Toaster ovens are great for toasting and cooking all kinds of small-size food items, from toast and bagels to hamburgers and fish fillets. They are far more versatile than traditional, upright sliced-bread toasters and can substitute for a microwave or standard oven in a pinch. Most standard toaster ovens are equipped with cooking presets, temperature controls, and timers. When shopping for a new toaster oven, pay close attention to the following features.
Most toaster ovens are relatively small; measuring up to about 20 inches by 15 inches square at most. Some can even cook a standard size pizza from the frozen food aisle. Larger varieties are readily available, but they are typically designed to be small ovens as opposed to large toasters.
For better use of space in a small or crowded kitchen, some toaster oven models are designed to be permanently mounted underneath cabinets, somewhat like a microwave oven. Ensure that your cabinet can bear the load of a toaster oven before settling on such a model.
Most toaster ovens are well-suited to cooking most small-size foods. Look for broiler and bake settings, pre-heat capability, and defrost cycles for improved functionality. Increasingly, toaster ovens are available with convection oven functionality, which circulates air over the heating element creating a uniform oven temperature and faster cooking with less energy use. Many toaster ovens can reach over 400 degrees.
Look for adjustable, removable cooking racks, cooking trays, and crumb collectors. For relatively easy cleaning, a porcelain or otherwise non-stick interior is essential.
For easy operation, consider a toaster oven outfitted with electronic, touchpad controls. Many such toaster ovens also have convenient presets for particular food items, including frozen pastries. An interior light is also handy for monitoring the progress of your cooking food.
A wide variety of modern, stylish exteriors are available to fit most kitchen designs.