How to Get the Most Out of Your Toaster Oven

Kimberly Janeway

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what it can do:
Reheat / Bake / Broil / Toast / Air-Fry
What to cook:
Pizza / Bacon / Burgers / Fish / Grilled Cheese / Veggies / Cookies

A toaster oven can roast a chicken, cook garlic shrimp in under 5 minutes, turn out asparagus that’s nicely blistered—and a lot more.

Use this countertop mainstay to cook side dishes when your regular oven is maxed out, like when you're preparing a meal for a crowd or cooking a holiday feast. Come summer, put your toaster oven to work so that you’re not roasting away in your kitchen.

“And keep in mind that this small oven heats up faster than a regular oven,” says Cindy Fisher, who oversees CR’s tests of toaster ovens. “That makes it ideal when you’re cooking small portions, toasting nuts for a recipe, or hungry for just a few chocolate chip cookies hot out of the oven.” 

Other reasons to consider adding one to your kitchen? A toaster oven browns food nicely and gives pizza a crispy crust, something you can’t expect a microwave to do. Some newer toaster ovens are true multitaskers, with convection, air-frying, dehydrating, even slow-cooking features.

For all a toaster oven has to offer, very few we’ve tested brown bread as evenly on both sides as a toaster. (But a toaster does one thing and one thing only.)

Tips for Doing It Right

1. Allow sufficient space between racks. That enables the heat to circulate evenly, turning out more evenly cooked food.

2. Use a light-colored pan. It helps prevent the bottom of cookies and bread from overbrowning and the natural sugars in roasted vegetables from burning. (A dark pan accelerates the transfer of heat and can brown food too fast.)

3. Pick a pan with low sides. Do this when using the convection feature to give the hot air ample room to circulate. 

4. Move pans to a different rack. When using multiple racks, swap the position of pans, and rotate each pan halfway through cooking so that everything cooks uniformly.

5. Aim for the middle. Place pans near the center of a rack, when possible, to produce the best results.

6. Keep it clean. Crumbs and grease can build up inside and cause smoke—or even a fire. It’s best to wipe down the exterior and interior after every use. 

Toaster Ovens That Impress

There are more than 40 models in our toaster oven ratings, including those from Breville, Cuisinart, KitchenAid, Krups, and 17 other brands. Here’s a look at three high-scoring models. They appear in alphabetical order, not in rank order.

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