Let’s face it, toaster ovens are far from the hottest category in tech.
And if you’re like me and you prefer your baked goods from a full sized oven and your toast from a toaster, they kinda seem downright unnecessary.
And yet some people love the convenience of having a second small sized oven that’s ready to whip up a quick side dish or a snack.
And if you don’t have a full sized oven at all, then a toaster oven might be the most important appliance that you own.
But how do you buy a good one?
A good toaster oven should be able to produce consistent results without overcooking or under cooking too much.
That’s what we were looking for over about 3 weeks of tests here the CNET appliances test kitchen.
Whether it’s pizza, or mozzarella sticks, chicken, you name it, the important thing is to find a toaster oven that won’t surprise you.
It’s also important to think about design and usability.
Toaster ovens with digital controls, like this Bialetti model, let you get really specific about the level of doneness that you want from your toast.
If you like broiling things like burgers in your toaster oven, then make sure that you get one with an elevated top rack that will get your food nice and close to the heating element.
You’ll also wanna keep an eye out for annoying design flaws as you shop.
They can be tough to spot, but they’ll really drive you crazy with day to day use if you don’t catch them.
For instance, these horribly imprecise toaster presets How about this oven door that opens down more than ninety degrees which causes the glass to crash against your counter top if not pushed back far enough.
As far as features go, you won’t find a whole lot unless you’re willing to spend hundreds on something truly fancy, but convection baking which uses Fan to circulate hot air throughout the oven for more even baking is a good baseline.
In the end, the best toaster oven might be no toaster oven at all.
Most of them are pretty ugly, clunky, and bulky.
And they eat up a ton of precious counter space that you could use for something else.
Like an instant pot, or a smart display, or any one of the other countless things that you wanna place in your kitchen.
And despite being 85% smaller than full size ovens, most toasters ovens only use about 35% less energy.
That’s not a very strong efficiency argument.
For more toaster oven guidance, including a look at all of the models that I think are worth buying, check out my full rundown.