We’re a low-toast family, so don’t really know what to look for in a toaster. Ours is getting on in years and tends to set off the smoke detector whenever we use it. We’re thinking of upgrading to a toaster oven, assuming its usefulness may give it a place on our counter (right now the toaster sleeps in the basement until toast-wanting guests arrive). If we never get used to it, so it goes back to the basement until it’s called upon. We’re thinking this will set us back anywhere from $50 to $150, depending on its features.
Um… what features?
We never use the presets on the microwave, but don’t know if that’s any indication of toaster oven use. My folks have a Panasonic model that has instant heating, but Panasonic doesn’t make the model anymore. They love that feature—is it standard on better t’ovens or are we out of luck? Anything else to look for? Brands to stay away from or can’t go wrong with?
I love my Toastation, it’s so cute. We just got one for my sister, too. It is smaller, so it might be best for single folks…but it is really cute! If you’re into that sort of thing. Ahem. http://preview.tinyurl.com/8xa5oo5. (sorry, don’t have the cool link thing down yet)
I grew up in a toaster family. I barely knew toaster ovens even existed until I was an adult. Sure there are some things that toasters do better, but 99% of the time the oven wins. It’s nice for when you want to cook a snack, but don’t want to wait for the oven to heat up or mess up a baking sheet. Mine is a cheap one, with manual dials, but it has bake, toast, broil, and keep warm settings, so it’s good for me.
By the way, what exactly is the difference between toast and bake? I think toast is always full temperature, bake is temperature adjustable, is that right? Anything else?
America’s Test Kitchen did a piece on toaster ovens. This article not only gives their results but it also gives a pretty good overview of what you should look for in an oven. Good luck. (There’s also a video taken from the PBS show on the site, but you can’t view it if you aren’t a site member).
The best toaster oven we’ve found is the Breville. The link goes to the compact size one, which is larger than most standard toaster ovens. You can fit a 12x12 pan in one. List price is $180, which is high, but Bed, Bath & Beyond has them and you can find 20% off coupons on the Internet. Reviews for them average a star or two above any other brand. It has a proper preheating cycle, so you have to figure that in, but that means the heating is far more even than in a regular toaster oven. Can’t go wrong.
You know, I checked the second page of that Cook’s Illustrated site I linked to above and found that it wasn’t available to non-members either. So, here’s their top selection and their “best buy,” i.e., not quite as good but a lot cheaper:
Smart Oven by Breville. This is not the compact version listed by Exapno Mapcase and it is pretty pricey at $250. You can probably find it cheaper though.
Hamilton Beach Set and Forget Toaster Oven with Convection Heating. (Catchy title, eh?) It doesn’t cook quite as evenly as the Breville and the temperature isn’t quite as accurate but at $100, it is a lot cheaper. They liked its design and the fact that it had a heat probe as well.
Again, sorry about not checking the link, though I will say that the first page does have a lot of good information about what’s important in a toaster oven and how they tested them.
This is a smidgen over your price point at $168, but Hallgirl1 got this for me from Christmas. I love it.
I use it for nearly everything–it’s big enough for a pie, pizza, rolls–nearly anything I want to bake. It’s like a toaster oven on steriods. The other day, we did a round of cookies and tonight I heated up the chicken legs for dinner. I’ve made brownies in it, baked yeast rolls, made pies, and use it whenever I don’t want to waste the energy heating up the stove’s oven to bake something.
It has a convection feature which is wonderful. Usually by the time it’s “pre” heated (in a few minutes) whatever I’m reheating is already heated through.
I’ve never made toast in it though. I have a cheap $15 toaster from Walmart to make toast and that does a fine job of toast.
I swear I’ve read threads on toaster ovens here, in the past.
I couldn’t do without mine, use it every single day. There are just the two of us, I can bake 6 cupcakes, a meatloaf in a little casserole dish, bake potatoes, eggrolls, and of course make toast. Bread toasted is never as thoroughly browned as by using a toaster, but I will NOT have a toaster cluttering up my counter space - I keep the toaster in the pantry for anyone to use, and so far there it has stayed. I just buy whatever cheapie Black and Decker or Hamilton Beach is on sale and replace every few years. I’m making note here of the better toaster ovens available.
I have a Cuisinart toaster oven and love it much more than any other toaster oven I’ve ever had before. I gave up on toasters years ago. Like others have pointed out, you get rewarming in a much smaller space, with crispier results. I use it multiple times per day.
I didn’t grow up with one, though. My mother has a irrational hatred of stuff sitting on the counter. She also hates my food processor, for similarly irrational reasons. She’s sensible on most other topics, however.
Anyway, my Cuisart has the convection feature and it’s marvelous for roasting a whole chicken! I was extremely impressed the first I tried it; I wasn’t expecting much. Other regular uses it gets is kid food (tater tots, chicken nuggets, etc.), making broiled sandwiches, baking taco shells, broiling bagels. I don’t recommend cooking a pan of cornbread in it, though — that’s about the only thing that hasn’t come out well.
Love my toaster oven. By the way, here is the secret to reheating pizza with a crisp crust:
Put the pizza cheese side down on some aluminum foil and toast it at a medium-high (midway-dark?) toast setting. Don’t worry, despite logic, the cheese doesn’t stick to the foil in any real way, and the crust is crisp and wonderful.