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Toaster Oven Buying: Finding the Best Value for Your Money

Have you had it with your old toaster oven? Maybe it’s barely working or not cooking your food evenly anymore. Whatever the reason, it’s time for an upgrade. Buying a new toaster oven should be an easy process, but with so many options out there it can get complicated. How do you choose the right size, features and brand for your needs without overspending? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered.

In this guide, we’ll walk you through everything you need to know to find an affordable, high-quality toaster oven that will last you for years. By the end of this, you’ll be a Toaster Oven Buying pro, ready to find a model that’s perfect for your kitchen and cooking style. Let’s get started!

Toaster Oven Buying

Toaster Oven Buying

Toaster Oven Buying: Finding the Best Value for Your Money

Things to Consider Before Buying a Toaster Oven

When buying a toaster oven, there are a few things you’ll want to consider first to find one that suits your needs and budget.

  • Size – Do you need a compact model for small spaces or a larger oven for cooking whole meals? Toaster ovens range from under 2 cubic feet up to 6 cubic feet or more of interior space. Think about how much food you want to cook at a time.
  • Functions – Most basic toaster ovens toast bread and bake or reheat small items. More advanced models can roast, broil, slow cook, dehydrate, and more. Determine what cooking functions are most important to you.
  • Settings – Consider how much control you want over temperature, time, and other settings. Digital displays and touchpad or knob controls allow for precise adjustments. Some have presets for common foods. Decide if you prefer more basic or customized control.
  • Extras – Additional features like interior lights, removable crumb trays, oven racks, rotisseries, and convection fans can be convenient but also increase the cost. Choose extras that will be useful to you.
  • Brand – Stick with a reputable brand for a toaster oven that will last. Check reviews to determine which companies offer the best value, quality, and customer service in your price range.
  • Budget – Toaster oven prices range from under $50 up to $500 or more for a high-end model. Set a budget before you start shopping to avoid spending more than you can afford. You can get a perfectly suitable toaster oven for under $150.

Following these tips will help you find an affordable, high-quality toaster oven with all the features you need to make quick and easy homemade meals. Your new countertop cooking companion awaits!

Size Matters: Choosing the Right Capacity Toaster Oven

Toaster Oven Buying

Toaster Oven Buying

A toaster oven is a versatile small appliance, but choosing the right size for your needs is important. Too small, and it won’t handle everything you want to toast or bake. Too big, and it takes up too much space and wastes energy.

For a single person or couple, a compact model with around 4 to 6 slice capacity is usually perfect. It’s big enough for a pizza, garlic bread, or a small casserole, but won’t overpower your countertop. Families will want to size up to at least a 6 to 8 slice toaster oven. That gives you room for a 9×13 inch pan to make a batch of brownies or a small chicken.

If you like to entertain or cook big meals, a large capacity toaster oven of 10 to 12 slices or more is ideal. You’ll have space for roasting a turkey breast, baking a ham, or cooking sides for a crowd. The trade-off is these ovens take up a lot of room and can be more difficult to clean.

Another factor is how much interior height you need. Some ovens can accommodate a whole chicken or roast, while others top out at about 3 inches high, best for reheating leftovers or making snacks. Check the listed capacity in cubic feet to determine what will fit inside.

In the end, choose a toaster oven size that suits how you cook and the amount of space you have. Don’t just rely on the number of slices since that can vary between models. Think about what types of foods you want to make and buy an oven with enough interior room and power to handle it. The right size toaster oven for you will depend on your needs, so take time to determine what’s most important before you buy.

Toaster Oven Types: Convection vs. Standard vs. Infrared

Toaster ovens come in three main types: standard, convection, and infrared. The type you choose will depend on how you plan to use it and your budget.

Standard Toaster Ovens

The most basic and affordable type, standard toaster ovens use heating elements to toast, bake, and broil. They heat up and cook food at a single, consistent temperature. Standard models are great for basic tasks like making toast, baking small batches of cookies, or quickly reheating leftovers. However, they typically don’t circulate the hot air as well so you may need to rotate pans for even cooking.

Convection Toaster Ovens

Convection toaster ovens have a fan that circulates the hot air for faster, more even cooking. The circulating air helps brown food more evenly and allows you to cook at lower temperatures. Convection models can handle more complex cooking and baking tasks like roasting a whole chicken or baking a casserole. However, convection fans can be noisy and convection ovens tend to cost more than standard models.

Infrared Toaster Ovens

Infrared toaster ovens use infrared radiation to directly heat the food instead of heating the air inside the oven. They heat up extremely quickly and can cook in half the time of standard ovens. Infrared models are good for quickly reheating food, making toast, or cooking frozen snacks. However, they typically can’t handle heavy-duty cooking tasks and only heat to a maximum of around 450 F. Infrared ovens also tend to be the most expensive type.

In the end, consider how much cooking space you need, your budget, and what types of foods you want to make in your toaster oven before deciding between these options. Any of these types can work great, you just need to choose what’s right for your needs. With some research, you’ll discover the perfect toaster oven for your kitchen and cooking style.

Essential Toaster Oven Features to Look For

When shopping for a toaster oven, there are a few essential features to consider that will ensure you get the most use and value from your purchase.

Size

The size of the toaster oven is one of the most important factors. Think about how much space you have in your kitchen and what you’ll primarily be using the toaster oven for. A small, compact model may be perfect for singles or couples, while a larger oven is better for families or if you plan to use it for baking casseroles or roasting chicken. Look for the capacity in cubic feet to determine how much it can fit.

Heating Elements

Most standard toaster ovens have two heating elements – one on the top and one on the bottom. More advanced models may also have a third element in the back. Multiple, powerful elements will heat the oven faster and more evenly. Quartz or ceramic elements tend to heat up quicker than metal ones.

Temperature Range

A wide temperature range gives you more cooking versatility. Look for a model that can reach at least 450 degrees Fahrenheit for high-heat cooking methods like broiling, roasting and baking. Some ovens reach up to 500 degrees or higher. A lower minimum temperature, around 150 degrees, is good for keeping food warm, dehydrating or proofing bread.

Additional Features

Extras like convection fans, rotisseries, dehydrating racks, and pizza stones or trays add functionality to a toaster oven. A convection fan circulates the hot air for fast, even cooking. A rotisserie attachment lets you cook a chicken or roast. Dehydrating and baking racks provide more options. Digital or programmable controls make the oven easy to operate.

Brand reputation

Stick with a reputable brand that is known for quality and durability. Check reviews from sources like Consumer Reports or CNET to see ratings and customer reviews. A good toaster oven should last you for many years, so you want one from a brand that stands behind their products.

By considering these essential features, you’ll be able to find an affordable and high-quality toaster oven that suits all your cooking needs. Shop around at stores or online, compare different models and brands, check reviews, and get the best value for your money.

Top Toaster Oven Brands: A Buying Guide

When shopping for a toaster oven, consider the following top brands based on quality, performance, and value.

Breville

Breville is an Australian company that produces high-quality kitchen appliances, including top-rated toaster ovens. Their models like the Compact Smart Oven and the Mini Smart Oven offer premium build quality, even heating, and useful features in a compact size. Breville is a reputable brand that stands behind their products with solid warranties. However, their ovens do come at a higher price point.

Cuisinart

Cuisinart makes a range of dependable and affordable toaster ovens, from basic models to more advanced ones with convection cooking and digital controls. A popular choice is the Cuisinart TOB-135 Deluxe Convection Toaster Oven Broiler, which can handle up to six slices of bread at once and has nine functions including convection baking. Cuisinart ovens represent good value for the performance and are a trusted brand in kitchen appliances.

Oster

Oster specializes in affordable toaster ovens suited for everyday use. Models like the Oster TSSTTVSKBT Digital Large Capacity Toaster Oven can handle up to six slices of bread or a whole chicken, with settings for baking, broiling, toasting, and keeping food warm. Oster ovens offer simple but useful features at budget-friendly prices, although build quality may be lower than premium brands. For casual use, an Oster can be a good inexpensive option.

Hamilton Beach

Like Oster, Hamilton Beach focuses on affordably priced toaster ovens for basic cooking needs. Their models such as the Hamilton Beach 31126 Easy Reach Toaster Oven are compact, easy to use, and can handle up to four slices of bread at a time. Hamilton Beach ovens are best for small households on a budget. They may lack some of the power, capacity and features of higher-end models but can work well for casual use.

In the end, determining the best brand for you comes down to assessing your needs, priorities, and budget. Any of these reputable brands can produce a toaster oven to suit your situation. Do some comparison shopping, read reviews, and go with a model that fits how and how much you plan to use it.

Toaster Oven Settings: Functions and Controls Explained

Toaster Oven Buying

Toaster Oven Buying

Toaster ovens offer a variety of functions to suit different needs. The settings and controls on your toaster oven determine what it can do and how well it performs certain tasks. When shopping for a toaster oven, consider which functions are most important to you.

Temperature Control

The temperature dial or buttons allow you to select a precise baking temperature. Most toaster ovens offer a range of at least 150 to 450 F. More advanced models provide incremental 25 F adjustments for better control. For basic baking and reheating, a wide range of temperatures will work great. If you plan to roast meats or do high-temperature broiling, look for a maximum temperature of at least 450 F.

Timer

A timer control allows you to set the exact cooking time for your food. Once the time elapses, the toaster oven will turn off automatically. For the most versatility, choose a model with an adjustable timer that can be set anywhere from 1 minute to at least 2 hours. Some ovens provide separate timers for the bake, broil, and toast functions.

Toasting Settings

For perfect toast every time, select a toaster oven with multiple browning levels so you can choose light, medium or dark toast. Some models offer up to 6 toast shade settings. A “bagel” function, which adds extra time to toast just one side of the bread, is ideal if you frequently toast bagels.

Additional Functions

Many toaster ovens also offer convenient cooking functions like:

  • Broil: For melting cheese, browning toppings or finishing meats. Variable broil settings (low, med, high) provide more control.
  • Convection: Uses a fan to circulate hot air for faster, crispier cooking. Great for baking and roasting.
  • Bake: For cookies, casseroles, and more.
  • Roast: Specifically designed for roasting meats and vegetables. Often uses convection heat.
  • Reheat: A low-temperature setting (around 250 F) designed to gently warm up leftovers.
  • Defrost: To quickly and safely thaw frozen foods before cooking. Uses no heat, just the fan.

The options and settings on your toaster oven determine what it’s capable of. Think about how you plan to use the oven and choose a model with the features that match your needs. The proper controls and functions will help you achieve perfect results every time.

Additional Toaster Oven Accessories: Racks, Pans and More

Toaster Oven Buying

Toaster Oven Buying

Toaster ovens are convenient for more than just toast. Many models come with accessories that allow you to do even more. Here are some of the most useful add-ons to consider when buying a toaster oven.

Racks

Most toaster ovens will come with at least one rack, but some include two racks so you can cook multiple items at once on different levels. Racks allow for better air circulation around the food and catch drips from items like bacon or melted cheese. Look for racks that are adjustable so you can raise or lower them depending on what you’re cooking. Some models offer special racks for broiling, baking stones for pizza, and rotisseries for roasting meat.

Pans and Trays

In addition to the racks, you’ll want pans and trays to actually place the food on. Many toaster ovens come with a basic pan, but you may want to invest in some extras. A baking pan is useful for cookies, casseroles and bread. A pizza pan or stone can produce crispier crusts. Roasting pans are ideal for chicken, meat and vegetables. Nonstick, oven-safe pans prevent sticking and make cleanup a breeze.

Other Useful Accessories

Some other handy accessories to consider include:

• Broil pan – Has slits to allow grease to drip down, perfect for burgers, steak and seafood.

• Rotisserie spit – For roasting chicken and meat. Requires a model with enough interior space.

• Grill pan – Gives food those coveted grill marks. Look for a pan with raised ridges.

• Silicone mat – Place under racks to catch drips and splatters. Reusable and nonstick.

• Oven mitts – Protect your hands when removing hot racks, pans and food. Look for mitts rated for high heat.

• Tongs – Useful for turning and removing food from the toaster oven. Nonstick, heat-resistant tongs are best.

With the right accessories, you can transform your simple toaster oven into an extremely versatile countertop cooking appliance. The options are endless, so think about what kinds of food you like to cook and choose accessories that will maximize your toaster oven’s functionality.

5 Best Toaster Ovens: Our Recommendations

The toaster oven market offers many great options at a range of price points. Here are our top 5 recommendations based on performance, features, and value.

Breville Smart Oven Air

This high-end model from Breville is ideal if you want a premium toaster oven that can do it all. It has an internal capacity of 1 cubic foot, which is large enough to cook a 13-inch pizza or 6 slices of bread. It uses an “Element IQ” system to efficiently distribute heat and can reach temperatures up to 450°F. The Smart Oven Air is a bit pricey, but its versatility and cooking power make it worth the investment for serious home cooks.

Cuisinart Chef’s Convection Toaster Oven

Cuisinart’s Chef’s Convection Oven is a great mid-range option that combines performance and value. It has 15 cooking functions including convection, allowing you to air fry, bake, broil, and toast. The 0.6 cubic foot capacity can toast 6 slices of bread or bake an 11-inch pizza. At around $200, this Cuisinart model offers the best combination of useful features and reasonable pricing.

Hamilton Beach Countertop Toaster Oven

For basic toasting and baking on a budget, Hamilton Beach’s Countertop Toaster Oven is a solid choice under $50. It’s compact, with a capacity of 4 slices of bread, but is easy to operate and gets the job done. The Hamilton Beach lacks fancy features like convection but works great as an affordable second oven or for smaller households.

Black+Decker 4-Slice Toaster Oven

Black+Decker is a trusted brand for affordable kitchen appliances, and their 4-Slice Toaster Oven is no exception. For under $30, you get a simple but capable toaster oven for basic toasting, baking, and broiling. The compact size is ideal for singles or couples and the drop-down crumb tray makes cleanup easy. If you’re on a tight budget, this Black+Decker model is all you need.

Breville Mini Smart Oven

If counter space is limited, Breville’s Mini Smart Oven is an excellent compact option. At just over 1 cubic foot and under $150, it’s the perfect size for smaller kitchens or apartments. The Mini Smart Oven uses the same “Element IQ” technology as Breville’s larger models to efficiently distribute heat, so you can achieve excellent results when toasting, baking, broiling, and roasting despite its small size. For high performance in a small package, the Breville Mini Smart Oven is hard to beat.

Toaster Oven Buying FAQs: Your Questions Answered

Buying a toaster oven is a big decision. You want to make sure you get one that will suit your needs without breaking the bank. Here are some of the most frequently asked questions about toaster oven buying to help guide you in the right direction.

How much should I spend on a toaster oven?

Toaster ovens can range from $30 up to $300 or more, depending on the size, features, and brand. For most people, a mid-range model from $50 to $150 will work great. Popular, well-rated brands like Black + Decker, Hamilton Beach, and Oster offer high-quality toaster ovens in this price range. Unless you need an extra large capacity or high-end features, an expensive toaster oven won’t perform that much better for typical home use.

What size do I need?

Toaster ovens are available in a range of sizes based on their capacity in cubic feet and how many slices of bread they can toast at once. For a typical household, a mid-sized model that can hold 6 slices of bread and has around 0.6 to 0.9 cubic feet of capacity should be adequate. If you like to cook larger dishes or bake lots of cookies, go with a larger size. If counter space is limited, choose a more compact model.

What features should I look for?

Some useful features to consider include:

  • Timer: Allows you to set the toaster oven to automatically turn on and off. Helpful when baking or broiling.
  • Temperature control: Gives you more precise control over the temperature for better cooking results.
  • Interior light: Makes it easy to check on your food without opening the door.
  • Rack positions: More positions allow you to adjust the height for different types of foods.
  • Removable crumb tray: For easy cleaning of crumbs and spills.
  • Convection option: Uses a fan to circulate the hot air for faster, more even cooking. Great for baking.

Should I get a toaster oven with convection?

A convection toaster oven has a built-in fan that circulates the hot air for faster, more even cooking. Convection is excellent for baking and can produce crisper results. However, convection toaster ovens tend to cost more. If you don’t do a lot of baking or are on a tight budget, a regular toaster oven will work fine for basic tasks like toasting bread, reheating leftovers, and broiling small items. For avid home bakers, the convection feature may be worth the investment.

Conclusion

So there you have it, everything you need to know to find an affordable yet high-quality toaster oven. Don’t get overwhelmed by all the options and features, just focus on your needs and priorities. Do some research on brands and models in your price range, check reviews from real customers, and buy from a reputable retailer. Once you start using your new toaster oven, you’ll wonder how you ever lived without it. Homemade pizza, crispy french fries, perfectly melted cheese on garlic bread – the possibilities are endless and delicious. Happy shopping and happy cooking! May your new toaster oven serve you well for years to come.