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Toaster Ovens

Friday, 25 July 2003 | Tags: ,

Small-scale units that sit on your counter top, toaster ovens have the same capabilities as conventional ovens, and are especially useful in the summer when you donít want to heat up the whole house. We find out what qualities to look for in a good toaster oven.

The Basics

  • Consider your available counter space when looking at different sizes. Also remember that toaster ovens require 3-4 inches of clearance from the wall because of the heat produced.

  • Look for one with a broil setting, which is handy for browning or grilling meat. Most inexpensive models won’t have a broil setting.

  • Try to find a model with a removable (rather than hinged) crumb tray for easier cleaning.

  • Look for a non-stick or continuous-clean interior, and a stay-cool exterior. Most models still get quite hot on top, so don’t use it as storage.

  • A bell or buzzer alert is helpful to tell you when food is done.

  • Auto shut-off is a good safety feature to look for since a toaster oven can cause a kitchen fire if accidentally left on.

  • The temperature gauge should be easy to read and set accurately.

Other Considerations

  • Extra trays and racks included with your model gives you more cooking versatility.

  • If you really just need a toaster, buy one of those instead. They’re better at toasting evenly than a toaster oven.

TEST CRITERIA

We invited some families and students to help us test these different toaster ovens for 3 weeks:

  • Black & Decker: $49.99
  • De’Longhi: $119.99
  • Cuisinart (convection toaster oven): $229.99

Heat-up Test

  • Both the Black & Decker and the Cuisinart reached 300°C within about two minutes.

  • The De’Longhi took almost half an hour to reach 300°C!

Cooking Test

We tested each oven with a menu of a whole chicken, lemon squares, bacon, grilled cheese and a tuna melt.

  • The Black & Decker was good for the basics (toast, cheese sandwiches etc.) but not likely a good choice for larger meals.

  • The De’Longhi was an aesthetic favourite for its retro style, and its enamel interior was easy to clean. However, it didn’t cook or toast very well.

  • The Cuisinart was big enough to accommodate larger items, heated up quickly and cooked with an effective convection feature. It also has a readout that tells you what temperature it’s at, and a handy removable crumb tray.

OUR TOP PICK

The Cuisinart was a near-unanimous top pick, even though it was considerably more expensive. Given its versatility and features we think it’s well worth the money if you’re in the market for a toaster oven.

 

 


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