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. If you don't need that feature, however, we review basic toaster ovens without the convection feature elsewhere in this report. If you are wishing for that quick-cooking feature, but maybe don't want to spend $200 or more, our discussion of cheap toaster ovens may interest you.
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 CSO-300 Combo Steam/Convection Oven (Est. $240) has a unique steam feature that is said to cook foods as much as 40 percent faster than a traditional oven, and professional testers and user reviewers say that it really does. Owners say it does a particularly amazing job with bread, rice and meats -- and for heating up leftovers -- because they don't lose any moisture in the process. It also has seven different toast settings and they are said to perform perfectly as well. However, while most reviewers say the steam feature is great for keeping foods from drying out, experts note that other toaster ovens perform better in more traditional toaster oven tasks, such as broiling and roasting.
The CSO-300 gets raves for both its ease of use and for its attractive, high-end appearance. This is an update of an older model, so we don't have a good feel for long-term durability, but we saw no significant complaints of breakage and it gets a lot of praise for a sturdy-feeling build.
The Cuisinart TOB-195 Convection Toaster Oven (Est. $200) has been discontinued by the manufacturer, but is still widely available -- often with steep discounts -- and is still a top-rated toaster oven. It has many of the same features as the Breville BOV800XL, cooking a variety of foods quickly and evenly, and most owners find it very easy to use, with intuitive controls and an auto shutoff. Like the Breville, it also has the capacity for a 12-inch pizza or small, whole chicken.
The TOB-195 doesn't have an auto-eject rack feature, and some users say they burn their fingers when opening the oven because the handle is set too close to the door. The crumb tray is also located in the back, which is inconvenient, users say. The Cuisinart comes with a three-year warranty and it gets good overall reviews for durability; Cuisinart will continue to support this product, so if you've had an eye on this oven, this is the time to snap it up at a great price.
Elsewhere in this Report:
Best Reviewed Toaster Ovens: Toaster ovens are a great addition to any kitchen. Here are the top basic, convection, and toaster/toaster oven combos. Best of all, we have picks for every budget.
Best Toaster Ovens: Small but mighty, these toaster ovens can bake, broil and roast, but they save energy and won't heat up the entire kitchen. We even found a red toaster oven that's a combination toaster and toaster oven.
Best Cheap Toaster Ovens: There are some top-performing toaster ovens -- all with convection or other quick-cook features -- that do a great job and won't take a bite out of your budget. These are big performers with a fairly small price tag.
Buying Guide: What kind of toaster oven do you need? Here is your guide to finding the best toaster oven for your cooking style and lifestyle.
Our Sources: We used these professional and user review sites to find the best toaster ovens. They are ranked in order of their expertise and helpfulness.