Cuisinart Toaster OvenA countertop toaster oven is a great appliance to own, not only is it great to have in the summer, but having a countertop toaster oven allows you to cook small amounts of food without wasting energy (and money) using your regular oven. When choosing a countertop toaster oven there are some important features to look for, let's go through them.

Make sure the countertop toaster oven has a convection setting

What is convection? Well, that means the countertop toaster oven has a small fan inside that circulates the hot air around the food. The end result is the food cooks much quicker and more evenly. A countertop toaster oven with a convection feature will cost a bit more, but it will shave off up to 25% of the cooking time.  One without convection often means a heating element on the bottom and possible one on the top, either way the sides aren't cooked at the same rate as the top/bottom resulting in uneven cooking.

What's a good power range for a countertop toaster oven?

For the most versatility choose a countertop toaster oven in the 1400 watt range. Not only will it come up to temperature quicker, buy it'll be able to hit 450-500 degrees, crucial for some kinds of cooking such as making fresh pizza.

What other features should I look for in a good toaster oven?

Here's a list of some common features found in todays countertop toaster ovens.

  • For easy cleaning make sure the countertop toaster oven has a chrome or stainless steel finish. If you'll do lots of broiling that produces splatter which can be difficult to clean.  However, if kids will be using it opt for plastic instead, although more difficult to keep clean it will stay cool during cooking.
  • For rock solid temperature control choose a countertop toaster oven with electronic temperature control. This will free you from having to check if the food is done all the time, great for foods with longer cooking times.  Even better, look for one with a temperature probe.
  • If you'll be making pizza, then choose a countertop toaster oven that is at least 9 inches deep, obviously 12 inches is better as this is the normal family size pizza you'll find in the supermarket.
  • Of course, for ease of cleaning make sure it comes with a removable tray, rack and turntable.
  • The absolute best countertop toaster ovens have a self cleaning feature, although I find I never use this on mine since they are relatively small inside and easy enough to do by hand.
  • If space is an issue, consider a space saver toaster oven, no pizza though (they're not as deep)
  • If your kids will be using the countertop toaster oven then make sure it has an auto off feature, and, like I said above, plastic exterior.
  • For added convenience look for one that includes it's own bakeware, such as trays and racks.  This will cut down your overall cost and you'll have bakeware that'll fit perfectly.
  • Make sure the unit is high enough to roast a chicken without touching the top heating elements (if there is one).

Here's an example of a great countertop toaster oven available on Amazon.

Here's a great article that'll help you immensely if you're looking for a dedicated countertop pizza oven instead.

How much does a top quality countertop toaster oven cost?

Well, that depends on many things; power, features, finish and if it's on sale or not. For extra savings I recommend signing up with ebates as they'll give a rebate on just about all online purchases you make.  I suggest reading toaster oven reviews on sites such as ConsumerSearch or ConsumerReports. Toaster oven reviews on these sites are written by unbiased users just like yourself. You will, of course find many useful links on this page to help you find the best countertop toaster oven too.