The 30-Second Review
The best toaster oven should be able to cook food the way you want it with minimal effort, whether you’re planning on roasting a whole chicken or you just want to reheat some of that pizza from last night. We tested 11 of the best toaster ovens on the market and found three excellent cooking machines for different budgets and cooking needs.
If you’re planning on cooking small meals in your toaster oven, the Breville Mini Smart Oven can do it better than most full-sized ovens, providing customized settings that worked as well as any we tested. We loved its easy-to-navigate features, which produced near-perfect toast and cookies at a midrange price ($150). For a compact toaster that’s adept at everything from toast to baked goods and frozen meals, this machine is unrivaled.
A smartly designed toaster oven that’s mastered the basics, the Hamilton Beach is an excellent option for those dealing primarily in toast and leftovers. And while it lacks some of the functionality of its more expensive peers, this $50 toaster produced consistent results in our testing.
Cuisinart Chef’s Convection Toaster Oven
If you do a lot of cooking and need more space than the Breville Mini Smart Oven, we recommend the Cuisinart Chef’s Convection Toaster Oven ($260). This spacious oven can seemingly do everything, and unlike other expensive all-purpose models, it didn’t leave us reaching for the manual at every step.
The Best Toaster Oven
There’s a lot of variety when it comes to toaster ovens, and the sheer amount of choices can be disorienting. You can spend $40 or $400 — it all comes down to what you expect from your shiny new appliance. Maybe you just need toast and bake settings with a 30-minute timer, or maybe you want a fully-functional oven with presets for different kinds of foods. We know everyone’s needs are different, so we looked for a range of options.
Our overall pick, the Breville Mini Smart Oven, will suit the needs of most people. It has eight customized settings including “Cookies,” “Toast,” and “Pizza,” and it adjusts its four heating elements for whatever option you choose. We were unsure how well these presets would work, but the results spoke for themselves: The Mini Smart Oven made chocolate chip cookies with crunchy edges and a gooey interior, and it produced the best batch of toast of any model we tested. It’s smaller than other toasters at its price ($150), but if you’re only cooking for one or two, the Breville Mini Smart Oven can’t be beat.
If all those features sound like overkill, consider the Hamilton Beach Easy Reach Oven, our budget pick ($50). The Hamilton Beach is a sturdy, no-frills machine, and despite it’s sing-songy name, it’s designed to do the basics really well. It toasted bread and reheated leftovers better than our other budget options, producing results closer to what we found in our midrange ovens. We also loved its unique door design; instead of folding down like every other model we tested, the Easy Reach’s door slides over the top of the oven, keeping the glass clean when you pull out your food.
If you plan on using your toaster oven for frequent cooking or larger meals, we recommend the Cuisinart Chef’s Convection Toaster Oven ($260). While our other toaster ovens only had room for six slices of toast, the Cuisinart managed to fit nine, meaning you’ve got plenty of space for more ambitious meals. It also has 12 pre-programmed cooking settings, three more than anything else we tested. More settings isn’t necessarily a guarantee of better quality, but we liked knowing that whatever we could imagine cooking, it walked us through in an easy, intuitive way. And that functionality ultimately made for better meals — the Cuisinart made the best fresh pizza we tested.
How We Found the Best Toaster Oven
As we set out to find the best toaster oven, we were immediately shocked at how diverse the market is — there were popular models for $30 and some as high as $550. Some toasters had two settings (bake and toast), while others boasted a dozen different preset options. Given that range, our goal was to find out what that money bought you and how well these toasters handled different types of food.
With that in mind, we divided our research into three tiers based on their prices and cooking capability: budget, midrange, and high-end. We didn’t expect our budget picks to have the oven space or functionality to roast a chicken, and it wouldn’t be fair to pit them against ones that did. In general, the size of the machine went up with the price: On average, high-end ovens could fit twice as much toast as the budget models.
From there, we only looked at toaster ovens that had received high scores from sites like Consumer Reports and America’s Test Kitchen. Unfortunately, these sites focused almost exclusively the priciest toaster ovens available (as it turned out, a $550 toaster oven performs pretty well). Knowing that not everyone wants to spend half a grand on a toaster oven, we also included top sellers with great user reviews from retailers like Amazon and Bed Bath & Beyond, leaving us with 11 toaster ovens: four budget, four midrange, and three high-end models representing the best of the best in each tier.
- Black and Decker 6-Slice Toaster Oven
- Hamilton Beach Toastation
- Hamilton Beach Easy Reach Oven
- Oster 4-Slice Toaster Oven
- Breville Mini Smart Oven
- Krups Delux Toaster Oven with Convection Heating
- Oster Large Digital Countertop Oven
- Panasonic Flash Xpress
- Breville Smart Oven
- Cuisinart Chef’s Convection Toaster Oven
- Kitchen Aid 12″ Convection Digital Countertop Oven
First, we toasted bread to see how easily we could operate the toasters.
We wanted to get a general sense of what these toaster ovens were like to use, so our first test was our most basic: How well could we make toast with these machines? So we filled each oven to capacity with standard 4” x 4.5” slices of white bread and set them to medium shade. We were looking for an even color across all slices and no noticeably burnt or uncooked spots anywhere.
Unsurprisingly, the cheaper models generally come with cheaper settings. Three of our budget picks used timers to get the right shade — not inherently a problem, but the distance between the light and dark shades on the dial was often miniscule. On the Hamilton Beach Easy Reach Oven, there’s practically no space between the light and dark options, forcing us to keep an eye on our toast the entire time it was in the oven. The Hamilton Beach Toastation was top-loading, and used a shade dial like a conventional toaster. But the bread came out very unevenly toasted, and hardly browned at all on the bottoms.
The toasters in our more expensive price categories turned out to be much easier to use. Their digital displays let us choose how dark we wanted our toast to be on a numerical scale (usually 1-7, with 1 being the lightest). Once that setting had been entered, the toasters automatically set the temperature and time. We found this setup to be simpler and more convenient than the budget options’ dials, which gave us some alarmingly burned toast until we had calibrated the settings better.
Results were all over the board, but to our surprise, the cheaper models generally fared better on this test than the most expensive ones. For example, our cheapest oven, the Oster, toasted bread better than anything from our top tier (even if it only fit two pieces instead of the advertised four). We were also surprised by the varying shades of toast we got, despite aiming for a medium shade on every machine. Sometimes the bread came out a little overdone, sometimes it seemed almost untouched. Only the Breville Smart Mini Oven toasted every slice to the warm golden brown we wanted.
Another discovery: The more slices a toaster held, the harder it was to get them all the same shade. Ovens that could fit more than four pieces of bread ended up with the same dark center and light outer edges, regardless of price or technology. The $450 Kitchen Aid was the worst offender, giving us a noticeable charred stripe down the middle. It wasn’t a dealbreaker in most cases — the toast was always edible — but if you’re looking for perfectly even toast, we recommend sticking to four slices at a time.
Then we reheated leftover pizza in our budget picks ovens to check for even heating.
Our budget toasters were smaller than the other models and were mostly limited to “bake” and “toast” settings, so we didn’t expect as much out of them. But we wanted to make sure they passed a pretty basic toaster test — the ability to reheat leftover food better than a microwave. For this test, we warmed up some leftover pizza in our budget ovens, looking for melted cheese, crispy crusts, and even heating across the slices.
They all did an adequate job, but the Hamilton Beach Easy Reach Oven stood out. The cheese melted like it had been freshly baked, and the bottom got a nice crisp without drying out. We’d invest in one of these just so we never have to eat soggy microwaved leftovers again. In contrast, the Black and Decker melted the cheese quickly, but the bottom still felt a little limp and undercooked.
All of our budget picks were easy enough to operate in this test — we just set the temperature and the timer and put the pizza slices in. However, the lack of a preheating indicator an unwelcome element of mystery to this test. Was the toaster ready now? Did it need a few more minutes? The guessing game wasn’t a huge inconvenience, but it’s part of the tradeoff for budget toasters.
If you just want to do some basic toasting and reheating without turning on your full-sized oven, these budget picks will do just fine. But you should know there’s a limit to what these cheaper toaster ovens can do. When we tried to make frozen mac and cheese, their baking pans warped after about 10 minutes, lifting one side of the plastic container closer to the heating coils and filling our kitchen with a sour plastic smell. If you’re planning on using your oven for more time-consuming meals, you’re better off investing a bit more money.
For our midrange toasters, we baked cookies to test temperature precision.
We expected a little more out of this tier of toasters, which ranged from $80 to $150. For that money, you get convection technology that promises more consistent heating throughout the oven. (The Panasonic Flash Xpress is the exception; instead of convection technology, it uses “double infrared heating,” which causes it to glow brightly while it cooks.) We expected these convection ovens to heat our food more accurately, and we wanted setup to be pretty straightforward — if we’re paying $100 or more for a toaster, it shouldn’t be a hassle to use.
To give these toasters a challenge, we baked batches of six Toll House chocolate chip cookies in each. We chose cookies because they’re a little more delicate and challenging for convection heating — we’d be able to tell immediately if it was just a glorified fan. After all, there’s no hiding the disappointment of a hard, dried out cookie.
Essentially an oven with a series of fans inside, convection heating works by moving the hot air around to keep temperatures consistent around the oven. This does cook your food faster, so a good rule of thumb is to reduce the temperature by about 25 degrees, and start checking in with about a quarter of the time left. You also run the risk of your food drying your out, so be careful with desserts like cakes and souffles.
We loved the Breville Mini Smart Oven almost instantly. It has a dial that allows you to access preset cooking modes for things like toast, pizza, and — conveniently for us — cookies. Other models had fewer presets and simply weren’t as easy to operate as the Breville. The Panasonic seemed more interested in its retro appearance than thoughtful features, forcing us to turn the machine off if we wanted to change some settings. And the Oster Large Digital Countertop looked more like a microwave, but was one of the least convenient machines we tested — so much for not being a hassle.
Of our four midrange picks, the Breville and Krups baked perfect batches of chocolate chip cookies. Each cookie was the same consistency and temperature regardless of where they were on the tray: Corners and center cookies were soft and gooey in the middle with a nice crisp on the outside. For a couple hours, our testers were the envy of the office.
Other models didn’t fare as well. We ran into the same problems with the Panasonic Flash Xpress that we had in our toast test: The cookies were more a little more cooked and dried out in the back than the front. And while the retro aesthetic was undeniably cool, it clearly sacrificed some functionality to get there. For example, it uses a temperature scale based on Celsius, increasing in intervals of 20 degrees Celsius. So it only has an option for 355 instead of the 350 our directions required. That wasn’t a huge deal, but what if we had a recipe that needed 400 degrees? We’d be forced to choose between 390 and 425, a weird game to have to play with your toaster oven when most other toasters offered more precise settings.
Freshly made pizza helped us test the power of our high-end picks.
Before we even started cooking with our top tier toaster ovens, it was clear that they could do a lot more than just toast and leftovers. They had more internal capacity than any of the other models we looked at, and more cooking modes, like “Roast,” “Broil,” “Pizza,” and “Cookies.” While we’d be pleasantly surprised if one of our cheaper models could roast a whole chicken, we expected that out of this top tier.
Since all three of our most expensive toaster ovens came with specific pizza settings, we decided to cook fresh 12” pepperoni pizzas in them. We looked for the cheese to be melted evenly and the crust to have a nice crunch to it. And because we were paying $250-$450 for these machines, we expected usable preset functions with a quick, painless setup. At those prices, we wanted these machines to basically run themselves.
A few toasters impressed us before we even started cooking. The Cuisinart Chef’s Convection Toaster Oven came with a 13” pizza stone that ultimately produced the best results of the group. The differences were pretty subtle — a puffier crust, more evenly melted cheese — but worth it for someone who’s going to be making a lot of pizzas. The overall experience was just better, too — add-ons like the +30 second button and interior light seemed minor at first, but we missed them in other models. The Breville allows you to fine-tune your cooking time with a dial, which we appreciated, but it wasn’t quite as convenient as the single button on the Cuisinart.
The Breville and Kitchen Aid both made fine pizzas, too, but it wasn’t quite as simple to get there. We couldn’t monitor how they were cooking as easily without the interior light, and were forced to open the door a couple times to check on them — a moderate inconvenience for the price we paid.
And while the Breville came with a standard aluminum pizza pan, the Kitchen Aid didn’t come with any pizza accessory at all, a strange oversight considering its $450 price tag and specific pizza setting. Placing it directly on the rack wasn’t a huge deal, but with only a 12” capacity, we could see it turn into a headache trying to find a smaller pan that would fit.
Our Top Picks for the Best Toaster Oven
At first glance, the Breville Mini Smart Oven looks like it’s too small to cost this much. It can only handle four slices of toast — two less than our budget pick — and is generally dwarfed by our other mid-tier options. Don’t be deceived: This toaster oven works.
If we’re spending this much money, we expect it to make get pretty toast. And while the Oster and Panasonic produced perfectly nice batches, the Breville truly surprised us when we pulled out the rack. It was the best toast we made, an even gold all over that was true to its medium shade setting.
Along with the Krups, the Breville also aced our chocolate chip cookie test. The cookies had a perfect balance of crispy edges with a soft interior. And unlike the other models, the Breville Mini Smart Oven baked each cookie the same. The Panasonic gave us cookies much darker in the back than the front, while the Oster’s convection feature completely dried out the dough, even after adjusting the time and temperature.
Through all of our tests, the Breville was just the most enjoyable to use. We weren’t constantly forced to consult the manual or second-guess what we were doing. It holds your hand through every step to help you get the best results. If you choose the toast setting, it prompts you to pick a shade from from a seven point scale and then how many slices you’re making. It also tells you when it’s preheating and when it’s ready, a minor convenience in theory, but essential if you’re going to be doing a lot of baking. That stood in stark contrast to the Oster, which has a bizarre preheating method of having you set the timer at seven minutes, but makes you count it down from 30 to get there, one cruel click at a time, every time you use it.
In truth, the only thing that separates the Breville Mini from toaster ovens costing $100 more is its size. It has all the cooking functions, the same 1800 watt power (300 more than anything else in its price tier, so it preheats almost immediately), and scored as well on our tests as anything. But unlike our upgrade pick, the Cuisinart, it’d be hard to replace your conventional oven with something this small. We actually appreciated how snugly the Breville fit on the counter — you won’t have to rearrange your whole kitchen just to accommodate it — but if you imagine roasting a whole chicken in your toaster oven, you’re better off opting for something roomier.
For a simple, well-built toaster oven that’s mastered the basics, the Hamilton Beach Easy Reach Oven is an excellent option. And while it lacks some of the functionality of its more expensive peers, this toaster produced impressively consistent results for its $50 price tag.
As soon as we took the Easy Reach Oven out of the box, it felt more impressive than our other three budget options. It was by far the largest of the group, which could be problematic if you have limited counter space, but what you get for that size is an internal capacity usually reserved for models twice its price. It has settings for baking, broiling, toasting, and convection baking, more than any other budget option we looked at. The Black and Decker did have a convection option, but you also couldn’t turn it off, a problem if you wanted to bake something more delicate like a souffle or cake.
What really won us over, though, was the door design. Unlike every other model we tested, the Hamilton Beach has a door that rolls up instead of folding down (hence its name). We get it — that seems like a pretty trivial detail to focus on. But it makes a huge difference in how often you have to clean. That’s because when you pull the rack out on most toaster ovens, it sits directly above the glass door. So while they became a magnet for crumbs after just one batch of toast, the Hamilton Beach looked pristine throughout all of our tests. It also just felt safer: instead of reaching above a scorching piece of glass to pull out your food, the door was safely out of the way.
Granted, not everything cooked perfectly. In our toast test, the middle pieces were noticeably darker than the edges of the outer slices. But that was basically what we saw on every larger toaster oven, even the ones costing over $200. If you’re going to be cooking four slices or less at a time, it would do the job just fine.
It’s also not really suited for dishes with long cooking times. The timer only goes up to 30 minutes, a good measure of what you should expect out of a toaster oven for this price. If you’re planning on using it for dishes that take longer than that, it’s worth upgrading to the Breville Mini Smart Oven or the Cuisinart.
If you want to completely replace your conventional oven, the Cuisinart is worth its hefty price tag. It holds nine pieces of bread — three more than any other model we tested — and fits a 13” pizza. And with its excellent convection feature and myriad accessories, we could easily see this outperforming most full-sized ovens.
Before we even started cooking, the Cuisinart began to separate itself from our other two high-end options. It came with a 13” pizza stone, as well as separate pans for baking and broiling. While the larger Breville did include two baking pans and a pizza pan, we were disappointed that the Kitchen Aid only came with one multipurpose pan. The Kitchen Aid only has a 12” capacity, so it’s unlikely that any pans you’d already have on hand would fit. Granted, it’s not a dealbreaker, but for $280, it’d be nice to not have to go out and immediately spend more money.
For as much functionality as the Cuisinart gave us, it was also one of the easiest to use. It has 12 preset cooking modes, three more than the Breville and Kitchen Aid. And while more isn’t necessarily better, it was nice not having to think too much about getting the settings just right. Whatever we could imagine cooking in an oven, the Cuisinart had an option for, and it guided us through it in an intuitive way.
In all honesty, ovens from this top tier were all pretty great at cooking. For their high prices, they should be. Ultimately, it was the greater flexibility and customization that the Cuisinart provided that pushed it over the top for us. There was a thoughtfulness in features like the +30 second button and the interior light that the other models just didn’t match. Cuisinart also offers a three year limited warranty, where the Breville and Kitchen Aid only went to one year.
Similar to the Breville Mini Smart Oven, we couldn’t really find much not to like with the Cuisinart’s cooking. Granted, every slice of toast wasn’t perfectly even, but we saw that problem with every bigger toaster oven, and it was still the best of our most expensive tier. Consumer Reports came to the same conclusion, declaring, “There were no discernible flaws in its performance.” It all comes down to what you want out of a toaster oven. The Cuisinart will take up a ton of room on your counter, but you may never have to turn on your oven again.
Others to Consider
Breville Smart OvenThe bigger brother of the Mini Smart Oven, this toaster features a sleek design and nine preset cooking options.
We were also impressed with the Breville Smart Oven, essentially a larger version of our best mid-price oven. Like its little sibling, the Breville Smart Oven has a lot to like. The controls are just as simple to pick up, and magnets on the door of the bigger version draw the cooking rack out automatically, meaning we didn’t have to stick our hands in a hot oven. It didn’t do quite as well on our toast and pizza tests, but the margins were pretty slim. Ultimately it came down to space — they both had roughly the same external dimensions, but the Cuisinart held three more pieces of toast.
If you’re looking for a big toaster oven without spending a fortune, the Krups is a solid choice. It was nearly twice the size of more expensive models in its price group, and could comfortably fit a large chicken or 12” pizza. It also had some nice convenience features like an internal light and memory function that saves your most recent times and temperatures for each preset. Its biggest flaw was its cooking time. While the other ovens we tested that were as big as the Krups all cost about $100 more, they also operate at 1800 watts. The Krups only has 1500 watts, so it takes a little longer to heat up. We also found the shade settings weren’t entirely accurate — the medium setting barely gave our toast any color, and it was hard to find a consistent shade. If toast is important to you, there are much better options.
Did You Know?
Toaster ovens could save you money.
According to a study by Energy Star, toaster ovens use about half the amount of energy as a conventional electric oven when cooking small meals. That could mean as much as 30 cents saved for every hour you spend cooking in some states.
Don’t use Pyrex or glass cookware in your toaster oven.
Pyrex specifically advises people not to use their products in toaster ovens. It’s the same reason you should never use glass for broiling — the dish is just too close to the heating element to be completely safe. Over time, they run the risk of fracturing or shattering from repeated exposure.
Parchment paper isn’t safe, either.
Just like glass cookware, parchment paper is not recommended for the tight confines of a toaster oven. Reynolds explicitly warns against it on their website, while other brands put it right on the packaging.
The Best Toaster Oven: Summed Up