In Search of Toaster Oven Advice

kitchen

I’m veering a bit off the beaten canning path today. I find myself in need of small kitchen appliance advice and I know of no better place to turn than you lovely, well-informed people.

So. Here we have my kitchen. It’s not a large space (it has a footprint of 80 square feet), but as you can see, I manage to squeeze a lot in there. This is where nearly every cooking project you’ve seen featured on this site was created. Never let it be said that you need a giant, gourmet kitchen to make good stuff.

appliance corner

Here’s my primary small appliance area. Microwave (that curvy, space-age looking device), toaster oven, Vita Mix (best blender in the whole, wide world) and beloved Soda Stream.

toaster oven

And now to the toaster oven, the focus of our little tour here. I am a devoted user of toaster ovens. Yes, they’re good for morning toast (that then gets slathered in homemade jam). However, they’re also great for roasting sweet potatoes, reconstituting leftover pizza and baking up a few frozen cookies when a late-evening dessert craving strikes.

Up until last summer, I had an ancient Black & Decker that was paneled in fake wood grain (much like my cabinets) that I bought at a thrift store in the first weeks I moved to Philadelphia in 2002. It was ancient but highly functional. However, after eight years of heavy use (and who knows how many before it came to me), it slowly stopped working effectively. It started taking three full toasting cycles to get a nice brown on a slice of bread and so Scott and I decided to replace it.

Because that original model had been so good to us, we bought what we thought was the newer model of the same toaster oven. Sadly, it has not proven to be as wonderful as my thrift store oven. Ten months in, the spring on the door has already broken. The rack is really hard to scoot in and out. And it heats really unevenly. All in all, it’s been a stinker of a toaster oven. I use it at least once a day and so the decision has been made that as soon as we get through tax season, we’re buying a new toaster oven.

This is where you guys come in. I’m looking for a reliable, unfancy toaster oven that can fit in the space over my microwave. If you have a toaster oven you love, please let me know. Alternately, if you know a particular model to be poorly built and frustrating to use, please tell me that too. Thank you all!

 

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67 responses to “In Search of Toaster Oven Advice”

  1. Hey, you can replace the quartz rods in your toaster. Fairly easy and I agree on the usefulness of this model. Funny thing, I two got mine at a thrift store.

  2. Oh, so sorry to hear that the new Black & Decker’s don’t hold up. I have one that is about 14 years old and absolutely love it. It also needs to be replaced soon, so I will watch the responses with interest. Does anyone have an online subscription to Consumer Reports? They may be able to look it up in the blink of an eye and tell you the top three choices. Most libraries carry their magazine and annual buying guide also.

  3. the one we have will most likely be far too large for the kitchen space you have, but we have found it to be amazing and worth having our microwave on top of the refrigerator. it’s also not cheap, but again, we find it worth it, especially since our “oven” oven is unreliable. i use it daily and extensively–roasted chickens, baked pies, pizzas, and yes, the most perfect toast ever.

    it’s an oster, and has toast, bake, and convection settings, is constructed well, and has sensible, useful buttons. also, we frequently use the “warm” setting to reheat, or keep hot, leftovers.

  4. We also have the Oster model, described in the other post. I really wanted a convection model for energy savings vs using the electric oven. got mine at Sears for about $58 several years ago

  5. I’m on the same hunt, so I’ll be interested to see the comments–I can’t find any that I want, they all seem to be victims of American appliance overgrowth, even the ‘small’ ones.

  6. That B&D was on the family counter growing up… what ever happened to wood-grained appliances? I recently bought a new toaster oven, my first ever. I got a Delonghi, on sale it ran me about 30$ (after a maddening 10$ mail in rebate). I’ve only had it a month, but so far I love it! Homemade sourdough is kinda notoriously hard to brown, and it does a great job. I don’t know how it will hold up, but so far it seems the a good-quality device, that should wear well.

  7. Ahhh, I don’t even know what this gizmo is! I’m in the uk and we don’t have a separate thingy like this, we have an oven on the cooker but for toast we have a ‘toaster’ that only fits slices of bread. Is this like a mini oven that you might have in a caravan etc?

    • Lyndsay, it is essentially just a very small oven, about the size of a shoe box. We also have those slotted toasters, but I find these little ovens to be so much more versatile.

  8. You didn’t mention how much you wanted to spend. Last summer, after a lot of research (reading reviews on Amazon), I got the Breville BOV800XL. It’s $250, but I got mine at BB&B with a 20% off coupon.

    I am in LOVE with this thing! It is also convection, will make a whole frozen pizza, a roast, roast chicken, quiches, cookies, you name it. Now that it’s mostly just the two of us, I use this almost exclusively instead of turning on the big oven. Cook’s Illustrated in last month issue also named it the best.

    • Honestly, I’m more concerned with size than price. If I could find a very good, reliable toaster oven that would fit in that space, I’d gladly pay $200 or more for it.

      • 18″ wide x 15″ deep x 10.5 ” high. I see there are other fans in following comments. I really am just thrilled with this thing.

        • I have the Breville oven too! I cannot recommend it enough, it’s well built, versatile, convection AND Broiler and looks great. Why have a regular looking appliance when you can have something that’s beautiful! It comes with a roasting pan and a round pizza pan. Seriously, pay a little more and get THE one!

  9. We have had a Krups ProChef Ultra for ten years now and it is wonderful! Not sure how much it was (wedding gift) but it’s been VERY reliable, both for toasting and for baking stuff (I, too, could not survive without a toaster oven).

  10. In the same boat here, I have almost the same model as you, that I got used 15+years ago! Maybe the old ones are better, I’ve looked at newer models and they seem kind of oversized/overkill. I’m starting to think finding a barely-used model at a yard sale might be my best bet.

    It will be interesting to see the results here!

    • Sara, I’m also beginning to think that I should start combing the yard sales and thrift stores for a new one. I so wish I hadn’t gotten rid of the old one.

  11. I just bought myself a B&D and am enjoying it! We went from a regular toaster to this, and my husband wasn’t so sure at first, but he uses it for just about everything now. Hopefully it last for years. At work, we have a Euro Pro that works great! I have even baked a salmon pie (turnover) and it heated great. The only problem is that they are not cheap (75+) and for us, it wouldn’t have worked on my counter. Also, I find that the dials are not easy to read. they are silver with black writing and the glare makes them difficult.

  12. my apologies I don’t have toaster oven advice as we currently don’t have one but once we buy a house (hopefully in the next few months, this will be part of our kitchen so the advice listed here will help me , too!)

    but i do want to know more about the soda stream and why it is so beloved… please do share more about what you use it for, why you love it so much etc.

    and thanks for your sharing your kitchen pics… my rental flat kitchen feels massive compared to what you’ve shared and I am so impressed by what you produce in there!

    • Renée, I love the Soda Stream because it means that I can have sparkling water any time I want, without needed to drag bottles of seltzer into my apartment. It also means that I really cut down on the number of plastic bottles I’m sending into the recycling. It has led to me drinking more water, because even when I don’t really feel like a glass of plain tap water, there’s always a fizzy option. If you’re not into sparkling water, then it probably won’t be exciting for you, but if you’re a seltzer fiend like me, it’s one of the best inventions ever.

  13. My Hamilton Beach toaster oven works just fine–however I have replaced it with a conventional toaster because the door on the toaster oven is so hard to clean and it takes up so much more counter space than the toaster.

  14. Off the toaster oven topic – your kitchen looks similar in size to mine! We live in an old Victorian home. The kitchen was an afterthought in 1890, as was the bathroom. I’m glad to see someone else who makes a small kitchen work successfully!

  15. We have a breville smart oven. Since our tiny tiny TINY kitchen doesn’t have an oven (I KNOW, RIGHT!!????) we needed to get a toaster oven that could do much, much, MUCH more than just toast. I cook casseroles, bake bread, pies, pizza’s you name it, in that oven. Plus, it’s a wonderful roaster, broiler, and, of course, toaster! It’s not your cheapest option but for versatility and the amount it can do, it was the best we could find. I believe there is a smaller version that might be perfect for you. We chose the largest because we wanted to be able to fit casseroles in it. It works beautifully! No problems yet!

    • Unfortunately, my husband is quite attached to our microwave. Any attempts on my part to get rid of it would make him very unhappy, so it’s got to stay. 🙁

  16. The top three on ConsumerReports.org are:
    Breville Smart Oven BOV800XL (rating 73, price $250, 4.5 review stars)
    Breville BOV650XL (rating 69, price $180, 4.5 review stars)
    Oster TSSTTVMNDG (rating 67, price $80, 3 review stars)
    I can provide details if you wish.
    I personally have a four year old B&D that has a rotisserie. I don’t use it for toasting bread (I have my parent’s old toaster for that)since it is huge, but I use it for just about everything else. I wanted a bigger one so that I wouldn’t have to heat up my full size oven for one person.

  17. Who thought I’d love a post about toaster ovens so much? lol My husband and I were just looking at t.o.’s last night at Sears. He wants one really bad as he grew up with one. I, did not. But since our toaster is on the outs I am interested in trying one out. Hmmm…so many choices! Thanks for posting about this…and thanks to the commenters for all of the helpful info!

  18. I bought a new Cuisinart one (forget the model but it has convection capability) and it works better then my regular oven. I cooked a piece of pizza in it yesterday and it cooked it in half the time it said it would.

  19. The April 2011 issue of Cook’s Illustrated has a review of toaster ovens. What timing! Breville’s “Smart Oven” #BOV800XL was “highly recommended. Second choice at “recommended” was Hamilton Beach’s “Set & Forget Toaster Oven w/ Convection Oven.” #31230

  20. Cooks Illustrated tests recommend the Smart Oven by Breville and the Hamilton Beach Set and Forget Convection. I have a Krups (from a previous Cooks recommendation from 2007) that I love. Big enough to fit a dinner plate. Great for baking smaller items when I don’t want to heat up the whole oven (a few cookies, a baked potato). This Krups model is now discontinued, and Cooks didn’t like the newer version, which they said made lousy toast. I do recomend the quarts heating elements.

  21. The problem with comparing current models vs those that are close to 20 years old (or more!) is… They just don’t make ’em like they used to.

    Oddly enough, I’m about to start the search for a new one, also. Size matters, but so does price. I’m not sure sure I’m willing to shell out $250 with no guarantee the thing will last a lifetime!

    So naturally, I’ll keep an eye on what you get. (And dang! I thought MY kitchen was small!!! :))

  22. We’ve had our Black & Decker for almost 20 years. It still works great but looks horrible. I’ve considered replacing it because it looks so awful, but after reading your post and the comments, I will hold on to it until the bitter end!

  23. It seems I have a black and decker of a model about 5 years earlier than yours and it was was also disappointing from day one! Good luck. Consumer Reports best scoring is Breville Smart Oven BOV900XL but it’s pretty pricey. However, with the use you’ll give it maybe it’s a good investment! It get’s a 4 1/2 star review on Amazon out of 471 reviews – that sounds good to me!

  24. I used to work for America’s Test Kitchen (aka Cook’s Illustrated) and I still keep-up with their equipment testing results. I think they did a toaster oven test within the last year or so and they ran into much the same problem. Most modern ovens don’t toast evenly because of how cheaply they’re made, how many heating elements are in the oven, and how close the toast is to the element. Pretty much every one they tested produced blotchy toast or undercooked on one side. If I remember correctly, they ended-up choosing the “least of the worst” and it was one that had 3 elements instead of two.

    I just looked it up on their website and their number one was the Breville “Smart Oven”. Their second place was Hamilton Beach Set & Forget with convection. The latter is only $99 but the Breville is $250.

  25. I am firmly in the Toaster Oven Camp. Because I oook for one person (me) I use it more than any other appliance and would gladly do without a microwave before my toaster oven. I bought a new (in the box) Oster at a yard sale two summers ago and love it. Before that I had a B&D which lasted for 15+ years, but the new ones don’t even look a good as the old one. My advice is don’t go cheap.

  26. Wow, I miss my old B&D! It worked so nicely! We have the Krups 6slice toaster oven with convection. It works well, but I must warn you that it has the LOUDEST alarm ever!! Do not try and sneak a piece of toast or warm up of cookies! This thing is loud!

  27. What a timely post! I don’t have any recommendations, but I am on the market for one myself (I want to add it to our wedding registry for our wedding this summer). Have always wanted one to cut down on using the microwave and oven. I’ll definitely stop back by and read all the comments.

    Will you let us know which one you purchase?

  28. http://www.amazon.com/Breville-BOV650XL-Compact-4-Slice-Element/dp/B00357YS3A

    Consumer Reports & ATK both recommend it

    Product Features
    1800-watt 3/5-cubic-foot 4-slice oven with 8 preset functions and Element IQ technology
    Backlit LCD screen; time/temp control dial; defrost button; temperature-conversion button
    Tempered-glass door; 3 rack positions; removable crumb tray for quick cleanup
    Includes 10-by-10-inch enamel baking pan and 10-by-10-inch enamel broil rack
    Measures 16-1/2 by 14-1/4 by 10 inches

  29. Okay, I am absolutely no help on the toaster oven, but I just had to comment on how much I love your chalkboard wall! How cool is that?! Are those spices above your outlet?

  30. I’ve had my Toastmaster toaster oven since 1998, and it’s still going strong.

    I agree that many appliances aren’t made as well as they used to be. My TV from 1994 still works. Two newer ones had much shorter lives, and we decided to put Old Faithful back in the living room even though it’s tiny. So you might want to try the thrift store again. Good luck!

  31. I had the same problem when my faithful old B&D finally died. I bought the same one you now have (about a year ago). I solved the problem of the rack sliding (or not sliding) by rubbing some vegetable oil on the end of the rack. Worked GREAT! However a few weeks ago the button that you push to start the toasting sparked and quit. My husband tried to solder it, but to no avail. I did find an older B&D at Goodwill, (in great clean shape) I’m using that one now. Good luck and I hope the vegetable oil will work until after tax season—and that’s coming from a CPA.

  32. I have an Oster “Digital Toaster Oven with Convection” which I love. It works great, and fits on top of our (pretty petite) microwave

  33. We received a Cuisinart toaster oven as a housewarming gift and it’s been great for 4 years now. Toaster ovens are potential burn-your-house-down fire hazards – please ALWAYS unplug after using!

  34. This post is very helpful for me, too. My husband also grew up with a toaster oven and advocates for one, but I’m just not sure I want to give it the counter space. We’re in the process of moving to a new apartment, and the kitchen is taking a size hit, though honestly I think it is more efficient than my current, larger kitchen. This does mean that counter space is even more limited, though. I will be very interested to see what you choose!

    And I’m thankful to you and others who have shown me what is possible in a smaller kitchen – otherwise we might have skipped what is turning out to be the perfect new place for us!

  35. I had a Black & Decker for years and years, and was happy with it right up until it decided to quit working. It lived a good long life, and I had no complaints.

    My newer one is a Proctor Silex because it’s just as good, and at the time was less expensive than the comparable Black & Decker model, plus it was the color I wanted and a size that just fit the space I had. I’ve had this one four or five years and again, no real complaints.
    I love having it instead of a toaster for heating odd-sized breads, for melting cheese on english muffins, for baking, for drying herbs, and all around for doing small projects especially in the summer.

  36. omg, i love your kitchen!
    sorry, i got no advice to offer. i work at a youth shelter, and when we got a new toaster oven at work, i just took the old one home. that one stopped working awhile ago and we’ve been too lazy/cheap to purchase a new one.

  37. We have a Black & Decker Toast R Oven, which I don’t recommend. It’s only a couple years old but has never toasted evenly (only 2 heating elements). I am now in the habit of flipping the toast a couple times just to keep one end from burning before the other end toasts.

  38. Oh dear, I was going to recommend our Black and Decker! I hate to say that our 10 year old Black and Decker is still kickin’ and doing just fine. :/ Boyfriend uses it every morning for his toast and we (admittedly) almost never clean out the crumb tray, yet it’s still going strong! Good luck on your hunt, I wish I had a suggestion for you.

  39. Interesting stuff! We don’t have a toaster, toaster oven, or microwave, but I do like the idea of not having to heat the entire oven to warm up a loaf of bread. I notice Breville have a compact model version as well. Hmmm…

  40. I had an old Black and Decker and loved it. When it died I did the same thing and purchased the newer version. Hated it! It took forever to make toast. Ended up taking it back and got a regular toaster and use the regular over. So sad they messed up a good thing.

  41. I got a Breville last year at Williams-Sonoma and I love it. I’d always had DeLonghi’s but the Breville is SO much better. It’s on the expensive side but it not only bakes but it’s also a convection. With a small kitchen it’s good to have appliances that can do double duty. It’s large inside and toasts, bakes, roasts, reheats, broils, etc. I use it every day and love it!

  42. I just love your kitchen! Reminds me of my first one many years ago. Can you tell me which Soda Stream you have? Husband has a serious cola habit and would like to do something to lessen the impact on our budget. I never drink carbonated drinks so need some advice. Do you add flavors or just drink plain carbonated water. Thanks. Love your blog. I’m a gardener and canner for many years. Linda.

    • Linda, I have one of the older carbonaters, but it’s been serving me three or four years now and is still in great shape. Most of the time, I just make plain seltzer water and flavor it with a bit of fruit juice or one of my dehydrated lemons. But when I first got it, I did use some of the flavorings that SodasStream sells and they were quite good.

  43. Just found your web site, love it. I lost my old black and decker of 15 years a whilte back. It jus died, had no idea I could replace the elements. Bought a pricer model of something and hated it from day one. Would not toast, would not hold heat. So when we moved a got rid of it.
    I am saving my money up for the Breville! It looks great. I can use it outside on the deck during the summer – hate to heat my house up. Or it can go to the family room in the basement when my kids have parties. The info here has been priceless. Thanks!

  44. May I ask where you got your chalk board? I’ve been looking for something like that for a while!

    Thanks!

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