The toaster oven is such an underrated piece of kitchen equipment. When compared to the bigger convection oven and the faster-heating microwave oven, people skip toaster ovens completely. But if you look closely enough, these compact kitchen appliances can be your go-to equipment for all your baking, broiling, toasting, and even defrosting needs.
But before you buy just any toaster oven, do you know that there are different kinds? Here are some types of toaster ovens you should look for to match your needs:
Basic Toaster Oven
Designed with a small rack and tray, the simplest toaster oven is small and easy to use. It usually has a single function – to toast – and only has a knob for the timer.
You can’t set the temperature for this type of toaster oven, but it is perfect for reheating pizza, old bread, fried food (like French Fries), or making toasted bread and other food that needs some crunch.
Baking with a Toaster Oven
Some toaster ovens come with a baking function, while other models specify that it has a “convection-oven baked” function.
If you’re planning to bake meats and make small-batch cupcakes, cookies, and bread, any of the two functions will work.
However, if your goal is to roast vegetables, making casseroles, dehydrating fruits or vegetables, go with the toaster oven that works like a convection oven. This means the heat spreads more evenly and quickly in the middle of the oven.
Do note that many toaster ovens are smaller than the traditional ovens, so if you’re baking cakes or big batches of cookies, cupcakes, bread, or other goodies, I recommend you invest in a bigger oven to reduce the baking time. In addition, cakes normally won’t fit a typical toaster oven size.
Sticking with a toaster oven when you’ve got an order of 100 cookies means numerous batches of trays.
Toaster Oven with Rotisserie
A toaster oven with rotisserie is simply a must-have if you love roasting duck, chicken, and big chunks of meat.
These kinds of toaster ovens come with a wire rack, drip pan, broiling rack, handgrip, and rotisserie spit and skewers. The heat is applied directly from the side, so you can cook chicken, duck, and other meat to perfection right on your countertop.
To take advantage of this type of oven, you have to master how rotisseries work. Don’t be scared though, since all advanced toaster ovens are already digital and will have a one-push setting for “Rotisserie.” (FYI, you’ll also see functions for “Keep Warm,” “Roast,” Broil,” “Bake” and of course, “Toast.”)
Defrosting Function of Toaster Ovens
Did you know that toaster ovens can also defrost frozen food? In the past, this function was exclusive to the microwave oven, which was our first option for defrosting everything from french fries and veggies to pizza dough and everything in between. Such a time-saver.
But if you’re keeping your microwave simply for this function, you’d be glad to know that modern toaster ovens can now defrost your frozen goods as well. Plus, these types of toaster ovens can also bake, broil, roast, toast, and reheat like a pro.
Toaster Oven Broiling
Many people think that broiling is just a fancy word for grilling because they brown on the surface and have a caramelized taste just like grilled food. What makes broiling a special way of cooking is that you can be done with an entire meal in only 15 minutes.
Toaster ovens with broil function make you feel you’re cooking like a pro. For example:
- Chicken, duck, and turkey: Afraid of cooking a whole chicken for fear that it will turn out uncooked and no way to check? By broiling in an oven, your chicken, turkey, or duck turnout juicy, cooked through, and never with bloody bones.
- Steaks galore: Any inch and a half steak, pork chops, lamb chops, T-bone, rib, porterhouse, or other cuts of pork, beef, and other meats can be broiled on the toaster oven with ease. This type of oven could also cook perfect ground-meat patties for your burgers.
- Love Kabobs: For anyone like me who is a fan of skewers of meat, veggies, seafood, and even fruits, kabobs are just a hit wherever you go. Broil them right in the comfort of your home with your handy toaster oven and wow your family with a fun meal.
- Fruits and vegetables: Veggies like tomatoes, potatoes, onions, bell peppers, and asparagus can be placed in the broiler, as well as fruits like peaches, pineapples, mango, bananas, and plum. Think of any fruits and vegetables you’ve tried grilling in the past (and loved)…and I’m sure it would work just as effectively in the toaster oven’s broiler.
- Fish and Shellfish: Broiling fresh or frozen fish, shrimp, scallops and other shellfish is also possible, and cooked in under 20 minutes as well.
You see, toaster ovens can be just as versatile as other types of ovens. If you wish to go beyond the microwave’s reheating and defrosting, but aren’t ready to commit to a conventional oven, the toaster oven is definitely a good alternative.