There are a lot of things I simply refuse to microwave because they just don’t taste right when you do. Slices of pizza and potatoes (especially French fries) come to mind. Now, one could throw their cold pizza in a frying pan to heat it up, but I’m a human. I prefer an oven. And, I care enough about the environment and my utility bills to not use a conventional oven. This is where a toaster oven comes in handy.
I value my kitchen space, but I think a toaster oven deserves a spot in every kitchen unless your space is so small you use your oven for clothes storage. Here are the most important factors to look for when buying a toaster oven.
First, Ask Yourself Some Questions (Preferably Out Loud)
Before you buy the first toaster oven you see, you should know what to look for.
Do you have much counter space?
There are several sizes of toaster ovens. Grab your ruler or tape measure and figure out how much space you have. Add a few inches to each measurement to allow for ventilation around the appliance. Never rely on pictures to gauge how big a toaster oven is. Instead, take a look at the measurements on the Amazon product page.
What do you want to put in your oven?
Most manufacturers will tell you how much bread the toaster oven can toast at once, how big of a chicken or pigeon you can fit in there, or what size Hawaiian pizza you can toss inside. This is useful if you like to eat these sorts of things and have a large family. On the other hand, if you’re a lonely cat person who only wants a toaster oven to toast a couple pieces of bread and have not heard of toasters, I suggest you read our toaster reviews.
Are you looking for a convection oven?
A convection oven can be incredibly expensive. Fortunately, you can save money and enjoy the fascinating world of convection cooking when you choose a toaster oven with convection capabilities. The results tend to be virtually indistinguishable from their larger, non-countertop counterparts.
Features of the Hottest Toaster Ovens
What are toaster ovens capable of? Here are some of the top features:
- Accessories that Fit – Your standard baking pans will not fit in a toaster oven. Luckily, manufacturers understand this and provide you with drip pans and baking racks that are the right size.
- Automatic Shut-off – Sure, it’s fun to start fires on purpose, but accidental fires can be a real hazard. With the automatic shut-off, you will never be accused of arson.
- Audible Alerts – Is there any way to tell your food is done? Most toaster ovens beep at you when they’re ready.
- Simple Controls – When you have a big bag of pizza rolls, you want to be able to cook it immediately without first reading a convoluted user’s manual. The good toaster ovens have intuitive controls.
- Nonstick Interior – If cleaning is your thing, being able to easily wipe down your oven is a plus.
- Removable Crumb Tray – Much like a toaster, you will get crumb build up in your toaster oven. This can interfere with the functioning of the device. You could just throw it away when this happens, but if there is an easy to remove and clean crumb tray, you could save tens of dollars every year.
Now that you know what to look for, throw all of your new knowledge out of the window and just buy one of my top 10 best toaster ovens:
- Pull-out crumb tray, auto shut-off, and three rack positions
- Easily fits 11-inch pizza or four slices of bread
- Uses Element IQ technology for fast, even cooking
When it comes to performance and value, nothing beats the Breville BOV450XL. It roasts. It’ll toast. It will bake, cook steak, reheat, make a treat, broil, and remove toil. It is easy enough for my kids to use, and it’s surprisingly durable. Breville tells you that you can’t put the toaster oven under a cabinet, but I have not heard any reports of adverse issues from users who have stored stuff on top of this oven. I would just make sure that whatever you put on top is able to withstand hot temps.
- Convection toaster oven that fits six slices
- Comes with three-year warranty
- Has buttons for reheat, toast, pizza, defrost, bagel, convection, and broil
Are you and your standard oven thinking of breaking up? If so, the Cuisinart TOB-195 is the toaster oven for you. Many users have reported using their old oven for storage now that they have the TOB-195. With the convection cooking, it preheats quickly, and your food is ready in no time. The biggest downside is that you may still want to keep your toaster around since this oven tends to take its sweet time with bread.
- Nice rack
- Interior light so you can watch your food cook
- You can fit a twelve-inch pizza in there
This Oster toaster oven is the most affordable convection oven you will find that actually works well. Sure, you could get the Hamilton Beach option at #6 on this list for less, but the convection function does not work well. This appliance will fit casserole dishes that are up to nine inches by thirteen inches. Another reason users are praising this Oster is its ability to maintain a temperature within a few degrees of what you set it to.
- Looks cool
- Compact design
- Cooks up to 40 percent faster than regular toaster ovens
Have you ever thought “Man, I really love the manufacturer of my projector, camera, television, washing machine, air conditioner, and copy machine. If only they sold toaster ovens”? If so, the Panasonic NB-G110P is the toaster oven for you. It uses a double infrared light to cook your food, which means you do not need to waste time waiting for the oven to preheat.
- One-year warranty
- 8 presets, including broil, bake, toast, pizza, roast, bagel, and just sit there doing nothing
- Fits a twelve-inch pizza or four slices of Jewish rye bread
Breville is probably the best toaster oven company out there. They are a little bit pricier, but well-worth the higher price tag. The BOV650XL is your standard Breville product. It toasts evenly and is easy to clean. However, for my money, I’d get one of the ovens above.
- Comes with back rack and bake pan with two rack position
- Removable crumb tray
- Broil, toast, and bake functions
I don’t know where Hamilton Beach is, but I imagine it being inexpensive and very basic. It also probably doesn’t deliver on its promises. I get that impression because of the negative comments on this product’s convection capabilities. Don’t buy this if you are looking for a convection oven. On the bright side, it has a cool roll-up door for easy access, and it does a good job of toasting, cooking frozen foods, and reheating leftovers.
- Nearly a cubic foot of space
- Fits a thirteen-inch pizza
- Fifteen cooking functions, like speed convection and dual cook
The TOB-260N1 is the hoity-toity rich person toaster oven. If you host several Thanksgiving meals throughout the year (you laugh, but I really do this: turkey is cheap), you know your oven can only fit so much. This is a great sidekick. It might even replace your oven.
- Two-hour timer
- Fits six slices of bread easily or one twelve-inch bacon-onion-and-extra-cheese pizza
- Digital screen
I use a BLACK+DECKER in my day-to-day. I didn’t choose it. It was given to me as a prize for marrying my wife (who else would I marry?) I have deemed it the “Party Pizza Maker” complete with sign since that is its main function. I am very fat. That said, I will probably go with one of the above options for my next toaster oven. BLACK+DECKER seems to have a hard time with even toasting and heating of the food products. However, this is your best option if you want to spend as little as possible.
- Comes with two oven racks
- Cooks two large take-and-bake pizzas at once
- Uses half the energy of a standard oven, especially if you usually leave your conventional oven door open
In the summer, even if you have the AC blasting, using your normal traditional oven can make it unbearably hot in the house. The TSSTTVDGXL-SHP (such a catchy name) does a good job of keeping your house temps from spiking.
- Comes with a rotisserie
- Fits two 9” by 13” casseroles
- Questionable convection abilities
I don’t think Hamilton Beach knows what a convection oven is. Thankfully, the 31104 has other redeeming qualities, like it will give a five-pound chicken a fun hours-long spinny ride.
Are you about to get married and want people to get you the right toaster oven? Share a link to this buying guide in your wedding invitation!