BUYING GUIDE FOR BEST TOASTER OVENS

To most of us, few mornings are complete without a slice of toast.

As ubiquitous and as simple as the need for a toaster oven might be, choosing the right one isn’t always as easy as you might imagine.

Besides ensuring that the toaster oven is reliable and does its one job well, there is also the cost to consider. Toasting food is simple, so do you really need to spend a fortune on it?

The answer to the question posed above is, of course, an emphatic “no.” As essential an appliance as they might be, there are plenty of high-quality toaster ovens available at a reasonable price tag.

How reasonable? Well, all of the toaster ovens are about to explore cost no more than $100. For a device that will be toasting thousands of slices of bread (and other toasted foods) over a number of years, there are few price points as reasonable as that. 

Here, we’re going to look at not just the cost-effectiveness of the appliance, but the pros and cons of each. Selecting the right toast might sound like a simple enough challenge, but there a few areas of performance worth looking at. We will list each of them out, why they matter, and which toasters best fit which needs.

Top 5 Best Toaster Ovens On The Market

Most Recommended Toaster Ovens: Detailed Reviews 2020


1. CUISINART EXACT HEAT – FOR THOSE WHO WANT A WHOLE HOST OF OPTIONS

Last update on 2020-02-25 PST - Details

One of the more function-loaded appliances we are looking at this time, the Cusinart Exact Heat Toaster Oven is a 6-slice convection appliance with a 0.6-cubic foot capacity. One of the more expensive items in our range, it comes with options to bake, broil, toast, reheat, and defrost, with specific options for pizzas and bagels.


The Cuisinart is relatively easy to use, as well. With a removable tray, it’s simple to wipe off the inside when it needs clean and the touchpad controls are responsive and precise. Furthermore, you’re guaranteed an even toast or bake so long as the ingredients fit inside thanks to a smart internal heat sensor. As for longevity, it has maintained a good reputation, with several users reporting a lifespan of 5-7 years, more than a good investment given the price tag.

However, it is not without its problems. One of the key issues is the lack of an internal light. It’s easy to get concerned as to whether or not your food is being prepared as planned. Another concern is that the appliance does not cool down as well as it heats. The temperature remains high, which means that it’s all-too-easy to burn yourself in your attempt to retrieve your food. For that reason, it’s crucial that this oven is stored well out of the reach of children. Furthermore, the pan inside is liable to rust if not cared for properly, since it’s made of regular steel with a thin plate of chrome coating as opposed to stainless steel

Pros
  • Multitude of settings
  • Accessible touch controls and easy-to-clean
  • Reliable and long-lived
Cons
  • No internal light
  • High external temperature after use makes it a burn risk
  • Pan can rust if you’re not careful

2. PANASONIC FLASH XPRESS – FOR THOSE WITH SMALLER SPACES

Focusing on providing the quick preparation of a variety of different foods, the Panasonic Flash Xpress Toaster Oven measures at a 0.2-cubic foot capacity. This appliance is our middle-of-the-range option price-wise.

The Flash Xpress boasts the ability to cook up to 40% faster than other toaster ovens thanks to its double infrared lights. Infrared toasters do, indeed, work quicker. They also have the benefit of providing plenty of visibility, so you can easily watch your meal in progress. Cooking options like “Toast”, “Waffle”, and “Pizza” make for intuitive controls, with an automatic timer that works more often than not. What’s more, the pullout tray makes it remarkably easy to clean.

One immediate downside when compared to other options, like the Cuisinart Exact Heat, is the relative lack of space. The Flash Xpress is designed to prepare smaller foods only. This is only heightened by a relative lack of different cooking functions. Intuitive as they may be, if you prefer to be more precise with your cooking, it lacks the level of detail you need. What’s more, there are some issues regarding reliability, with some users complaining that it suffers some malfunctions in as little as a year.

Pros
  • Cooks much quicker than non-infrared ovens
  • Automatic timer works well
  • Intuitive design
Cons
  • Smaller size and lack of cooking options limits its range
  • Not great for baking cakes or pies
  • Some potential issues regarding lifespan

3. HAMILTON EASY REACH OVEN – FOR THOSE WHO PREFER DIAL CONTROLS (UNDER 100)

The cheapest of the countertop toaster ovens on our list, the Hamilton offers a 0.6-cubic feet interior space. A convection oven with dial settings, accessibility is described as the key to this particular appliance design.

For those who aren’t fond of selecting from a host of different options but want traditional controls on how their oven works, the dials that operate the Hamilton might be welcome. Featuring bake, broil & toast functions, controls are simple enough to understand. As accessibility is key, the easily opened door remains cool and allows you to open it up during cooking to garnish or adjust food easily. What’s more, the roll-up door provides excellent visibility to the inside, as well as being much safer to use than some of the other options.

Some of the most common issues regarding the Hamilton are down to its reliability. If it’s not carefully cleaned out, debris can lodge in the door, making it difficult to close. What’s more, the convection fan has been noted to be remarkably loud. For those who prefer more modern convenience, the old school thermostat and dial controls may be hard to read, too.

Pros
  • Three dials make for simple traditional controls
  • Accessible, cool, safe-to-use door a big plus
  • Great interior visibility and size for cost
Cons
  • Doors can jam relatively easily
  • Very loud fan
  • Thermostat and dials can take getting used to

4. BLACK+DECKER 4 SLICE TOASTER – FOR THOSE WHO WANT A POP-UP TOASTER

Last update on 2020-02-25 PST - Details

Simply because some people looking at toaster ovens are really looking for pop-up toasters, we have to take a look at the BLACK+DECKER model. This is one of the cost-effective pop-up toasters on the market, making it the cheapest item on the list with space for four slices.

As far as pop-up toasters go, the BLACK+DECKER has an impressive list of settings. Beyond your standard dial temperature control, there are functions like Bagel and Frozen that allow you to use it a little more specifically. What’s more, the wide toasting slots make it perfect for thick breads, waffles, and other goods besides simple bread. The extra-lift levers work well with the internal tray, meaning that extracting toast is seamless, easy, and safe.

But even if you want a pop-up toaster, you should be aware of some of the downsides of the best on the market. Some issues have been noted, particularly that models can have a defect that toasts one side too much without toasting the other at all. Smaller items, like pop tarts, can fall down the side of the interior if you’re not careful with your placement.

Pros
  • One of the best pop-up toasters on the market
  • Big enough to toast bagels
  • Effective extra-lift levers
Cons
  • Occasionally comes with uneven toasting defect
  • Smaller items can get lost down the sides

5. BREVILLE SMART OVEN – FOR THOSE WITH THE SPACE AND BUDGET (UNDER 300)

The most expensive item on the list, the Breville Smart Oven is all about cooking different food types precisely. This convection oven measures at an interior volume of 1-cubic foot, making it appliance with the largest volume by some measure.

This oven cooks to nine preset functions, including Toast, Bagel, Roast, Bake, Cookies, and Pizza. The simple premise is that it can precisely cook each item exactly how it should be. It delivers wholeheartedly on that premise, too. The backlight shifts from blue to orange, showing you exactly when the oven is in the midst of its cooking while providing perfect visibility. The well-designed crumb tray makes for remarkably easy cleaning, while the convection feature works the best out of all convection ovens mentioned in the review.

Even the most promising appliances have their faults, however. Despite the price, this oven has been noted to sometimes last not much longer than the warranty, with users reporting malfunctions after about 1.5 years. While the increased capacity might sound like a bonus to some, there’s no denying the sheer size of it might not make the Breville Smart Oven a smart fit for every kitchen.

Pros
  • Lots of intuitive settings that cook to perfection
  • Great convection feature
  • Highly visible backlight function
  • Easy-to-clean
Cons
  • Surprisingly short-lived for the price range.
  • Might be too big for some users

What To Look For In A Toaster Oven

Here are a few of the different elements worth taking a closer look at when selecting the perfect toaster oven for you:

SIZE AND SPACE

There are, in fact, two separate factors. The size of the oven is the amount of space it takes up on the kitchen counter. The space, on the other hand, is how much room there is inside the oven to toast with. You might want a smaller oven that can fit reasonably on a busy kitchen counter or in a small room. But you also want to focus on those that offer the most interior space for their size.

THE TYPE OF TOASTER OVEN

The terms “toaster” and “toaster oven” can be used interchangeably sometimes. When people talk about toasters, they generally tend to mean pop-up toasters, perfect for toasting bread or other thin items. Toaster ovens, on the other hand, tend to refer to countertop devices with doors you can open and trays you can place a wide variety of food inside.

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THE KIND OF FOOD YOU WANT TO MAKE

This relates entirely to the type of toaster oven you want to choose. If you’re mainly focusing on toasting different kinds of bread, pancakes, or waffles, a pop-up toaster is the best choice. For anything else, you might need a toaster oven. Again, choosing the right size of toaster oven could be the difference between toasting a pizza or sticking to smaller foods.

EASE OF USE

How accessible is the design? For all the different settings, how legible and understandable are they? Do you know the difference between toasting on a ‘4’ or a ‘5’ or are you going to be stuck working it out through trial and error? How easy the toaster is to clean makes a big difference, too.

DURABILITY

All appliances have a lifespan and when you go for a budget option, you increase the risk of buying a product that isn’t as durable as its competitors. To get an idea of durability, you need to pay close attention to the toaster oven’s reputation. Most manufacturers don’t volunteer information on when you can expect their product to stop working.


BUYER’S GUIDE

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When choosing a toaster oven, you have to think about your needs as well as the appliance’s place in the kitchen.

For instance, if you have other kinds of oven, buying a countertop toaster oven could involve some unnecessary overlap and you might want to stick to a pop-up toaster instead. However, if you need an appliance that can make pizzas, bake cookies, or even offer rotisserie functions, you want a countertop toaster.

You want to ensure that you pay attention to finer details like wattage and cord length, as well. The features might sound perfect, but if you can’t find a place to fit it in the kitchen, that appliance is going to be nearly worthless.

CONCLUSION

The toaster oven we can recommend above all others for the price range is the CuisinArt Exact Heat. It has many of the features of the more expensive Breville and while it might not do them as well, it doesn’t come with the worrying reliability issue.

The BLACK+DECKER 4 Slice Toaster gets an honorable mention, too. A pop-up toaster in a world of toaster ovens, it represents the best of the appliances you can get in its category.

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