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After 20 hours of research, 40 hours of testing, and considering over 10 units, the best toaster oven for the money that provides the best all-around cooking experience, fastest heat-up time, with the most versatility, is the Cuisinart TOB-260N1. Although this is not an air fryer toaster oven, it still does great at fries and such.
It slightly edged out the Breville Smart Oven Pro, which also received top marks during our kitchen appliance testing, but lost out as a result of not being able to fit a 9 x 13″ baking pan, its higher cost, and slightly slower preheat times.
Our top 3 toaster ovens are from Cuisinart, Breville, and Panasonic.
That said, the Breville is by far the most premium of the toaster ovens that we tested, offering a fit and finish that left most of the ovens we tested feeling like function was chosen over form. Not so with the Breville as it married both well, save for capacity issues. Moreover, it provided more consistent golden toast, even if it was slower than the Cuisinart at doing so. The Breville BOV845BSS convection toaster oven features 10 preset functions that include bagel, bake, pizza, broil roast, warm, slow cook, reheat, cookies, and of course, toast – up to 6 slices of toast.
But if it’s reheating of food, we couldn’t recommend the Panasonic FlashXpress enough. It was the fastest in all categories when it came to preheating and toasting. It was however held back by its small size, which doesn’t make it practical for baking or all around cooking.
Award: TOP PICK
WHY WE LIKE IT: Our top toaster oven is the Cuisinart TOB-260N1. It’s versatile, fast and not too expensive.
Read Full Review: Cuisinart TOB-260N1 Review
The best rated toaster oven, with the most versatility, the right price and the correct interior space is the Cuisinart TOB-260N1. It slightly edged out the Breville Smart Oven Pro for a few reasons. We’re confident this can be the best toaster oven 2018 and 2019.
Check Price The TOB-260N1 provides the best all around experience and is at the right price.
First off, it heats up quicker despite its larger interior space (.95 vs .8 cubic feet). And while a minute or so may be moot to some, it’s still a consideration, especially if you’re hungry and want to start and stop your cooking so you can eat your meal already.
Second, the interior space of the Cuisinart TOB-260N1 was a big factor. Why? Because it’s large enough to fit a 9 x 13″ in baking pan. During our testing we baked a cake inside of the Cuisinart and had great results; it was perfectly cooked on the outside but moist on the inside. Cooking time was also a few minutes less than what the packaging suggested, which in our book is a plus.
Unfortunately, the Breville just isn’t wide enough to fit a 9 x 13″ pan, and nor is the Panasonic FlashXpress, needless to say. And I should note that the Cuisinart can toast up to 9 pieces of bread at the same time, whereas the Breville 6 pieces and the FlashXpress 4. Also, with Cuisinart, you can customize the number of slices of toast to make – from 1-2, 3-4, 5-6, or 7-9.
Following that we then folded in price. The Cuisinart is cheaper than the Breville, so the barrier to entry is far lower with what is arguably comparable results, though the Breville did out perform when it came to how consistent the golden hue on the toast was.
The Cuisinart also scored a plus in our book because of what is included at its lower price point: a real pizza stone and two racks. The pizza stone is a nice perk, but the two racks is a big win. Sure, you could go out and buy another rack for the Breville, but including it makes the whole operation turn key.
What I like about two racks is that I can not only cook two things simultaneously, but I can throw something else into the oven to either keep it warm or heat it up just before it’s time to eat. Two racks offers more versatility, hands down.
However, the Cuisinart’s interior is silver, which means stains and cooked in food will start to show more quickly. Conversely, the Breville’s is black and sleeker. So, if you want to clear away stains and cooked-on food, then check out our best oven cleaners.
You can see that the center column toasts more evenly.
The Cuisinart also doesn’t feel as premium to the touch. The Start/Stop button’s text started to rub offer after a few months which is disappointing but reflective of where Cuisinart put their investment.
The legs of the machine look cheap and the plastic siding at the bottom protrudes out a bit unlike the Breville. And lastly, the interior light isn’t as well positioned as the Breville, as its further back on the wall, providing less illumination on all the food. So if you can make a few small comprises in this department you’re in a good place.
Award: HONORABLE MENTION
WHY WE LIKE IT: The Smart Oven Pro could have taken the top spot, but it’s pricey and doesn’t fit a 9×13″ pan.
Read Full Review: Breville Smart Oven Pro Review
If you’re looking for comparable performance to the Cuisinart, with a slight draw back in interior space, but you’re willing to part with your hard earned cash for a nicer machine with a better fit and finish, the Breville Smart Pro is the way to go.
Check Price The Breville is premium, pricey, but it looks great and functions in a commensurate fashion
If it weren’t for the Breville’s smaller interior space compared to that of the Cuisinart, the Breville would take the cake.
However, not being able to fit a 9 x 13″ pan is an almost non-starter in our book. However, with that you do get a smaller foot print, which means less counter space being sucked up.
The Breville toaster oven with convection is also aesthetically nicer all around, though you might have to look closer to see the differences. While both the top two machines have a stainless steel finish, the Breville’s fit and finish is much more premium.
It feels more solid in both build and in the buttons and knobs. Where as the Cuisinart exudes a more plasticky feel which detracts from its appeal. Moreover, the Cuisinart’s plastic feet are cheap looking by comparison. Again, these are things you’ll have to look for, but they’re noticeable and might be enough to draw you to the Breville despite its higher price.
The Breville produced the best toast of our top 2 picks, make it the best toaster oven for toast.
From a toaster perceptive the Breville can cook up to 6 slices versus Cuisinart’s 9. But with that, the distribution of heat, aka the heat map, is more consistent, resulting in toast that is more golden brown across all pieces. This is definitely an important feature in any of the best toasters.
And as far as being the best convection toaster oven, the Breville is on par with the Cuisinart.
Beyond the buttons, the knobs offer a better tactile response, the Breville also leverages a set of magnets to slightly pull the rack out when opening the toaster oven door, provided it’s in the middle position. The Cuisinart on the other hand uses a set of metal hooks. And while both are effective, the Breville just oozes with smarts and attractiveness.
And as mentioned, the Breville’s light is in better position, closer to the center point of the oven, allowing food to be more easily illuminated.
Note that there is a cheaper Breville option, the Breville Mini Smart Oven. At nearly half the price of our #2 pick, the Breville Mini Smart Oven features multiple preset functions, a digital display, Element IQ technology, and a non-stick interior.
The Best Small Toaster Oven: Panasonic FlashXpress
The FlashXpress is perfect for small kitchen and those that are largely looking to reheating food.
Award: THE BEST SMALL TOASTER OVEN
WHY WE LIKE IT: The FlashXpress is perfect for small kitchen and those that are largely looking to reheating food.
Read Full Review: Panasonic FlashXpress Review
Enter the toaster oven that sometimes feels a bit like a microwave. And I mean that in the most positive of senses. How?
The FlashXpress is exceptional at heating up food. Cold pizza? No problem. Within a few minutes a slice or two can be returned to crispy perfection.
Because the FlashXpress utilizes both far and near infrared it heats up ultra quick when compared to the aforementioned two. Just take a look at the preheat times in our below chart. A large part of this can be attributed to the toaster oven’s “light button”, which is in fact a heat source. Push it and you’ll feel what is instantaneous heat. No warm up time. In fact, “the light” cycles on and off in just about any setting.
Check Price The FlashXpress a top pick for reheating and toasting. It’s also great for small kitchens.
The FlashXpress also wins big in the compact category. It’s about half the size than the other top two toaster ovens, which also partially explains its ability to heat up so quickly and do such a great job reheating food.
And don’t get me wrong, it also a decent toaster. And as you’ve probably figured at this point, it was the fastest at producing toast. However, as you can see in the above photo, it lacks heat closer to the door of the toaster oven.
Where the FlashXpress falls short is in both its capacity – it’s too small for full on baking – and its functionality is very limited in terms of controls – there are just 6 settings (toast, waffle, roll, pizza, quick reheat, and hash brown frozen). It is ideal for pizza of up to 9 inches in diameter or up to four slices of toast. For more small oven choices, check out our guide to the best small toaster ovens.
The slices closest to the door experienced less heat.
Moreover, its timer is limited to just 25 minutes, so capacity issues aside, the timer is a non starter for really any baking job, especially if you want to set it and sort of forget it.
So again, the FlashXpress is really targeted at college students or those that don’t like to bake or cook extensively (or for a party of 1). It’s also not that visually appealing from a chef’s kitchen stand point, but that’s more opinion than fact.
Award: THE BEST TOASTER OVEN UNDER $100
WHY WE LIKE IT: The Oster TSSTTVMNDG-001 countertop oven is a great budget buy as it costs just $79.99.
Read Full Review: Oster TSSTTVMNDG
Also tested in our kitchen after an exhaustive search was the Hamilton 31128 and the Oster TSSTTVMNDG-001 toaster ovens. Both are very much budget options and we’d be remiss not to test the other end of the price spectrum.
Check Price The Oster is the best toaster oven if you’re on a budget under $100.
During our testing, I found that both were decent at toasting toast. However, neither are anything to get excited about, largely because of their build quality, look and all together no pizzaz operation. But again, their both in the sub $100 range so it’s fitting.
So what’s our ultra budget recommendation or the best toaster oven under $100? The Oster TSSTTVMNDG-001 toaster oven. Let’s just ignore the model number and focus on the positive things, at least for now.
The Oster is $79.99 and compared to our top 3 picks it’s a steal. Why? It’s versatile thanks to its large capacity and preheat times that are on par with our top 2 picks.
We cooked a full on chicken, amongst a few other items in this toaster oven and had fairly positive results. Fold into the fact that it can get hotter on a bake setting (albeit marginally) than the Breville and Cuisinart, and you might ask why this toaster oven didn’t rank higher.
Well, for starters, how it feels well represents its price. The buttons, which are of the touch ilk, have not tactile response. The crumb tray is cheap and flimsy and the seal, to keep heat in, is lacking. There is also no preheat tone despite their being a “bake” light that blinks as if it will emit a noise or go from flashing to steady, but alas it never does.
The entire machine, except for parts of the door, is clad in black. Which for some might be a positive, but generally speaking when looking for a toaster oven we want stainless steel since it tends to pair with more kitchen appliances and just exudes a high end quality.
Check Price The Hamilton was decent at toasting bread but not a good all around choice, especially when compared to that of the Oster.
Next up is the Hamilton 31128. The name alone exudes little creativity. This toaster oven has a funky door that also sort of encapsulates the buttons. And those buttons feel cheap and unremarkable to the touch.
It also incapable of exceeding 400 F, despite the fact that is the oven’s max temperature.
But issues aside, it was able to keep pace with the Cuisinart by toasting bread in about the same amount of time. At the end of the day, the Hamilton’s awkward interior size, limited feature set, awkward operation and overall build leaves little to be desired and simply couldn’t be recommended. Note: Black and Decker was considered for this piece, but chose not to participate. So unfortunately, we could not compare black and decker vs the Hamilton toaster oven or any of the aforementioned units.
We packed the bread in and fired up each toaster oven to determine it’s “heat map”. There were three core tests to determine the top rated toaster oven. And they’re as follows:
1. Heat Map/Toast Test: The Heat Map: with this test we were looking to see not only how fast we could get toast to a nice golden brown, the ideal crunchiness without being dry, but which of the toaster ovens could distribute its heat evenly over its interior or food. Of note, this is a test that is done by other publications and while we don’t necessarily weight this as the most important test, it is an important measurement nonetheless considering it is a toaster oven.
Check Price Our top toaster oven pick.
2. Preheat Times: with this test we used an external monitor from Taylor to determine how long it took each respective toaster oven to reach 4 temperature increments. In this case, faster is better.
3. Preheat Accuracy: when applicable (the Cuisinart and the Breville) we listened for the preheat tone and then measured the time it took and what our external thermometer showed.
4. The Overall Experience – Cooking a Variety of Things: This was way more art than science. Which begs the question of “what can you cook in a toaster oven?” But in short: everything. We cooked full sized chickens (when they’d fit), reheated pizza, baked cakes, broiled steak and more to determine the overall cooking experience. During this testing we wanted to see what it was like to live with each toaster oven day-to-day. After all, that’s what you’ll be doing as well. And while some of our ovens may have been “better” at one thing than the other, this type of testing helps us understand how the toaster oven door opens and closes, can the racks be moved around easily, do the buttons respond quickly, is the interior space too small for some food (such as a chicken), what size pans fit or don’t fit. Again, this is more art than measurement and objective testing.
Time to Golden Toast
Hands down, the Panasonic is the fastest.
Toaster Oven Temperature Testing and Timing
How We Choose the best toaster Ovens
To pick the best toaster ovens we did our best to narrow our list to a select few brands that stand out again and again. So, we started by looking at trusted names, reviews on Amazon and other publications that have covered a variety of toaster ovens.
We then considered a price range of about $70 to $250 to see what one get’s for their money at the low and top end. We firmly believe in the law of diminishing returns, though its important to see where the proverbial rubber hits the pavement, especially in an appliance that will be used again and again, and for all intense and purpose be beaten up.
Then we considered a variety of must have features, at least for the top picks. Why? Because versatility is the name of the game when it comes to the top toaster ovens. So because of that, our ideal list of requirements included a broil function, an interior light, and lastly quartz and ceramic heating elements. And as you’ve probably seen, our top 3 include all of these functions.
Why You Should Buy a (New) Toaster Oven
The toaster oven todays are far more advanced than ones of a time past.
For starters, despite their small size, they’re now great at regulating temperature and not overcooking or burning food due to their small interior space. We cooked cakes, on the bake setting no less, and never was the top overcooked and nor did we have to cover the top with tin foil, unlike conventional ovens or older toaster ovens that tend to blast heat.
Second to that, a toaster oven, such as the FlashXpress, can make reheating food quick without sacrificing taste. For instance, pizza reheats great in a toaster oven but not in the microwave. And this is thanks to far and near infrared cooking, which doesn’t dry out the food but heats it up directly, much like charcoal.
Toaster Oven vs Conventional Oven
If you’re still using a conventional oven, it’s likely you’re wasting not only a lot of time waiting for it to preheat, but energy. Toaster ovens heat up quickly, 4-5 times faster than a conventional oven, which also means you can cut your cooking time down equally as much.
Moreover, toaster ovens don’t emit the same amount of heat as a conventional oven. So if you live in a small apartment, this can be a saving grace on a hot summer’s day.
Breville Smart Oven Pro vs Cuisinart TOB-260N1
We’ve covered this pretty extensively throughout this post. But let’s quickly summarize our findings.
These two machines (Breville left and Cuisinart right) ranked in our top 2 spots. Ultimate the Cuisinart won for a couple of reasons.
The Breville and Cuisinart are too a large degree neck and neck in terms of performance. However, the Cuisinart won our favor due to its larger capacity and cheaper price point.
On the flip side, the Breville feels and looks higher quality. There are less plastic bits, a tighter fit and finish and all together better build quality that makes us believe the Breville can stand up to the rigors of a heavily used kitchen a bit better than the Cuisinart.
Toaster Oven Accessories
The Cuisinart offers the best accessories of the pact, plus two racks.
We din’t put too much wait in the accessories, but nevertheless it’s a consideration.
Our #1 pick, the Cuisinart TOB-260N1, comes with the best accessories and isn’t the most expensive. Included is a real pizza stone, an oven tray, plus two racks.
The Breville on the other hand comes with only one rack, a metal pizza “stone” and an oven tray.
The Panasonic FlashXpress is anything but impressive but seems fitting given its small size; just a somewhat flimsy metal tray.
Mistakes to Avoid
Don’t get Too Lost in the Looks: At the end of the day our top two machines happen to be the best looking; they’re both finished in stainless steel. So yes, if you want the best results, go with one of these two, ideally the TOB-260N1.
That said, our ultra budget pick, the Oster, is not a looker, yet operates on the lower end of the spectrum relative to our top two machines. But it does lack the finishing touches, ease of use, even heat distribution and finishing touches compared to the top two. But all said and done, looks aside, and you can end up with a very useable machine that will just be a bit of any eye sore.
Check Price The Cuisinart provided the best overall experience.
Buying More Features Than You Need: This really comes down to being honest with yourself, and largely stands true to just about anything one plans to buy. Be it a car or a toaster oven, be honest and map out what kind of cooking or baking your currently engage in. Then map out what you plan to do. This should give you a better understanding of which toaster oven you really need.
Also be clear with what you want to accomplish with your oven. Broiling and baking should be the center point of a toaster oven, followed by toasting. If it’s just toasting you’re looking to enhance, you’re probably best off with a stand alone toaster since they’ll be faster.
At the end of the day, a new toaster oven won’t turn you into a baking genius. Sure, it should reduce the friction that comes with baking with an older machine or perhaps your conventional oven.
With that in mind, if you find yourself avoiding using your oven because the amount of time it takes to heat up and the over all heat it dissipates into your apartment, then consider our top 2 picks, because you’re likely baking, broiling or roasting again and again.
Don’t Get The Wrong Size: As I pointed to, the Breville is too small for a 9 x 13″ pan. So if you’re a baker, take note of your existing pans and sheets to see what will fit. Our top 2 picks fit a 13″ pizza so you’re covered there. The FlashXpress, on the other hand, is probably best for just reheating slices of pizza, though you could cook a small 6-7″ pie.
As for toasting capacity, the Cuisinart offers the max amount of slices of all our machines; 9. Which if you’re entertaining, or really big on toast, can be a plus.
Believing That Toaster Ovens Burn Everything: There is a school of thought that toaster ovens can’t regulate temperature as well as a conventional oven. Not true. The toaster ovens, the best ones of course, of today are great at regulating temperature. Long gone are the days of burnt cakes and over cooked toast that looks more like the remains of a charcoal pit.
Terms to Understand
Shade control is simply referring to how dark (or light) you would like your toast. The darker the selection the longer the timer will run. Some toaster ovens include a “frozen” button, which in effect just adds some cooking time to compensate.
Unfortunately, not all ovens have this. For anyone that plans on using their toaster oven in replacement of their conventional oven, I recommend buying one with a built-in light such that it’s easy to see how the contents of the food is cooking. It will also prevent you from opening the door of the toaster oven to check on food, which can let out well north of 20% of the heat.
Much like a conventional oven, some toaster ovens offer a preheat function. If included in your toaster oven (found on the Breville and Cuisinart) a tone will sound once the toaster oven has reached a desired temperature. But as we discovered, both of the aforementioned toaster ovens sound a tone earlier to offset the heat that escapes.
The broil function is a must have in our book. Broil, generally speaking, only activates the top heating elements which in turn cooks food from the top. Because of this, you’ll always want the rack in the top position, closest to the top heating elements to maximize results. It’s best for browning or searing foods.
The bake function uses the bottom and top heating elements and provides even cooking for baked goods, such as cakes, cookies or brownies.
Roasting is almost analogous to that of baking, but the heating elements, from what we’ve understood, are a bit more intense, since the foods that you roast should be solid as opposed not solid (e.g. an unbaked cake). It’s ideal to place the pan (or rack) in the lowest position.
Convection uses a fan to circulate heat evenly through the interior of the toaster oven. Convection is said to cook things not only more evenly but more quickly. It can also help control the humidity in the oven since it’s circulating the air, which can be good for browning. But be careful when making baked goods, as you want to retain moisture in the center.
A non-stick interior is ideal because it makes cleaning the interior of the oven easier. That said, you shouldn’t have to wipe down your oven that often. Though I recommend wiping the glass and the light after every few uses.
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