A toaster oven is a convenient and space-saving kitchen
helper for chefs who cook for a big family, and needs some extra cooking
capacity, or for a first apartment with no room for a conventional oven. Bake quick snacks with less mess in a hurry
for teenagers who are always hungry, make roasts while you cook side dishes in
your conventional oven, and even bake holiday cookies without tying up the
all appliances these days, toaster ovens are available in multiple different
shapes, sizes, colors and with different options. It is a good idea to consider the uses you
will want to be putting it to, the amount of space available on your counter top
and the ease of storage. Larger ovens
with more features and upscale materials are obviously going to come at a
higher price than a smaller, simpler model.
Also think about the level of
importance you place on appearance. If
you spend all your time in the kitchen, and you have color matched everything from
your back splash and lighting down to the handles on the spoons, you will
probably be more interested in spending money on colors and materials than
someone who plans on keeping this in the cupboard until kids blow through after
Price-wise, you can spend in between twenty-five dollars for
a simple four slice toaster oven that makes a great cinnamon toast to a upwards
of a hundred dollars on the large size programmable stainless steel version
that will handle your whole Thanksgiving dinner. The most important features to look for when
making your decision are also the most common and inexpensive. The first is the auto shut off feature which
causes the unit to shut down if it overheats, or if it is left on for a certain
amount of time. This feature negates the
possibility of the oven being left on accidentally, avoiding wasted energy and
any potential fire hazard. The second
important feature is the pull out rack that allows you to remove prepared food
without getting fingers close to the heating rack. Both of these options are especially useful
when the oven will be used by or around children.
up the list to special features that offer added convenience of use to the
traditional basic model, we see a few different types of upgrades: size,
material, and programmability. Toaster
ovens tend to be sized by the number of slices of bread that can be
accommodated at one time. You can find
two, four, and six slice sizes. If you
can measure a family breakfast in terms of how many pieces of toast you want,
then you will know the size you are looking for. This is a good rule of thumb, even if you
never intend to make anything other than personal sized frozen pizzas. Another consideration in the size category is
that some models come with multiple shelves, so that some cooking can be done
at a higher tier than others, rather than everything lining up flat. This is useful because it gives you cooking
capacity while taking up less counter top space. It is important to make sure the upper rack
is removable if you think you will be using the toaster oven to bake roasts or
other foods that require more vertical room to slide in and out of the oven
The range of available materials is equally extensive. More inexpensive models can be made with
glass, metal, a plastic. A more pricey
option would be the stainless steel choice.
Color also comes into effect here.
For a color matched kitchen, toaster ovens come in a variety of colors
beyond the expected black and stainless steel.
Hamilton Beach's Toaststation oven is available in their retro red "Ensemble"
series that offers matching appliances from
blenders to coffee pots. Bella's
"Dots" collection offers several core appliances in colors from black
to pink and teal for the serious color lovers.
The final set of options includes different levels of program
functionality. Panasonic's Flash Express
gives you simple programming options that so make it easier for you to do other
tasks while it's cooking, because you won't have to keep an eye on it. Separate presets are available for common
foods like toast, waffles, and pizzas, and a twenty-five minute timer lets you
set things a little more exactly. This
is a little bit of a price increase for a bit more convenience. Breville carries the "Smart Oven"
with a higher price for a longer list of programming options including a
convection option and a roasting setting to handle a wider variety of foods,
along with a larger size capacity.
Maxi-Matic has several choices in toaster ovens to offer, but some of the cheaper models might be avoided because the heating element is very tight on the rack, making accidental burns more likely.
Depending on your situation, taste, and price range, it is
easy to find a toaster oven that suits you.
If your biggest concern is inexpensive functionality, the auto shut-off and pull out tray features
are the only necessities. Options like
special colors, designs, and
programmability are nice additions that raise the price on the tag more than
they add to the basic usefulness of the appliance unless you have a specific
use in mind that demands a certain feature like one button control to make
pizza rolls. Cuisinart, Black & Decker, and Panasonic have good quality
versions of the toaster oven in the mid-range of pricing.
tool for breakfasts, quick snacks, and as a back-up for big dinners, the right
toaster oven can make your time in the kitchen easier and more convenient. Choose the number of slices size that's right
for you and the features that are most important to you, and you can get an
appliance that will be making toast for many mornings to come without blowing
your budget in the process.