English muffins, baguettes, Pop-Tarts, waffles, bagels, hot slices of whole-wheat grain sourdough, and pretty any other light bread can be toasted in a regular toaster.
Toaster ovens, however, are built differently. Besides being able to complete the light toasting just like your traditional toaster.
They can go further to broil your chops or burgers, roast your vegetables, and even bake some delicious chocolate chip cookies.
If you are still struggling to understand the distinction between a toaster and a toaster oven, remember the amount of food each can toast.
A toaster only handles a few lightweight foodstuffs such as waffles and bread, whereas the toaster oven can toast a long list of foods and even perform cooking tasks your regular oven would do on a smaller scale.
Eight Factors To A Successful Manufactured Home Toaster Oven Purchase
There are a few things you need to bear in mind though. Here are the factors to consider when shopping for an toaster oven:
- Size & Weight
- Must-Have Features
- Specialty Toaster Ovens
- Cost v/s Budget
- Energy Efficiency
1. Size & Weight
The overall size of the unit can help you determine whether the toaster oven will fit comfortably on your kitchen countertop.
Toaster oven dimensions are listed on your favorite eCommerce site under the Weights & Dimensions tab.
The measurements you will see entail the overall height, width, depth, and weight.
Before you embark on shopping, we recommend that you take the rough measurements of the maximum amount of space a toaster oven could comfortably take up on your countertop.
Be sure to choose a location with a grounded power outlet. Thereafter, proceed to shop for a product that fits the measurements you obtained.
Weight is also an important metric worth considering, especially if you are concerned about heavy lifting.
Many toaster ovens weigh just 10 lbs., but others can weigh as high as 20 lbs. even heavier.
There is a chance your oven toaster will be tasked with cooking some of the foods you normally prepare with an oven. The capacity and dimensions of the unit, therefore, will dictate the type of foods that can fit in it.
It is standard for the appliance’s capacity to be listed in the Dimensions & Weight label glued on the unit.
In most cases, the capacity of the unit is listed in cubic ft., with smaller units having 0.3 cubic ft. of interior space, whereas extra-large units may boast up to 1 cubic ft. of interior space!
Depending on the type of the toaster oven, capacity is also described in terms of the number of slices of toast the unit can hold or the pizza diameter.
For instance, large-sized toaster ovens are normally described as being capable of comfortably baking a 12” pizza or being able to toast 6-7 slices of toast at ago.
Consider your household’s needs when deciding the capacity of the unit.
A single or two-person household can be serviced perfectly with a smaller toaster oven that is capable of toasting a variety of small-size meals while occupying less space and consuming less energy compared to larger models.
On another hand, if you are looking for a toaster oven capable of toasting enough waffles to feed an entire family on the weekend mornings, look for an extra-large or large model with more interior capacities.
As such, toaster ovens can be split into four sizes:
- Mini Toaster Ovens
- Small Toaster Ovens
- Large Toaster Ovens
- Extra Large Toaster Ovens
Just as you would with any other appliance, you want a toaster oven from a brand known for quality, durability, and everything else that’s nice.
Reviewers (when they are impartial enough) can give you a clue of the best brand that offers the toaster oven you are looking for.
Also, spare some time to go through a few user reviews of the product on places like Amazon and similar platforms before committing yourself to acquire it.
Here are some of the best-rated toaster oven makers out there:
Black&Decker is one of the leaders in this market segment for a reason.
They make quality products that can be easily obtained from a range of retailers nationally, including
- and Bed Bath & Beyond.
Their models often come with not-so-common features, including the frozen pastry 1-touch function button.
This upscale Australian brand is a major supplier of small appliances that have been engineered towards performance.
Most Breville toaster ovens feature the 1-touch A Bit More lever/button for crisping, a defrost function, and a motorized Lift n’ Look control button.
Cuisinart is a small but popular brand that is on the expensive alley of small appliances.
You can find their toaster ovens in specialty channels and department stores.
Cuisinart toasters typically feature a sleek brushed stainless steel body and are equipped with reheat and defrost features alongside LED indicators.
DeLonghi is an Italian brand known for their fashionably colored and easy-to-operate toasters.
Their products can be found at some of the top stores, including Best Buy, Kohl’s, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Target.
This upscale British small appliances brand is known for their sturdy, industrial-retro-looking toaster ovens.
Famous for their large appliances and mixers, KitchenAid makes some of the best toaster ovens and toasters in this market segment. Their products are common in national chains, department stores, specialty stores, and appliance retailers.
This German brand supplies some of the finest coffee makers, but has carved a following for its toaster ovens and toasters as well. You will find their products on Marcy’s, Amazon.com, and Dillard’s.
Oster toaster ovens and toasters are value-priced, often starting at $20 all the way to $100. Practical features like the cool touch function and auto-shutoff can be found on their products.
Retailers include Target, Warehouse Clubs, and Walmart.
If you are looking for a brand that offers affordable small appliances, then you should check out Sunbeam’s toaster ovens.
Check with Target, online retailers, and discount stores.
Virtually all Wolf’s cooking appliances come with characteristic red knobs.
Thanks to Wolf, we now have more toaster ovens and toasters with large distinctive red knobs, too.
Beyond aesthetics, some outstanding features on their toaster ovens include the keep-warm setting and inbuilt temperature probe.
Their appliances are a bit costly though. You can find them in Williams-Sonoma or Sur la Table.
Hamilton Beach is among the market-share leaders in this segment.
Styles vary from the contemporary electric models to classic styled models with retro looks.
Hamilton Beach products are widely available at Bed Bath & Beyond, Target, Walmart, department stores, specialty stores, and regional outlets.
4. Basic Must-Have Features
There’s a list of features and functions that must be present on the toaster oven for it to qualify to be a truly easy-to-use product.
The best toaster oven is available with a range of user-friendly functions and features that classic units lack.
When leaving for the store, consider listing down all the features you want in a toaster oven.
Don’t forget these features:
You don’t want to end up with a badly toasted bagel, so you need a unit with a more modern and easy to use timer (no mechanical indicators).
Most of the toaster ovens you will find in the store are equipped with digital timers that show the cooking time and may ring an alarm when your bagel is ready.
Most toaster ovens come with auto shut-down settings that automatically stop cooking once the timer has run out. This is a must-have feature if you like multitasking or tend to be forgetful.
This feature helps you avoid burning yourself or close-by objects.
The exterior coat of the unit will stay cool for safety reasons while the oven cooks or toasts your food.
This feature is necessary if you have a bunch of curious kids who may try to touch the appliance while it’s running.
Do you plan to cook several levels of food in your toaster oven?
Go for a unit with additional trays that permit you to prepare more than one level of food simultaneously.
This design boosts the capacity of the toaster oven without increasing the dimensions or size of the unit.
Many toaster ovens nowadays come with a set of removable crumb trays in the bottom compartment to catch loose/falling crumbs.
These easily removable trays make cleaning easier. They also go a long way to prevent the unit from releasing burnt odors and smoke while cooking.
If you like to store your bread in a freezer, then this feature is something worth considering.
Most of the models you will find in the store come with this feature and some may go further to calculate the extra time it will take to cook frozen food.
Did you know you can reheat almost any food leftovers in your toaster oven and still not lose the original “crunch?”
You just need to buy a unit with Reheat settings – these settings are slightly different from what you have on your microwave.
The tradeoff, however, is that it will take a bit longer to reheat food in your toaster oven than in a microwave, but that’s justifiable if you want better results.
Wouldn’t it be a good thing to have a bigger say on how dark your toast should be?
Some toaster ovens are equipped with the Toast Shade feature to help you select the degree of scotch.
Typically, higher shade settings translate to a darker toast and vice versa.
Remember to pay close attention to the instructions that come with your specific model to avoid mistakes.
If you would like to see the cooking process and the status of your food during the whole process, go for a unit with an interior light.
Interior lights can also help prevent accidental burns on your hands.
Some models feature specific temperature settings to help you cook certain meals quickly with a simple push of a button.
These temperature settings are very much the same as those found in the regular oven.
You don’t want a unit without a display.
Although LED displays aren’t a common feature in these products, they are highly useful in showing the settings you chose and the status of your toaster oven.
Depending on the model, it can show anything from the time remaining to whether the door is open.
Infrared Heating Elements
Products with IR heating elements are faster. Infrared Heating allows the toaster oven to heat the food instantly – no preheating is necessary.
Note that there are two types of IR heating elements: Far and Near.
Near IR elements penetrate the food to cook it efficiently from the inside.
Far IR elements, on the other hand, cook the outside of the food. When used at the same time, they cook your food evenly in a very short time.
5. Specialty Toaster Ovens
We all know how a toaster oven bridges the traditional toaster and an oven, but some of them are designed to go beyond this and complete a special task.
For example, on top of toasting, most specialty products do go an extra mile to bake, warm, or broil.
Others are equipped with buttons specially designated for cooking particular kinds of foods, like chicken or pizza.
Several toaster ovens products come with more advanced specialty cooking functions such as these:
These special toaster ovens come with a powerful fan and an exhaust system that serve to circulate the heated air in the compartment during cooking.
Convection heating helps cook your food more efficiently and evenly than non-convection units.
An air fryer is basically a mini convection oven designed to heat your food evenly with the aid of a fan and exhaust. The fan and the exhaust serve to circulate hot air in the compartment.
This method of cooking is similar to how a regular fryer circulates oil to cook food.
An air-fryer toaster oven is a convection toaster oven that comes with a special basket tray that guarantees even more consistent and efficient crispiness.
Do you like Rotisserie chicken?
Why not but a Rotisserie toaster oven instead of a more generalized unit?
With a Rotisserie toaster oven in your kitchen, you are likely to forget everything about supermarket rotisserie chicken.
This type of specialty toaster oven comes with an (often removable) rotating spit while, allowing for even cooking.
A Rotisserie cooker is perfect for keeping large pieces of meat – whole chickens, prime ribs, and legs of lamb – juicy throughout cooking.
Toaster ovens can be split into two broad groups:
- countertop models
- cabinet models.
Countertop models are can be used on the countertop.
They are compact.
Their main disadvantage, however, is that they trade-off capacity with counter space.
The cabinet models are mounted underneath a cabinet.
They are larger than the former except that you’ll have a hard time bending to floor cabinets.
They can be risky to use if you install them in overhead cupboards.
7. Cost v/s Budget
Toaster ovens come with a broad range of price tags, starting at $40 – $45 for the most basic model.
If you intend to use it in place of your old full-size oven, you will need to go for the larger and more advanced models, which cost between $200 – $300.
Once you have made up your mind about the kind of product you want, with which features, it would be prudent for you to prepare a budget.
Related: Is It OK to Put the Toaster Oven On Top of the Microwave?
A budget helps you consider other complementary items you’d need alongside the toaster oven.
It also helps you set aside the amount of money you’d be willing to splash on even the most advanced product in the store.
8. Energy Efficiency
An average electric toaster oven costs roughly $0.03 per hour to run.
This makes an average toaster oven a better money saver compared to a full-size gas oven which has energy efficiency in the region of $0.07 per hour, or $0.16 per hour for the electric version.
You want the most energy-efficient product you could find to help you toast and cook more with less energy.
For faster cooking speed and better energy savings, many people prefer to invest in convection toaster ovens, which use a fan and hot air to cook. The circulating air tends to cook food quickly and more evenly at lower temperatures.