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Toaster Oven Buying Guide


A toaster oven has been a staple of kitchens for decades. This appliance allows you to achieve that oven-baked flavor from a space-saving device that sits on your countertop. It can bake, broil and defrost many small meals as well as a conventional oven. Consider the following tips and your own needs when deciding which type of toaster oven works in your kitchen.

Why buy a new toaster oven?

Newer models are more energy efficient. Instead of having to use up a lot of energy to heat a conventional oven up to the right temperature, cook smaller dishes in a toaster oven to save a few dollars here and there.

New heating technologies let you do more with a toaster oven. You can get evenly cooked meals within minutes. With the same great flavors you would get from a conventional oven.

During the summer months, using a conventional oven can add a considerable amount of excess heat to the home. If you use a toaster oven for dishes like frozen pizza, you won't feel like you need to turn up the AC every time you cook.  

Features of new toaster ovens

Heat cycles

  • Defrost cycle thaws out food quickly without actually cooking it
  • Reheat cycle will give leftovers a fresh-out-of-the-oven taste
  • Broil
  • Pizza modes will make perfect frozen pizzas every time
  • Toast

Types of heat

  • Infrared toaster ovens mix infrared heat and convection heat to cook in half the time
  • Convection models mimic your conventional oven by circulating heat throughout the oven for even, thorough cooking

Learn how to clean a toaster oven


Types of Toaster Ovens

Standard toaster oven

For those who want a toaster oven but don't need all the frills, a model that uses standard heating coils to heat food is an ideal option.

  • Heat type: Standard heating coils
  • Capacity range: Small to medium
  • Cycles available: Toast, warm, bake and broil

A standard toaster oven is best for...

Simple baking: If you're looking to warm up leftovers, toast bread or melt cheese, then a standard heating coil-powered toaster oven will do.

Small spaces: If you're living in a small apartment and don't have room for a full-size oven, a toaster oven will give you the baking power you need in a small appliance.

Convection toaster oven

These models use fan-circulated, sometimes called convection, heat like a conventional oven but in a small, space-saving size.

  • Heat type: Convection.
  • Capacity range: Medium to large.
  • Cycles available: Toast, warm, bake and broil.

A convection toaster oven is best for...

To complement a standard convection oven: If you like to bake large meals with multiple dishes that need the oven, a convection toaster oven will let you whip up sides while the main course uses the large, conventional oven.

Those who want to bake complex dishes: If you're looking to bake small personal pizzas, baked potatoes or other dishes, a convection toaster oven can cook these while using considerably less energy.

Infrared toaster ovens

Cook meals faster with the aid of infrared and convection heating elements, all contained within one unit.

  • Heat type: Infrared/convection
  • Capacity: Medium to large
  • Cycles available: Toast, warm, pizza, bake and broil

An infrared toaster oven is best for...

Quick meals: The combination of infrared and convection heat means meals can be cooked in a fraction of the time.

Frozen pizza: Infrared convection models are able to bake pizzas quickly, while still giving your pizza a crispy crust.

Bottom Line

The toaster oven you invest in will depend on your cooking preferences and meal preparations. If you're looking to simply toast bread or warm leftovers, a standard toaster oven will give you all the functionality needed. More complex dishes, such as casseroles or frozen pizzas, can be baked in a convection toaster oven. If you need to warm up a meal quickly but still want the oven-baked flavor, an infrared convection oven will give you both.