With bake, toast, broil and convection settings, today's toaster ovens are giving full-size ovens a run for their money. Unlike standard toasters, these countertop ovens can do more than toast bread. They can bake cookies, heat up a frozen pizza or even roast a small chicken. Most toaster ovens don't toast bread as evenly or quickly as traditional toasters can, however.
Top-rated toaster ovens have convection technology, which uses a small fan to circulate hot air throughout the oven. Experts agree that convection heating is superior to coil heating because heat is better distributed, allowing for even cooking and browning. Most toaster ovens with convection heating have the option to bake with or without the fan on.
If you are looking for a miniature version of a full-size oven, rather than just a toaster, the 1,800-watt Breville The Smart Oven BOV800XL (*Est. $250) earns high marks in expert and owner reviews. It is the highest-rated toaster oven in two professional reviews for its even toasting, baking and broiling. This is due, in part, to an internal sensor that monitors heat. It also receives an excellent score for user friendliness with standout features like a backlit display, an auto-eject rack and a crumb tray that slides out from the front. It has nine preset programs: toast, bagel, bake, roast, broil, pizza, cookies, reheat and warm. If you change the settings, the oven's Element IQ technology automatically remembers these preferences for next time. According to ElderGadget.com, a website that performs product testing for senior adults, the controls may be too complicated for some.
Despite some critics who say all this functionality comes at too high a price tag, the Breville toaster oven receives overwhelmingly positive reviews at several online retailers. At Amazon.com, more than 600 owners contribute to its average rating of 4.5 stars out of 5. They agree it toasts perfectly and has outstanding features. Reviews say this high-quality toaster oven has a nice-looking stainless-steel exterior and easy-to-clean nonstick interior. About 30 reviews at Macys.com give it a near-perfect rating; users prefer it to a conventional oven because it cooks just as well but heats up faster.
Owners can also write reviews at Breville.com, where The Smart Oven earns above- average reviews from about 120 consumers who say it looks stunning and is quiet, even in convection mode. In addition to the bake pan and broil rack, standard with most toaster ovens, it comes with a 13-inch nonstick pizza pan. Additionally, the adjustable broil rack can be placed at three different heights, which offers more flexibility than most other toaster ovens. This toaster oven is covered by a one-year warranty.
Another large-capacity toaster oven that receives several expert and owner recommendations is the Cuisinart TOB-195 Convection Toaster Oven (*Est. $180) . Feedback on this model isn't as uniformly positive as the Breville The Smart Oven, however. Editors at one testing organization give it high marks across the board for toasting, broiling and ease of use, but only good scores for baking. In another professional roundup, editors don't recommend the Cuisinart TOB-195, noting uneven browning and cooking and cumbersome controls.
Likewise, Kristin Donnelly at Food & Wine magazine praises the Cuisinart TOB-195's "super quiet" convection baking; however, she says the complex touchpad controls make it "better suited as a second oven than as a toaster." This toaster oven features bake/pizza, broil, convection bake, toast, bagel, reheat and defrost buttons. Editors at ElderGadget.com say the small, flat buttons aren't senior-friendly and although the interior has good hand clearance, an auto-eject rack (like the one on Breville's The Smart Oven) would be better. The manufacturer says the 0.6-cubic-foot capacity of the Cuisinart TOB-195 can easily accommodate a 12-inch pizza or a whole chicken. This toaster oven has a brushed chrome exterior and a three-year warranty that far surpasses other brands; most toaster ovens come with a one-year warranty.
Owners posting to Amazon.com are impressed with this Cuisinart toaster oven's power and size, saying they use it to cook everything from cookies to seafood to pizzas. Reviewers say it does a good job of toasting bread evenly, as well. Users also note how easy the unit's nonstick walls are to clean. However, like other toaster ovens, the Cuisinart's exterior gets very hot. Several reviewers say they burned themselves when opening the oven (as a result of the placement of the handle). Others don't see this as a problem, noting "I have no intention of sitting on top of the toaster oven, or on the counter next to it." To be fair, this user acknowledges the potential for touching the hot door when operating the handle, but says she hasn't encountered this problem. Overall, the Cuisinart TOB-195 toaster oven earns a very high average rating (4.5 stars out of 5) in nearly 400 reviews.
The Krups FBC2 6-Slice Digital Convection Toaster Oven (*Est. $150) is another option with a digital display and electronic touchpad that is comparable in capacity to the Cuisinart TOB-195 Convection Toaster Oven. Real Simple magazine editors pick it as the best toaster oven overall. They like its "fast-acting" heating elements and sturdy cooking racks. Cooking functions include toast, bake, convection bake, broil and defrost. This toaster oven is mostly black, with some stainless-steel accents. Krups covers it with a one-year warranty.
User reviews are favorable for the Krups FBC2 at Cooking.com, where more than 35 owners give it an average rating of 4.6 stars out of 5. Reviewers say it has a roomy interior and toasts consistently. Editors from one foodie magazine disagree, however, saying this model fails to toast a single piece of toast evenly. The Krups FBC2 is a simpler version of the now-discontinued Krups FBC4, which was the previous winner in an earlier review conducted by the same publication.
Although the T-fal Avanté Glass Top Convection Oven OT8085002 (*Est. $140) gets top marks in professional and user reviews, seven owners posting to Amazon.com say its glass top exploded. Several cases occurred when the oven was turned off and completely cool. This issue kept us from including the T-fal toaster oven as a Best Reviewed pick.
If you want to spend less, the Hamilton Beach Set & Forget 31230 (*Est. $95) is one of only two models recommended in a recent review of 10 toaster ovens conducted by one cooking magazine. Editors praise the easy-to-use controls, electronic display and included meat probe. It also cooks evenly, with minimal uneven toasting reported during testing. Another professional review of nearly two dozen toaster ovens gives the Hamilton Beach Set & Forget high marks for its performance in toasting a full six slices of bread. It's also easy to use, editors say, and it earns positive marks for broiling and toasting a single slice of bread. The Hamilton Beach Set & Forget 31230 can accommodate a 12-inch pizza or a 7-pound chicken.
There aren't an abundance of user reviews available for the Hamilton Beach Set & Forget 31230, but most are positive. About a dozen owners posting to Amazon.com contribute to an average rating of 4 stars out of 5. Among them, one owner reports a spontaneously shattering glass door, and there are a few complaints about malfunctioning units. Overall, however, about three-fourths of users praise the Hamilton Beach Set & Forget 31230 for its even toasting, precise cooking, range of functions and included features, such as digital controls, a meat probe, baking pan, broil rack and slide-out crumb tray for easy cleaning.
Another affordable option is the Hamilton Beach 31197R Countertop Oven (*Est. $100) , which includes two racks and two baking pans in addition to a rotisserie (an uncommon attachment for toaster ovens). It offers many of the features of more expensive toaster ovens, such as a timer and automatic shutoff. It is available in black or stainless steel (31199R) and is covered by a one-year warranty.
The Hamilton Beach 31197R Countertop Oven earns an impressive 4.5 out of 5 stars from nearly 700 owners at Walmart.com. Reviewers agree this spacious toaster is an unbeatable value if you just want a big oven that can crisp up frozen foods. It heats up fast, is very handy during the holidays, and cooks a whole chicken in about two hours. Many owners say they have been using it daily for years without durability issues. A few report problems with uneven cooking, especially when using both racks. This toaster oven also receives mostly positive reviews at Amazon.com, where it averages 4 stars out of 5 from more than 200 owners. Only a few are unhappy with the quality or cooking performance of the oven. This toaster oven's large size also means it requires a good deal of counter space. Because this model isn't recommended in any professional reviews, we opted to include the Hamilton Beach Set & Forget 31230 as our best reviewed pick, but the older 31197R still looks like a good choice.
The Oster TSSTTVMNDG Toaster Oven (*Est. $90) also fares well in one professional review, earning the third-highest overall score among nearly two dozen toaster ovens tested. The Oster TSSTVMNDG earns an average rating of 4.5 stars out of 5 in nearly 70 owner-written reviews on Walmart.com. Roughly 65 owners contribute to an average rating of 4 stars out of 5 on Amazon.com. Owners say the Oster toaster oven, which has digital controls and a lighted, spacious interior that can accommodate a 13-by-9-inch pan, is the perfect size for cooking everything from a slice of bread to Thanksgiving dinner. It has a total of six settings: bake, broil, preheat, pizza, defrost and toast. There are numerous complaints about cooking quality, such as uneven toasting and inaccurate settings. Several users say even on the lightest setting, toast tends to burn. The rack is adjustable to two positions, and a removable exterior crumb tray allows for easy cleanup. The majority of owners are highly pleased with the Oster TSSTTVMNDG toaster oven, but there are about a dozen complaints centering on performance.