The Best Toaster Oven Buying Guide 2018

easy-reach-oven-convection
Hamilton Beach Easy Reach Oven With Convection

Whether you enjoy crisp slices of toast for breakfast, frozen pizza for snacks, baking up impromptu batches of cookies, or even roasting a chicken, toaster ovens are fantastic multitasking appliances for convenient cooking. Beloved by singles and couples, who like not having to fire-up their range or wall oven for small-sized dishes or meals, they're also a boon to larger households, who may rely on the toaster oven as a second oven to prepare family meals when range or wall oven space is at a premium. What's more, high-end toaster oven models often feature a convection setting, which cooks dishes faster, saving time and energy. With a wide range of styles, sizes, and unique functions available, it can be tricky to choose the best toaster oven for your needs. We’re here to help! We tested some of the best toaster ovens, read toaster oven reviews, and surveyed the market for the features that matter most. Our guide provides everything you need to know during the toaster oven buying process, including information that will help you narrow down your selection and choose the best toaster oven for your needs.

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REALSIMPLE'S FAVORITE PLACES TO BUY HOME APPLIANCES

6 OF OUR FAVORITE Toaster Ovens
1 EASIEST ACCESS AND CLEANING

Hamilton Beach Easy Reach Oven With Convection

easy-reach-oven-convection Photo by amazon.com

If less clean-up and easy access to hot food from your toaster oven are important to you (useful if kids will be regularly using it for morning toast, waffles, and after school snacks!), the Hamilton Beach Easy Reach toaster oven is a great choice. Its unique roll-top door makes it simple reach for your toasted foods, compared with traditional models with doors that pull outward and down. This design also requires less available countertop space in front of the toaster oven, and helps keep the door free of gooey cheese messes and the counter free from stray crumbs. While this model is smaller than some, it is roomy enough to make toast for 6 and heat a family-sized 12-inch frozen pizza, but note that the interior isn’t tall enough to accommodate large cuts of meat. Accessories include a 9 x 13-inch baking pan and a full-width, easily removable crumb tray. We got great toasting and reheating results with this cleverly-designed, value-priced toaster oven.

2 FASTEST COMPACT

Panasonic NB-G110P Flash Xpress Toaster Oven

flash-xpress-toaster-oven Photo by amazon.com

This compact, extremely efficient model impressed us with its even and precise browning to any level of darkness, as well as its speedy cook time – it requires no preheating and instantly comes up to temperature. The Panasonic Flash Xpress Toaster Oven’s unique combination of quartz and ceramic infrared heating elements cooks food much more quickly and evenly than traditional toaster ovens. We also love its door design, which automatically ejects the wire rack, making it easy to retrieve food. It should be noted that, due to its small size and low-ceilinged interior, this toaster oven model does not accommodate a whole chicken or larger cuts of meat, but if speedy snacks and toast are your top priority, the Panasonic Flash Express is a great choice. It toasts up to 4 slices of toast and can heat a 9-inch pizza in a flash. Accessories include a square inner tray that’s perfect for pizza, as well as a baking tray and a removable crumb tray. A bright interior light makes it easy to see food while it cooks.

3 BEST DESIGN AND CUSTOMIZED COOKING

Breville BOV800XL Smart Oven 1800-Watt Convection Toaster Oven With Element IQ

smart-convection-toaster-oven-element-iq Photo by amazon.com

With its high-end design, excellent performance, uniquely intelligent heating elements, multitude features, large interior, and generous set of quality bakeware, this Breville toaster oven can easily be used in addition to or in place of your traditional oven for meal prep. Its beautiful modern look and easy-to-use interface with nine customizable presets helped make it our top pick for Design Splurge. Breville’s “Element IQ” cooking technology adjusts the power of its five individual heating elements to distribute heat evenly throughout the oven, when and where needed based on type of cooking. A legend displayed on the door conveniently tells you where to place the rack for the most efficient broiling, toasting, and baking, while a sleek auto-eject feature makes it easy to safely reach your food. This model, which accommodates a 9 x 13-inch baking pan, is definitely a bit of a splurge and the most expensive toaster oven in our roundup, but if you want clever design and the ability to customize the cooking of everything from cakes to 13-inch pizzas, up to 6 slices of toast, and a whole roast chicken with vegetables—right there on your countertop—it’s a terrific choice.

4 BEST FOR HIGH VOLUME/ALL PURPOSE COOKING

Cuisinart TOB 260 N1 Chef's Convection Toaster Oven, Stainless Steel

chefs-convection-toaster-oven-stainless-steel Photo by amazon.com

The Cuisinart toaster oven TOB260N1 is a wonderful choice if you’re seeking an appliance to replace your main oven for small-sized meals or as an extension when serving a crowd. It’s basically a miniature convection oven for your countertop. This model has a huge capacity with unique double-rack baking capability that handles two 9 x 13-inch pans at the same time, as well as everything from whole chickens to 4 lbs of ribs and a hefty 7-lb turkey breast. In our testing we found that, corner-to-corner, no other toaster oven heated as consistently and without hot spots. This model produced 9 perfectly browned slices of toast at one time as well as a 13-inch pizzeria-style pizza that was made perfectly crispy on the high-quality pizza stone that is included as an accessory. This toaster oven also has a relatively easy-to-use interface with 15 cooking functions and comes with a unique three-year warranty, guaranteeing regular use for years to come. (Most competitors include only a one-year warranty). A consideration: this higher-priced model also requires a sizeable perch, measuring in at a L x W x H of 22.44” x 18.5” x 13.07”, so you’ll need to make sure you have adequate countertop space and will use the appliance frequently enough to justify the space for appliance trade-off.

5 BEST FOR SMALL SPACES

BLACK+DECKER TROS1000D SpaceMaker Under the Cabinet 4-Slice Toaster Oven

tros1000d-spacemaker-4-slice-toaster-oven Photo by amazon.com

A simple to use, super-compact model, this Black + Decker toaster oven is the perfect apartment, dorm, or small kitchen solution. It's unique design comes with hardware that allows you to mount it under a cabinet or sturdy shelf to free up precious countertop prep space. A mounting template and thorough instructions make installation a breeze. This entry-level appliance is still a big step up from a standard toaster and features bake, toast, and keep-warm functions for 4 slices of bread, small snacks, or up to a 9” pizza. It also has browning and temperature settings, and a simple drop-down crumb tray to help make clean-up a cinch. We loved the easy controls and how well it worked for simple toasting and heating tasks. The only drawback is limited interior cook-space capacity, but if you’re tight on countertop space it can’t be beat.

6 BEST VALUE CONVECTION

Oster Large Capacity Countertop 6-Slice Digital Convection Toaster Oven

oster-large-capacity-toaster-oven Photo by amazon.com

A fantastic value if you want more functionality than a basic toaster oven but are not quite ready to invest in a higher-priced model, this Oster toaster oven does true convection cooking at an unbeatable price for the performance. A digital control panel lets you adjust heat and time and has several preset functions, including Bake, Convection Bake, Broil, Toast, Pizza, Defrost, and Warm. You can even broil at any temperature from low (for melting cheese without burning) to 500 degrees for broiling steaks or chops. Note that the exterior of this model gets very hot during cooking, so allow for several inches of space at the back of the appliance and always use oven mitts when retrieving cooked foods. Accessories include a basic baking pan and a removable crumb tray; there is also an optional interior light. Two rack positions make it easy to accommodate larger cuts of meats or roasts. While this toaster oven can handle 12-inch pizzas and up to six slices of bread, keep in mind that it requires significant countertop space. Another slight drawback is that it toasts a bit unevenly, but we were still very impressed with this model.

WHAT TO LOOK FOR IN A Toaster Oven
Feature Description
Accessories Any specially-sized cooking gear that is included with your model
Advanced Heating Elements Some models feature interactive, quick-heat, or convection heating elements that may appeal to your cooking style.
Temperature Range and Adjustments A high and low temperature to suit your cooking needs with the ability to make adjustments to fine tune browning and temperature.
Intuitive Display Buttons, knobs, and a display that is clear to read and simple to use out of the box
Automatic Cook Settings Many models offer preprogrammed settings for commonly cooked foods
Timers and Alerts These help you time your cooking, know when your food is ready, avoid burning foods and save energy.
Safety Features Toaster ovens can get very hot; some models are equipped with savvy safety features.
Easy Clean Toaster ovens are notorious for getting grimy quickly, with stuff like crumbs and melted cheese; some models include helpful easy-clean features.
Visibility It’s helpful to be able to see and monitor your food while it cooks, browns and toasts.

Accessories

Most toaster ovens come with a baking rack and crumb pan, while higher-end models often include added accessories such as upscale pizza stones, baking pans, and broiler trays. Keep in mind that most of your standard-sized cooking gear won’t fit in a toaster oven, so if you’ll be using the appliance to make more than toast, a set of custom accessories are very helpful.

Advanced Heating Elements

Standard conventional toaster ovens have one or two heating elements which brown and toast food on both sides. Higher-end models often feature multiple, adjustable cooking elements which are designed to accommodate baking with even heat, broiling with top-down heat, and convection heating, which circulates hot air around your food for faster cooking. Some models are fitted with unique heating elements that quickly heat the appliance to temperature without preheating, which helps you save time. However, if you plan to use your toaster oven primarily make toast or reheat pizza, there’s no need to overspend on a higher-end or convection model.

Temperature Range and Adjustments

Based on the type of cooking you’ll be doing in your toaster oven, temperature flexibility can be useful. This feature helps you tackle everything from gently toasting bread or nuts at a low temperature to broiling chops or fish at a setting as high as 500 degrees. The ability to fine-tune the browning level on toast settings is also a plus. 

Automatic Cook Settings

If there are certain foods you cook over and over in your toaster oven, you may want to look for a model with automatic cook settings and presets which enable you to cook common items, such as pizza and baked potatoes, with a nothing more than the simple press of a button. Some models allow you to customize presets to match your favorite and most frequently cooked dishes.

Intuitive Display

Though having a lot of settings and adjustments to choose from can be helpful, they can also make toaster oven use overly complex. While it’s always advisable to review the manual, your toaster oven display should be straightforward enough to understand without extensive training. Take a look online or at an in-store display to ensure that the toaster oven you're most interested in is easy to use once you're familiar with its buttons and settings.

Timers and Alerts

Ideally your toaster oven will cook food well without extensive monitoring, and will signal you when cooking is complete. The best models include a built-in timer with an alarm that sounds when food is ready. An automatic shut-off feature to help you avoid burnt toast and other smoky situations can also be extremely helpful.

Safety Features

Toaster ovens can get very hot, very fast, which can pose hazards such as burns and fires. Several features help make toaster ovens safer, including racks that automatically pop out for easy reach when the oven door is opened. Some toaster oven models also include unique designs that help keep the hot door further out of your way when you are retrieving food. An automatic shut-off feature is helpful for times when you may forget to turn off your toaster oven. Easy to use drip trays and broiler pans help avoid grease flare-ups; these accessories are especially helpful if you plan to use your toaster oven to cook meats. Reading online reviews from other toaster oven users can help reveal common safety concerns, including external hot spots and/or hot handles.

Easy Clean

The types of foods you’ll likely be cooking in your toaster oven may generate a lot of crumbs, messy melted cheese drips, or grease run off. A crumb/drip tray that covers the bottom and easily slides out from the front of the unit makes it easier to keep your toaster oven clean (some are even dishwasher-safe!). If your model comes with a specific set of bakeware, check to see whether it is dishwasher-safe, as well. A nonstick interior is another helpful easy-clean feature, as is a door that lifts up instead of down, which helps you avoid getting food on the inside of the door during retrieval.

Visibility

Many foods cook quickly in toaster ovens, so it’s helpful to be able to see what's happening during cooking. A wide transparent glass door, which most models have, will help you avoid blackening toast, drying out pizza, and other types of overcooking. Some also feature interior lights. which make it easier to check on foods without opening the door and loosing heat in the process. Read user reviews to avoid models with inexpensive glass doors that may cloud up after a period of regular use.

When deciding which toaster oven to purchase, it's best to first determine the type and volume of cooking you'll be doing, your available countertop space, and your budget. It’s also important to consider special features that might appeal to your cooking style.

Type and Volume of Cooking

One of the most important things to consider when choosing the best toaster oven for you is the number of people you typically cook for and the types of food you'll be cooking in your toaster oven. This will help determine what size toaster oven will best suit your needs and help narrow down your selection. Manufacturers' toaster oven descriptions typically begin with bread slice, pizza and roast chicken capacity. As a guideline, small toaster ovens are basically a step up from a standard toaster and are great for broiling open-faced sandwiches, cooking single portions of frozen snacks and dinners, reheating pizza, and making up to 4 slices of toast. Slightly larger capacity toaster ovens can be used to help with bigger cooking tasks, like roasting a chicken, baking cookies, making waffles for 6, or heating a frozen 9-inch pizza. The largest models act as mini ovens and can often handle full meal prep on everything from a 12-inch pizza to a small roast and baking cakes or brownies in two 9x13-inch pans at one time. These models offer a great solution for singles or couples, who may prefer to use a toaster oven when heating up the kitchen with a traditional oven is unnecessary, and for large families and frequent entertainers in need of back-up oven space.

Size

No matter how large your kitchen is, space is likely at a premium. You may need to narrow down your selection based on where you want to place your toaster oven—ideally near an outlet and in an uncrowded space with room for ventilation. Be sure to measure counter space before making a final selection, to be sure your model of choice fits. If prep space is limited, you may decide to choose a more compact or under-cabinet model over a larger unit with more advanced features.

Price

As with any appliance purchase, you’ll want to consider both frequency and type of use to help you determine what toaster oven price point makes sense for you. Toaster ovens are available at a wide range of prices, from as low as $30 for making small batches of toast to upwards of $500 for higher-capacity models with high-tech features such as convection settings. If your range or wall oven doesn't have a convection feature and you like to bake and/or are particularly interested in faster, more energy-efficient cooking, a countertop convection toaster oven may be worth the higher price tag.

BOTTOM LINE

Toaster ovens can be indispensable breakfast fixers, snack makers, and dinner-prep helpers. With such a wide variety of models available it’s important to determine your cooking volume and needs, consider the available space in your kitchen, and evaluate the features that will be the most helpful to you in your daily cooking and meal prep before making a final choice. We’re big fans of appliances that serve multiple purposes, and any toaster oven you buy will be an improvement in this sense from a standard toaster. Additionally, as more advanced settings, flexible heating elements, and unit sizes become available, you may find that you rely on your new toaster oven just as much if not more often than your conventional range or wall oven model.