In this article, we go over all the different types of toaster ovens. These countertop ovens can oftentimes cook food just as well as a traditional oven, and use significantly less energy while doing so. We cover the different types and the different features that you can choose from so you can find the best toaster oven for your requirements.
Despite all the new features, yes, toaster ovens can still make toast
A countertop toaster oven is a small, inexpensive appliance that can be used for simple tasks such as cooking or reheating food. They work like a countertop oven, although much more limited in terms of functionality. Standard toaster ovens extremely easy to operate and are a bit more straightforward to cook with compared to other types of toasters.
Countertop toaster ovens come in multiple varieties: standard, convection, rotisserie, and infrared. There are even commercial toaster ovens which are discussed below. Unlike convection toaster ovens, standard toaster ovens, don't have a fan to circulate hot air within the toaster oven.
The lack of the convection feature means that standard toaster ovens can take longer to cook food evenly. When choosing a countertop toaster oven, it is important to consider what type of cooking you will be doing most often.
A standard toaster oven
If you only need to reheat food or cook simple meals, a non-convection oven should be sufficient. However, if you plan on using your countertop toaster oven for more complicated recipes, a convection oven may be a better option.
Convection toaster ovens are becoming increasingly more popular. Around 25% of the toaster oven models offered by big box retailers have a convection cooking feature.
When the convection setting is enabled, a convection toaster oven uses a fan to circulate hot air, resulting in faster cooking times just like standard convection ovens, but on a much smaller scale. Convection toaster ovens are more expensive than standard toaster ovens, but they offer several advantages.
In addition to being faster, convection toaster ovens also enhance the baking process. This results in more evenly cooked food. The circulating air helps to prevent hotspots, so food is less likely to be overcooked or burned.
Convection toaster ovens can also double as mini-ovens, making them versatile appliances for small kitchens.
However, they can also be a bit more complex to operate than traditional toaster ovens, so it is important to read the instructions to take advantage of the full functionality of convection toaster ovens.
An infrared toaster oven is a type of toaster oven that uses infrared rays to generate heat. Infrared waves are a type of electromagnetic radiation nevertheless, cooking with infrared is safe. The infrared heating methods aren't so strong that they modify the molecular components of the food you're cooking.
Using infrared heating in a Panasonic toaster oven to grill a steak
A major benefit of infrared versus other cooking methods is that infrared heating doesn't require any preheating. This means that your overall cook time with infrared cooking will tend to be a bit less than cooking with a standard countertop toaster oven.
Most infrared toaster ovens come with double infrared heating - both near-infrared and far-infrared. The far-infrared rays don't penetrate very far into what you're cooking. These far-infrared rays do a good job of cooking and browning the outside of your food. Near-infrared rays penetrate much further into your food and effectively cook the inside of whatever you're cooking. These two infrared rays working together help to speed up the cooking process.
A rotisserie toaster oven is a kitchen appliance that can be used for roasting meat. The rotisserie toaster oven has a revolving spit on which meat is placed.
Due to the rotisserie feature, these toasters tend generally a bit larger than your standard countertop toaster oven as they are designed to accommodate large cuts of meat.
Many rotisserie toaster ovens also have a self-basting feature. Self basting maintains the juices and flavors during the cooking process. The rotisserie toaster oven is ideal for cooking roast beef, pork, chicken and even lamb.
Using a rotisserie toaster oven to make rotisserie chicen
Even though the rotisserie function is featured for these toaster ovens, they still perform standard toaster oven functions quite well. You can make toast, bake a frozen pizza and reheat food just like you can with a standard toaster oven.
Commercial toaster ovens are highly specialized, compact ovens that are often used in restaurants and other high-volume food preparation settings. These types of toasters can be set at extremely high temperatures, allowing them to quickly and efficiently toast multiple batches of bread, bagels, pastries, or other baked goods.
Their durable construction makes these ovens ideal for commercial use, as they can withstand repeated use and won't wear down as quickly as a standard countertop toaster oven.
Many commercial toaster ovens feature multiple racks that allow cooks to toast multiple items at the same time. They're a good choice for any restaurant or industrial kitchen looking to increase efficiency in their kitchen.
The air frying feature is becoming more and more common in toaster ovens - in fact nearly half of all toaster oven models have an air fry setting. An air fryer toaster oven allows you to cook food using little to no oil, resulting in healthier meals. The air fry feature works by circulating hot air around the food, causing it to become crispy on the outside while remaining tender on the inside.
A big advantage of having integrated air frying is counter space (or storage space). Having your toaster do the air frying for you eliminates the need to purchase a separate air fryer that will clog up your counter - or take up undercounter storage space.
The auto-shutoff feature is only available in a few select models of toaster oven, but it is a worthwhile setting. Your toaster oven will automatically turn off once the timer is completed. This prevents your food from overcooking or even burning.
The majority of toaster oven models include a broiling feature. Broiling allows you to cook food using direct, intense heat from the heating element above. This is similar to grilling, as both methods cook food quickly using high temperatures from one direction (grilling from below, broiling from above).
The browning control is frequently found on toasters and in many toaster ovens as well. This control allows you to set the darkness of the toast. Usually, there are multiple toast shade options to choose from for the level of "brownness".
The crumb tray in a toaster oven is used to collect the small pieces of food that are fall through the grates after cooking. This is a very useful feature that makes cleaning up easier and helps to prevent small pieces of food from burning and becoming stuck to the bottom of the toaster oven.
Hopefully, this happy guy unplugged the toaster and waited for it to cool down before starting the cleaning process
Many toaster ovens come equipped with a defrost option. This defrost setting allows you to thaw out frozen food items with gentle heat (starting at around 150 degrees Fahrenheit. Some toasters allow you to easily transition from defrost mode to cooking mode.
Dehydrate is a toaster oven setting that allows you to use your oven as a food dehydrator. This setting is great for foods like fruits, vegetables, and even meats (like beef jerky) that you want to dehydrate for later use.
An LCD display is a very convenient feature that is found in many toasters. You'll pay a bit more for this functionality, but it is worth it for many consumers.
With the LCD display, you can easily set cook time, timers, and cooking functions. Once set, you can easily see how much time is left for your current cooking cycle (or how much time is left to go on the timer).
These displays offer a big advantage for those who struggle to accurately work tiny dials and knobs that come with standard toaster ovens. It can be a challenge to see those small numbers and settings on a toaster oven - especially as we get a bit older.
The LCD display takes care of this problem by making all important toaster functions easily visible to the operator.
Currently, Energy Star doesn't certify toaster ovens. That said, they are much more energy-efficient than ovens. A small toaster oven consumes significantly less energy than ovens - around half as much.
Conventional ovens are much larger and require a lot of energy to heat up and to maintain the temperature in a much larger space. Most toaster ovens use around 1,200 to 1,400 watts during use which is a fraction of the watts required to operate a conventional oven.
Since toaster ovens are much smaller than conventional ovens, opening the door can significantly lose heat. This can increase the overall cooking time as the air needs to be reheated.
To combat this issue, some toaster ovens - especially more expensive toaster ovens come with an interior light. This light allows you to more easily see the food as it cooks. This is a very useful feature that makes it easier to check on cooking progress without opening the door of the toaster oven and letting that precious heat escape.
A few different models of toaster ovens feature a non-stick interior. This feature along with a removable crumb tray makes cleaning your toaster oven much less of a hassle. With the nonstick interior, food heated to high temperatures is much less likely to stick to the sides or bottom of the oven.
Around half of all toaster oven models have dials or digital controls where you can set the exact cooking temperature of your toaster oven.
Lower priced models are significantly less likely to have this as an option. You will likely find this useful when your cooking needs require a bit of precision.
Approximately half of all models of toaster oven sold at appliance retail stores include a timer. The timer can be set for cooking time or to alert you when other kitchen tasks need to be addressed.
Toaster ovens come in a variety of color and finish options. The most popular finish is stainless steel, but there are a variety of colors to choose from to match your kitchen.
Black, white and silver are popular color options - and if you're really daring, you can even get a green toaster. So no matter how interesting your kitchen colors may be, you can get a toaster that complements your design choices.
Toaster oven capacities are given in both cubic inches (ranging from around 600-1400 cubic inches.
For those of you who think more in terms of toast than cubic inches, slice capacity is given as a capacity indicator as well. Toaster ovens vary anywhere from 0 to 18 slices.
The more slices a toaster can accommodate, the more likely it is that the toaster oven will feature multiple racks.