Are Toaster Ovens Worth It?

A toaster oven is an electric oven that is compact in size and has a front door that can be opened manually. It comes with a wire rack, removable baking sheet, and a heating element made of ceramic, Nichrome, or quartz. This appliance was first created in 1910 and has the ability to toast bread as well as perform basic baking and broiling functions. Its primary use is for toasting bread and reheating food.

Whether a toaster oven is a useful kitchen tool or not depends on the situation, as it can be incredibly convenient and valuable for those living in small apartments or dorms without access to an oven, since it can perform many of the same functions. Additionally, using a toaster oven for smaller-scale cooking can be an energy-efficient choice.

Nevertheless, individuals who opt for warming their meals in a microwave, toasting their bread in a slot toaster, and possessing convenient availability to an air fryer or conventional built-in oven/range may perceive a toaster oven as superfluous.

What Are the Pros and Cons of a Toaster Oven?

Pros

  • The electric heating elements have the ability to brown, bake, toast, crisp, and caramelize.
  • Toaster ovens are great for maintaining the warmth of food due to their powerful and dry heat.
  • Toaster ovens are a more energy-efficient option than a conventional oven/range, making them ideal for heating or reheating small portions of food.
  • While pop-up toasters and toaster ovens consume similar amounts of electricity, the latter is more adaptable as it serves multiple purposes, unlike the former that is designed for a single function.
  • The wire rack and baking sheet of a toaster oven are simpler to clean and take up less space compared to those of a full-sized oven.
  • Toaster ovens have become much safer in recent times, with the availability of modern dials and digital timers that allow users to customize heat intensity and cooking duration.

Cons

  • Reheating food in a toaster oven takes more time compared to a microwave.
  • Unable to warm up fluids
  • Not capable of thawing
  • Can dry out foods.
  • It may be necessary to rotate food for uniform cooking due to the cold spot near the front of the oven caused by the detachable glass door.
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When Should You Use a Toaster Oven?

Toaster ovens can be highly beneficial in situations where there is no built-in kitchen stove top and oven, like in dorms, smaller apartments, office kitchens, campers, and trailers. Although we often consider ovens as a common appliance, they may not always be available. In such cases, a toaster oven can serve as a slightly restricted but still useful substitute.

A toaster oven has a temperature range similar to a traditional oven, typically reaching up to 450-500°F. However, the front door’s manual opening mechanism can cause heat to escape near the front, leading to uneven cooking. To ensure even cooking, it is recommended to turn the food midway. Despite this limitation, a toaster oven can still be used for almost any cooking task that a traditional oven can handle.

If you are cooking for only one person, a toaster oven can serve as a convenient and efficient substitute for a larger oven, as heating up the entire oven may appear unnecessary and inefficient.

Opting for a toaster oven is an ideal choice when preparing smaller servings of dishes that are typically cooked in a conventional oven, resulting in a reduced carbon footprint over time.

Toaster ovens can be utilized alongside conventional ovens and microwaves to accomplish cooking large meals.

A toaster oven is a useful appliance for various tasks, with numerous settings that make it the ideal choice.

Toasting

The toaster oven is capable of toasting a slice of bread just as well as any traditional slot toaster, utilizing a wire rack that is suspended between the upper and lower heating elements to ensure even toasting on both sides.

Toaster ovens are particularly useful for toasting larger baked items such as scones, rolls, croissants, bagels, delicate pastries, and pies that cannot fit in a regular slot toaster.

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With the removable baking sheet, it is possible to toast smaller items such as nuts, breadcrumbs, grains, or spices and keep an eye on them through the small glass oven door to prevent burning.

Broiling 

Toaster ovens typically have a broiling function where the top heating element heats up significantly to crisp the surface of nearby food.

The broiler function of a toaster oven is versatile and can be utilized for various purposes such as caramelizing sugar on desserts, browning cheese on casseroles or baked potatoes, scorching the bechamel on croque monsieur, or melting a wheel of brie in a ramekin.

Roasting

An electric toaster oven’s sturdy heating elements are well-suited for producing the necessary dry radiant heat needed for roasting.

If you are looking for a way to roast lean meats such as chicken and turkey breast or cook bacon and sausage quickly and evenly while avoiding dangerous oil splatters, then the toaster oven is an excellent option. Additionally, it can be used to roast vegetables like broccoli/cauliflower, carrots, zucchini, or squash.

Baking

Toaster ovens are ideal for cooking foods that require shorter or gentler cooking times, such as fish and eggs. Personally, I enjoy using it to prepare dishes like quiche and frittata.

Toaster ovens are convenient for baking frozen pre-made foods from the freezer aisle or pre-portioned cookie dough.

Reheating food 

Although the microwave is commonly used for reheating food, a toaster oven is highly effective in restoring the crispiness of leftovers such as french fries, fried chicken, dumplings, and pizza.

Warming

Using this feature on a toaster oven can be a useful method to maintain the warmth of your food while you attend to other tasks.

One instance where a toaster oven can be useful is in keeping food warm, such as a casserole or bread, until it’s time to serve.

How Much Do Toaster Ovens Cost?

Depending on the model, toaster ovens can be quite inexpensive. For instance, a simple 4-slice toaster oven may only cost around $30.

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Toaster ovens with a convection feature can be quite expensive, adding around $100 to the cost, while basic 6 slice toasters typically range from $50-70 and stainless steel models can go up to $80.

Although most toaster ovens are intended for countertop use, there are some models that can be mounted under cabinets or shelves, which may result in higher costs due to the necessary hardware and installation.

How Much Electricity Do Toaster Ovens Consume?

When considering the cost of operating a toaster oven, which uses 1,200-1,800 watts, it is important to note that it costs between $.15 – $.22 cents per hour at a rate of $.12 per 1000 watts per hour. In contrast, an oven requires 2000-5000 watts to operate, making the toaster oven a more energy-efficient choice.

Can a Toaster Oven Replace a Microwave

Although toaster ovens and microwaves may have similar sizes and prices, their advantages are distinct from each other.

While toaster ovens consume less electricity than microwaves, they are generally less efficient due to their longer cooking times, despite having a smaller carbon footprint.

Unlike toaster ovens, microwaves are efficient in heating liquids such as tea, stews, or soups quickly and easily. They can also pop popcorn and bake potatoes at a faster rate, thaw meats, and melt chocolate.

Although microwaves are useful for heating food quickly, toaster ovens excel at browning, crisping, and refreshing leftovers. If someone prefers using traditional methods like a stove or oven for certain tasks such as heating liquids or baking potatoes, a toaster oven could be a suitable replacement for a microwave specifically for reheating food.

It is up to the individual cook and their kitchen needs to decide if toaster ovens are worth the counter space and energy consumption, considering the availability of other appliances with various features.

You can also check this video about “Are Toaster Ovens Worth It?”

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