It’s time to talk toaster ovens, because they’re good for way more than just toast. The best toaster ovens can roast a tray of veggies, chicken or fish, reheat everything from frozen pizzas to burritos, and even bake quick breads and cakes—without having to wait for the full-size oven to heat up or wash full-size baking sheets or roasting pans.
“Toaster ovens are tiny yet powerful,” Danielle Leoni, executive chef at the Breadfruit & Rum Bar in Phoenix, tells SELF. “They can pack the power of all a chef’s cooking essentials, like a toaster, broiler, convection oven, and even an air fryer. And it all fits in one little place on your countertop.”
What you don’t want, though, is to waste any of that precious counter space on an appliance you’re not going to use. That’s why choosing one of the best toaster ovens is so important. And there are certain features you should look for in one: At a minimum, your winning toaster oven should deliver on the basic functions—think bake, broil, and toast.
From there, think about what kinds of extra features might work best for your cooking style. “Convection is your turbo function allowing you to heat faster and get good roasting results,” Leoni says. Opt for an oven with two racks if you like cooking for a crowd (in normal, non-pandemic times, of course) or if baking’s your thing (so you can make two trays of cookies at once). Crave food with crispy, crunchy texture? You might want a toaster oven with an air fryer feature.
One more thing to keep in mind: Make sure your toaster will work in your kitchen. “Look for one that fits the depth of your counter,” Ellen Bennett, founder of the apron, face mask, and kitchen workwear line Hedley & Bennett, tells SELF. Try to find something that matches the vibe of your cook space, too. “If everything else is stainless steel, do that. If everything else is black, get a black one,” she says.
If you’re still not sure where to start, skip the random Internet scroll and check out these expert-recommended picks instead.