March 22

How to Preheat a Toaster Oven? | Learn Why You Should Do It!


Author: Gisele Perez and its partners may earn a commission if you purchase a product through one of our links.

It is quite valid to ask the question: how to preheat a toaster oven especially if you have never owned an oven before. But to properly answer this question, you not only have to know how to preheat toaster oven, but also learn how to do it properly.

In short, if you want to preheat your toaster oven properly, set the temperature dial to required preheating temperature (typically 350 °F (175 °C), close the door while making sure no hot air is leaking, and then leave the oven on for 10-20 minutes.

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It is also worth looking into the reasons why you should preheat your oven before cooking.

It is important to note that not all cooking that takes place in a toaster oven requires preheating. For example, in cases like toast making and bagels, the process of preheating is not needed.

So why should you preheat your toaster oven before certain cooking?

Basically, the process of preheating a toaster oven allows the heat in the toaster oven to reach the right temperature. This is needed for food to cook faster, more evenly and thoroughly.

How To Preheat a Toaster Oven?

How to preheat a toaster oven illustration

Preheating a toaster oven is simply effortless. To perfectly preheat your toaster oven, these are steps you should follow:

  1. Set the toaster oven temperature dial to the required temperature depending on your recipe. Usually, the preheating temperature is set at 350 °F400 °F or 176 °C204 °C.
  2. Ensure that the toaster oven door is completely closed. Make sure there are no air leaks that world prevents the toaster oven from achieving the desired temperature.
  3. Usually, some recipes include preheating time for a specific food. But for those that don’t, allow the toaster oven to preheat for about 10-20 minutes.

After this, place your food in your toaster oven to conclude preheating and start cooking.

How Do I Know When Preheating is Done?

How Do I Know Preheating Is Done Illustration

This is a somewhat technical question that is usually asked by new users of toaster ovens.

For a digital toaster oven with LCD screens, the toaster oven temperature rise will be displayed until the desired temperature is achieved.

But for those that do not have this, it’s better to be safer than sorry. The preheating time you get from anyone who doesn’t use the same toaster oven as you or cook the same food as you do will only be an estimate. So an estimated 20-30 minutes should do the trick.

Since there’s no such thing as over-preheating, for the first few times you use your toaster oven, to be on a safer side preheat longer to avoid having to cook your food under undesired temperature.

Oven Thermometer

Another option is making use of a thermometer.

This involves placing your thermometer in your toaster oven when it’s cold, during preheating, check regularly to see if the preferred temperature is attained.

This option, while straightforward, can be somewhat tasking because of the constant attention it requires. On top of that, you will need to invest in a separate oven thermometer.

How to Test the Accuracy of Your Toaster Oven When Preheating

Testing the toaster oven accuracy illustration

Sometimes there may be issues with toaster ovens exhibiting inaccurate temperatures.

If you believe there is a discrepancy with the temperature that your oven operates at then there are ways to test the toaster oven’s accuracy with or without a thermometer.

With a Thermometer

  1. Place an oven thermometer in the middle rack or better still find a way to hang it to prevent it from giving the temperature of the rack.
  2. Preheat the toaster oven to a temperature of 350 degrees Fahrenheit or 176 Degree Celsius.
  3. If your toaster oven has preheated for about 20 minutes, take a reading of its temperature.
  4. Test this a few more times. Meaning, let the oven cool down and then preheat it again for 20 mins at 350 degrees Fahrenheit.
  5. Divide the sum of the readings by the number of times the readings were taken. If your toaster oven maintains a steady temperature, the average result should be close to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. If otherwise, then you know the reason your pastries are usually undercooked or overdone.

You must note that toaster ovens don’t maintain a fixed temperature especially when it has reached its desired temperature. Just like an electrical iron.

Once a toaster oven is at its required hotness, it comes down a little then rises up back again. So anyone in doubt of their toaster oven’s temperature accuracy could have simply misread the temperature when taking readings.

To tackle this, either monitor the temperature over time or take a temperature reading at different intervals.

Without a Thermometer

  1. Preheat your toaster oven to a temperature of 320 degrees Fahrenheit or 160 degrees Celsius.
  2. Next, you place a small quantity of granulated sugar (white or brown) in a dish or container properly suited for toaster oven heat. Preferably, the dist or container should be open from the sides for optimum surface heat circulation.
  3. Allow the toaster oven to cook for 10-15 minutes
  4. The result should show that the sugar has melted in a well-calibrated toaster oven. This is because sugar melts at about 320 degrees Fahrenheit or 160 degrees Celsius. If it doesn’t melt even after 10 – 15 mins, it means your toaster oven isn’t heating up to the desired temperature properly.

This is a fairly rudimentary technique since the required temperature to melt sugar may differ from sugar to sugar. However, it still gives you a rough idea.

Can I Put Food Inside a Toaster Oven Without Preheating?

food in a toaster oven illustration

You actually can. The toaster oven will simply continue its process. But you shouldn’t.

Placing your food in a cold toaster oven to be baked, broiled or roasted can affect the rise, texture, and browning of the food except in cases whereby the recipe calls for a cold start.

What Happens When I Put My Food During the Preheating Process?

How preheating effect food varies on the type of food you are cooking or the cooking process used. Of course, making toast and bagels do not require preheating.

Cakes, bread, and frozen items, on the other hand, require preheating. We know. It sounds strange. But it majorly has to do with the temperature at which certain food rises or how the lack of preheating causes extended cooking time.

As it has been mentioned earlier, putting the food in the oven when it has not been fully preheated affects food differently. To better understand the effect of totally ignoring preheating, we have to examine the different cooking processes.

Baking Process

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How you control the oven temperature is critical for baking process

Have you ever tried baking a cake and it came out collapsed in the middle or somewhat deflated? It probably had something to do with temperature consistency.

The major ingredients for baking include leavening agents which could be yeasts, baking soda, and baking powder. And for this raising agent to perform its function, it requires a specific temperature.

Therefore placing the dough in a cold oven will either activate the raising agent too late or too soon. In this manner, the outcome of your baked goods will be altered.

Broiling Process

Broiling involves cooking meat, fish, or vegetables by using direct heat. The heat required for broiling is precisely very hot.

For the first 5-10 minutes when the temperature begins to rise, the meat in the toaster oven will start to cook itself in its juices. So by the time the temperature becomes a stable heat that’s meant to broil the meat, it loses all tenderness.

All forms of moisture in the meat will be sapped-out. Therefore, putting meat in your cold toaster oven will not only dry out your meat, but it will also disturb the texture of the outcome.

Roasting Process

The process of roasting is very similar to broiling. Roasting your meat or veggies in a toaster oven that has not been preheated will either make it overcooked, dried out or both.

How Long Does it Take to Preheat a Toaster Oven?

How Long Does it Take to Preheat a Toaster Oven

Toaster ovens, unlike regular ovens, preheat very quickly. This has something to do with their size or in this case volume.

The time it takes for the hot air to circulate inside this miniature oven is considerably shorter. For toaster ovens that have an LCD screen, the preheating temperature is usually displayed or for some, a light or beep going off serves as an indicator.

But for toaster ovens that don’t have this feature, it takes 10-15 minutes for a temperature of 350 degrees Fahrenheit to be achieved. The temperature set determines the preheating time. The higher the temperature, the longer it will take to preheat.

Final Words

In this article, we learned how to pre-heat a toaster oven. While it may seem trivial, preheating is essential for most baking and broiling recipes.

If you want evenly cooked meat with great texture, or if you want perfectly baked cake, preheating is simply necessary.

Most recipes will specify the time and temperature for preheating the oven. However, generally speaking, it is done at 350 – 400 degrees Fahrenheit for about 10 – 15 minutes depending upon the size and power of your oven.


1. How do you know when a toaster oven is preheated?

If you purchase a model that does not include an indicator to indicate when preheating is complete, the best course of action is to purchase a small oven thermometer. You can insert the thermometer and observe it through the glass door to determine when the interior air has reached the desired cooking temperature.

2. Is it necessary to preheat a toaster oven?

Yes, it is not necessary to preheat your toaster oven. If you are baking something in the toaster oven, it is recommended that you preheat it so that the food cooks evenly.

3. Can you cook a hamburger in a toaster oven?

You certainly can. Wrap an aluminum foil-lined baking sheet in aluminum foil and place a wire or perforated metal rack on top. Two 8-ounce burgers should be placed on the rack. Transfer the patties to the toaster oven and broil for 6–7 minutes, or until the meat is nicely browned on one side.

4. How do I preheat my toaster oven to 350?

To properly preheat your toaster oven, set the temperature dial to the required preheating required temperature (typically 350 °F (175 °C), close the door tightly while ensuring that no hot air escapes, and then leave the oven on for 10-20 minutes.

5. How long do you wait to preheat an oven?

Most ovens take between 10 and 15 minutes to reach the proper temperature. If you have an older oven, it may not have a dial with the various temperatures marked on it; instead, it may only have an on-off switch. If this is the case, simply turn on the oven and wait ten to fifteen minutes before placing the baking items inside.

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About the author

Gisele Perez

When not giving in-home, hands-on cooking classes, or developing recipes, Gisele "cooks" wonderful posts for us. She writes about various topics related to cooking appliances and cooking methods.



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