The Seven Best Toaster Ovens for Every Home Cook
Toaster ovens have always been able to cook food faster and more efficiently than a regular oven, but for the new models on the market right now, those features are the floor, not the ceiling. With settings like air-fry, dehydrate, proofing, and rotisserie, it's almost as if toasters went to the future—and have graciously come back with new technology to make mealtimes just a little bit easier for all of us. To help us choose our favorites, we consulted cookbook authors—Roxanne Wyss and Kathy Moore—and asked them to share what they look for in a great toaster oven. Wyss and Moore, who run the recipe site Plugged Into Cooking, consider the toaster oven the most underused appliance in the kitchen. That's why they wrote Toaster Oven Takeover ($17.89, amazon.com), a cookbook with over 80 creative yet approachable recipes designed just for this underrated kitchen appliance.
Before you skim through our list of top toasters, Wyss and Moore recommend doing a little self-assessment. "Evaluate what you would like to cook in it," they advise. "Is this a convenient countertop oven you plan to use daily for most of your meals? Or is this an oven you might place in the downstairs kitchen and think it will be popular for pizza, hot sandwiches, and other snack foods on game or television nights? There is no wrong answer but knowing how you plan to use it makes a wise purchase much easier." Starting with those questions helps determine another important factor in choosing the right oven: size. Most toaster ovens articulate their size based on how many slices of toast can be made at once. Wyss and Moore, however, suggest going a little further in imagining the possibilities—and constraints—of a toaster oven you are considering purchasing. "What pans fit? Does your favorite casserole dish fit easily or does a common baking pan fit, with room to spare? If pizza is on the agenda, what size of pizza fits?"
As for the bells and whistles that accompany a few of our picks, Wyss and Moore agree that the bare minimum a toaster should be able to do is toast, bake, and broil. "With these settings you can make an array of food, from breakfast classics to quick sheet pan dinners and from easy appetizers to delicious desserts," they say. As for the rest of the features, they should feel like they would be useful for you and your household members. "Some people may not be able imagine living without a pizza setting, a frozen food setting, or a rotisserie accessory on their toaster oven, while others may rarely use these," says Wyss. "If you are not one to dehydrate foods, this setting might be extra."
Now that you know what a good toaster oven can do to support mealtimes around the clock, consider which one of these options would work best for your needs and shop our top picks.