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Toaster Oven Buying Guide
The top features of a toaster oven
If you are looking for the best toaster oven, then you should look at the features it has. Sure it is important to read toaster oven reviews, but you the first step is to make sure the appliance has all the features you are looking for. So here are some of the thing features to look for in a toaster oven.
Plenty Of Presets
These are important because they make cooking the food easier than ever. You can easily just select the type of food you are cooking, such as potatoes or pizza and the toaster oven will take care of the rest. If you are not familiar with cooking time or just don’t like looking at recipes this can be a great feature to use.
Easy To Use Design
Just because you have a bunch of presets does not mean the unit will be easy to use. The best toaster oven will not only provide you with plenty of options but will also be easy to use.
Loud Enough Timer
You want to make sure the timer on the toaster oven is loud enough to hear. There are some units out there where the timer is barely audible. This means if you have stepped out of the room you may not realize your food is done until the smoke detector is going off and by then your food is burnt. Even if you have a unit with an auto shut off feature, you want to make sure you know when your food is done cooking so it does not get cold.
You should also look at the rack in the toaster oven. One of the best features is a rack that pops halfway out when the door is open. This is good because it means you don’t have to mess with pulling the rack out yourself which could cause burns. It can also make it easier to check on your food.
Auto Shut Off
Along with an audible timer, the best toaster oven will also have an automatic shut off feature. There are a few ways this works. One is that when the timer on the oven is done, the unit turns off. Other units use a thermometer that is part of the oven. When the food reaches the appropriate internal temperature, the unit turns off. This helps keep your food from being overcooked.
It is no secret that the accessories for a toaster oven are smaller than the accessories for a traditional oven. The best toaster oven will have plenty of accessories for you in the package. This can save you time and hassle with finding accessories. It also means you will be able to cook with the toaster oven as soon as you get it.
Easy To Clean
Another thing you want to look at is going with a unit that is easy to clean. This means that the racks should be able to be removed or have a cleaning feature on it. Just as your conventional oven needs to be cleaned periodically, so will your toaster oven. Make sure it will not be too difficult to do this.
Most people that haven’t been shopping for toaster ovens recently do not realize how complex they have become and how many options there are.
Buying a toaster oven today is a little like buying some of the other electrics or appliances that you have in your home – they are smarter than ever and have a great deal of versatility built in.
So, how do you know what to look for in a modern toaster oven and which one should you get? This complete buying guide will tell you everything you need to know about toaster ovens and give you all of the information you need to make a buying decision.
Types Of Toaster Ovens
There are a couple of different types of toaster oven.
In fact, the term toaster oven has come to have a very broad meaning, often incorporating both the less complex units that are usually known simply as toasters and that only toast bread, bagels of food that will fit into the slots.
But the true toaster oven is more than just an appliance to toast bread and bagels; modern toaster ovens can do a whole lot and they are a very versatile kitchen appliance.
The true toaster oven actually is a small oven that sits on your countertop (or is sometimes installed beneath cabinets) and allows you to quickly heat up a small space to toast bread, melt cheese and much more.
Design & Style
The design of the toaster oven and the stylishness of it is not something that is important to everyone. But for those who have a particular motif going in their kitchen – such as matching appliance colors – this is definitely going to be a consideration.
Most toaster ovens look pretty much the same. They have some form of interface and the oven door, with racks, heating elements or other cooking methods inside.
However, there are some unique toaster ovens out there and there are definitely enough options to give you a choice that will fit your unique style or match your kitchen decor.
Size & Capacity
The next thing that you are going to need to consider is what size you want your toaster to be, and what capacity you need it. These two things usually go hand-in-hand, but not always.
The capacity is important because whatever plans you have for your toaster, you’ll need enough room to handle the food that it involves.
However, size is also a consideration because if you get a toaster that won’t fit on your countertop or doesn’t look good in your kitchen, the extra capacity will be at the expense of style and decor.
You have to know basically what you are looking for when you begin shopping when it comes to size.
Lowering Mechanisms & Racks
You’ll also want to look at the internal components of the toaster oven as well. For the standard toaster, this would be the lowering mechanism. For the convection toaster oven, it would be the racks that are inside as well as any pans or other extras.
The wire rack inside can be either a single or a double rack, or in the cases of some larger, commercial toaster ovens, there may even be more.
Because these ovens can cook a lot more than toast with the right accessories, this is something that you want to consider and pay attention to as you are shopping for your toaster oven.
Timer & Function Options
When it comes to the timer and functions of your toaster oven, you have a huge array of choices. The control panel on a NASA rocket might have less versatility than modern toaster ovens. They can do all kinds of stuff besides toasting bread.
You definitely want to pay attention to these options and decide beforehand what you want or need in a toaster oven.
For example, you definitely want to go with an oven that differentiates between baking and broiling (and offers both), and toasting. This will give you a ton of versatility and usefulness right there.
But there might be a number of other presets as well like reheating something, defrosting frozen food, roasting and rotisserie, or making pizza, cookies and a ton of other foods.
Heat Sensors & Automatic Shutoff
You also may want to have an automatic shutoff and advanced heat sensors built into your toaster. This is especially good if you are making straight toast.
A toaster that senses the temperature inside and does it accurately will be able to change how much time each consecutive piece of bread stays in the toaster to make it just the way you like it.
Automatic shutoff should come with every toaster oven out there because it is a serious fire hazard if it does not shut off automatically.
You can get advanced heat sensors on both the toaster oven style units and the basic toasters where the bread pops up when done.
Advanced Presets & Timers
There are a whole class of toaster ovens that offer advanced presets and timers that do so much more than the basic ones described above.
An example is the high-end toaster models that only toasts one side of a bagel, or detects when bread is frozen and adds more time to the clock.
In addition, there are high-quality toaster ovens that respond if you do not come and get your food out while it is still hot.
If the toaster detects that there is food still in the toaster and the temperature gets low enough, it will automatically reheat it and keep it warm for you.
If you are going to get a toaster oven with all of the bells and whistles, then you might as well get one that has an audible alarm. Many toasters do not come with this useful feature surprisingly, but they definitely should.
If you are in another room in the house, you might not be able to hear the toaster pop up or shut off, but you will probably hear an alarm.
You also want to make sure that you allow for future connectivity with your smart-home if you are planning on installing those functions.
Smart technology allows you to control connected appliances via a smartphone app or connect them to the internet and the other appliances in your kitchen.
This might not seem like a particularly useful feature but the trust is, being able to pre-heat your toaster oven before you put your bagel in it can be very helpful in the morning when everyone is in a rush.
Cleaning & Maintenance
You also want to allow for cleaning and make sure that the toaster isn’t going to require maintenance anytime in the near future. The way that you check the first one is to look for the crumb tray and pull it out.
Test how easy it is for you to remove it and dump the crumbs without making a mess. If the tray is hard to pull out or the crumbs can easily be spilled, you might want to consider a different model.
As for the maintenance aspect, you want to check out the product you are considering and make sure that the manufacturer doesn’t list required maintenance that would make it expensive to own.
Then check reviews online and make sure that there isn’t a consistent pattern of a certain part going out and needing to be replaced.
In addition, you can check the warranty and make sure it is fair and covers you in case of a bad product.
Quality & Price
When it comes to the quality of the product and the price that you are going to pay, you need to balance the higher price with the features that you can live without until you come with a happy medium.
However, be aware that most of the time, you are probably only going to use your toaster oven for its most basic purpose – toast. There are toaster ovens out there that cost hundreds of dollars and don’t do a whole lot more than the basic unit that is less than $100.
On the other hand, it could be worth the extra money if you get a toaster that makes toast perfectly – the way you like it. There are many factors to weigh before you decide up on a toaster oven brand and model, and you’ll have to figure out what you want in a unit beforehand.
The Bottom Line
All of these factors together make up the modern toaster oven. There are bells, whistles, internet connectivity, automation and safety features as well as factors like the reputation of the brand and the reviews of the particular product to consider.
But get a toaster that does have the ability to make more than toast, because you will be surprised how useful it actually is, especially when you just want to heat something up or defrost something quickly, and you’ll save money on electricity whenever you use your little toaster oven instead of your main oven
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