Types of Toaster Ovens
Basic Toaster Ovens
Are comparable to full-sized, built-in ovens, but are meant to sit on a countertop. Many say they cook faster than a conventional oven because they preheat faster. The best toaster ovens will also have some sort of proprietary heating system to circulate the heat so food cooks evenly and consistently. These basic toaster ovens should be very easy to use, with intuitive controls and at least a few pre-sets for cooking and baking.
Convection Toaster Ovens
A toaster oven with a convection feature can often replace your full-sized oven completely for people who don't have to cook for a crowd. They also cook food faster than regular toaster ovens or even conventional, full-sized ovens. They are highly versatile appliances that are very popular with cooks who want an oven with a convection features, but may not be able to afford to replace their large oven or range. Convection toaster ovens tend to be more expensive than basic toaster ovens, although you can find some very affordable models that get great reviews, as we did.
ovens are small, but mighty
You don't need a conventional oven to do all of your
cooking; a toaster oven can handle the chore just as efficiently -- and
sometimes faster. Toaster ovens are beloved by singles and couples, who
appreciate having an oven that's more suited, space-wise, to their meal sizes, while
people who live in warm climates like that they can cook a meal without heating
up the house. The best models work so well that some people use them as their
primary oven. Others use them as a second oven to help prepare large meals.
Toaster ovens come in sizes to fit any need. Small toaster
ovens are great for grilling open-faced sandwiches and cooking single portions
of food. Mid-sized toaster ovens can roast a small chicken, bake a batch of cookies,
or cook a small, whole pizza. Large toaster ovens can accommodate a 12-inch
pizza or roast a 4-pound chicken. Of course, all can make toast (how many
slices at a time depends upon the oven) and bake potatoes as well as broil,
reheat and defrost.
The best toaster ovens should come with at least a basic
array of accessories -- baking pans, broiling trays, and racks, for example. Remember,
most of your standard-sized baking and cooking pans and trays won't fit in a
toaster oven. Although the accessories for toaster ovens are often hand wash
only, the ovens themselves should be easy to clean, with removable crumb trays
and non-stick, wipe-clean interiors.
Of course, if you only need to toast bread or bagels and
don't think you'll ever use the oven feature, we suggest heading over to our
report on toasters to see our recommendations -- it'll save you money
and counter space. If you're in the market for a full-sized oven, check out our
reports on ranges and wall ovens.
Finding The Best Toaster Ovens
"Toaster Oven Ratings"
"The Best Toaster Oven"
There's a lot of consensus when it comes to toaster oven
reviews. Certain brands and models within brands tend to rise above the pack,
doing well in both expert tests and user reviews -- Breville being the best
example of a manufacturer that dominates in this category. We analyzed
professional tests performed by experts at ConsumerReports.org, TheSweethome.com,
TopTenReviews.com, Cooks Illustrated and CNET. We then matched those results
and recommendations to long-term, real-world experiences posted at user-review
sites such as Amazon.com, BestBuy.com, BedBathandBeyond.com and other popular retail
destinations for appliances. The result of that research is our recommendations
for the toaster ovens with the
best combination of performance, features, ease of use and reliability.
The (Est. $180) is a mid-sized toaster
oven that's a big performer, say experts and owners. It has 1,800 watts of
power, and independent heating elements that adjust automatically for even,
consistent cooking -- that's the "smart" in the toaster oven's name.
The BOV650XL can toast four slices of bread at the same time, cook a 3-
to 4-pound chicken, or bake a 12-inch pizza. With eight preset functions --
toast, bagel, bake, roast, broil, pizza, cookies and reheat -- the BOV650XL is reported
as very simple to use and can even remember personal-preference settings. A
backlit LCD calculates the correct time and temperature for each dish and then shuts
the oven off automatically.
This Breville toaster oven features a pullout crumb tray and interior
walls with a nonstick coating for easy cleaning. Some users wish the oven rack
would automatically eject when the door is opened because they say it can be tricky
to pull it out when it's hot. We also saw some durability complaints; owners
who say it failed after just 2 or 3 years; too soon for a toaster oven that is
at the upper range of prices compared to other ovens with the same capacity and
If you're pressed for space, and don't need to be able to cook larger
cuts of meat, the (Est. $125) gets
reviews from experts and owners that are comparable to those that we see for the
Breville BOV650XL. In fact, the only thing keeping the Panasonic out of our top
spot is its lack of a broil function and its low-ceilinged cavity -- you can't
roast a whole chicken, even a small one, or larger cuts of chicken or pork. That
means it's better suited for standard reheating tasks rather than offering a
substitute as a full-sized oven for making dinner (although it will accommodate
four slices of toast). Still, most reviewers say that the compact Panasonic
NB-G110P is plenty big enough for their typical needs, and its small footprint
is a feature we see many positive comments about.
Foods really do cook in a flash in the Panasonic Flash Xpress. It needs
no preheating -- it instantly comes to the temperature you need. It then uses a
combination of infrared heat sources to cook food more quickly, as fast as an
oven with convection technology, tests show, and it cooks both sides at once so
you don't have to turn foods like chicken breasts or burgers.
The Panasonic Flash Xpress gets top marks for both performance and ease
of use in the professional tests we saw, and many happy owners back those
results up. It's among the highest-rated toaster ovens at Amazon.com, and users
say it excels at everything, but particularly at browning. It also gets raves
for its futuristic appearance -- many call it "space age" or say they
would expect to see it in a kitchen of the future.
If you really want a Breville, but don't have room on your counter for
the BOV650XL, the (Est. $140) is very much worth considering. It's a big performer with a relatively
small footprint, reviewers say, although small may be relative -- it still can
toast four slices of bread at once, accommodate an 11-inch pizza, or cook a
couple of large chicken breasts. In one professional test it excels at all
tasks, including baking, roasting, and broiling. Experts and owners also love
its "A Bit More" button which allows you to add just a bit more time
for slightly more doneness on toast or open-faced sandwiches.
Like its bigger Breville sibling, the BOV450XL features eight presets
and a digital display. Users say it's extremely easy to use and clean, and that
it works as well as their full-sized stove on a wide variety of recipes. Many
say they were leery of paying this much for such a small oven, but that the
Breville BOV450XL was definitely worth it.