What are the benefits of having a toaster oven in my kitchen?
Toaster ovens offer a great alternative or complement to full-size ovens. They use less electricity and heat up much quicker than full-size ovens; they can also save on your energy bill during the summer because unlike full-size ovens they won’t spread a lot of heat into your home. They can also save space if you have a small kitchen, or are great if you are in a trailer or RV. They are good for a wide range of cooking including browning, roasting, and broiling. If you have a full-size oven, a toaster oven can be great for making big meals where you need extra space or if you need to keep food warm while other food is being prepared.
What types of toaster ovens are there?
The two main types of toaster ovens are standard and convection ovens. Standard toaster ovens tend to be smaller and more simplistic, offering fewer heat controls. They are generally very user-friendly and provide a good, even heating because they work almost exactly like regular ovens and use thermostats to control the temperature within the model. Convection ovens work by fanning heated air throughout the unit; this also provides great, even cooking with no hot spots, and it also tends to cook food quicker than standard models. Convection ovens are more energy efficient as well. High-quality convection ovens tend to be more sophisticated and best suited for experienced cooks.
What size toaster oven should I get?
Most toaster ovens are about the size of a microwave, but their space capacity can differ from model to model. A good-sized toaster often can often accommodate a 12-inch pizza; Oster makes an extra-large toaster oven that can fit a 9 by 13-inch casserole dish. Consider how you plan to use your toaster oven when deciding which size to buy. If you are looking to complement a conventional oven, you can probably go with a regular or smaller sized toaster oven, but if you are planning to use your toaster oven as an alternative to a conventional oven you may want to invest in something a little bigger. You might also want to consider purchasing a toaster oven with removable racks, or with racks that can be positioned different places inside the toaster oven, to give you more spatial options for cooking large, bulky items.
What sort of controls should I look for in a toaster oven?
Toaster ovens come with many different types of controls; there are digital controls, numbered dials, and shade dials. Digital and numbered dials are your best bet because they give you the most control over cooking; shade dials will only tell you how dark bread will come out, rather than giving you exact temperature controls that you need for specialty items or meals.
What wattage should I look for in a toaster oven?
Wattage in a toaster oven actually has very little effect on the cooking time; wattage is more a measure of efficiency than it is actual heating power. Higher-end models with lots of digital controls and features will tend to use more energy and thus have higher wattages; lower-end models with more basic controls are more energy-efficient. For example, a high-quality, multi-function Cuisinart could have a wattage of 1800, while a low-tech Waring model might have a wattage of only 1500, but neither would necessarily “out cook” the other.
What features should I look for in a toaster oven?
Some features that make for a good toaster oven include automatic shut-off, alert sounds, a slide-out crumb tray, many different heat settings, and automatic tray access.
What are the benefits of having auto shut-off?
A toaster oven that includes either a timer with automatic shut-off or a pre-set automatic shut-off time make it easy to feel safe using your toaster oven. Since it will automatically turn off after a specific amount of time, you don’t need to worry about leaving the toaster oven on all day while you’re away from the house. It can also help you to avoid over-cooking food if you are roasting something for a long time. Most toasters with automatic shut-off will turn off after 60 to 90 minutes.
What are alert sounds?
An alert sound usually means a beeping or chiming noise when the timer has run out or when the food is fully cooked. This is useful if you don’t want to have to stand around watching the food cook; you can do other things in your home and you will hear the alert go off when the food is ready to be taken out.
What are the benefits of having a slide-out crumb tray?
A slide-out crumb tray makes cleaning out your toaster a breeze. Instead of having to stick your whole hand into the toaster, you can just pull out the tray and empty it into the trash or put it in your dishwasher.
What are the benefits of having many different heat settings?
The more heat settings your toaster oven has, the more cooking options you have. For example, with warm or reheat settings, you can easily heat up leftovers for a second meal. These pre-set temperatures are ideal for re-heating pre-made meals, making it a great option for anyone strapped for time who can’t make a new meal every evening. Certain toaster ovens can offer settings specially for pizza, bagels, or cookies. High-quality Breville toaster ovens can offer as many as 9 heat settings for greater versatility.
What is automatic tray access?
Automatic tray access saves you from having to reach into a hot toaster oven; the tray will either slide out automatically when you open the door, or it will pop out of the oven when the cooking time is up. This makes it easier to retrieve your food and, if the model you get has one of the pop-out trays, it will also lessen the risk of overcooking food.
How is clean-up with a toaster oven?
Clean-up time and effort will depend of what type of toaster oven you buy. Opt for models with nonstick linings, stainless steel, or porcelain linings, for the most hassle-free clean up. Most toaster ovens have glass doors that are easy to clean with glass cleaner or natural cleaners like vinegar and water.
Do I need to be concerned with safety when using a toaster oven?
Most toasters today have automatic shut-off that will stop the toaster once it has heated up to its ideal temperature for a specific amount of time, so you don’t need to worry about your home setting on fire because you left the toaster on. Besides that, you’ll want to keep your toaster away from small children, and use oven mitts or another sort of heat glove removing hot food from the toaster.
What can I make in a toaster oven?
Besides the obvious toast, you can make almost anything in a toaster oven that you can make in a regular oven. From bagels to pizza to frozen dinners to chicken, there’s almost no limit to what you can prepare in a toaster oven. You can even make small batches of baked goods like brownies and cookies, or more hearty meals like casseroles and potatoes.