pieces of kitchen equipment, even with
microwaves around because they can provide
something that most microwaves can’t browning.
Now they’re better than ever and
can provide real value to any kitchen
for faster toasting and reheating jobs.
Toaster Oven Comparison
Black & Decker
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|Warranty||1 Year||3 Years||1 Year||1 Year||2 Years||1 Year||1 Year||1 Year||5 Years||1 Year|
Toaster Oven Buying Guide
What is a Toaster Oven?
Toaster ovens have always been a convenient way to cook without using the excess power a conventional oven uses. It’s fantastic for the hot summer months because you can cook the same types of food your full size oven does, without heating up the kitchen and driving the power bills up. Toaster ovens can be used for everything from toasting bread to cooking a pizza.
The first models of toaster ovens were fairly simple and nothing like the fancy, feature-filled styles that are available today. With so many features to choose from using this buyer’s guide will help give you all the information you need to know about toaster ovens and that means you can choose the one that will be perfect one for you.
The History of the Toaster Oven
Many people may not know that the toaster oven was actually invented 9 years before the regular pop up toaster. In 1910, William Hadaway made a combination toaster/cooker that was designed in the same configuration as the current models are, in a horizontal configuration. Over the years they gained popularity and more and more people had them.
Microwave ovens reduced the role of a toaster oven, but the one indisputable fact is that toaster ovens cook food very differently than microwaves do. While both appliances can cook potatoes and other similar foods, toaster ovens will brown them nicely, and the food tastes better too.
Benefits of Having a Toaster Oven
- Uses less Energy – They use a lot less energy than a full sized oven does and they don’t heat the kitchen up in the hot summer months. They save energy because there are much smaller spaces to heat so they heat up fast rather than wasting energy. Studies show that toaster ovens can save as much as 1/3 to ½ the energy that a regular oven uses. Since they don’t transfer heat to the rest of the house, you won’t have to worry about the AC having to work extra hard to keep the house cool.
- Lots of Versatility – Toaster ovens are great for cooking a lot of different foods and can perform a lot of different functions including:
With this much versatility, they can handle almost every cooking task you could have except for defrosting. The size can be a bit restrictive, but some of the newer models can handle cooking an entire 12-13” pizza.
- Convenient – Toaster ovens are perfect for college dorms, campers that have generators, RVs, and even do great for regular home kitchens as well in apartments or houses. They are also great for offices. They don’t take up a lot of space at all and there are even under cabinet mounts that will take NO counter space. They are also small enough to be stored in a cabinet or on a shelf easily.
- Great for Extra Cooking – If you have a large meal to cook such as for the holidays or another gathering, toaster ovens are great for cooking dinner rolls, casseroles (if it’s a larger model) and other things. They are also great for browning or crisping up food that has been cooked in the microwave
- Easy to Clean – Cleaning a toaster oven is much easier than cleaning a regular one. No chemicals are required and it’s simple to remove the crumb tray and wipe it put. Some of the newer models have non stick interiors which make it even easier. The glass door can get greasy and require scrubbing but otherwise, cleaning the toaster oven is a simple job that takes almost no time at all.
Types of Toaster Ovens
There are several different kinds of toaster ovens. Each of them has their own features and benefits. We’ve outlined all of the different models below. Read more to see which style you prefer and what will work the best in your kitchen.
Standard Toaster Oven – regular toaster ovens can contain 2- 4 slices of bread and the larger ones can hold 6. You can toast things to different darkness settings and some even have a lever that makes them similar to pop up toasters except they are fitted with an ejection tray that will open automatically when the toast is done to the desired darkness.
Most standard toaster ovens have a thermostat control, timers and automatic shut offs, a crumb tray and either manual dials or digital controls. Size varies as well.
Convection Toaster Ovens – This type of toaster oven has a fan that blows heated air over the food. With convection ovens, hot spots are avoided so you end up with evenly browned and cooked food. It also cooks faster so users can have the temperature on a lower setting. This saves even more energy. A lot of the convection toaster ovens can either be regular toaster ovens or convection toaster ovens. You may also get some additional cooking options.
Infrared Toaster Oven – infrared toaster ovens are a bit different than traditional ones. Instead of heating the air around the food, the heat is directly transferred to the food itself. There’s no need to preheat a toaster oven that uses infrared technology because it is instantly ready. Another benefit to infrared toaster ovens is because they can cook food that is not defrosted.
Users of infrared toaster ovens will benefit by having evenly cooked, perfectly browned and crisped food every time. There are some preset options that offer the option of not having to worry about timing the cooking process at all. In addition to all of the benefits mentioned above, infrared toaster ovens use a lot less power than traditional ovens and toaster ovens because they don’t have to be preheated and the cook times are much faster.
Rotisserie Toaster Ovens – If you love food that is packed full of flavor, you’ll love a rotisserie toaster oven. This is usually a feature that is available in full sized ovens and not toaster ovens, but there are some that have begun offering it as an added feature in some high end toaster ovens.
Depending on the oven size, you may be able to cook between 1-4 chickens on the rotisserie. The larger ovens can even handle a 12-23 pound turkey! The rotisserie capable toaster ovens are great for using in combination with a regular oven, especially for holiday cooking.
Combination Toaster Ovens – These types of toaster ovens offer exactly what their name suggests. They typically offer at least two different types of toaster oven in one. The most common is the combination convection oven/pop up toaster.
Another style offers a coffee maker and small toaster oven and yet another example of a combination toaster oven includes a frying pan top with a toaster oven bottom. Depending on what you’re looking for, you can find many different combinations that can meet multiple needs you have.
Common Toaster Oven Features
With so many styles and types of toaster ovens to choose from, there are also a lot of features that are offered as well. Below we’ve outlined many of the most commonly offered features that many toaster ovens have.
How many Watts? – Watts are not the same in toaster ovens as they are in microwaves. The difference is that in toaster ovens, the wattage doesn’t affect the cooking time. Wattage has more to do with efficiency of the toaster oven. What this wattage indicates is what maximum power the toaster oven that have a lot of cooking options and that are outfitted with digital controls usually have higher wattage. Models that combine styles such as combination toaster ovens will use a little more energy than standard ones.
Control Panel – Most people have a preference on whether they like digital controls or dial controls. The main thing to look for when comparing controls is not whether they are digital or manual, but how easy they are to read and use. Complicated controls are not enjoyable to use at all and can get frustrating, causing the user to simply stop using the toaster oven.
Most toaster ovens have pre-programmed buttons for specific food types such as pizza or toast. While these are super convenient, they can also be a bit off on the timing so be sure to test them out and be nearby to make sure that they are accurately programmed.
Auto Eject Tray – There are two forms of this automatically ejecting tray. One of them includes a door that automatically opens on its own when the food is done. The other type semi ejects the tray when the user opens the toaster oven door. The benefit to this feature is that it prevents food from overcooking and also lessens the chance of burns from having to reach into the toaster oven to get the food out.
Non Stick Interior – having a non stick surface on the tray and interior of the toaster oven means clean up is much easier. This is especially true of rotisserie toaster ovens. Some styles offer non stick or porcelain covering the entire interior and that makes clean up even more efficient and simple.
Crumb Tray – A front loading crumb tray is much more convenient than having to get it out from the back or bottom. It is crucial to having a good working toaster oven but it certainly makes it a lot easier to clean.
Auto Shut Off – Many toaster ovens have an automatic shut off feature. This works by turning off the heat when the food is finished cooking. An alert sounds, letting users know that the cooking time is up and that it’s time to check the food. This prevents over coking and burning.
Multiple Heating Functions – The most common cooking functions that are a standard of pretty much every toaster oven are bake, broil and toast. The higher end models also have choices that include: reheat, defrost, roast, pizza and cookies. Even though the higher end models are more expensive, users may like having the additional choices available when cooking, as it gives more versatility.
Multiple Racks – Most toaster ovens come with one rack for setting food on to cook, but some of the larger units have two. These racks are very handy and to be truly beneficial they need to be adjustable and removable. The good thing about a toaster oven that has two racks is that two different foods can be cooked at the same time.
Interior Lights – Having an interior light that goes on during the coking process is very helpful when it comes to seeing and monitoring the cooking process. When users can see the food, they can also see if the food is done sooner than the timer is set for or the pre-programmed buttons determine.
Keep Warm – This is a great option for keeping the food you’ve just cooked warm. Not everyone is ready to serve the food the second it’s done, so being able to switch to keep warm mode will be a nice feature to have. Many models automatically switch to this mode after the food is done cooking.
Before You Start Shopping
There are several things you need to take into account before you start shopping for the right toaster oven for your needs. Ask yourself the following questions and be sure that you pay attention to the answers when looking at different toaster ovens.
- How much room do you need? – toaster ovens are a great convenience but they won’t be any good at all if you get one that is too small for the types and sizes of food you regularly cook. Many toaster ovens measure their capacity by pizza size and also how many slices of bread it can toast at one time. If you are single or just cooking for two people, you will not need a larger capacity toaster oven unless you do a lot of regular entertaining.
- What types of food will you be cooking? – If all you will be using the toaster oven for is toast, you will be much happier with a pop up toaster. However if you want to cook hamburgers, steaks, French fries, pizza, toast and other foods, a toaster oven is going to be a great addition to your kitchen.
- Do you have a lot of counter space? – Since toaster ovens come in all styles and sizes, you may want to take a look at the space you have to work with. Even the largest ones don’t take up a huge amount of space, and since they’re not overly heavy, storing them in the pantry or closet or in a larger cabinet is definitely a possibility if you don’t want to have it out on the counter. The styles of toaster ovens are so sleek and attractive that they look great on the counter, so if you have the space, it’s definitely an option.
- Are you looking for a convection feature? – toaster ovens are much smaller than full size ovens, so if you’re looking for a convection feature to use, finding a toaster oven with a convection function will work great for you. You can usually find a toaster oven with a convection feature in the range of $75-$250 or so.
Toaster Oven Safety Tips
As with any kitchen appliance, safety needs to be in the forefront of your mind when you’re operating it. Below we’ve outlined some basic safety tips to remember that will help keep you safe during operation.
- Reading the Instruction Manual – This is the part that many people forget or avoid but it can give users some great information on how to get the best out of the toaster oven they’ve purchased. This should be the number one step you do before you ever use the toaster oven the first time.
- Space Around the Toaster Oven – Some toaster ovens get hot, especially the less expensive and older models. It’s important that you don’t have the toaster oven pushed all the way up against the kitchen backdrop. Aim for at least 4”-8” of space all the way around it.
This provides the toaster oven with the proper air ventilation and also prevents the wall behind it from becoming discolored. Never put the toaster oven on the floor when in use, and don’t operate it on a cloth covered surface either. Countertops are the only place to safely use a toaster oven.
- Plugs and Cords – Never immerse the toaster oven in the sink or wash in the dishwasher. Look for a toaster oven that has a three prong plug if possible sine that means that it is grounded. Make sure that the cord is never resting along the top of the toaster oven during use or anywhere it can get heated up. Keep the cords safe from hanging off counters so they can be tugged on by curious kids or pets. Regularly inspect the toaster oven cord and plug for any issues or damage. If you notice anything, don’t use it and call the manufacturer’s number.
- Handling Carefully -. For this reason it is important that you never try to pick it up or move it while it is hot. You can get burned, drop it from the heat and break the toaster oven and generally cause an injury or accident. In addition, never put anything on top of the toaster oven while it is in use. When handling the toaster over or pulling things out from inside, use oven mitts just like you would with a regular oven.
Watch out for the kinds of materials you put into the toaster ovens too. Don’t cook plastic, paper, or cardboard boxes or trays inside the toaster oven. Be very careful not to put anything in there that can catch fire.
- Cleaning Properly – Whenever you are going to clean your toaster oven, be certain that it is unplugged and has cooled down first. Don’t use scouring pads when scrubbing it. Be sure to clean it regularly, after every use, and keep it free of crumbs and grease which can cause fires during cooking.
Toaster ovens are possibly the most convenient kitchen appliance you can find if you’re looking for ways to reduce the power usage you have each month. Regular ovens are one of the biggest causes of higher power bills, and toaster ovens are much more energy saving than the full size ovens are. Additionally, they are great for convenience sake and have so many new features nowadays that using them is a pleasure rather than an inconvenience.
Using the information in this guide, you’ll be able choose a toaster oven that will be perfect for your kitchen and provide for all the needs you have in regard to cooking smaller amounts of food, reheating and other functions.
- Breville – http://www.brevilleusa.com/the-smart-oven-r.html
- Cuisinart – https://www.cuisinart.com/products/toaster_ovens/tob-135.html
- Panasonic – http://shop.panasonic.com/