Toasters and toaster ovens are kitchen essentials. While toasters produce quicker toast and often more consistent browning, toaster ovens are more versatile – great for preparing toast and adding a second smaller oven for cooking, reheating and more.
Toasters & Toaster Ovens
If browning bread slices quickly is your main concern, a conventional 2-slice top toaster might be a good choice as it will toast bread faster than a toaster oven. As with any toaster type it is a good idea to first think about the space you have available and of course, your budget.
Conventional toasters come in a variety colours and with different finishes such as chrome, copper and brushed metal. Many feature “retro”, stylish and even themed designs. Two-slice models remain the most popular, while four-slice and other multiple slice toasters might appeal to families or to those who regularly toast more than 2 slices at time.
Bagel/Wide Slot Toasters
These toasters accommodate bagels, thicker-sliced breads and English muffins. They are available in 2- and multiple slice models and often have a setting that allows for browning the cut side while keeping the other side relatively soft.
If you’re looking for uses in addition to toasting – like baking a pizza, roasting meat, chicken and seafood, or reheating empanadas – a toaster oven is an excellent and versatile option. Compared with a regular-sized stove, toaster ovens cut down on electricity costs, add less heat to a kitchen and have a reduced impact on the environment.
When considering what model is best for your needs it’s important to think about capacity. To determine a toaster oven's capacity look for its cubic foot measurement. A toaster oven with a 0.6-cubic foot capacity is normally capable of roasting a whole chicken.
Some toasters are designed in a way that combines both conventional and toaster oven features. There are also models that offer an even wider range of cooking functions that can include grilling, egg-poaching and steaming. Combination and multi-functional toaster ovens might appeal to those who have space considerations or for whom versatility in appliances is important.
Removable Crumb Tray
These trays make cleaning significantly easier. Some crumb trays are dishwasher-safe.
This feature allows for a wide range of "doneness," from very light to very dark, and also promotes consistent colour across all slices.
Some models feature dual controls, convenient for catering to different darkness preferences when more than one person is toasting.
This mechanism allows you to raise the bread in the toaster higher than the normal pop-up level, so you can easily remove your toast. Very useful for shorter slices that are difficult to remove.
A stay-cool top and sides, automatic shut-off, cord storage and a bread lift (which prevents you from having to dig for smaller items, risking burns or electrocution) are all features you might wish look for – especially if children can access the unit.
Easy to Use/Programmable Controls
Most believe electronic controls or a numbered dial function are preferable to shade-style dials that do not have numbers or symbol markers. Some feel electronic controls are more precise and that dials without clear markers can be more cumbersome to decipher. Digital displays and LED indicator lights are common on many models and are effective at alerting you as to the precise timer and temperature setting chosen.
Some models have retractable cords. Most have indentations and structural features to wrap the cord around, keeping it neat and more secure.
Some toaster ovens have a warming setting, which enables you to keep food warm until you are ready to remove it.
This feature is included in some toaster ovens and shortens amount of cooking or baking time needed. When this feature is engaged heated air that is generated is circulated by a built-in fan, which promotes even cooking, baking and browning.
Many toaster ovens have a broil feature, which focuses the heat on the top elements. This feature is helpful for quickly browning food like chicken, hamburgers and garlic bread, and is also useful for melting cheese onto other ingredients.
Some toaster ovens come with rotisserie forks, allowing you to skewer food like chicken, lamb, beef and pork. The forks are secured into spit holders on the toaster’s interior sides which turn 360 degrees, resulting in evenly cooked and browned meat.
Some toaster ovens use infrared light with specially-designed heating elements and thorough heat currents to cook and bake food quicker than conventional toaster ovens. There are some safety considerations when using infrared toasters so it is important to be aware of any that might be specified in the oven’s details or user guide.
Settings like reheat, defrost, roast, pizza and cookies are just some of the specialty options available on some toaster oven models.
Many toaster ovens come with baking trays. Some models come with accessories such as perforated broil pans, rotisserie forks, griddle and poaching lids and food removal tongs.