Factors to Consider when Purchasing a Toaster Oven
So, you’re looking to buy a toaster oven. You probably never realized before how many unique options are on the market. There’s the cheap low-quality one that is probably no better than an Easy-Bake Oven, there’s the ridiculously expensive super-awesome one that can make pretty much anything you can dream up while speaking to you in French, and then there are all of the toaster ovens in between–which are probably the ones you’re interested in.
This list is for the savvy buyer who wants the best possible toaster oven for a given price. Hopefully, we can help you to make an intelligent buying decision that will keep you from getting ripped off and help you to be happy with your choice of toaster oven.
Types of Toaster Ovens.
I bet you never realized just how many types of toaster ovens are available on the market. There are three common types, each suited to slightly different needs. They are:
- Regular Toasters. So, what is the difference between a regular toaster and a toaster oven? A regular toaster will toast bread, bagels, breakfast pastries, frozen waffles, etc. However, it cannot be used to cook anything with “wet” ingredients on the outside, like cheesy bread, garlic bread, pizza, roasted vegetables, etc. This is your traditional toaster with vertical slats. They also tend to be cheaper than toaster ovens, so make sure you need a toaster oven and not just a toaster before you spend your money.
- Basic Cooking. This toaster oven is a step up from just a regular toaster. It will cook a wider variety of foods (like your grilled cheeses and frozen pizzas), but is not quite as advanced as the convection or rotisserie toaster ovens. This is most likely what you’re looking for if you know you don’t need convection or rotisserie cooking.
- Convection Cooking. Convection ovens work similarly to basic toaster ovens, but will cook food more quickly and at lower temperatures than traditional toaster ovens. They are able to do this because fans inside the oven circulate the hot air. These cost more than traditional toaster ovens, but could save you money in the long run, as they use less electricity.
- Rotisserie Cooking. Rotisserie ovens can be used to cook meats in addition to the regular functions of a toaster oven. The meats cook on a rotating spit, which makes them deliciously juicy. Of course, these cost more than traditional toaster ovens, and they are more difficult to take care of (they need to be regularly cleaned because of all of the juice drippings). So, if you aren’t planning on cooking a lot of meat, go with one of the other options.
The Price of your next Toaster Oven
After you decide what kind of toaster oven you want, you’ll need to set a price point. Expect to spend no less than $20, and probably closer to $50 for a decent standard toaster oven. Good convection ovens can cost up to several hundred dollars. It’s best to set a price point that you are comfortable with first, so that you don’t end up falling in love with a model way above your price point.
If price is a big concern to you, we heavily recommend reading our reviews of toaster ovens – as this will allow you to filter and find the best toaster oven within your budget. Thus far, we have found that the Breville BOV800XL offers the best value for money – although this model may be outside your budget range.
The size of the Toaster Oven
When considering the size of your toaster oven, you need to think about both external and internal dimensions. The external dimensions will tell you if you have enough space in your kitchen to put the machine. The internal dimensions will tell you what you’ll be able to cook in your toaster oven. Some are big enough to fit whole chickens, large casserole dishes, or a tray of cookies. (If you’re looking for something that has these functions, you’ll also need to make sure the machine is powerful enough for this). Others are only big enough for a few pieces of toast, or a few baked potatoes. Do your research on what you can cook in a toaster oven, and decide which size best suits your needs.
This goes along with size: you need to consider what you want your toaster oven to do. Then, look at the preset cooking functions on the machine. A basic toaster oven will toast, bake, and broil. This allows you to reheat meals, bake potatoes, make frozen pizzas, and melt cheese onto bread, among other functions. Larger and more advanced ovens can have up to 9 preset functions, which will allow you to make more complex meals. With these larger toaster ovens, you can essentially make anything you could in a regular oven, only faster.
Controls and Optional Features.
Controls and optional features will make your toaster oven easier and more enjoyable to use. You need to make sure that you understand how your machine works. If the controls are not intuitive, this may be easier said than done. Additionally, you may appreciate other features, like automatic cleaning, easy-eject trays, easy-to-empty crumb trays, digital displays, etc. Think about what features you might find useful, and go from there.
How your machine looks may or may not be important to you. Prettier machines are generally more expensive, but if it is important that your machine match the decor of the kitchen, then you may be willing to spend a bit more. Keep in mind that not all models will come in all designs.
Hopefully this has given you the information you need to make a well-informed toaster oven purchase.
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