Toaster Ovens: Tips for Finding the Most Suitable One

Toaster Ovens Tips for Finding the Most Suitable One from North Carolina Lifestyle Blogger Adventures of Frugal Mom

When was the last time you bought a toaster oven? Did the different types of toaster ovens available in the market today surprise you? I love that we now have options in all the products we buy, but as consumers, having a plethora of products to choose from can also be a double-edged sword. 

If you don’t have much budget or you’re as super-picky as me, your best bet is to buy based on your expectation (what do you want your toaster oven to do for your cooking needs?). This mini-guide should help you identify toaster oven functions. 

Types of Toaster Ovens

  • Toasters – If you grew up in the 1980s and 1990s, you know this small kitchen appliance by heart. Some models are designed with two slots for 2 slices of bread, while others have 4 or 6 slices and even a slot for bagels. It remains a convenient gadget if you’re preheating or toasting pieces of bread quickly. 
  • Toaster ovens – These look like tiny ovens but they could toast, bake, broil and more. Toaster ovens mostly work like an oven but consume less energy. If you’re concerned about preheating that is common in toaster ovens, look for a model with infrared heating elements that cook inside and outside of food evenly. 
  • Convection toaster ovens – Toaster ovens designed with convection feature use high-speed fans that swirl and blow air inside the device and provide equal amounts of heat throughout the oven. This technology allows for even cooking and savings of up to 50% energy compared to conventional ovens.

If you’re looking for a toaster, the only thing you’re supposed to decide is how many slices of bread you want toasting for each batch and if you’re going to be heating up bagels with it. 

If you’re looking for a toaster oven, then you’d have to specify which functions you need. 

Toaster Oven Functions and Features

Toaster ovens aren’t just built for toasting bread, but not all cooking functions (such as broiling, baking, defrosting, etc.) are available in all brands and models. These are some functions you might need:

  • Airfrying capability – If you’re a fan of dual-purpose kitchen appliances, go for a toaster oven that could work as an airfryer as well. This way, you could crisp up your veggies, dry proteins and herbs, and experiment in all kinds of crispy dishes without the need to buy a separate airfryer.
  • Defrosting – If you don’t have a microwave oven, but are contemplating getting one because you want to defrost food quickly, I recommend you get a toaster oven with defrosting function instead. For those who stock frozen bagels, this kitchen appliance would be heaven-sent. No more waiting for your favorite bagels to thaw before toasting. 
  • Auto shutoff – The old school toasters turn off automatically, but not all toaster ovens have this feature. If you’re a busy mom or dad juggling between tasks, any kitchen appliance that allows you to set-and-forget what you’re cooking is a must-have. 
  • Auto lift – Traditional toaster ovens have levers that let you lift food once it is finished cooking or reheating. It’s still functional even today, but other models have automatic lifts, which is way better because you only press a button and you can get your hot food more safely.
  • Crumb tray – One of my absolute must-have parts of a toaster oven is the crumb tray. If this is your first toaster oven, you definitely should buy one with this tray, especially if you plan to toast a lot of bread. If you don’t have this tray, the crumbs just add up so quickly that you’d have to clean your toaster regularly. 
  • Toast shade – Toaster ovens are, after all, toasters at the end of the day, so if you’re particular with the shade of your slice of toast, look for a model that allows you to select how light or dark you want your toast to be. 
  • Temperature settings – If you’re going to be baking on this thing, you need to be able to adjust temperature settings to accommodate all your recipes. 
  • Timer and interior light – Just like temp settings, a timer lets you follow recipes down to the T. If you like a toaster oven but it doesn’t come with a timer, make sure it is designed with an interior light. Both of these features prevent accidental burns and undercooking.

Most toaster ovens come with a display, but a few do not. Check first if you rely on displays for most of your kitchen appliances since having one without can really feel different. 

These functions and features should filter your choices to just a few models. When you’re down to the last few options, check for housing material and go for the one made of steel or plastic housing, which is less likely to retain heat and is more user-friendly to kids.

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