Sometimes smaller is better
The aptly named toaster oven is a small kitchen appliances that replaces both the toaster and theoretically the conventional oven - they're great not only for browning up your bread, but also for tackling baking or small roasts in half the time of their larger counterparts.
Toaster ovens are perfect for making smaller meals, such as baked potatoes or mini pizzas, and they are also handy for warming up leftovers. These days, many toaster ovens have added features, such as a broiler for broiling chicken and other meats or a top grill for cooking eggs or bacon while your toast is browning.
These devices are continually improving in quality and use - many higher end toaster ovens include convection fans which circulate heat throughout the oven to ensure baking and roasts come out evenly done. Some ovens also have heat sensors and electronic controls, automatic shut off functions, digital displays and removable crumb trays. Non-stick interiors for easier cleanup are available in self-cleaning models.
The best way to choose which toaster oven will best suit your needs is to make a list of all the added features you will need and eliminate those you don't. You may also want to consider these factors before you make a decision:
- Size: Toaster ovens come in many sizes. Some are large enough to hold two racks and accept full-sized casserole dishes, while others are just big enough to make toast and warm smaller food items. Consider all the items you will want to put in your toaster oven before you make your purchase.
- Storage: Where do you plan to keep your toaster oven? Depending on its size, it could take up a lot of counter space. One way around this is to mount the unit under a cupboard. If this is not an option for you, you might try placing it on a side shelf or a kitchen cart to allow you more workspace on your counters.
Like all kitchen appliances, big or small, the more options you want, the more you will have to pay. Generally though, a good quality toaster oven will run you no more than $100. If you plan on leaving your toaster over on the kitchen countertop as a permanent fixture, be sure to consider the overall kitchen design and decor scheme to ensure it blends in well.