Reader Comments

The best toaster oven is the one you'll hate the least

by Loretta Kingsford (2020-07-29)

 |  Post Reply

id="article-body" class="row" section="article-body">
















If you're here to find the best toaster oven that you really must buy right this instant, I'm sorry to say I've got some discouraging news for you: Toaster ovens are, in my humble opinion, largely overrated.


It's perhaps a hard truth to hear. For generations, the toaster oven has been a trusty, crusty  -- an appliance that doesn't just toast bread, but also doubles as a second, small-sized -- and with faster heat (and reheat) times to boot! 







For more like this
Subscribe to the CNET Now newsletter for our editors' picks of the most important stories of the day.



The problem? Most food you'd want to heat or toast, like bagels or bread, would be better off in a standard toaster, and most food you'd want to bake would be better off sitting on an oven rack , beneath a stronger set of heating elements. Either way, you're compromising from the get-go. And good luck cooking a roast or other time-intensive and complicated foods in a countertop toaster oven, even if they do have the right temperature range.  


Most toaster ovens are bulky as hell, too -- and thanks to the rise of kitchen-friendly smart displaysfood processors, Instant Potssous vide cookers, and the like, the chances are good that you've got a better way to put that precious counter space to use.


Read more: Top bread machines for home bakers  


Still, maybe you don't have a conventional oven and need a countertop toaster oven -- or maybe you just want one, dammit. I get it. Despite my misgivings, there's still a lot to like about toaster ovens! It's a much-beloved kitchen appliance we're talking about, and my toasty hot take is probably a minority report.


But splurging doesn't always make sense. Do you really need to add in modern luxuries like barcode scanners, built-in food cameras and smart cooking assistance? Techie toaster ovens from names such as TovalaJune and Brava can cost anywhere from $350 to $995, but most of the extras found in a mini smart oven are above and beyond what an average kitchen needs.








Now playing:
Watch this:

How to buy a toaster oven that isn't terrible




2:12






More reasonable are "upgrade pick" toaster ovens such as the fun, well-calibrated Panasonic FlashXpress, or a sturdy stalwart such as the Breville Smart Oven, both of which we reviewed -- and loved -- a few years ago. But at $127 and $299 respectively, those models, too, are outside the mainstream in a world where a regular toaster can be had for less than $20


Read more:


That's why I decided to take a look at some of your less expensive options to see if I could find a good value. I honed in on popular, well-reviewed models that cost between $50 and $100, and I used convection heating -- a trick that uses a fan to circulate the hot air and cook more evenly -- as a baseline, must-have feature.


Then, with six toaster ovens ready to go in our test kitchen, I set out to put them to the test to try to find the best toaster oven. Of these six, there were two we liked. But we're including the aforementioned Panasonic and Breville toaster oven in our buyer's guide here because they remain well worth the splurge.







Best toaster oven overall




Panasonic FlashXpress











We've tested all of those aforementioned upgrade picks here at CNET Appliances, but the only one any of us has ever bought for ourselves is the FlashXpress. It's a fun, quirky countertop cooker that uses an infrared heating element for tasks like toasting bread and baking frozen pizza with speedy precision, and it has an easily removable crumb tray. It might not be big enough for everybody (or for baking for everybody), but that also means that it won't take up any more counter space than it needs on your countertop. Even now, six years after we first reviewed it, it's still easy to recommend it as the best toaster oven for toasting or baking food, or even a countertop toaster oven upgrade.


Read our full Panasonic FlashXpress review.







$129 at Amazon











Best toaster oven for power users




Breville Smart Oven








Chris Monroe/CNET


The Breville BOV800XL definitely isn't cheap at around $270, and there's nothing "smart" about the smart oven in a cloud-connected sense. But the Breville Smart Oven Pro cooks just about everything about as well as you could possibly expect from a countertop convection oven. On top of that, the mini smart oven is sturdy, attractive, and has an easily removable crumb tray, and it's packed with extra cooking setting modes that you might actually find useful, including convection cooking. This Breville Smart Oven is a great compact toaster oven pick if you don't have a smart oven or if you plan on using your oven toaster for cooking food just about every day.


Read our full Breville Smart Oven review.







$270 at Amazon











Best toaster oven under $100




Bialetti 35047








Tyler Lizenby/CNET


The Bialetti 35047 convection toaster oven offers the same 1,800 watts of cooking power as you'll get from the Breville convection toaster, but at $90, it costs less than half as much. You also get a modern-looking black stainless steel build with an easy-to-use digital display that lets you dial into your preferred level of doneness whenever you're toasting something for your meals. Easy is always a plus. Another little feature that I love? The "A Little Extra" button for those times when your toast or frozen pizza needs just a minute more or so. Just be warned: That extra power means that the Bialetti tends to cook food quickly -- and we've got the burnt pizza to prove it.This specific model seems a bit hard to find these days -- and it isn't even listed on the Bialetti website anymore, as far as I can see. I still see a few listed on eBay, but the sun is probably setting on this model. Once we find a new pick to replace it, we'll update this post.









$90 at Amazon











Best value




Oster TSSTTVCG05








Tyler Lizenby/CNET


I hate that the door on this convection toaster oven opens down more than 90 degrees. The glass can crash directly against the corner of your counterotp if it isn't pushed all the way back against your backsplash.Still, if you can forgive that design flaw, then you'll love the way this convection toaster oven cooks, whether you're toasting, baking or https://set-magazine.com/best-electric-toothbrush/ broiling. Available for about $60 at Costco, it was a top finisher in each one of our cooking tests. That sort of reliable, predictable cooking and baking is exactly what you want from your toaster oven.









$60 at Costco






Other toaster ovens we tested

Black & Decker TO3265XSSD: The newest model from the top name in toaster ovens replaces the convection setting with a gimmicky, one-temperature-fits-all "Air Fry" mode. It's fine for the price if you need a wide-bodied design with extra room for toast.
Hamilton Beach 31123D: One of Hamilton Beach's "Easy Reach" models, the slightly under-powered 31123D makes it a little easier to see inside as you're cooking or broiling, thanks to a sloping "Easy Reach" door that lifts up to open. Too bad Hamilton Beach stamped a large logo on the glass to obstruct your view.
Nostalgia Retro RTOV220RETRORED: The cheesy, retro-red design makes it look more like a toolbox than a toaster oven, and it felt a bit cheaply made. Still, this eye-catching model performed passably well in our tests. 
Toshiba AC25CEW-BS: The digital controls are nice to have in this fancy-looking, black stainless steel option, but it comes with a learning curve thanks to underpowered toasting and overpowered baking and broiling.     


More from Chowhound: 10 toaster oven hacks you need to try right now


Bialetti 35047 Black & Decker TO3265XSSD Hamilton Beach 31123D Nostalgia Retro RTOV220RETRORED Oster TSSTTVCG05 Toshiba AC25CEW-BS

Energy Draw


1,800W


1,500W


1,500W


1,500W


1,500W


1,500W


Settings


9 (Toast, Bake, Broil, Warm, Bagel, Pizza, Cookies, Defrost, Reheat)


4 (Toast, Bake, Broil, Air Fry)


4 (Bake, Toast, Broil, Convection)


4 (Bake, Pizza/Toast, Broil, Convection)


5 (Bake, Toast, Broil, Warm, Turbo)


10 (Bake, Toast, Broil, Convection, Pizza, Cookies, Rotisserie, Defrost, Reheat, Keep Warm)


Toast time, 2 slices, medium setting


5:00


4:00


3:30


5:30


4:30


3:20


Toast time, 2 slices, dark setting


8:00


8:00


6:30


9:00


7:30


4:30


Exterior Dimensions


19.7 x 15.8 x 14.2 in.


21.5 x 23.0 x 11.2 in.


9.4 x 18.7 x 15.2 in.


19.2 x 15.4 x 10.8 in.


18.5 x 15.7 x 10.4 in.


19.0 x 10.8 x 15.6 in.


Interior Width


12 in.


16 in.


12 in.


12.5 in.


12 in.


12.5 in.


Interior Depth


12 in.


12 in.


12 in.


12 in.


12 in.


12 in.


Interior Height (from bottom rack position)


7.5 in.


7.5 in.


5 in.


7 in.


6 in.


7 in.


Broil Height (from top rack position)


2.5 in.


2 in.


3.5 in.


4 in.


4 in.


2 in.


Weight


18.0 lbs.


19.0 lbs.


14.0 lbs.


15.6 lbs.


14.9 lbs.


16.2 lbs.


Color


Black Stainless Steel


Stainless Steel


Stainless Steel


Red


Stainless Steel


Black Stainless Steel


Key Features


"A Little Extra" button


Mesh air-frying rack


"Easy Reach" door


Retro design


None


Built-in rotisserie cooker


Warranty


1-year


2-year


1-year


1-year


1-year


1-year


Price


$90


$79


$69


$99


$64


$99 


What are my options?


You've got absolutely no shortage of toaster ovens to choose from. Names like Black & Decker, Hamilton Beach, Oster and countless others have been cranking the things out for generations now.


The true bargain-bin picks cost less than $50. If you're willing to spend a little more, you should expect to get some form of convection heat and cooking, as well as perhaps a wider oven cavity, a few additional cooking preset options, digital controls, a non-stick coating on the bake pan or a nicer-looking design. The Bialetti and Toshiba models I tested come in black stainless steel, matching a modern large appliance trend, and the Toshiba model features a built-in rotisserie rack, too. The Nostalgia model offers a unique, red-bodied build, while lower-cost options from Hamilton Beach and Oster serve as simpler budget picks.


Add comment