Did you know there is more than one type of toaster?
If you have a big family or usually invite guests over at your house for dinner parties, then you probably know about the frustration that goes into not having sufficient space in your oven to prepare everything you would like to prepare when you want to.
And if that situation sounds all-too-familiar, then I’d like to recommend that you consider acquiring a toaster oven. This unit can prepare a wide array of meals, including toasts, baguettes, muffins, bagels, your favorite sourdough bread slices, and more. The list can be truly endless.
That said, what is a toaster oven and how should you use it?
In this article, I am going to enlighten you on everything you need to know about them. I will start with the basic points, then go on showing you the different types of toaster ovens available out there, and what they can be used for. To top it off, I’ll then list several pros and cons of using the appliances, and explain how they differ from a traditional toaster.
So, without further delay, let us skip to the main section of the post.
What is a toaster oven?
A toaster oven is a small kitchen appliance that looks like a miniature oven. But instead of being powered by gas like regular ovens, it is powered by electricity. This tool also retails with a front door that can be usually opened downwards or sideways.
This unit also retails with a removable baking tray and wire rack and is usually placed on a shelf or countertop in the kitchen.
And as the name suggests, a toaster oven is a cross between the best toasters, and a regular oven, implying the tool will also come in handy when you want to cook pizzas, toast bread slices, pastries, and much more.
The pros and cons of using a toaster oven
As with most products in the world, toaster ovens also have their advantages and disadvantages.
- Extra cooking space
If you’re used to using a regular toaster, then you’ll appreciate the fact that a toaster oven allows you to prepare more than one meal or ingredients at the same time and without needing a second appliance on your kitchen counter.
This appliance is also useful if the meals you intend to prepare have different cooking stages that will require to use different temperature settings.
- Very easy to use
When using toaster ovens, you will never need to bend over to get your food.
Since you’ll place the appliance on your kitchen countertop, it implies the tool will be easier to access. And operating it only requires you to press two or three buttons and get to work.
- Easier to clean
We all know that no one loves to keep cleaning their kitchen appliances. It is an uncomfortable and greasy job that can sometimes take hours depending on how often you’ll decide to do it. Well, with the best toaster oven, you will not need to worry about spending hours from your precious time with cleaning.
With my toaster oven, for instance, all I have to do is wiping down easily after every use with a damp cloth. This cuts down the number of times a month I will need to do a thorough cleaning.
- Will not overheat your kitchen area
If you’ve checked out my post on toaster ovens vs regular ovens, then you remember that ovens are infamous for making kitchen areas extremely hot, which can be unbearable in the hottest months of the year.
And if you live in a hot nation, you may even start dreading when it comes to prepare a meal with your regular oven.
That said, toaster ovens are here to solve that problem. Preparing your favorite delicacies should be a fun process and a toaster oven will allow you to do that without the tool altering the heat in your house.
- Preheats faster
Thanks to its compact size, a toaster oven will be much quicker to preheat. So if you do not want to stress about turning on your regular conventional oven just to toast some bread slices or warm leftovers, then you’ll find that a toaster oven is not only faster when it comes to heating up, but it’s also more energy-efficient in the long run.
This further implies that you will serve your family dinner on time while at the same time cutting down on your electric and gas bills. Better yet, this lowers the ecological footprint of your toaster oven.
- Foods prepare faster
This is both an advantage and a disadvantage. It is a disadvantage because you will need to keep a constant eye on your meal as it prepares, lest it burns. Toaster ovens tend to cook ingredients way faster compared to regular ovens.
If you want to multitask, ensure you adjust the temperature knob accordingly to ensure the meal will not prepare as fast.
- You cannot prepare certain meals using a toaster oven
If you were using a regular oven before, I think you’ll be disappointed to learn that a toaster oven cannot accommodate a turkey for thanksgiving. A toaster oven is more suitable for small uses and those who have a small family or live alone.
Some of the meals a toaster oven cannot prepare include big cakes, full-sized chicken, batches of cookies at the same time, and large pizzas.
- Cooks foods unevenly
In addition to cooking your meals too fast, toasties prepared using a toaster oven tend to come out unevenly toasted. When you place in two bread slices, for instance, and decide to toast them for one minute, one of them is likely to come out darker compared to the other.
Note though: the difference in shades is not so big that it’s unsettling.
And when using a traditional toaster oven without the convection feature, you will have to flip your meals from time to time in order to toast them more evenly.
Different types of toaster ovens
Over the last couple of years, toaster ovens have come a really long way. Below are the four most common types of toaster ovens you’ll find in the market place today.
- Convection toaster oven
A convection toaster oven is a regular toaster oven that also retails with an inbuilt fan. It is there to blow hot air onto the food to help it cook faster and more evenly. This, in turn, also lowers your energy bills and the negative impact your toaster oven will have on the environment.
- Rotisserie toaster oven
Rotisserie toaster ovens retail in a wide array of sizes and shapes. They are specifically designed for preparing ingredients such as whole chickens and also allow you to achieve some of the most amazing flavors that would be impossible to achieve if you were using a regular oven.
- Infrared toaster oven
An infrared toaster oven is way different from the other types I’ve looked at above. This type of toaster oven sends heat directly to your meal rather than heating the air around it. This makes it particularly great because you will not need to preheat the device.
Frozen meals can also be prepared without defrosting them fast.
- Combination toaster oven
A combination toaster oven combines both the best regular toaster and toaster oven. This implies that in addition to the area with a door where you will place your meals to be cooked, a small (either two-slice or four slices) toaster will be placed on the side.
This is a great feature for those who would like to toast their bagels or bread slices while at the same time preparing their sausages and bacon.
As you can see from the detailed guide above, there is more to toaster ovens than just appealing to the eyes. These tools permit you to prepare your favorite meals while at the same time lowering your energy bills. That is a “hard to find” feature in any kitchen appliance today.
If you feel ready to try out a toaster oven already, here is a guide on the best toaster ovens in the market today. I’ve also included the most energy efficient toaster ovens in that guide.