Toaster ovens are great kitchen tools because they let you cook a variety of foods with much more energy efficient than conventional ovens.
Toaster ovens also let you cook food in different ways with settings and options like broil, bake, toast, and more. You can cook everything from pizza to roasts to cookies in toaster ovens.
If you’re on a budget but still looking for a powerful, user-friendly toaster oven, look no further. My budget was under $50 when I got a toaster over.
Here are some factors to think about when buying a toaster oven, and a few recommendations for some of the most highly rated models available today.
In order to get the most bang for your buck out of your toaster oven, try to find one with the most functionality. This means it should have multiple cooking functions, including toast, broil, and bake. Some of the best models also have a “food warmer” function, or a “cool down” setting. Try to find the most multi-functional unit available to get the most out of your toaster oven.
Some models focus on one specific function, meaning they mainly function solely as a broiler or toaster. If you’ll only really be using one function, going for one of these toaster ovens may be the best option for you, and cheaper as well.
Along the lines of cooking functionality, temperature control is equally as important. The standard range for temperatures on toaster ovens is 150℉ to 450℉. If you can find a wider range, that would allow you even more countertop cooking freedom! But with this range, you can cook almost everything you would in your conventional oven.
Be certain that your toaster oven has a built in timer so that you can set it and forget it. Most timers on toaster ovens go for a maximum around 40 minutes, but some go up to 60 minutes, which may be better depending on the type of dish you’d like to use your toaster oven for.
In terms of energy efficiency, it is safe to assume that almost all toaster ovens are more efficient and less costly in terms of electricity than conventional ovens, especially for smaller cooking jobs.
However, toaster oven models also come in all different wattages. So if you’re planning on using your toaster oven for long periods of time (those 60 minute settings), you might want to go with a lower wattage model to save some power.
But if you want your toaster oven to heat up fast and get the job done quickly, a higher wattage model might be better for you.
Think about how much food you’ll be cooking at a time when looking at how many racks you’ll need in your toaster oven. Some come with 2 racks, some only have 1. All toaster ovens aren’t going to give you nearly as much room as you may be used to with a regular oven, so try to be realistic about what you’ll use your toaster oven for and base the number of racks on that.
It’s also best if you can find racks made out of stainless steel or cast iron, as these will be the most efficient and long-lasting cooking materials you can find.
You’ll also want your toaster oven to be as easy to clean as possible. This means you should look for removable drip and/or crumb trays that come with your toaster oven.Crumb trays are somewhat self-explanatory – catching any excess crumbs. Drip trays catch any liquid that falls off the food as it’s cooking. They’re ideal if you’ll be cooking a lot of meats or cheesy foods.
Both of these prevent any food from getting cooked on or burned to the surface of your toaster oven, thus protecting your model and making cleaning a complete breeze.
This model is great for cooking medium-sized meals, with 6 racks and plenty of room for personal pizzas. It also features convection heating, meaning it evenly distributes heat throughout the cooking space using a fan – a much more efficient setup than a large oven. The Black and Decker comes with a crumb tray and 60 minute timer, so it checks most of the boxes for a great toaster oven at an economic price.
The Rosewill is one of the best bargains out there, coming complete with a drip and crumb tray, 60 minute timer, large cooking interior, and even a pizza pan. It also has toaster and broiler settings, and comes at 1500 Watts.
This is a more compact option, and also one of the cheapest. It fits four pieces of toast or a 9″ pizza. You get a removable crumb tray as well as a see-through front glass door so that you can monitor your food’s progress. It comes with a 30 minute timer. If you’re looking for a simple, inexpensive toaster oven, this may be the model for you.