Toaster ovens are multipurpose kitchen appliances, letting you do everything from toasting bread to roasting turkey and baking a cake. They are a high-end mini-me version of conventional full-size ovens that are great alternatives for small kitchens. As versatile, less expensive, and more efficient options to satiate cravings, toaster ovens are a great addition to your kitchen.
However, many find it hard to pick the best toaster oven with so many options available in the market. To ensure your pick is right, we have articulated this ultimate guide to toaster ovens for you. From general types to specialized features of toaster ovens and other factors to consider, we have written everything you need to be aware of before purchasing one toaster oven. Let’s get started now!
Types of Toaster Ovens
With three main types of toaster ovens in the market, it is essential to consider all before settling for one that suits your culinary needs the most. Let us have a deep dig into each type below.
Standard countertop toaster ovens
As the first-ever toaster oven models, these offer simple cooking functions in your kitchen. They are a perfect choice if you require a toaster oven for only heating, toasting, and browning your food. This kind of toaster oven is easy to use and a compact kitchen addition.
They allow you to make perfectly toasted meals, as they usually boast efficient temperature controls. It is, however, essential to note that standard countertop toaster ovens are not versatile and limit your cooking freedom as there is a lack of functions compared to other types. An average countertop toaster oven has a capacity of two to six bagels or bread slices at one given time.
Convection toaster ovens
Convection toaster ovens have gained significant popularity in American homes over the last few years. Different from standard countertop toaster ovens, convection toaster ovens have built-in fans that circulate air to heat the food evenly. Not only can you nail crispy toasts with this technology, but also cook fast. While convection toaster ovens are expensive, they are also very cost-effective options as they help you cook at lower temperatures, saving both time and money in power bills. Many people use this kind to satiate their homemade pizza cravings.
This kind also comes with a lot more functions for increased cooking freedom. They also have a larger capacity than standard toaster ovens, giving you restaurant-quality toasted meals. However, a convection toaster oven is not easy to use for everyone, and every type has its distinct features, which make it hard to choose one.
Infrared countertop toaster ovens
These toaster ovens employ advanced technology to meet your culinary demands. They use light energy to cook and warm-up food within the least time, resulting in increased power and time savings. With these, you no longer need to defrost your frozen meals. The downside of these toaster ovens, however, are their less-spacious interiors. However, if you find one that fits the size of your meals, consider yourself lucky. They are also hard to use for beginners.
You can check convection oven units with an infrared feature as an alternative if the size of your meals is too large for its interiors.
Ease of Operation
A good toaster oven will all be a waste of money if you cannot operate it well. Therefore, after choosing the type of toaster oven you want, narrow down your product further based on its ease of operations. An easy-to-use and good toaster oven must possess clearly-labeled front controls with a large and vivid display. The most basic functions should include temperature controls and adjustable toast-shade settings. Make sure your toaster oven also offers the range of temperature you require for your meals. Our recommendation is to go with toaster ovens that have a heating range between 150 °F and 450 °F. You may choose hard to use toaster ovens if you have prior experience with them. We also recommend avoiding toaster ovens that offer functions you do not need: it will only make things hard.
Even Heating & Its Elements
From the distance of the food from the heating source to the number of heating elements and their positions, several factors decide how evenly cooked your meals come out of a toaster oven.
For every toaster oven, these factors may differ. Generally, small or medium-sized toaster ovens do not require many heating elements: the small interior becomes evenly hot without regulation. However, if the capacity of your unit is spacious, not only will it need more heating elements but also a better source of heating. Therefore, avoid toaster ovens with spacious interiors but lesser tools of heating. Such toaster ovens will not be able to toast your food evenly, resulting in low-quality meals.
As many people cannot shop for a toaster oven by examining it on the spot, here are the three things you can spot easily to determine whether it is a good fit or not.
- Nichrome heaters
- Quartz Elements
- Ceramic Elements
Nichrome heaters, having slot toaster-like metal wires, and quartz elements that have a long coil-like look are the most common heating elements in toaster ovens. We recommend choosing quartz elements as they heat up faster, resulting in power and time savings. You may also use ones with both ceramic and quartz elements as they not only heat up quickly but also maintain the temperature, giving you crispy toasted meals.
You might as well want to consider convection: a fan that regulates the heat. Toaster ovens with convection features allow you to make crispy and dry foods.
Size of Your Kitchen & Meals
Toaster ovens come in different styles and sizes. Fortunately, there is a good range of these from which one can make a decisive choice. Some people want small toaster ovens for their mere simple tasks of cooking, like making toasts or baking cookies. Others may require a large one to satiate their homemade pizza cravings. It is also essential to consider the size of your kitchen and the space you have for a toaster oven. Be considerate of these factors to get yourself a toaster oven with the right dimensions.
Useful Accessories and Extra Features
From crumb trays, racks, and baking pans to automatic cooking modes, some toaster ovens come with additional useful accessories and features. If you want a specific one in your product, make sure you read all the features your pick has to offer. While you can order these add-on accessories separately as well, it will result in you spending more. Therefore, always check the enlisted features of your product to save both time and money.
Your Budget For A Toaster Oven
It is incredibly essential to consider your budget before finalizing your purchase. Toaster oven generally can cost anywhere from $25 to $1,000. Have a look below to unravel what to expect typically from the bucks you are planning to spend.
Calphalon Quartz Heat Countertop Toaster Oven, Stainless Steel, Extra-Large Capacity, Black, Dark Gray
Contrary to popular belief, with a low budget of $100 or below, you can still get an excellent small to a medium-sized toaster oven. The general capacity of toaster ovens within this price-tag is four bagels or bread at one given time. The controls are likely to be manual, and only a few extra accessories are available. Have a look at our compiled recommendation list of top 5 toaster ovens below $50 if you are planning to invest in one with this budget!
Between $100 and $250:
With this budget, you can easily land yourself an excellent medium to a large-sized toaster oven. Such toaster ovens can generally hold six to nine pieces of toasts, offering several heating elements for evenly toasted meals. Toaster ovens within this range also have a large digital screen, electronic controls, and timer that make it easy to operate and cost-effective. Preset cooking functions further elevate the standards of your cooking experience. Some products also offer extra accessories such as multiple racks or baking pans.
$250 and above:
If your budget is $250 and above, you can easily get a high-quality toaster oven of your choice. With everything that toaster ovens between the range of $100 to $250 have to offer, toaster ovens beyond this range have better temperature regulation as well. Extra features such as air frying or dehydrating modes and other cooking functions remove all limitations from your cooking freedom.
By considering everything in this ultimate guide to toaster ovens, get yourself one that fits your needs the best. Our 3 top toaster oven recommendations include:
- Calphalon Quartz Heat Countertop Toaster Oven
- Cuisinart TOB-60N1 Convection Toaster Oven
- Oster Extra Large Digital Countertop Convection Oven
As investing in one toaster oven is a significant decision, you might want to explore more products before settling for one. Have a look at these Top 5 High-End Toaster Ovens as well!