Are you looking for a convenient, budget-savvy alternative to using a full-size oven?
While the microwave has its place, it doesn’t always produce the most appealing results when it comes to entrees. And that’s where the toaster oven fits in nicely.
Convenient, energy efficient, and easy on the pocketbook, a good quality toaster oven can handle most tasks typically asked a standard-sized one. These countertop appliances preheat quickly, draw little electricity, and won’t excessively heat up your kitchen – which makes them a sweet option on a hot summer day.
Because of their compact size, they’re a brilliant choice for small space cooking, dorm rooms, the cabin, tiny homes, and micro apartments that have no kitchen at all!
They’re a great choice for those who cook in small batches, or for helping with holiday dinners. And another appealing feature of their small footprints is that they’re quick and easy to clean.
With a range of sizes and cooking options available, they’re a smart choice for any kitchen.
Bottom Line Up Front: The Best Toaster Ovens
Some of our favorite models include:
- Breville BOV900BSS Smart Oven Air
- Wolf Gourmet
- Cuisinart 260N1 Chef’s Convection
- Panasonic Flash Xpress
- Cuisinart CSO-300N1 Steam and Convection
- Black and Decker CTO6335S
- Breville BOV450XL Mini Smart
- Cuisinart TOB-200 Rotisserie Convection
- Oster Large Capacity
- Elite Cuisine Maxi-Matic ERO-2008SC
- Morning Star Extra Large Infrared Convection
Our 11 Favorite Toaster Ovens in Review
1. The Breville BOV900BSS Smart Oven Air: Our Top Rated Model
For most folks, the Breville Smart Oven Air is the model that offers the best value and cooking performance.
The Breville went from zero to 450°F in five minutes in our preheating tests. And that’s a significant improvement in terms of speed compared to almost all other models.
This quick preheating is thanks to the five quartz elements that are controlled by Breville’s Element IQ, which automatically adjusts the heating elements to deliver power where it’s needed most.
The Slow Cook setting is another brilliant feature, as it allows for up to 10 hours of low temperature cooking, making this model a suitable alternative to a slow cooker.
Several more thoughtful design elements were incorporated into this newest edition of the Breville Smart Oven:
- An intuitive and simple-to-use control panel, with solid, sturdy components.
- An interior halogen bulb casts a clear light to monitor cooking and can actually be replaced at home. (Some brands need their ovens to be shipped to a service center to replace a light bulb!)
- The smart “pizza bump” accommodates a 13-inch pie, and the middle rack will auto-eject halfway when the door is opened, which makes it easy to handle and remove hot items.
- Plus, cleaning is swift and simple with the nonstick interior and pull-out crumb tray.
The Breville Smart Oven Air easily handles all the cooking functions of a full-sized unit with its thoughtful and user friendly design.
With capabilities and functions that truly bake, broil, and roast to perfection, this model can be used for much more than toast or pizza. Great for small batch cooking, the Breville is indispensable for dinner parties, holiday cooking, and summertime meals – and even daily use for a small household.
2. The Wolf Gourmet: A Step Up
A number of countertop ovens offer a broiler setting, but results can often be disappointing. This is not so with the Wolf Gourmet.
For outstanding roasts and broiler performance, the Wolf Gourmet is a top contender.
Countertop roasting, broiling, and baking are taken to a whole new level with this model. The five nickel-based incoloy heating elements with extra high-grade stainless steel deliver precision heat throughout the oven.
Perimeter convection heat ensures even cooking on all surfaces, and a handy internal probe thermometer ensures dishes are cooked to perfection.
At the higher end of the price range, Wolf Gourmet also offers the best guarantee at five years – an unusual, and popular, benefit in a niche known for skimpy warranties.
3. Cuisinart Chef’s Convection: A Solid Choice
If fast heating and a large capacity are important features for you, the Cuisinart Chef’s Convection model is worth considering.
With a large 9-slice capacity, it will also accommodate a 13-inch pizza.
The standard convection fan and turbo convection setting deliver fast and even air circulation, while 5 heating elements and internal sensors produce exact temperatures where they’re needed. Well designed for easy use, features to note are multiple rack positions, an interior light, a 2-hour timer, and an included pizza stone.
Cuisinart TOB-260N1 Stainless Steel Chef’s Convection Toaster Oven available on Wayfair
The generous, extra-large capacity and fast, even heating give the Cuisinart Chef’s Convection excellent value and convenience as a replacement for full-sized models, vacations at the cottage, and for dinner parties or holiday meals.
4. Panasonic Flash Xpress: Best for Toast
The Panasonic Flash Xpress is a compact model that uses double infrared power for speedy, efficient heating that eliminates the need for preheating – and it delivers the best golden toast.
Mid-sized in capacity, it holds up to 4 slices of toast and fits a 9-inch pizza.
Panasonic NB-G110P Flash Xpress Toaster Oven in Silver available from Amazon
The two quartz/ceramic elements are extremely efficient for delivering consistent, even temperatures that bake, brown, and toast to perfection. And an interior light plus digital timer add convenience.
A dependable compact model for baking, broiling, and reheating, the Panasonic Flash Express also produced the best evenly-browned slices of toast in our test kitchen.
5. Cuisinart CSO-300N1 Steam and Convection: Best for Healthy Steam Cooking
Another multi-feature model from Cuisinart, the Steam and Convection Toaster Oven provides the moist results and healthy benefits of cooking with steam, plus the efficiency of convection heat.
Mid to large-sized, it holds 4 slices of toast or a 12-inch pizza.
The removable water reservoir, multiple rack positions, and a steam cleaning function are notable features. It also has a steam proofing selection for bakers to allow yeast doughs to rise for homemade bread and rolls.
Fast, efficient, and user friendly, the Cuisinart Steam and Convection is a dependable choice for reduced-fat cooking with the time saving effectiveness of convection heat – a fantastic kitchen combination.
6. Black and Decker CTO6335S: No Frills Convection
Black and Decker’s Countertop Convection Toaster Oven provides reliable convenience and the high-performance efficiency of convection heat, with an economical price.
Its compact size leaves a small footprint, but the interior has a pizza bump for extra depth that allows it to accommodate a 12-inch pizza, or 4 slices of toast.
A nonstick interior makes cleanup fast and easy, and the 2-hour timer with automatic shutoff adds to the user friendly features.
Compact, dependable, and fast heating, the Black and Decker Convection provides reliable, easy performance with no-frills economy.
7. Breville BOV450XL Mini Smart: Compact Convenience
For space-saving convenience, and the very same technology as our top-rated model the Breville Smart Pro, the Breville Mini Smart is a savvy choice where a compact footprint is required.
While the design may be small, the Mini Smart still holds 4 slices of toast or an 11-inch pizza.
Four quartz elements and Element IQ technology deliver heat to where it’s needed for outstanding even coverage without any hot or cold spots. The Mini also has 3 rack positions and a nonstick interior, for added convenience and easy cleanup.
Compact but powerful, the Mini Smart delivers the same effective performance as its bigger cousin, but has a size that’s perfect for small spaces.
8. Cuisinart TOB-200 Rotisserie Convection: Built in Protein Roasting
Does the idea of a rotisserie in a countertop model appeal to you? Then check out the affordable rotisserie/convection combo from Cuisinart.
The rotisserie is suitable for a whole chicken or lamb shank, while the convection fan quickly circulates heated air for reliable, even temperatures without the need to preheat.
Cuisinart TOB-200 Rotisserie Convection Toaster Oven available through Amazon
The Cuisinart TOB-200 has a large capacity that holds 6 slices of toast or a 12-inch pizza. It also features 3 rack positions and a metal safety handle to pull out a hot tray, and the rotisserie fork assembly is included.
Generous in terms of cooking area, this model is a dependable, reasonably-priced choice for rotisserie cooking combined with the fast results of convection heat.
9. Oster Large Capacity: Full-Size Dependability on a Budget
In the full-size convection range, the Oster Large Capacity Convection Toaster Oven provides another dependable choice that delivers fast heating, even heat distribution, and no preheat times.
It has a larger interior that holds 6 slices of toast or a 12-inch pizza. Handy features include an interior light, adjustable broil temperatures, and a 90-minute countdown timer with auto shutoff.
The Oster Large Capacity gives dependable one-touch performance with a roomy interior, making it suitable to replace a full-sized model in small spaces, or for second-oven convenience for holiday meals, dinner parties, and everyday cooking for large families.
10. Elite Cuisine Maxi-Matic ERO-2008SC: The All-In-One Cooking Station
For true all-in-one countertop convenience, the MaxiMatic provides the fast, efficient heat of convection, the delicious results of a rotisserie, and the convenience of a grill on top.
The rotisserie delivers healthy, fat-reduced cooking and convection provides fast, even temperatures throughout. And while using the oven, the nonstick griddle top can be used as a grill – or as a steamer, along with the tall dome lid.
The large interior has a 6-slice capacity and will hold a 12-inch pizza. It features a 60-minute timer with automatic shutoff, plus a pan-removal handle clip. A rotisserie fork and assembly plus rotisserie removal tongs are included.
Elite Cuisine’s MaxiMatic reliably combines several cooking styles in a single station for convenience and efficiency. But check the measurements of your counter-to-cupboard clearance because this one is taller than most.
11. Morning Star Extra Large Infrared Convection: Big and Fast
For extra-large capacity and the fast, efficient heating of both infrared and convection heat, the Morning Star Infrared Convection Toaster Oven delivers on all fronts.
The extra-large Morning Star holds a whopping 12 slices of toast or a 13-inch pizza, and it also has the capacity to accommodate the bread pans and quarter baking sheets that most countertop models can’t accommodate.
Features of note include 4 available rack positions, an interior light, a nonstick interior, and an included tray handle for easy removal of hot pans.
Infrared and convection heat make the Morning Star fast and effective. And its extra-large size and capacity make it a reliable replacement for a full-sized model – ideal for the cabin, dorm rooms, or in-law suites.
What to Look for When Choosing Your Toaster Oven: From Basic to Deluxe
Like many appliances, the toaster oven has evolved from its first appearance back in 1910. Today’s versions range from those that are basic in their performance to multipurpose units that may achieve a variety of cooking tasks.
They come in a variety of sizes, and can be either freestanding on the counter, or mounted to the underside of cabinets.
Some features remain largely the same as they were in their first iteration, and across models. They still have horizontal heating elements on the top and bottom, with an adjustable rack.
A removable crumb tray is another standard feature, and most will have a door window so you can keep an eye on what’s cooking.
Traditional models are still fairly basic in what they offer. Naturally, you can toast multiple slices of bread, and they preheat quickly. Plus, they’re good for light broiling duties, melting a cheese topping, or warming up an entree.
And if that’s the extent of what you’ll be using one for, then you won’t need the more advanced features – which, of course, increase the cost as well.
But if you want to step things up a bit, you’ll want to invest in one of the more advanced options available today.
Much More Than Just Toast
High-end models offer a variety of cooking features such as baking, convection, and steam, and are easily able to roast a chicken, grill steaks, and even bake bread.
Let’s have a closer look.
Toaster ovens, just like their full-sized kinfolk, are available in models that come with a convection fan for quick and even cooking. As cooking time is reduced, you’ll use even less energy and release less heat into the kitchen – and this offers a touch of sophistication to your cooking choices.
An affordable solution if your current oven isn’t convection, many brands offer both convection and conventional settings.
Steam settings – such as steam bake, steam broil, and basic steam – are wonderful for light, healthy cooking, and are ideal for steaming fish, veggies, or dumplings like gyoza.
When combined with convection, models with this feature make baking bread a dream – with crusty tops and fluffy, fully risen interiors.
A bake setting is perfect for small batch cooking or preparing side dishes. Pizza, meatloaf, small roasts and poultry, veggies, muffins, cookies, and so on are all viable options in these mini ovens.
Some with more advanced features offer specialty settings for roasting, preparing a pizza, and baking cookies as well.
Infrared cooking transfers heat directly to the food, as opposed to heating the surrounding air, and is superb at even cooking, browning, and crisping.
It eliminates the need to preheat, and food is cooked much quicker than with conventional heating coils, both features that offer considerable energy savings.
For those who enjoy a nice steak, a broil option is a good choice.
This is also great for melting cheese, browning casseroles before serving, and making pans of nachos.
Rotisserie cooking is another attribute that’s offered on higher end models. Some brands will use the standard heating elements for rotisserie cooking while others offer infrared heat, and this will often be combined with a convection feature.
Easy to understand settings are best for straightforward operation and make any model more enjoyable to use. But more doesn’t necessarily mean better when it comes to these settings, as they can also serve to over-complicate operation.
However, control panels that offer a few preset features are handy for one-touch operation, and audible alerts that sound when your food is ready are a nice feature as well. Most models today will also come with an automatic shutoff that turns off the heating elements after 30-60 minutes.
A digital control panel provides a flat surface that won’t collect as much grime and debris as control knobs, making models with this feature easier to clean.
Some of the more expensive models will also have auto-eject racks that partially pop out when the door is opened, making it easier to remove food.
Another useful feature is an interior light. It lets you monitor food as it cooks, which is very handy for delicate tasks that you don’t want to overdo – like broiling a steak or melting cheese.
An unseen item, insulation is important, particularly for mounted units. Many lower priced models will be skimpy with the insulation, which can result in the exterior getting very hot when in use. This can be dangerous, leading to accidental burns.
If you choose one of the basic models, always ensure that there’s plenty of space around the exterior for proper ventilation, and keep the top free of papers, plastic, or any flammable materials.
You’ll also want to ensure that your model has the necessary cord length to easily reach a nearby electrical outlet without the use of an extension cord.
If you plan to use your toaster oven for any more advanced tasks, be sure to invest in a model that has adequate wattage. In general, they’ll run from 750 watts for basic units up to 1800 watts for convection models.
Serving It All Up
While most of us probably won’t be giving up our full-sized ovens any time soon, the toaster oven offers a lot of versatility.
Whether you cook in small batches or need more leverage for holiday dinners, they’re an affordable option that saves time and energy, and makes cooking a little more convenient.
And before you make any decisions, be sure to check our reviews in the toaster oven category. We dish on some of the best models available in today’s marketplace, and they’re a treasure trove of useful information.
Now readers, it’s your turn. What are some of your favorite uses for a toaster oven? Let us know in the comments below and share your expertise!
Photos by Mike Quinn, © Ask the Experts, LLC. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. See our TOS for more details. Additional photos courtesy of Breville,Wolf, Cuisinart, Panasonic, Black and Decker, Oster. Elite Cuisine, and Morning Star.
About Lorna Kring
Recently retired as a costume specialist in the TV and film industry, Lorna now enjoys blogging on contemporary lifestyle themes. A bit daft about the garden, she’s particularly obsessed with organic tomatoes and herbs, and delights in breaking bread with family and friends.