The ubiquitous toaster oven has humble beginnings that stretch back to 1910—when scientist William S. Hadaway cobbled together a small oven out of spare parts for the Westinghouse Corporation. Today, toaster oven sales have bloomed to nearly two million units per year, thanks to these kitchen appliances’ versatility and countertop-friendly form.
Toaster ovens excel at crisping, toasting, warming, and baking food at the level of a conventional oven, using electricity to get the job done quickly and efficiently. With some models, especially at larger sizes, cooking results can be virtually indistinguishable from those achieved in regular-sized ovens. Below, we’ll break down some of our favorite models as well as important factors to consider when selecting the best toaster oven for your culinary needs.
Things to consider when shopping for the best toaster oven
When selecting a toaster oven, space and wattage should be your first consideration. Also consider whether this appliance will supplement your existing kitchen collection or fully replace and take on the duties of a traditional oven, toaster, or dehydrator. These factors will determine the number of features you’ll want to look for, and because this category is so varied, identifying your needs will be the first important step in settling upon the best toaster oven for you.
How many functions does the toaster oven have?
Not surprisingly, toaster ovens have come a long way since their invention, adopting functionality that stretches far beyond simple bread toasting. If you have any inclination that you’ll be using your toaster oven for cooking or reheating—say, preparing a side dish from scratch or crisping up a frozen pizza—you should look for a unit that offers temperature and time control at bare minimum, if not one with dedicated modes for specific types of cooking.
Fortunately, today’s toaster ovens generally include these basic features and should be able to tackle the most common small-scale cooking and reheating needs of your kitchen. If you’re looking to replace or meet the power and cooking capabilities of a larger conventional oven, a toaster oven may be able to deliver there as well, thanks to some models packing true convection heating, air frying, steaming, and a whole host of other cooking modes to maximize your kitchen’s flexibility. Regardless of whether you have space to spare or are looking for a unit that can absorb multiple cooking responsibilities, a multifunctional toaster oven with specialty functions is by far one of the most versatile kitchen appliances available on the market.
Best multi-function toaster oven: Instant Omni Plus 11-in-1 Air Fryer & Toaster Oven
Make Pizza and Rotisserie Chicken
Convection cooking and rotisserie function in a countertop package. Amazon
From the makers of the popular Instant Pot multi-cookers comes this robust and versatile unit with a 26-liter capacity and numerous one-touch modes for air frying, dehydrating, broiling, proofing, and much more. This cooker’s capacity is enough to accommodate an entire whole chicken or a 12-inch pizza, making it a great space saver and a worthy opponent to any oven or microwave.
Check the wattage
In the most basic terms, wattage determines energy consumption and overall power. In the world of toaster ovens, this metric directly affects the heating capabilities of a particular unit and the time it takes to heat your food as a result. When considering different wattages in a toaster oven, it’s important to take into account what you’re aiming to heat or cook and whether or not you have wiggle room in your electricity bill to upgrade to a unit with higher power. Generally speaking, toaster ovens don’t consume an unreasonable amount of energy when compared with most other appliances, but once you get into the realm of convection heating, air frying, and beyond, these changes may start to appear on your electric bill.
The plus side to choosing a toaster oven with a high operating wattage is a marked increase in cooking temperature, which is essential for performing quick operations at high heat like crisping and browning. Higher wattage also means shorter cooking time, which can make a big difference when preparing food at a moment’s notice. Higher wattage isn’t nearly as significant when it comes to slow cooking, but if you’re looking to achieve perfectly prepared meals in a hurry, it’s important to go for a toaster oven that’s powered sufficiently for your needs.
Best high-wattage toaster oven: Panasonic FlashXpress Compact Toaster Oven
Finished with a durable glass door that slides out the internal rack when opened. Amazon
This toaster oven from Panasonic runs on 1,300 watts of power and uses a pair of quartz and ceramic elements to quickly and evenly cook, reheat, and defrost your food with high-efficiency infrared heat. It offers six auto-cook modes, a digital timer, and manual controls, and it comes with a removable pan and crumb tray for extra flexibility.
Take note of the dimensions
Toaster ovens are a go-to space-saving kitchen appliance, thanks to the unique combination of their versatile heating capabilities and traditionally small footprint. While the average toaster oven on the market can accommodate a cooking surface area that amounts to the equivalent of four slices of bread, some toaster oven models take space-saving to extremes and offer up high power and versatility in an even tinier package.
Settings, where a smaller-than-average toaster oven might excel, include small apartment kitchens, auxiliary kitchens, entertaining spaces, RVs, offices, bars, and more. If no more than one or two people are eating or preparing food at once, you can probably get away with a smaller unit.
Best toaster oven for small spaces: Dash Mini Toaster Oven
Features a dishwasher-safe baking tray, oven rack, and crumb tray for easy cleaning. Amazon
This mini toaster oven from Dash can accommodate food items around the size of a sandwich and heat them with 550 watts of power, making this model ideal for quickly preparing single portions of food in a tiny space. The temperature dial allows precise control of heating and uses a simple turn on-and-off design for ease of use.
The best toaster ovens have a wide temperature range
If you’re looking for a toaster oven to replace your traditional oven, it’s important to consider whether the toaster oven is capable of reaching high enough temperatures. This sounds simple enough, but considering that conventional ovens rely on either gas power or high-voltage electric hookups, the toaster oven has its work cut out for it.
As mentioned earlier, toaster ovens reach high temps through high wattage, but this process takes further delicate engineering and is facilitated by using multiple heating elements and placing them in specific areas of the oven’s interior. This multi-zoned heating is key to even cooking and maintaining the temperature throughout the food. Some of the best toaster ovens employ the added benefits of convection, moving hot air around the food to prevent heat pockets from forming and ensuring even cooking every time.
Best temperature range toaster oven: Breville 1800-Watt Convection Toaster Oven
A True Step Up
Sports an easy-to-read LCD display that changes from blue to orange while in operation. Amazon
This powerful 1,800-watt toaster oven from Breville packs heat rivaling that of conventional ovens thanks to its five onboard quartz elements that work together to transfer heat around the oven’s interior. It can accommodate meals up to 13 inches in width and features a dial with nine preset cooking functions for easy operation.
Look for versatile accessories
If a toaster oven’s role in your kitchen is to be as versatile as it can be, it follows that it should include accessories that enhance its ability to be pushed to the max. Because of their varying shapes and sizes, toaster ovens often won’t accommodate traditional baking pans, skewers, or any other type of generic cooking implements. A budget toaster oven generally won’t include any of these extras, and it’s important to consider whether a model includes everything you’ll need to start cooking right away or if you’ll have to make additional purchases to round it out.
A flat or ridged baking pan is of the most common accessories included with a toaster oven. These are included to support items that might otherwise crumble or melt through the oven’s internal rack during the cooking process, such as cookies, pizza, or egg-based dishes. If a toaster oven model is on the larger side and capable of cooking modes like broiling or roasting, you might consider whether it includes a dedicated high-temperature pan or a pan insert for drippings. Some toaster ovens even offer a rotisserie mode, and in cases like these, a proprietary roasting spit is almost always included.
Best toaster oven with accessories: GoWISE USA Deluxe 15-in-1 Oven
How About Some Jerky?
A versatile multi-cooker that offers a spacious 12.7-quart interior for preparing large meals. Amazon
This toaster oven and air fryer multi-cooker combo is an incredible value, thanks to its 15 available cooking modes and included 10 accessories (there’s a rotisserie cage, drip pan, mesh basket, and more). It operates with a simple touch interface and sports three separate tray racks to max out flexibility and capacity during use.
Best budget toaster oven: What you get for under $60
It’s not difficult to find a budget toaster oven for under $50, but be prepared to cut some corners in terms of versatility and build quality. The Hamilton Beach Toaster Oven ticks all the boxes for an item in this price range, offering convenient broil and bake functions as well as a cooking timer. Still, you’ll likely have to spend a bit more if you want to ensure thorough, quick, and predictable results from your toaster oven, which is usually half the reason for buying one at all.
FAQ: Everything else you wonder about toaster ovens
What is the best toaster oven for small spaces?
Look for a toaster oven with an above-average amount of power for its size to ensure that food retains its proper texture and doesn’t require too much time to cook. Think at least 550 to 600 watts for a particularly small model.
What is the best toaster oven for ease of use?
The best toaster oven for ease of use will require very little, if any, user intervention. Since these devices are made to perform multiple tasks, it’s common to see toaster ovens with user interfaces that are riddled with presets that let you click a single button and cook your food perfectly.
What is the best smart toaster oven?
Smart functionality is most useful in the kitchen when it allows users to remotely monitor and control the cooking process and remain free to engage in other activities. The best smart toaster oven will offer users this functionality and might include smart home and voice control compatibility, which is ideal for hands-free cooking on busy mornings.
Final thoughts on shopping for the best toaster oven
The venerable toaster oven, versatile as it is, comes in a predictably huge number of variants and sizes. Some models simply toast or reheat food at a cost-effective price point, while others sometimes eliminate the need for larger kitchen appliances. Depending on the space in question and the culinary needs of the user, there’s a specific toaster oven out there that’s a perfect fit for every situation. Whether you’re downsizing and replacing your conventional oven, looking for a compact way to spit roast a chicken, or just trying to make good toast, a toaster oven might be just the thing you need to round out your kitchen.
Powered by WPeMatico