Convection toaster ovens cook food in less time than basic toaster ovens because a fan circulates heated air throughout the interior, avoiding the creation of hot or cold spots. Although more expensive than traditional toaster ovens, they're popular with people who want quick, even cooking. Plenty of cooks who crave a convection feature but can't afford to replace their larger ranges or wall ovens buy a convection toaster oven to use as a second cooking appliance.
This report may seem like a Breville love fest, but that's because no other toaster oven brand gets the superlatives from experts and owners that Breville ovens do, and the Breville BOV800XL Smart Oven Convection Toaster Oven (Est. $250) tops the charts. In professional tests and in real world use, the BOV800XL does everything well. It bakes, roasts, broils, reheats and toasts evenly. It handles everything from a 4-pound chicken, a full-size pizza, or six slices of toast, to large cakes and pies. The Smart Oven's quartz elements consistently cool and reheat, producing steady, controlled heat.
The Breville's large dial controls are simple to set, and its bright LCD is easy to read, making starting the oven quick and intuitive, users say. Interior racks slide out halfway when the oven door is opened, allowing easy removal of food without burning fingers. Its stainless steel, nonstick interior is reported as very easy to clean, and its front-loading crumb tray is conveniently located. The Smart Oven comes with handy accessories like a pizza pan, bake pan and broiler rack.
Plenty of owners say this oven has a large enough capacity, and performs well enough, that it has all but replaced their full-sized oven. However, it's big on the outside, too, and will take up plenty of room on your counters, so make sure you have the space for it. We also saw some durability complaints; units that failed shortly after the one-year warranty period or after only two or three years. There weren't enough for us to consider it a deal-breaker, but enough to make it worth mentioning because, as some disgruntled buyers point out, a $250 appliance should last longer.
Getting reviews that are nearly as laudatory as those for the Breville BOV800XL, the Cuisinart TOB-260 Combo Steam/Convection Oven (Est. $260) is even larger than the Breville, with a 9-slice capacity and the space for a 13-inch pizza, a 9- by 13-inch baking pan and a 9-pound chicken. Experts and owners say its temperature settings are extremely accurate and it gets raves for its even heating throughout the entire oven cavity.
The TOB-260 also includes an impressive array of accessories, including a 13-inch pizza stone, two cooking racks, a 9 by 13-inch baking pan and a broiling pan. The stainless steel housing is reported as attractive, but, as the capacity would suggest, this toaster oven takes up a lot of real estate on your counter.
If you don't want to spend a lot for a toaster oven with a convection feature, but you need a big capacity, look no further than the Hamilton Beach 31230 (Est. $100) or the Oster TSSTTVMNDG (Est. $70). Both are very highly rated by both owners and professional reviewers for their generally very good performance.
The Hamilton Beach Set & Forget offers true convection cooking and is rated favorably by two different professional testing organizations; one recommends it and designates it as a "Best Buy". Experts and owners agree that it's one of the easiest to use toaster ovens around, and that it's meat probe is highly accurate. It can accommodate a 12-inch pizza, toast six slices of bread, or cook a 4- to 5-pound chicken. It's been around for years, and yet we see very few durability complaints. Users note that it runs a bit cooler than its temperature controls indicate, so you may want to test it yourself so you can adjust the heat settings accordingly.
The Oster TSSTTVMNDG gets some of the best reviews we've seen for a convection toaster oven in its price class, with experts saying it's very good at baking and broiling. Owners agree, with many saying they use this appliance more often than their regular oven because it cooks faster and is very easy to use and clean. However, it doesn't get the best reviews for making toast, although most don't seem to mind, and several say it toasts better if you preheat it before adding the bread. It's large enough to hold a 12-inch pizza and can roast a small, whole chicken. As with the Hamilton Beach model, we see very few durability complaints for the Oster TSSTTVMNDG, even though it's been on the market for years.