January 15

What is a Toaster Oven? – Quick Definition and Uses


Author: Cornelia Suehr
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If you are planning to expand your cooking techniques, then you need the right appliances. Just as a mechanic or an engineer requires the right tools to build, a chef needs the right appliances to cook. In this article, we particularly look at what is a toaster oven.

Basically, a Toaster Oven is a mini regular oven. It can perform the same function as almost any regular oven, but has a smaller capacity, consumes lower power, and is great for small meals.

Toaster Oven is an appliance that can basically introduce you to the world of baking. From reheating frozen pizzas to baking a round of pastries, a toaster oven can help with all.

Hamilton Beach
Courtesy: Hamilton Beach, Amazon.com

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What is a Toaster Oven?

A toaster oven is a miniature oven powered by electricity.

It can be referred to as a combination of both a conventional bread toaster and an oven without an air fryer, this implies that they can be used in cooking a variety of pastries, from slices of bread to muffins to bagels, pizzas, and the likes. However, it can be used in cooking and toasting other meals too.

A toaster oven is also referred to as Counter Top Oven since they are small and compact enough to fit on the countertops of your kitchen.

The mechanism of a toaster oven is quite simple. Toaster ovens are usually fitted with a frontal door that opens manually outward to reveal racks whereby food is placed for reheating and cooking.

Subsequently, most toaster ovens usually have controls in a section of the machine to allow the use of the appliance with different settings.

Also Read: Best Toaster Ovens for Frozen Pizza

Why Toaster Ovens?

A Regular Oven has been used for so many years that without them it seems that a kitchen isn’t whole. So why then should anyone consider using a Toaster Oven instead?

1. Portability

Although it has been a regular oven in the Kitchen improve its homey feel. The toaster oven, on the other hand, takes advantage of its small size and conserves space.

These appliances can be quite useful in a small apartment building where you need to be frugal about your living space.

2. Easy to clean

A dirty oven can be quite nasty when it comes to cleaning, with crumbs and spills hiding in tough crevices.

However, you don’t need to worry much about this case with a toaster oven. With its small size and a stainless steel interior, cleaning a toaster oven is like a walk in a park.

3. Saves Time and Money

The cost of purchasing a toaster oven is quite less than a conventional one.

Not only this, but it also saves costs on electricity bills since its heating elements are smaller in size.

4. Energy Efficient

This is good news for environmentalists as well as for those who don’t want to waste another dime on electricity bills.

A toaster oven usually has a 1200-1800 watts power rating rated at half of what a conventional oven expends. A Countertop oven toaster uses less energy and less cooking time but heats up the food faster.

Also Read: Best Small Convection Toaster Ovens

Different types of Toaster Ovens

Most people buy a toaster oven only once in their lifetime. Except for the cases where it becomes faulty or you need an upgrade.

With the rise in technology, there is a wide range of a toaster oven having various features and serving different purposes. You can even find ‘SMART’ toasters that give you much higher control and precision over your cooking.

However, as far as the core hardware or cooking method goes, there are generally two major types of toaster ovens.


This type of oven boasts heating coils that fluctuate from on to off for maintaining a given temperature.

They are simple, user-friendly and they come with thermostats that help in regulating the heat exactly like in a regular oven.

They can be used to cook, bake, and also warm leftovers. They also come in various sizes depending on the buyer’s budget and needs.

These ovens are cheaper and give you a much better uneven ‘TOASTY’ feel on your meal. That is because a standard toaster oven is excellent at cooking the surfaces.


Convection Oven
A Convection Toaster Oven has a fan inside that results in even cooking. Source: wiseGEEK.com

For starters, a convection toaster oven is more energy efficient. 

They work by having an interior fan that blows very hot air on the food.

This guarantees a quick and more evenly cooked meal.

High-quality ones are usually sophisticated and automated which is most suitable for experienced cooks.

A Convection oven is generally more expensive than a conventional oven.

Difference Between Toaster Ovens and Regular Ovens

Apart from the obvious size difference in the two kitchen appliances, there is a certain distinction in the efficiencies of the two gadget and how it operates.

What is a toaster oven
A Regeular Oven is large, bulky, consumes more energy, but great for large meals. Photo by Stefan C. Asafti on Unsplash

1. Time and Energy Consumption

In a situation whereby you are in a haste to entertain a small company, a toaster oven seems more plausible since it consumes lesser time to heat or cook small meals.

A regular oven will take up a lot of time since it has to pre-heat first. A Toaster Oven heats up fast, thereby, uses less electricity than a conventional oven.

2. Supervision

Due to how fast a toaster oven runs hot. It has been known to have no insulation thereby causing its exterior to become dangerously hotter.

This feature allows for more supervision in the toaster oven than in the conventional counterparts.

Also Read: Are Toaster Ovens Safe

3. Heat Distribution

Toaster ovens, particularly convection toaster ovens, work by way of circulating heat through the entirety of the oven using a fan.

In a conventional oven, when the thermostat is set, the heating element heats the foods from below. This is usually why the foods placed at the bottom tray often gets burned.

To get a perfect batch sometimes in a regular oven, one has to rotate the pan, change the bake and broil settings, and monitor regularly.

When you bake the food item in a convection toaster oven, you will notice an even distribution of heat.

How to Use a Toaster Oven

A Toaster oven is fairly easier to use than a conventional oven. However, with all the control, knobs, and settings, one can easily find it confusing.

The first tip on how to use a toaster oven is to bring out the instruction manuals and familiarize yourself with the basic features of the device.

Ensure that all the features are intact and functioning. For instance, it will be worth it to find out if it comes with a slide-out rack or an auto-eject rack to avoid confusion when loading foods onto the tray.

When you are set to start using your toaster oven, make sure it is properly placed where it won’t make anything near it too hot. As mentioned earlier, the exterior can become very hot so ensure that there are no items that could burn or melt around it.

Even if you are not ready to start using the toaster, it is important to at least test if it works.

To do so, plug the device into a secure electrical outlet depending on how much power it consumes and how much power the sockets dispense. If you connecting it to a power extension cord, make sure the cable is thick enough to carry the required amperage.

Make a choice of what you intend to cook in it. Do you want to re-heat? Do you want to bake? Or do you want to cook an entire meal?

For example, if you want to warm leftovers. Start by preheating your oven to the appropriate temp. Then place the foods on the rack using a suitable container. Once it is in the oven, set a timer to prevent the food from burning.

That said, check on the food from time to time to get the desired temp.

Cleaning and Maintenance of Your Toaster Oven

A toaster oven is smaller and easier to replace than its conventional counterparts, so many people don’t worry about maintenance.

Keeping a toaster oven clean is not only hygienic but it helps the appliance run more smoothly.

Here are some tips that would keep your toaster ovens in good shape:

  • Always unplug your appliance from the power source before attempting to clean,
  • When cleaning a toaster oven, you might be tempted to use an oven cleaner, but be careful when doing so. The precautions on most oven cleaners clearly prohibit its use on aluminum which is what the interiors of most toaster ovens are made of.
  • Also when cleaning your toaster oven, avoid the use of abrasive cleansers or materials as they will scratch the toaster’s coating.
  • Go easy on the liquid. Ensure that your sponge is only slightly damp not dripping with liquid.
  • Spray the cleaner directly on your towel rather than spray it directly on the appliance.
  • It’s best to bring out all the removable parts of the toaster oven to clean first before cleaning the interiors. This will help to get out stubborn stains from the removable pans.
  • Lastly, to improve the lifespan of your toaster oven, avoid using foils and any other materials that could melt, rust, or degrade inside the oven.

Final Words

If you are new to baking, then you must definitely have asked what is a toaster oven and what is the best toaster oven at some point.

Basically, they are miniature ovens. They work on the same principles as a regular oven but are more specialized in space conservation in your kitchen and also in terms of quick-cooking or reheating.

We have several other articles related to toaster ovens that can further help you remove any confusion regarding this product.


1. What is a Toaster Oven?

Toaster ovens are small countertop ovens. It is often used as an alternative to heating a larger kitchen oven; the toaster reheats, bakes, broils, toasts, browns, and defrosts small amounts of foods.

2. Can you bake in a toaster oven?

Yes, you can bake in a toaster oven. In fact, many people find that they get better results baking in a toaster oven than they do in a traditional oven. Toaster ovens are smaller, so they heat up more quickly and retain heat better. This means that your food will cook more evenly in a toaster oven.

3. Can you cook raw chicken in a toaster oven?

Yes, you can. In the toaster oven, bake the chicken for 35 to 45 minutes. To check the doneness of the chicken, use a meat thermometer. The internal temperature should be at least 165 degrees Fahrenheit.

4. Do you preheat a toaster oven?

Yes, you should preheat a toaster oven. Preheating ensures that your food will cook evenly and prevents the toaster oven from having to work too hard to heat up.

5. Is a toaster oven worth it?

Yes, a toaster oven can be a great addition to your kitchen, especially if you don't have a lot of space. They're smaller than a traditional oven, so they can fit in tighter spaces, and they're perfect for toasting bread or making small meals. They're also generally cheaper than a full-sized oven.

About the author

Cornelia Suehr

A professional chef and a passionate writer on all topics related to cooking, baking, appliances and kitchenware. Her posts resonate with foodies, home chefs and professionals.


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