If you have never before bought a toaster oven, then it can be a little difficult to go shopping and confidently pick out the right appliance for your home. When you rely on a thorough toaster oven buying guide, then you don’t have to worry about whether or not you are going to overspend, if you’ll get a good brand, or if your new toaster oven will work for you.
With so many different things to take into consideration, it’s important to be methodical when beginning your search so that you don’t have to worry about whether or not you are finding the ideal toaster oven for you.
The Ultimate Toaster Oven Buying Guide
Questions First-Time Toaster Oven Buyers Should Ask Themselves
- How Much Room Do I Have? While toaster ovens come in all different sizes, it’s very important to remember that they have to have enough ventilation space all the way around them to operate safely. This means that you can’t squeeze your new appliance into a tight space on your counter. Make sure to take measurements of how much room you have so you aren’t surprised when you bring your new purchase home.
- How Roomy Does it Need to Be? One of the first things that you will see when you begin researching different toaster ovens is that the manufacturers all discuss how much food they can easily hold. While it can be overwhelming to take all of this into consideration, it’s important to think about your family and how much food you need to be able to heat up at one time. In general, families that are larger or that cook bigger items, such as whole chickens, will need to have a larger toaster oven than a family with only two people who use it to make toast and reheat pizza.
- What’s My Budget? Every single extra feature that you add to your new toaster oven will increase the price and these can add up rather quickly if you’re not careful. It’s best to not be surprised by the increasing price and to sit down before you go shopping so you can be sure that you have a solid budget in mind. Even if you don’t spend all of the money that you allot for your toaster oven, knowing that you can will make the shopping easier and more pleasant.
Types of Toaster Ovens
There are a few main types of toaster ovens and each one of them comes with its own set of pros and cons. By deciding which type you need, you will be able to begin to narrow down all of the available appliances and start making a decision on which one is the right toaster oven for you.
- Basic Cooking: These standard appliances are great at toasting bread and can handle anywhere from two up to six slices. It’s easy to control how dark you want your toast to be and to get your toast out by pulling out the tray. They usually have a way to set a consistent temperature as an oven does and are best for toasting, warming, and baking.
- Rotisserie: This is usually an added feature on a toaster oven, although there are some models that only perform rotisserie cooking. They can cook one to four chickens at once, making it easy to make an impressive meal for the holidays.
- Convection: These appliances have a fan in them that blows air over the food to evenly heat and cook it. You won’t have to worry about hot spots, your food will cook quickly, and it saves a lot of energy when cooking.
- Infrared: Because they operate so differently than most other toaster ovens, these are not quite as common yet. They heat the food directly, not the air, and cook much faster than standard toaster ovens. They crisp and brown quickly, don’t have to be preheated, and save time and energy.
- Combination: More of a hybrid toaster and toaster oven, these appliances are a convection or standard basic toaster oven with a toaster in the top to easily toast bread while the rest of the meal cooks. Some options come with a coffee maker, a steamer, or even a grill press.
Top Toaster Oven Manufacturers
Knowing that you’re buying from a top manufacturer will set your mind at ease when you’re looking for a toaster oven but don’t know a lot about the available models and which one to buy. When you buy a toaster oven from a manufacturer that has proven themselves time and time again to produce quality appliances, then you won’t have to worry so much about buying a toaster oven that doesn’t work.
Great companies include Oster, KitchenAid, Breville, Cuisinart, and Panasonic. These companies stand by their products and consistently provide their customers with not only great appliances but also reliable customer service.
Factors to Consider When Buying a Toaster Oven
Before you run to the store and buy a toaster oven, you need to stop and think about some factors that will affect your decision. When you take time comparing toaster ovens and really think about your purchase, you are much more likely to be happy in the end.
One of the first things that you should think about is what the toaster oven can do and what you need it to do. If you need a basic model to heat up food and make toast, then you will be better off skipping the more expensive convection and infrared models. Even though they look amazing, if you won’t use the extra features, then you are wasting your money.
Internal and External Size:
It’s easy to get caught up only thinking about the internal or the external size of the toaster oven that you’re considering but they are equally as important. If the internal size of the toaster oven is too small, then you won’t use it because you can’t fit in it enough food to heat up.
Likewise, if the whole unit is too large, then you will struggle to find a place for it on your counter. This is why it’s imperative to not only think about how much food you will be heating up but also the amount of counter space that you have at your home for your new appliance.
Remember that your toaster oven is going to be sitting on your counter most of the time. They are a little difficult to constantly be putting away in the cupboard due to their larger size and because they have to cool down completely before they can be stored. If you want a cohesive-looking kitchen, then you will have to consider the appearance of the toaster oven and how it fits in with the rest of your appliances and the décor of your kitchen so it doesn’t stick out.
While you can hold out hope that you can get your toaster oven on sale, remember that more-expensive appliances aren’t automatically better than their less-expensive counterparts. If the toaster oven that you’re considering has all of the features that you want and will work for you, then it doesn’t matter if it’s not the highest-end model on the market.
When you buy a toaster oven that already has the necessary accessories included with your purchase, then you will enjoy a few benefits. The first is that you won’t have to buy them at a later time and this will save you money. The second benefit is t
hat you won’t have to worry that they might not fit in your toaster oven.
The accessories that a manufacturer includes with a toaster oven will fit and work perfectly with that particular model while third-party accessories don’t always fit.
Features to Look for in a Toaster Oven
When looking at the different features that are available for toaster ovens, you will have to decide what matters the most for you. Making a list of your “must have” features will allow you to quickly narrow down available toaster ovens.
The more presets that a toaster oven comes with, the less fiddling you are going to have to do to figure out how to perfectly cook certain foods. This can make it really easy to cook common items at just the push of a button, ensuring that your cooking is hassle-free.
It’s not always easy to get food out of a hot toaster oven but some models will eject their racks halfway when you open the door. This makes it so much easier to remove the food without worrying about burning yourself.
If the crumb tray in the toaster oven can be removed from the front, then you can easily clean it out even while the oven is hot. Otherwise, you will need to wait until the oven is cool enough to reach the tray in the back.
It can be tricky to clean your toaster oven so you will want to make it as easy on yourself as possible and you can do this by opting for one that has a nonstick interior. This makes it simple to wipe out the inside instead of having to use harsh chemicals to remove stuck-on food.
Alerts and Timers:
Nobody wants to stand and monitor cooking while the toaster oven is working and with alerts and timers built into the appliance, you won’t have to. This will let you know that your food is done and will avoid you accidentally burning it.
Easy Temperature Adjustments:
Being able to quickly turn the temperature up or down ensures that you can brown your food perfectly without accidentally burning it.
While many toaster ovens operate with a shade dial to help you decide how hot the appliance should get, this is difficult to use reliably. The best options are numbered dials and electronic touchpads so you can produce consistent results.
You’ll want to see what is going on and an interior light is the best way to keep an eye on your food. Not all models have this feature but it makes cooking a lot easier.
Putting it All Together
You’re now almost ready to buy your own toaster oven but need to take a few more steps. Start by coming up with a budget that you are comfortable with and think about if there is a particular manufacturer that you want to buy from. If you have a number of other kitchen appliances and trust one manufacturer over the others, then it makes sense to buy from them.
This will also help you to quickly narrow down available models. Take a measuring tape and measure where you are going to be putting your new toaster oven so that you can be sure you have enough room on your counter. This will save you a lot of frustration later.
You will now need to make a list of what features are the most important to you so you can look for toaster ovens that offer them. It’s important to remember that you may not be able to find a toaster oven in your budget that has all of your desired features, which is why you will want to list them from most important to least important.
Thinking about how many people you need to cook for, what kinds of foods you like to cook, and what features you need, you can start the search by narrowing down your available options due to price, size, and features.
While it may be tempting to buy a toaster oven that is a little small because it will save room, you are much less likely to use it if you have problems getting in all of the food that you need to heat up. Remember that it’s a good idea to go a little larger as long as you have enough room in your kitchen.
Thanks to this toaster oven buying guide, you’re now ready to make your final decision. The toaster oven that you buy will become a useful tool in your cooking arsenal, helping you get delicious food on the table fast, which is why it’s so important to take your time in the decision-making process.
Now that you have done your research and learned what you needed to know about buying a countertop toaster oven, you might want to take a look at our list of the best countertop ovens or read our informative toaster oven reviews below.