When we first get our own place, we often get particularly excited about a specific room in the house. If you are an amateur chef, there’s a good chance that this room will be the kitchen. The problem is that most starter apartments tend to have small kitchens that don’t allow the full range of gourmet experimentation.
When this happens, it pays to get a single appliance that can do as many things as possible, such as a high-end toaster oven broiler. This appliance can be intimidating, though, as too many features are often hard or confusing to navigate.
So how to use a toaster oven broiler? The answer depends on your appliance and on what you are trying to cook. Yet, most toaster oven broilers follow the same concepts: they rely on three knobs that help you adjust the heat source, the temperature, and the cooking time.
Using a Toaster Oven at Home, Step by Step
Install and test
Not all stores test kitchen appliances as well as they should. This is why you should always pay extra attention to the set-up instructions included in your user’s manual. Then, you should try turning the appliance on to ensure everything is working correctly before tossing the box or packaging.
Find appropriate counter space for your toaster oven. This should be flat, levelled, and close to an outlet. You should have enough room to ensure that the toaster oven won’t touch the wall behind it directly. You should also have at least an inch of space to the sides.
- Make sure your countertop is heat resistant. Toaster ovens are not supposed to generate a lot of heat below them. However, with frequent use, you could accidentally damage any cheap plastic laminates.
- Remove all the packaging and set it aside. Sometimes, the glass door, wires, and sides may be covered in hard-to-spot plastic lining. This could be dangerous when heated!
- Double-check the inside of the oven to make sure no Styrofoam pieces of padding are left inside.
- Plug the toaster oven and move the timer knob. Check that the pilot light is turning on properly.
- Leave the oven on for 2 minutes. Check that heat is generating inside – be careful not to burn yourself!
- Wash all trays, rack, or sheet pan in warm soapy water before you put any food inside them.
Operating your Toaster Oven
The key to using a toaster oven correctly is to know which knob or switch does what.
Most toaster ovens come with three knobs of dials:
- A temperature knob. Most models include the temperature in Celsius and Fahrenheit around it.
- A function knob. It usually features a series of symbols that represent each cooking mode. At the very least, you will get a toast, regular oven, and broiler position. Most toaster ovens also include a “convection oven” mode.
- A timer know. It usually comes with three positions at the beginning, indicating how dark your toast should be. Past the 5 minute mark, expect numbers telling the cooking time.
Even smaller, less fancy toaster ovens come with a toast function – that’s why it was included in the name. When making toast, your toaster oven will use low, steady heat from the top and bottom heating coils.
Here’s how to use it:
- Arrange the slices of bread on top of the baking tray
- Slide the tray on the top or middle rack
- Close the oven tray
- Set the function knob on the “Toast” position
- Twist the timer knob and place it to one of the first three spots. Symbols rather than words likely indicate these. They stand for light, medium, and dark toast, in that order.
- Wait for the timer bell to ring and remove your toast from the oven
The “Baking” mode works much like any regular oven, and it allows you to cook many of the same things: meats, small lasagnas, cookies, cupcakes, or even bread.
When you use your toaster oven in “baking” mode, your oven will emit heat from both the top and bottom heating coils. However, the baking mode allows you to control the oven’s internal temperature more precisely and across a much more comprehensive range.
- Preheat the oven by turning the temperature to whatever the recipe requires. Then, turn the timer knob and set it to 5 to 7 minutes.
Pro tip: Some toaster oven broilers mark the right “preheating time” on the dial.
- Meanwhile, prepare the tray with your food. You can use the sheet pan that was included with the oven or on a special one (such as a cupcake or donut pan)
- As soon as the timer bell rings, open the oven and slide the tray in the middle rack.
- Twist the timer knob again, and set it to the total cooking time.
- Wait for the timer bell to ring before removing your food from the oven. Make sure to use oven mittens or silicone holders!
The “Broiling” mode is, in many ways, very similar to the baking one, as it allows you to cook for longer periods and at higher temperatures. However, the broiling mode uses only the top heating coil at a stronger temperature. Because of it this, it is better for grating cheesy foods or grilling meats.
Because the heat will be coming from only one source, broiling requires you to double-check that the meat has cooked evenly to a safe level.
- Set the oven to the target temperature. Then, turn the timer knob and set it to 5 to 7 minutes to start preheating.
- Meanwhile, arrange the meat on top of the broiling rack.
- As soon as the timer bell rings, slide the rack and the meat into the top position.
- Move the timer knob again and set it to the full cooking time, minus 2 minutes.
- Close the oven door.
- As soon as the timer bell rings, grab a pair of oven mittens and slide the meat halfway out from the oven.
- Use a meat thermometer to check whether the internal temperature is high enough. Just insert it until it is halfway into the meat.
- If it is, take the meat out.
- If it’s not hot enough, slide the tray back in and set the timer for an additional 5 to 8 minutes.
- Once the meat it’s ready, take it out
According to the USDA, to be safe, the internal temperature must be of at least:
- 160 °F for ground beef, pork, veal, or lamb
- 165 °F ground turkey or chicken
- 145 °F for steaks, roasts or pork chops
- 160 °F for egg dishes
- 145 °F for any fish with fins
A toaster oven broiler is a great option to maximize counter space if you have a small kitchen. They were designed to accommodate many different types of cooking styles. Basic, budget-friendly models are usually easy to clean and use and tend to be more energy-efficient than regular ovens. On the other hand, the best toaster oven models out there will also add extra accessories for air frying, making rotisserie chicken, or dehydrating food.