Quick facts about toaster ovens:
- A toaster oven, also known as a benchtop or compact oven is a mini, multipurpose cooker that's ideal for small tasks as an alternative to a full-sized oven.
- When choosing a toaster oven, the most important things to consider are the range of cooking functions you need and how much space you have in your kitchen.
- Prices range from $35 up to $350 depending on the brand, model and range of functions.
Types of toaster ovens
There are two types of toaster ovens: benchtop/compact and glass convection.
|Compact: ||A mini version of a full-size oven||Smaller budgets and those that don't need an oven replacement.|
- Suitable for small spaces
- Can toast bread, pizza, cookies and other quick snacks
|Glass convection: ||A large, heat-resistant glass bowl with a lid, a heating element and a fan that circulates|
the heat inside the oven
|Larger homes and those that want the full range of features.|
- Suitable for bigger homes
- Full oven functionality
- More expensive
How to compare toaster ovens
Here are the key features you need to consider when comparing toaster ovens:
Do you want to toast six slices of bread, a whole chicken and a 14-inch pizza? A larger oven cavity can handle a wider range of cooking tasks. You need to balance picking an oven that's large enough to cook what you need but also small enough to squeeze onto your kitchen top.
Range of functions
Consider which functions you actually need. Some premium models have up to 15 functions, including warm, reheat and defrost modes, as well as specific settings for bagels, sandwiches, convection, baking, roasting, broiling, grilling, pizzas and cookies. High-end models may have extra functions such as an air fryer, a dehydrator and auto-cook and dual cycle settings, but these may not be necessary for your needs.
This includes preset functions that provide suggested time and temperature settings and can be customised to your own recipes.
More expensive models will include adjustable temperature controls and toast-shade modes.
How many racks does the oven have and are they reversible and adjustable? Models with two racks will cost you more.
Trays and pans
What trays do you need? If you want to bake pizza, cook a roast or broil, you may prefer a model that comes with a dedicated roasting tray and baking pan for an added cost. You can buy these extras yourself, but toaster oven trays are typically not a standard size.
- Controls. Check for easy-to-read, intuitive controls for fuss-free use.
- Warranty. Most models offer a standard one-year warranty.< li>
- Removable, accessible crumb tray. This is a tray that slips out from the front instead of the back, can be removed while the oven is hot (or else you have to lift the oven to access the tray) and is easier to clean.
- Auto-eject racks. This is a rack that moves halfway out when the oven door opens, making it easier to take out hot food.
- Auto shut-off. Most ovens have this feature and turn off after 30 to 60 seconds, decreasing the chance of accidental fires.
- Audible alert. Pick a model that notifies you when your food is cooked, as well as providing a visual signal.
- Internal light. Handy for checking the progress of cooking without opening the oven door, to prevent heat loss.< li>
- Other accessories. For glass convection ovens, models that include rack tongs and a lid holder are handy to prevent scalding.
- Cleaning. A non-stick interior, rather than ceramic, is easier to clean. Check also whether the trays are dishwasher compatible if your home uses one.
- Door type. Some models offer a roll-top door or French door for easy access and visibility while cooking.
Pros and cons
If you're unsure whether a toaster oven is the right choice for you, take a look at the pros and cons below:
- Cheaper than a standard oven
- Small, easy to store and portable
- Uses less energy than an oven and won't heat up your home as much, particularly in summer
- Good as an add-on when you run out of room in your main oven
- Can bake, roast, grill and toast
- Not suitable for large items
- Not as powerful as a microwave oven with grill function or a convection microwave oven