Kristen Hicks on July 17, 2016 3 Comments Table of Contents Benefits of Toaster Ovens Types of Toaster Ovens Factors to Consider While Shopping Customer Reviews of Popular Brands If you regularly host dinner parties or holiday celebrations, you’re probably familiar with the frustration of your kitchen oven not having enough room for everything. You have to wait until one item’s finished, then re-set the temperature and wait for it to adjust before the next item goes in and it makes meal preparation a day-long, frustrating activity when you should be enjoying your company. Wouldn’t it be nice to have a second oven to pick up the slack? Sure, we would all love to have a double wall oven, but that’s not a feasible, or even affordable, solution for many of us. Toaster ovens have long been lumped into the same cooking category as toasters in the minds of many consumers, but these countertop cookers have steadily evolved to the point where they should, and rightfully so, be considered their own standalone device. Free from the stigma of the one-trick pony of simply toasting a slice of bread. These countertop ovens can pitch in during the more chaotic cooking moments like that described above. That’s probably the most familiar scenario that drives consumers to purchase a toaster oven, but it’s far from the only good reason to consider owning one. Click Here to Buy a Toaster Oven 7 Benefits of Toaster Ovens If you’re curious about buying a toaster oven, but really aren’t sure what the benefits of owning one would be or whether you would really use it, you’re not alone. Here are some of the main reasons people find buying them worthwhile. 1. Best Alternative to An Oven Some apartments (and many dorm rooms) leave residents without access to some basic kitchen items, such as an oven or cooking range. If you find yourself in this situation and really don’t want to give up on the baked items you so love, a toaster oven can fill in the gap. If your intention is to use a countertop oven for the items you’d otherwise be using a traditional oven for, then you’ll need to make sure to find a model that’s good for cooking a wide range of different types of food, or at least those you know you have an interest in making. With the right countertop oven, you’ll find that you can make most — if not all — of the types of food you’d otherwise use a traditional oven for, so you won’t have to feel the lack. 2. Provides Extra Cooking Space If you ever make up a batch of cookie dough and groan at the realization that only a small portion of it will fit in your oven, then a countertop oven may make sense for you. Whether you need it for those occasional large baking jobs or because you like to cook enough that needing to make two things at once at two different temperatures is a regular occurrence for you, one of the biggest benefits of owning a toaster oven for most customers is being able to save time by using it alongside your traditional oven. 3. Preheats Faster It can be a pain having to preheat the whole oven just to warm up some leftovers or make toast. Toaster ovens are smaller, which means warming the device to your ideal temperature takes a fraction of the time it would in a larger oven. Combining the convenience of a microwave with the cooking style of an oven, these countertop units are great at warming something up quickly. They also produce better results than a microwave ever could. 4. Uses Less Energy The smaller size of a toaster oven means it takes less energy and time to get it preheated to your optimal temperature. This makes them an Eco-friendly choice when compared to larger wall ovens. If you want to bring down your ecological footprint, switching to a small oven that sits on your countertop will do the trick. 5. Doesn’t Make the Kitchen Hot Those of you who live in warm climates or that don’t have air conditioning in your homes will relate to this one. Using your oven can make working in the kitchen a sweaty, unpleasant and downright distasteful experience in the summer. When you use a small toaster oven instead, you can slash the amount of extra heat you generate. By lowering this extra ambient heat, you will not only feel more comfortable, but you will give your air conditioner a much-needed break. 6. You find bending down to get things in and out of the oven uncomfortable For many people, especially seniors and the disabled, the simple act of bending down to get items in and out of the oven can be a difficult one, and they can be more at risk of burning themselves in the process because of it. Having an oven right on on the countertop may provide easier access for anyone with mobility issues. 7. Easier to Clean Maybe you wouldn’t put this at the top of the list of your priorities, but let’s be honest; no one likes having to clean their oven. And there are some hazards associated with the self-cleaning feature in many large ovens that should give you pause. Because they are smaller and easier to access, cleaning out a toaster oven is a cinch in comparison. 4 Types of Countertop Ovens If you’re in the process of buying a toaster oven, it’s important to understand the core differences between the different types available. Below, we have listed out four common types of countertop ovens. While they all have very similar functionality, they are unique in their own way. 1. Countertop & Toaster Ovens View All Countertop & Toaster Ovens on Amazon You have your standard toaster oven that sits right on your kitchen countertop. These are primarily used to heat-up, brown or toast various foods, and if you’re looking to buy a toaster oven for the convenience of quick cooking, then this may be the best unit for you. If your primary use will be to make toast, then you would likely get everything you need from a lower-end, more affordable oven, or even just buying a toaster. Typically large enough to fit anywhere from two to six slices of toast or bagels at a time, toaster ovens often provide settings for the different ways you’d want your food cooked. If you’d like to use your countertop oven for anything other than making toast, you will likely want to look at some of the more high-end ovens that come equipped with more features and functionality. Benefits: Price start in a very affordable range. Lots of options, brands, sizes and features to choose from. Keep In Mind: Not as versatile as a convection oven. Features and cooking options will range from unit to unit. 2. Countertop Convection Oven View All Convection Toaster Ovens on Amazon Convection ovens are becoming increasingly popular as they employ technology that moves the hot air inside the oven around so that it heats food more evenly. They can cook food faster and at lower temperatures than a conventional oven, which will save you both time and money. Cooking with a convection oven combines the convenience of quick meals, with the deliciousness you have come to expect from using larger ovens. These will cost a bit more. However, if you’re willing to spend more for a higher quality appliance designed to cook a larger variety of foods with the same quality consistency of a conventional oven, then this is a great option to go with. It must be noted that you also have the option of buying a convection microwave, which are designed to function much like a normal microwave, but still utilize the unique cooking style of a convection oven. This may or may not be an option for you. We covered them in a little more detail over in our full Microwave Buyer’s Guide. You should give that a read before you buy a convection microwave. Benefits: Convenient to use and cooks food at a quicker rate. Great for a wide variety of cooking tasks, including baking, roasting and broiling. Quality of the food you cook are unparalleled to any other type of toaster oven. Keep In Mind: These will be more expensive. Features and cooking options will range from unit to unit. 3. Rotisserie Oven View All Rotisserie Ovens A rotisserie countertop oven has a very specific use in mind: cooking meat. Featuring a rotating spit that helps ensure the meats you prepare cook more evenly, as well as come out nice and juicy. Some rotisserie ovens are large enough to fit a whole chicken (or even a couple), so they will take up a bit counter space. However, unlike other types of toaster ovens that have a permanent spot on your countertops, a rotisserie oven may qualify as an appliance that you can store out of sight until you want to use it. If the idea of owning a rotisserie appeals to you, but you don’t want to buy an appliance devoted to it, then you should know that there are many toaster ovens available with a rotisserie feature or add-on. For most people, this will be appealing as you can still use your toaster oven for making pizza or toast, but then use the rotisserie feature when you like. Benefits: Best countertop oven for cooking meat. Easy to store when not in use. Keep In Mind: Designed for one task: roasting meat on a rotating spit. You will not be able to cook as many foods as you would with other countertop ovens. 4. Infrared Countertop Oven View All Infrared Ovens on Amazon Infrared ovens employ a fairly new cooking technology that utilizes light energy to rapidly cook your food. This cooking style is not as widely available as convection ovens. However, this shouldn’t be discounted as a flaw. While they may be fewer in numbers, countertop ovens that do feature infrared cooking are known to heat food very quickly and evenly throughout. They are incredibly efficient and need very little time to warmup. This can even be said for frozen foods, eliminating the need to defrost before cooking. Countertop infrared ovens can be used for a variety of cooking methods, including baking, pre-heating, curing and drying. If you’re interested in an infrared oven, it’s good to know that many convection units also have an infrared feature. This won’t be in all of them, but it is certainly available. This gives you the opportunity to buy a high-end convection oven, as well as an infrared unit Benefits: Cooks food quick and evenly. Energy efficient option. Warms up faster than other countertop ovens. No defrosting needed for frozen meals. Keep In Mind: Relatively new cooking method for countertop ovens. May be able to buy a unit that utilizes both infrared and convection cooking. Factors to Consider When Buying a Toaster Oven When it comes to buying a toaster oven, some of the factors you should consider will be dependent on your personal preferences, how much space you have in your kitchen and what types of food you will be cooking with it. Here are some of the most important factors to consider in order for you to find the best toaster oven for your countertops. Size All kitchens have a set amount of counter and cabinet space to work with. You have to consider how much room you have available for your countertop oven. On the other side of that equation, if you buy a small toaster oven to save counter space you may find that it’s not all that useful for making some of the dishes you had in mind. Before you settle on any one model, consider what types of foods you’ll be using your countertop oven to prepare and what quantities you’d ideally like to cook at once. Also, think about the size of the dishes you’ll be using – will your favorite casserole dish fit inside the model you’ve got your eye on? Size has to be an important consideration if you hope to use your toaster oven enough to make it worth the cost. You will find a wide variety of sizes available, so you can be picky as you work to pin down the size that’s right for your kitchen. Uses If you’re considering a countertop oven, you probably have some clear idea of what you want to use it for. The main uses you have in mind should make a big difference in which model you choose. Will you probably just stick with making toast, or do you want to be able to use your countertop oven for cookies and pizza as well? Think about all the most obvious uses you’re likely going to want the toaster oven for, but also try to think ahead to the things you’d be happy to use it for if the opportunity arises. Sometimes, buying a new kitchen appliance can be an incentive to try new things. Price The countertop convection ovens that will cook the most (and do it the best) will cost you more than the simpler models that are mostly designed to cook one or two types of food well. The question of cost is directly related to the question of what you intend to use it for. Do you just want a good product for making toast? Cooking meats? Or something closer to a full-service conventional oven? If either of the first two choices seems acceptable, then you should have an easy time finding some lower-cost models focused on heating the particular types of food you want especially well. If it’s the latter, you’ll still find some range in the prices available, but splurging on something a little higher-end is likely worth the extra cost for the results you’ll get. Temperature Range Check the range of temperature settings available on your model. Countertop models sometimes max out at different temperatures than conventional ovens do. If the foods you want to make in your countertop oven require a level of heat that the model you buy doesn’t reach, you’ll quickly come to regret your purchase. Preset Settings Many countertop ovens will come with a certain number of presets. These will not only add convenience, but also give you an idea of what types of uses each model is good for before you buy it. Many standard settings you can expect to see are: Toast Brown Broil Bake Reheat Warm Bagel Pizza Cookies Auto Shutoff If you’re worried about getting distracted and burning your food, you can look for a model that comes with an auto shutoff feature to help eliminate that possibility. Based on the preset you choose or the timer you set, you can return to your food whenever you get around to it without worrying about charred toast, overly browned cookies or your smoke alarms going crazy. Even Cooking Even cooking is one of the big selling points of convection countertop ovens. With other models (and even with traditional kitchen ovens), any time you’re cooking something large or cooking several items at once, you have to worry about the food in different parts of the oven cooking differently. If you want your food to come out evenly cooked all around, going with an oven that offers convection technology is your best choice. Ease of Use and Cleaning Most countertop ovens will be fairly easy to use, but the type of display and settings they have could make some easier for you than others. As with any kitchen item, countertop ovens do need to be cleaned with some regularity. So, if easy cleaning is a priority for you, look for a model that doesn’t have any parts that are too hard to get to. On the whole, countertop ovens are much easier to clean than traditional ovens, so whatever model you end up with is likely saving you some trouble on that front. Popular Brands of Countertop Ovens The last thing to consider when buying a toaster oven for your needs is the quality and reputation of the brand you choose. We’ve checked out the customer reviews for a few of the biggest brands on the market to get an idea of what users seem to think of their purchases. Avanti Avanti makes a range of affordable countertop ovens, from fairly simple toaster ovens to a convection oven with a nifty bonus of a couple of stovetop burners on top. The latter product tends to get enthusiastic reviews, especially for use in tiny houses, boats, and other small spaces where having two appliances in one is a nice value add. Their other products on the whole seem to have pretty mixed reviews, so check out the customer reviews for each particular product before settling on any one. BLACK+DECKER Black and Decker is one of the most popular brands when it comes to toaster ovens. They have a wide variety of affordable models available, ranging from about $30 to $100. This popularity comes with a solid backing of reviews from customers. While there are a few complaints mixed in, the vast majority of reviews praise how durable they are and how they work well for simple cooking tasks. When it comes to buying a countertop oven, you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t look into what this brand offers. Breville Breville is another company with a range of countertop ovens for sell. Their products tend to fall on the higher end of the price range for countertop ovens, with their most expensive and popular model being a countertop convection oven. They tend to get pretty solid reviews on their various models around the web, with a few complaints mixed in that they don’t last very long for how much they cost. Broil King If you’re cooking for commercial purposes (or an especially large family), Broil King’s countertop ovens could be a good fit. Their costs are on the higher side due to the larger size and capacity, but the reviews are nearly all positive. If you aim to do much high-quantity baking, the cost and space commitment could be worth it. Cuisinart Cuisinart is a familiar kitchen brand name with a range of products in the convection oven space. Reviews of their countertop toaster ovens are fairly mixed, with some models getting more positive reviews than others. Check the reviews of any specific model you consider before settling to see what previous customers have thought. DeLonghi DeLonghi is a name that comes up often in forums and discussions on countertop ovens, suggesting they have a strong reputation, but we actually found the reviews of their products pretty mixed. They have some fervent supporters, but others who complain that the ovens don’t get hot enough, don’t last long and don’t cook evenly. As with some of the other brands here, they do produce a wide range of countertop oven products, so some models fare better in reviews than others. If you’re considering a DeLonghi, take a few minutes to see what past customers have said about the model you have in mind. Hamilton Beach In your search for a countertop oven, Hamilton Beach is another common brand you will come across. They have a couple dozen toaster ovens available, all of which lean more on the affordable side of the price spectrum. The reviews are somewhat mixed, with more positive than negative. While the majority were positive, reviewers seemed to lack the passion often seen with other brands. This is definitely a brand to consider, just be sure to read lots of reviews that are specific for the model you’re thinking of buying. KitchenAid Another well-known brand that manufactures a variety of kitchen appliances, KitchenAid has a few high-end toaster ovens available. While they may be best known for their line of stand mixers, KitchenAid brings the same durable build and splash of color to their line of countertop ovens. The reviews for their units are overwhelmingly positive, with the occasional complaint mixed in. This is absolutely a brand that you should consider while buying a new toaster oven. Oster Oster is another well-known manufacturer of small kitchen appliances. While their line of blenders tend to steal the crown, they do have quite a few toaster ovens that are modest in price and effective at cooking your food. Ranging from $25 to $200, there is no shortage of units to choose from. Like many other well-known brands, the reviews are mostly positive with a few complaints mixed in. If you want to buy a toaster oven that works and doesn’t cost too much, Oster is a solid choice to look into. Ronco Ronco is mostly known for their rotisserie countertop ovens. Most of the reviews we found were positive, with customers thrilled with the quality and flavor of the meat they cooked in their Ronco ovens. If your countertop oven needs are specific to cooking meats well, then Ronco’s rotisserie ovens are a smart bet. Final Thoughts Hopefully this guide gives you a pretty thorough idea of what to expect when you start your search for the best toaster oven for your home. The right countertop oven can vastly expand your cooking options if you’re in a home without a traditional oven, or make your life much easier when the holidays roll around. Hone in on the types of foods you most want to cook and the features that will be the most useful for you in order to make the best choice.