Why I Love My Toaster Oven

This week’s installation of the Small Kitchen Appliances series features the humble, yet versatile, toaster oven.

cinnamon toast

For the last ten years or so, our toaster of choice has been the toaster oven. While we have owned the pop up kind of toaster, we’ve found the toaster oven to be the thing for us.

My parents had one when I was a kid. I have fond memories of mom reheating those mini pizzas or making cheese toast with American cheese that puffed in a weird, waxy, plastic kind of way.

We make toast in it. But, we do lots of other things with it, too. Like make s’mores.

smores in toaster oven

Those are pretty darn good, those indoor s’mores. It takes just a few minutes to make a half dozen or more. They are tasty and quicky. The toaster oven is perfect for them since it doesn’t take too long to heat.

We make toast. We reheat waffles. We toast bagels, English muffins, and energy bars.

And when push comes to shove, we do this:

toaster oven with a pie in it!

Yep, that’s a pie, people! A lemon meringue pie. On Easter Sunday my oven was maxed out and I still had the meringue to brown. I crossed my fingers and let the toaster oven do it. Proof positive right here:

Lemon Meringue Pie

That’s about the most beautiful Lemon Meringue Pie I ever made! All in a toaster oven.

True, our toaster oven is not the prettiest of small kitchen appliances. We’re on our second in ten+ years. But the sucker gets daily use at our house, more so on holidays, obviously.

I love my toaster for just a few simple reasons:

  • It can bake or toast a number of varied dishes.
  • My kids can use it pretty simply.
  • We like toast.

There really aren’t many tricks to using this machine. If you have a traditional toaster that you love, well keep at it. But, if you’re in the market for something new, consider a toaster oven.

Care and storage

Since we use our toaster oven almost every day, it sits on the counter in plain view. Unfortunately, because it’s used so often, drips and smudges get baked on before I have a chance to wipe them off. Like I said, it’s not the prettiest of my kitchen tools. We try to empty the crumb tray on a regular basis, but otherwise, it’s a low-maintenance machine.

Purchasing a machine

I think we’ve purchased two toaster ovens over the years. One just happened to be the only model Costco had when we were shopping. The other was on clearance at Target. I’ve never investigated all the bells and whistles to know if there’s a “better” machine. We’ve always done pretty well with these random purchases.

What’s your experience with a toaster oven?

Love it or hate it? Do tell.

(Check out past posts in which I wax eloquent about the bread machinethe food processor,the immersion blenderthe waffle maker,  the Keurig, the electric griddle, and the home juice extractor.)

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Comments

  1. Rachel W. says:

    My mom used to make grilled cheese sandwiches for me in a toaster oven when I was a child. Over the years we’ve used them to brown dinner rolls, make toast (obviously), bake boneless skinless chicken breasts, broil pork chops, bake small breakfast steaks, and basically cook whatever we can fit in it when we don’t want/need to crank up the big oven. Nifty little appliance. Love ‘em.

  2. We just upgraded our toaster oven after using a $15 for about 5 years (which still works perfectly fine but my husband treated me to a better model). The new one has a lot of settings and I use it several times a day for anything I can think of : toast, baking biscuits , waffles, reheating food, etc… It also has a rotisserie so I’ll be testing that soon. Needless to say, I love my toaster oven!!

  3. Lee Anne says:

    Ours even has a convection oven setting. Love mine. When purchasing my husband treated me to several meals that week all baked in the toaster oven (that was the deal, if we got the bells and whistles he had to prove it was worth it) :)

    • @Lee Anne, I noticed mine says convection, too. I have no idea what to do with it, though. lol

      • @Jessica,
        Short, simplified version. It cooks things a little faster ( instead of an hour it takes 45 mins) or on a lower temperature (reduce by 25 degrees). It works great for meats, cooks really evenly. Not so great for breads. Tends to dry them out.

  4. When I stopped microwaving vegetables and we were getting tired of steamed, my toaster oven was perfect for oven-roasted vegetables. Broccoli, cauliflower, asparagus and others taste sweeter when roasted. An 8 inch square pan takes about 20 minutes to bake. Just toss veggies with olive oil in the 8 inch pan, salt and pepper and bake. Delicious! In fact, we eat MORE veggies now that we regularly roast!

  5. I love my toaster oven1 Like Sally, I’ve roasted veggies in it – yum!! I’ve made several main dish meals, baked brownies, toast my almonds before turning them into butter, reheat waffles and pancakes… lol, the least favorite thing is making toast in it! haha! I just prefer my regular toaster for that.
    Jessica, I have a question – is the pan you use aluminum? The one that came w/ my oven is aluminum and I’d like to get away from that if at all possible. Unfortunately, I can’t find anything that’ll fit my oven that’s not aluminum. We’ve searched online but can’t find anything, I was just wondering what you have.

    • @Carolyn,

      Does an 8 in square glass pan fit in there? That’s what I’ve been using.

      • good grief! can the solution be any easier? I don’t know why I’ve been stuck on using what came with the oven! yes, an 8″ pan will fit – thanks!
        however, that reminds me that my 8″ glass pan has been AWOL for some time now. How can one lose a pan/dish?! I wish I could say it’s because I take meals to other people quite often. Alas, that is not the case…

    • @Carolyn, I have a 6 cavity muffin pan and a 6 cavity microwave oven muffin pan (Nordic Ware) that both work well. The best part is that I found one at a garage sale and the other at a Thrift store.

  6. We got our first toaster oven for our wedding 15 years ago; I put it on the registry! Some people thought it was a waste of space, but, like you, I loved it! It died about 5 years ago or so, and we are now on #2. I love that we can make 4-5 pieces of regular toast at one time, bagels AND toast, reheat waffles and pancakes without them getting soggy, cook just one or two items (did an enchilada last night) without turning on the oven…I could go on and on!

    I got the smallest size Pampered Chef rectangular stoneware pan many years ago, and it’s going strong. I can’t broil with it, but it does just about everything else.

  7. Next to my solar oven,my toaster oven is what I use to be able to bake in the summer without overheating our home.We live in Las Vegas and unless you “bake/think” outside of the box,you won’t even consider baking in the summer. I use mine for everything- baking brownies,cake,chicken,rolls,bread- you name it!

  8. I’ve always had one and used it fairly often. However, mine died a few months ago and haven’t missed it enough to replace it yet. Of course I might change my mind this summer when its too hot to use the oven.

  9. If anyone is willing to give recommendations by name, I’d be grateful. My last two toaster ovens have been terrible (uneven cooking, burning toast on low settings, and early death – both of them). I’d love a new one, but I am frustrated by trying to figure out what brand/model to get. I’ve read Amazon reviews on many and that has not been much help -the same one one person gets horrendous reviews by another person. Even balancing in the obvious different experiences different people have, it has been tough to figure out which one to get. Thanks for your help!

    • @Tracy, i just got a Farberware for under $50 at Walmart and it works amazingly well. The previous one I had was about $15 and after 5 years it is still going strong, but I can’t remember the brand off the top of my head. I can check for you though, and I believe that one was also from Walmart

    • @Tracy, Mine is a Toastmaster that my generous sister gave me (actually a toaster oven/convection oven that the convection part ONLY works for pizza .. the rest of the convection part doesn’t work. Crazy, I know but true.) when she upgraded (she has $$$ !!! She is a comparison shopper so I’m sure it wasn’t the top of the line, but I don’t know what she paid for it. It works well, except I still use my toaster for bread. Old habits die hard! ;-)

  10. My daughter has a Kitchen Aid toaster oven that she loves.. I dont use one at all.. I have super cheapy model I bought when we still had kids at home to heat up individual pizzas and thats all the use it ever got.
    My daughter made us turkey bacon in hers today. I dont have the space for one to be sitting out or I might be tempted to use it more often. Owell, to each his own.

  11. LOVE my toaster oven. The newer, larger ovens advertise baking 12″ pizzas. Perfect for Di Giorno frozen pizza. I only turn on the large oven when cooking for a crowd, turkey, large batches of cookies or lasagna. Anything requiring larger than 8″ pan or pie plate.
    I do roasted veges, fish, chicken, tri-tips, muffins, bagels, croissants, appetizers, quiche, casseroles, meat loaves, baked potatoes, etc.
    Advantages: Since you are not heating empty space it takes less warming time, energy, faster cooking time. To warm oven quickly run a toast cycle. Oven heats right up. It can take some getting use to. Try setting oven 25′ lower, check cooking time sooner.
    No thick slices get caught in the pop-up coils.
    Disadvantage: toasting bread takes longer, does not brown as well.

  12. I love mine I bought for my Birthday last year. Funny thing is I have never made toast in it although I eat toast most every day. Original idea was to use it in my craft room or garage during the hot summer months as to not heat up the house….which worked out well. I was surprised how evenly and well it does cook so I use it alot since I am just cooking for 2. It heats to 350 in just a few minutes. I bought the cuisinart model at costco for $99. It has a convection feature but I haven’t tried it yet. I leave it sitting out on the counter otherwise I don’t think I would bother to get it out to use it. Love, Love, love it!

  13. Um, I’ve made every single meal on my blog in a toaster oven! Lasagna, desserts, cookies, pizzas, pot roasts – you name it! Couldn’t live w/o it.

  14. My first place on my own was a teeny tiny apartment and it didn’t have an oven and only a two burner range so a toaster oven was essential! My dad gave me one we had got him years before and no longer needed and it was wonderful! Ours had a rotisserie and everything which was cool but honestly not practical I remember using it once and while the meat was delicious I just didn’t think about it or use it. I sometimes miss having a toaster oven but now lack the counter space.

  15. I love our toaster oven. I recently bought a really big one that had the label “counter top oven” on the side of it. It fits a 9 by 13 pan just barely, so I use it to cook the rolls during big family dinners, and we also bring it camping with us in the tent trailer, that way I can make us pretty much anything we want to eat even if it is raining while camping.

  16. I had a toaster oven for a good 15 years. I used it a lot. Unfortunately, it had a pretty small interior. I think I could fit 3 pieces of bread in a triangle shape, but I definitely could not have fit a pie. I wanted a larger oven but just didn’t have the counter space for a bigger one. Then my microwave started to die. My solution was to get a new microwave that also had a convection oven option. Now I have a larger but still small oven without having to use the large oven appliance (and energy and heat). It does functionally fit the needs, but I do miss having just the little toaster. Not that I actually *toast* anything all that often, so I haven’t figured out why I miss the toaster oven, but I do. If only my kitchen were bigger…

    • @Sandi, that’s the kind of microwave my parents had for most of my childhood. We rarely ever turned on the stove with that thing around.

  17. Love our toaster oven! Actually, we cook everything in it because our actually (what I call big) oven is… broken (I think the internal heat sensor is messed up, it locks at 350 as if it’s going in self cleaning mode) and we just haven’t figured out how to fix it. We’re only 2, but still sometimes I wish I had my big oven. Oh and ours fits a frozen pizza, so all is good! Never did actual normal toast in it though!

  18. At Goodwill today I found a toaster oven with rotisserie & convection & grill (and a bulge in the back to fit a 12″ round pizza) for $5.96. SCORE! Thanks to this post earlier in the week, I knew it would be valuable.

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