small, nonstick pan for the toaster oven
- Pizza stone for toaster oven: helps bake the pizza evenly, with a crisp crust
- Toaster oven cookie sheet: a small, nonstick cookie sheet for the toaster oven
- Hanging toaster mount: attaches the oven under cabinet to save space
- Rotisserie kit: forks, a turning spit and drip-tray that fit inside a toaster oven
- Slice #: 2 slice toaster or 4 slice toaster
- Slot size: standard size slot or extra wide slots
- Defrost function: to unfreeze frozen bread
- Bagel setting: to perfectly toast bagels
- Reheat option: warms without browning
- Browning controls: for precise browning
- Cancel button: stops toasting immediately
- Self-centering bread racks: for even toasting
- Extra high rack lift: for easy removal of small items (e.g. English Muffins)
- Toaster cover: keeps unit clean/protected when it’s not in use
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