How to Pick the Best Toaster Oven

There is a lot to consider when searching for a toaster oven (price, quality, features, etc.).  That is why reading toaster oven reviews plays a critical part in helping you find the right toaster oven for your needs.

It can, however, get a little confusing at times – especially if you aren’t exactly sure what to look for.  Therefore, the following are some things that you should consider or look out for when hunting for the perfect toaster oven.

What size do you need?

The size of the toaster oven is an important factor to consider.  If you are limited on counter space, then you don’t want to buy one that leaves a large footprint.  You also don’t want to buy one that is so small that it doesn’t satisfy your cooking needs either.  Therefore, prior to doing a lot of research, it is a good idea to think about what you want to use the toaster oven for (like what food you want to cook in it) as well as how much counter space you have for one.  Ultimately, you need to find a toaster oven that satisfies both your cooking and counter space needs.

We have listed the dimensions of each toaster oven in our comprehensive reviews for your convenience, but remember that this pertains to the outside area of the toaster oven and not the interior space (unless stated otherwise).

If you are really tight on counter space, you may also want to consider an under the counter toaster oven, which mounts beneath your cupboards.

What features do you want?

Toaster ovens range from very basic to the most advanced, like the Breville Smart Oven.  Features can include things like automatic shut off, slide-out crumb tray, interior light, automatic pull out rack, or cooking features like broil, defrost, toast, reheat, etc.  It is important to know beforehand what features are the most important to you.

Probably the two biggest features you will have to decide on is 1) to buy a toaster oven with a convection fan, and 2) to have digital controls or the classic twist dials.

Convection fan – Some toaster ovens come equipped with a convection fan that is used to speed up the cooking process (the fan decreases the overall cooking time).  Convection ovens are generally more expensive, but they produce better results so you may be interested in having this feature.

Click here to learn more about cooking with convection ovens

Click here to see convection toaster oven reviews

Digital or twist dial controls – In terms of digital controls or the standard twist dials,  this really comes down to personal preference.  Some people love the old fashioned twist dials while others prefer the new state of the art digital controls.  They both can get the job done and they both can have problems.  Therefore, keep your eye out for what people are saying about the controls in our reviews.  We will always mention any problems people have with the controls or the functionality of the toaster oven.

Think about ease of cleaning – It is also a good idea to think about how easy it is to clean the toaster oven.  Toaster ovens can get quite messy and dirty at times, so having one that is easy to clean is helpful.  Things to look out for are slide out crumb trays (preferably accessed from the front) and non-stick interiors.  This will help make cleaning more convenient.

Quality is important

It’s a shame that toaster ovens aren’t what they used to be.  The classic toaster ovens that lasted for years and that many of us grew up using are a thing of the past.  A lot of toaster ovens are now made in China and the quality has come down a lot – especially with lower-end or budget toaster ovens.  Therefore, with the lower-end models, you may have to replace them a lot sooner than you are accustomed to.  They are also accompanied by a lot more consumer complaints about performance and safety.  For these reasons, we recommend  (if your budget permits) going with a quality made toaster oven.

Click here to see a list of toaster oven recommendations

Think about safety

One of the most frequent complaints customers have with toaster ovens is that the exterior gets quite hot.  This is generally true with all toaster ovens, but more so with cheaper ones.  The reason some toaster ovens heat up more so than others is due to the insulation and materials used.  Cheaper toaster ovens are made of light and thin materials while more expensive ones use heavier and thicker materials.  This may not be a big deal to some, but for those with small children it is something to consider.

Also, keep an eye out for toaster ovens with cooking timers and the ability to automatically turn off.  These toaster ovens will not only help prevent your food from burning, but also help mitigate potential fires.

Warning!  Some timers are trickier to use than others and may engage the oven to “Stay On” mode, which may be a potential fire hazard.  Read our customer complaint section of the toaster oven of your interest to see if this applies

If you’re looking for a toaster oven that shuts off after each cooking cycle and doesn’t have any issues with burning food, we recommend looking at the Breville Smart Oven.

Where to buy

Toaster ovens can be purchased from numerous places – both online and at physical store locations.  Both kinds of retail outlets have their pros and cons.  From our experience, it is usually much cheaper to buy toaster ovens (especially high-end models) online.  You can also find special deals from big in-store retail companies (Sears, Walmart, Bed Bath & Beyond, etc.), but by and large they have a tough time competing with online giants like Amazon.com (we recommend Amazon because of their great customer service, low prices, and free shipping).  Also, there is generally a greater selection of toaster ovens to choose from online as well.

The only drawback with buying online is that you do lose that ability to touch and feel the product, but by reading reviews you should be able to get a clear picture of how the product operates, and whether or not it’s user friendly.

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