A toaster oven toasts, bakes, broils, and occasionally even prepares a whole rack of kebabs. This is why they are increasingly becoming the go-to kitchen appliance for first-time homeowners and home chefs.
But just as demand increases, so do the available offers. This can quickly turn the initial choice into a difficult one: many models offer a large number of features, accessories and presets. But do they really work as well as they claim? And for how long can you expect them to?
So who has the best toaster oven? The answer includes Cuisinart, Ninja, Black & Decker, or Hamilton Beach, which consistently provide good quality appliances. The ideal choice for you will also depend on your needs and budget.
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Leading Manufacturers of Toaster Ovens
A well-established manufacturer offers consistent advantages over unknown newcomers: first, you can have a steady name backing the warranty. Second, it will be easier to find replacement parts, or people who have already bought the same product – which allows you to get an insider’s look inside their performance.
Finally, large kitchen appliance manufacturers often follow a consistent design set. If you get more appliances from the same brand, you can make your kitchen look better.
Cuisinart is one of America’s largest kitchen appliance brands. Ever since they released the original food processor in the 1970s, they have focused on providing convenience and helping people cook in less time.
Their toaster oven ranges from the basic “toasts, bakes, warms up” feature to larger Smart Toaster Ovens capable of dehydrating food, air frying, grilling, or modifying its own presets.
Ninja kitchen appliances are a relatively new brand, but they have earned fame very quickly because they have embraced digitalization. Most of their products offer digital displays, additional sensors, or Bluetooth connectivity. When it comes to their toaster ovens, they also have privileged futuristic designs that blend well with similar products – but not as much with other brands.
Black & Decker
For many, Black & Decker is a house name that evokes sturdiness and fidelity. Perhaps this is because they also have a well-known tool line or their electric can opener’s reputation of lasting forever.
Black & Decker offers toaster ovens and convection ovens at different price ranges. However, most share two qualities: they have rapid heating elements that provide low cooking times and sound insulation.
Dating back to 1904, Hamilton Beach now has more than 100 years in the home appliance market. The brand began investing in the kitchen niche from the start. They recently merged with Proctor Silex, the original creators of the pop-up toaster. They also offer slow cookers, coffee makers and juice extractors.
Pros and Cons of Toaster Ovens
The main goal of a toaster oven is usually to replace at least two other appliances in your kitchen. Let’s take a look at some of the most common comparisons.
Toaster oven versus a regular oven
The most obvious comparison is that between a toaster oven and a regular convection oven. This is partly because many modern kitchens now offer a dishwasher where the old stoves gas oven used to be. Meanwhile, modern electric full sized ovens are often touted as a sturdier option.
So what gives?
- Both a regular oven and a toaster oven now offer the chance to set the temperature precisely and consistently.
- Regular ovens are larger and often reach higher temperatures. This means you can fit an entire chicken, a turkey, or a 12-inch pizza inside.
- Only a large toaster oven with a capacity of over 0.9 cubic feet will let you cook an entire pizza or chicken.
- Toaster ovens are easier to place and help you save counter space. They also tend to consume less electricity.
Toaster oven versus microwave
For decades, microwaves have represented speed and convenience, but not necessarily quality food. When comparing them with a toaster oven, consider:
- A microwave may be quicker at handling cooked food or frozen food.
- Microwaves also tend to consume less electricity when reheating foods
- Like a frozen pizza, dough or bread-based foods often become soggy in the microwave but feel freshly baked if placed in the toaster oven.
- Some dishes should not be reheated but rather kept warm after cooking. This is only possible with a toaster oven.
Toaster oven versus pop up toaster
Let’s look now at the other half of a toaster oven: the toasting setting. Which one provides the best results?
If you just want plain toast every morning, a pop up toaster will be more energy efficient.
Technically, a pop up toaster also takes less time, but it only allows you to toast 2 or 4 slices at a time.
If your toaster oven comes with an additional baking pan, you can also use it to make grilled cheese sandwiches or French toast.
What to Look for in a Toaster Oven
The long lists of features shown in toaster oven reviews can be confusing. To find out who has the best toaster oven for you, you will need to examine your needs and contrast them with the following:
Number of rack positions
Most small toaster ovens offer only two rack positions. Larger ones can offer up to four. Some models may allow you to take advantage of this to cook several things at once.
Always check the Energy Star rating of any appliances you are planning to buy. The difference between an “A” rating and a “C” one may feel irrelevant – but it could represent consistently higher electricity bills.
Very basic toaster ovens will only include one heating element or hot iron inside. However, more sophisticated ones (especially those who offer a broiling function) will offer two.
In addition, convection fans may not be a standalone source of heat, but they will cut down on your cooking times.
When deciding how large of an appliance you can get, don’t look at the total size alone. Remember that you will need to leave a distance of at least 10 cm to each side of the appliance for safety reasons.
This should be contrasted with the overall capacity of your toaster oven. This is usually provided in cubic feet. Anything 0.6 cubic feet or above should allow you to toast six slices of bread or three servings of meat at once.
Most toaster ovens come with a set of baking accessories. At the very least, look for a baking pan and a crumb tray. Depending on your cooking habits, you may also want to look for a baking pan, a broiler, or a rotisserie spit.
When possible, choose a toaster oven that includes stainless steel accessories, not plastic or Teflon-coated ones.
A good toaster oven will allow you to toast bread, roast a chicken, or grill some corn all in one appliance. The additional features offered by each will vary by brand– so why not look at some of our top picks here?