You’ve just invested in a toaster oven and you’re eager to put it to the test. But before you start churning out toasted sandwiches and reheated leftovers, it’s worth taking a few minutes to learn how to get the most out of your new countertop cooker. Toaster ovens may be small, but they’re surprisingly versatile—if you know the right tricks.
After reading through these essential toaster oven tips, you’ll be cooking up a storm and wondering how you ever lived without one. Keep reading to discover how to make your toaster oven work for you.
Toaster Oven Tips: 10 Essential Tricks You Need to Know
Toaster Oven Tips: Choose the Right Size
A toaster oven is a handy small appliance, but to get the most out of it, you need to know a few tips and tricks.
First, choose the right size for your needs. If you’re only making toast and heating up leftovers, a small 2-4 slice model will do. But if you want to roast a chicken or bake cookies, go for a larger 6 slice or more. Think about what and how much you want to cook before you buy.
Next, learn your oven’s hot spots. Every toaster oven has them, areas that cook faster than others. You’ll need to rotate pans or flip foods halfway through cooking until you figure them out. Then you can place foods in the right spots for even cooking.
Use a light-colored baking sheet or pan. Dark pans will absorb more heat, possibly burning your food. Light, shiny pans reflect heat, cooking more evenly.
Don’t preheat for small portions. For a single slice of toast or one chicken breast, don’t bother preheating. The small amount of food won’t lower the temperature enough to matter. But for larger portions or baking, always preheat.
Convection fan? Use it! The fan circulates hot air for faster, crispier cooking. Turn it on when roasting veggies, baking cookies, or broiling meat. But turn it off when toasting bread.
Check on your food frequently. Toaster ovens heat up and cook more quickly than a standard oven, so set timers and peek in often. This is especially important when you’re still learning how your particular model cooks.
With the right tips, your toaster oven can handle almost any small-batch cooking task with delicious results. Now you’re ready to put it to work!
Toaster Oven Tips: Find the Best Location
The perfect location for your toaster oven is key. Place it on a heat-resistant surface away from cabinets and walls. Keep a lid handy in case of fire.
Good ventilation is a must
Toaster ovens generate a lot of heat, so make sure there’s plenty of air flow around it. Don’t cram it into a tight space! You’ll want at least a few inches of clearance on all sides, especially in the back.
Away from flammables
Position your toaster oven away from things that could catch fire like curtains, dish towels or potholders. Also avoid placing it under cupboards, as the heat could potentially cause damage over time.
Eye level is ideal
If possible, place your toaster oven at eye level. This makes it easier and safer to monitor while cooking, and prevents burns from reaching in and removing hot food or trays. You’ll also have an easier time seeing controls and the timer.
Consider cord placement
Make sure the power cord is not in a high-traffic area where it could be tripped over. The cord should reach an outlet without straining or hanging where it could be grabbed by little hands.
Ventilate and avoid fumes
Proper ventilation will prevent smoke and fumes from building up. Run an exhaust fan or oven hood, and avoid placing the toaster oven near where fumes could enter air vents. Don’t run it in an unventilated space like a closet.
With the right location and safety precautions, your toaster oven will work wonderfully. Place it in an ideal spot, keep a fire extinguisher on hand, never leave it unattended and you’ll be making tasty treats in no time. Follow these toaster oven tips and happy cooking!
Toaster Oven Tips: Learn the Functions
The toaster oven is more versatile than you may realize. Once you understand all the functions, you’ll find yourself using it for almost everything. Here are some essential tips to get the most out of your toaster oven:
Use the bake function for small-batch cakes, brownies, cookies, and more. The toaster oven circulates hot air to bake foods evenly. Check on your bake and rotate the pan halfway through. Baking times and temperatures are usually the same as a regular oven.
The broil function uses intense direct heat from the top heating element to quickly cook and brown foods. Broil chicken breasts, shrimp, veggies, and open-faced sandwiches. Keep the oven door partially open and watch closely since broiling can lead to burning if overdone.
Obviously, the toast function is ideal for toasting bread, bagels, and English muffins. Most toaster ovens have settings for light, medium, and dark toasting. For perfect toast, flip the bread over halfway through. Toaster ovens can handle up to 4 slices of bread at a time.
Did you know most toaster ovens can bake an individual pizza? Use the bake function and place the pizza on a rack in the center of the oven. Check on the pizza frequently and rotate for even cooking. A pizza stone helps produce a crispy crust.
The toaster oven is ideal for reheating leftovers like pizza, casseroles, and baked goods. Use a lower temperature, around 300 F, and check often. Cover dishes with foil to keep in moisture and flip or stir foods for the best results. Be very careful removing hot dishes from the toaster oven.
Learning how to use all the functions of your toaster oven will make it your go-to small appliance. With some experimentation, you’ll be cooking full meals in no time! What are you waiting for? Start toasting, baking, broiling and more today. Your toaster oven has so much to offer.
Toaster Oven Tips: Use Appropriate Cookware
To get the most out of your toaster oven, using the proper cookware is key. The wrong pans can lead to uneven cooking, burnt food, and damage to your toaster oven. Here are some toaster oven tips for choosing the right cookware:
Use broiler-safe pans only
Make sure any pan you use in a toaster oven is specifically marked “broiler-safe” or “oven-safe” and can handle high temperatures. Avoid plastic or nonstick coated pans which can melt or release fumes at high heat. Stainless steel, aluminum, and enameled cast iron pans are good options.
Choose smaller pans
Toaster ovens have a small capacity, so smaller pans will heat more efficiently. Look for pans specifically sized for toaster ovens, about 9 inches by 5 inches. If using a standard pan, fill it no more than 2/3 full to allow for proper air circulation.
Use a baking sheet for easier cleaning
A baking sheet, also known as a cookie sheet, can make cleanup much easier. Place it on the bottom of the toaster oven to catch any drips or crumbs. Look for a sheet with a lip to prevent spills. For extra nonstick ability, consider a silicone baking mat.
Use a pizza pan or stone for crispy crusts
To make crispy pizza, bread, or pastries in a toaster oven, use a pizza pan or baking stone. These materials absorb and distribute heat to crisp up the bottom of foods. For pizza, place the stone in the oven as it preheats, then slide the pizza onto it.
Broil on a broiler pan
For broiling meat, fish or other foods in your toaster oven, a broiler pan with a vented bottom is best. The slots allow grease and drippings to fall away from the food. Center the broiler pan directly under the heating element for maximum browning. Flip the food halfway through for even cooking.
Following these essential tips for choosing the proper cookware will help you get the best results from your toaster oven. With the right pans and some practice, you’ll be cooking like a pro in no time!
Toaster Oven Tips: Adjust the Temperature
The temperature setting on your toaster oven is key to achieving perfect results. Follow these tips to get the most out of your toaster oven by adjusting the temperature:
Start with a lower temperature
When using a new recipe or cooking something for the first time in your toaster oven, begin with a temperature 25 degrees lower than recommended. Toaster ovens heat up and cool down faster than regular ovens, so they can overcook food quickly. It’s best to check on the food a few minutes early – you can always add more time, but you can’t undo overcooking!
Allow for temperature calibration
Most toaster ovens need to be calibrated to achieve the correct temperature. If everything you make seems undercooked or burnt, your temperature settings are probably off. Invest in an oven thermometer to check if the actual temperature matches the setting. You may need to adjust up or down and recheck until it’s right.
Lower the temperature for browning
Want perfectly browned cookies, bread or chicken wings? Try dropping the temperature by 25 to 50 degrees at the end of cooking. The lower, consistent heat will gently brown the exterior without burning it. Check frequently and remove when browned to your liking.
Use the “stay on” function for best results
If your toaster oven has a ‘stay on’ or ‘keep warm’ function, use it! Turning the toaster oven off right after cooking causes the temperature to drop quickly, which can lead to uneven cooking. The ‘stay on’ function maintains a consistent low temperature to finish cooking the food gently and keep it warm until serving.
Avoid opening the door
Every time you open the toaster oven door, heat escapes and the internal temperature drops. Avoid opening the door during cooking as much as possible. Only check on food by viewing it through the glass door. Opening and closing the door repeatedly can lead to undercooking. Plan ahead and don’t open the door unless absolutely necessary.
Be flexible with recipes
Don’t follow recipes exactly – be willing to make adjustments based on your experience with your specific toaster oven. You may need to increase or decrease temperature and cooking time to achieve the best results. Take notes each time you use a new recipe so you know exactly what worked well for your toaster oven.
Toaster Oven Tips: Don’t Overcrowd the Rack
One of the biggest mistakes people make with toaster ovens is overcrowding the rack. Just because it can fit, doesn’t mean you should cram it full of food. Overcrowding restricts air flow and prevents even cooking.
Don’t stack food on top of each other
Instead of stacking multiple pieces of bread, English muffins or bagels on top of each other, place them side by side in a single layer on the rack. The heat needs to circulate around each item for perfect results. Stacked food won’t toast evenly and the bottom pieces may burn before the top ones are even warm.
Leave space between items
Leave at least 1/2 inch to 1 inch of space between each item on the rack. This gives the hot air enough room to flow around, ensuring even browning. If you need to toast a lot of items at once, toast them in batches. It’s better to have perfectly toasted food in two rounds than mediocre results in one.
Use both racks for maximum capacity
If your toaster oven has two racks, use them both when toasting a lot of items at once. Place the food in a single layer on each rack, staggered so no food is directly above another item. This allows for maximum capacity while still enabling even airflow. Just be sure to rotate the racks and flip the food halfway through cooking.
Keep an eye on the food
Since toaster ovens are small, food can burn quickly. Stay near the toaster oven while it’s on and keep an eye on the food through the window. Check on it frequently and remove items once they reach your desired browning. It’s easy to get distracted, so set a timer if needed. Burnt food is no fun, so take the food out once it’s done to your liking. You can always toast it a little more, but you can’t undo burnt.
Toaster oven tips like not overcrowding the rack, leaving space between items, using both racks and keeping an eye on the food will help you get perfect results every time. Your patience will be rewarded with evenly browned and delicious food.
Toaster Oven Tips: Rotate Food for Even Cooking
To get evenly cooked results in your toaster oven, rotating the food during cooking is essential. The heating elements in toaster ovens are right at the top and bottom, so the temperature can vary in different areas. Here are some tips for rotating your food:
- For small items like bread, cookies or frozen snacks, rotate the tray front to back about halfway through cooking. This helps ensure even browning and crisping on all sides.
- When baking cakes, cupcakes or quick breads, rotate the pan about 2/3 of the way through cooking. The back of the oven, furthest from the door, will be hottest so rotating helps the food cook evenly and prevents over-browning.
- For larger food like a whole chicken, roast or casserole, rotate the dish a quarter turn every 15-20 minutes. This exposes all sides of the food directly to the heating elements at some point, which helps it cook more uniformly.
- Consider flipping items like french fries, tater tots or chicken nuggets about halfway through cooking. Shake the tray to flip smaller items or use tongs for larger pieces. Flipping over exposes the other side directly to the heating elements.
- For pizzas, rotating front to back and flipping/inverting about 2/3 through cooking helps ensure the crust is crisp on the bottom and edges with melted cheese throughout.
- If your toaster oven has a rotisserie spit, use it when cooking whole chickens or roasts. The constant rotation will help it cook very evenly on all sides.
Following these tips for rotating and flipping food during cooking will help you get perfect results every time from your toaster oven. Consistently monitoring cooking progress and making adjustments to position and temperature based on how the food is browning will have you cooking like a pro in no time. Making the extra effort to rotate and flip will reward you with evenly cooked, delicious food.
Toaster Oven Tips: Keep a Close Eye on Food
Keeping a close eye on your food as it cooks in the toaster oven is one of the most important tips to keep in mind. Unlike a regular oven, toaster ovens heat up and cook food much more quickly since they have a smaller capacity. This means your food can potentially burn faster if you don’t monitor it.
Check on your food frequently, especially during the first few minutes of cooking. Many toaster ovens don’t have an internal light, so you’ll have to open the door to peek inside. Be very careful when doing this, as the inside components will be extremely hot. You may want to consider a model with an interior light to make checking on your food easier and safer.
Don’t just set it and forget it. Set a timer to remind yourself to check on the progress. Even if your toaster oven has an automatic shutoff, your food can still overcook. It’s best to underestimate the cooking time, then check early and continue cooking in short intervals. You can always cook food longer, but you can’t unburn it!
Higher heat settings require more frequent monitoring. Food will cook faster at higher temperatures, so check on it more often. Broiling especially requires diligent supervision as it can burn food in just a couple of minutes. Never leave the oven unattended when broiling.
The location of the heating elements in your toaster oven can lead to uneven cooking. Since the top heating element is closer to the food, the top of the food may cook faster than the bottom. Rotate or flip the food about halfway through the cooking time for more even browning and cooking. This is especially important for larger foods like whole chickens, meat loaves or casseroles.
Keeping a close watch over your food as it cooks will help ensure perfect results every time you use your toaster oven. With regular use, you’ll get to know how quickly different foods cook in your oven and can adjust checking times accordingly. But when trying a new recipe, it’s always better to check too frequently than not enough. Your diligence will be rewarded with food that’s cooked to perfection.
Toaster Oven Tips FAQs: Answers to Common Questions
Toaster ovens are incredibly versatile and convenient, but they do come with some questions. Here are answers to some of the most frequently asked toaster oven questions.
How do I clean my toaster oven?
It’s best to clean your toaster oven regularly after every few uses. First, unplug the toaster oven and let it cool completely. Then wipe down the interior with a damp cloth or sponge to remove any crumbs or splatters. For stuck-on messes, make a paste from baking soda and water and scrub with the paste using a non-abrasive sponge or scrubber. Wipe clean with a wet cloth and let air dry completely before using again or storing.
What can I cook in a toaster oven?
You can cook a variety of foods in a toaster oven like:
- Toast, bagels, English muffins
- Cookies, brownies and other small baked goods
- Pizza, sandwiches, paninis and quesadillas
- Casseroles and pot pies
- Chicken wings, nuggets and tenders
- Fish filets and shrimp
- Veggies like asparagus, broccoli, green beans, etc.
- Leftovers – Simply reheat leftovers in your toaster oven.
Do I need to preheat my toaster oven?
It depends on what you’re cooking. For most foods like toast, bagels or reheating leftovers, preheating is not necessary. However, for baking or cooking foods like pizza, chicken, fish or casseroles, preheating your toaster oven for 3 to 5 minutes is recommended. Preheating helps ensure even cooking and browning of foods. Check your toaster oven’s instruction manual for specific preheating recommendations.
How do I set the timer on my toaster oven?
To set the timer on your toaster oven, first turn the temperature dial to select the desired temperature for cooking your food. Then turn the timer dial to select the number of minutes needed to cook the food. The toaster oven will automatically shut off once the timer is done. Be sure to check on your food though, as cooking times can vary. You may need to turn the timer dial to continue cooking until your food has reached the proper internal temperature or level of doneness.
Why is my toaster oven smoking?
A smoking toaster oven is usually caused by built-up grease and grime or food splatters inside the oven that become burnt during the preheating or cooking process. It’s best to clean your toaster oven after every few uses to prevent excess buildup. Also, make sure not to overload the toaster oven with too much food at once, and avoid lining the toaster oven rack or tray with aluminum foil which can
So there you have it—10 toaster oven tips to help you get the most out of your appliance. Using these tricks, you’ll be cooking up a storm and wondering how you ever lived without your toaster oven. From reheating leftovers to making homemade pizza or cookies, the possibilities are endless. Your toaster oven may be small but it sure is mighty. Now get cooking and bon appetit! Your taste buds will thank you.