Nov. 21, 2012 at 8:26 AM ET
By Kara Reinhardt, Cheapism.com
Some thrifty consumers would no doubt forego a toaster or toaster oven on the grounds that it’s redundant. For others disinclined to fire up a full-size oven just to toast a slice of bread, a toaster oven makes a convenient and energy-saving addition to the kitchen. Experts tout high-end toaster ovens for successfully cooking everything from pizza to cookies to whole chickens -- and, of course, toast -- but those models can top $200. The low end is littered with toaster ovens that struggle to fulfill their most basic function, turning out uneven or underdone toast.
Amid the chaff, Cheapism has found four top picks for affordable toaster ovens.
If you can, check out a toaster oven in person or see if the specs list the interior dimensions. Manufacturers often indicate only the number of slices (and the size of pizza) a model can accommodate. As we’ve seen, that’s not always a reliable indicator.
The toaster ovens with timers shut off automatically when the time is up, so they must be reset for foods that require longer than 15 or 30 minutes to cook. Users can also set these models to stay on and turn them off manually.
A toaster oven with a drop-down crumb tray may be more awkward to clean than a model with a removable tray. Don’t let that deter you from emptying it often, however -- the crumbs pose a fire hazard.
All four models on the list above come with a bake pan and the capability to cook a whole range of dishes. No less than chef Eric Ripert has included toaster oven recipes on his blog.
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