I once sang a love song to my Cuisinart food processor. I’ve also shared with you my intimate memories of my Kitchen Aid stand mixer. Today I’m here to gush about another of my faves—the toaster oven. I guess you could say I have a thing for classy kitchen appliances.
My memories of the toaster oven stretch back farther than the microwave, farther even than the conventional oven. We didn’t have a pop-up toaster and we ate a lot of bagels, so we must have used it a lot when I was growing up. The winding tick of the timed toaster dial always plays in the background of my early kitchen memories. I got my first burn on a toaster oven.
A toaster oven is like a mini, countertop oven. Whereas countertop convection ovens are like a cross with microwaves, toaster ovens are just that—a toaster and oven in one. They’re pretty compact, usually with only one shelf and a broiler pan. You can bake, broil, or toast in them and, as I’ve discovered more recently, they’re also great for reheating if you don’t have a microwave.
I love mine, and I do all kinds of stuff in it. Bake pizzas, toast nuts and tortilla shells, heat up leftovers, broil fish, it does it all. It’s a Cuisinart model (pictured) and it runs about $65, which really isn’t bad, considering they can get all the way up to $180.
Toaster ovens are an especially good investment if you don’t have a full-size oven at home, or if you live somewhere with a toasty climate. It doesn’t take as long to heat up, and won’t make your space feel so muggy if you’re getting into some summertime baking.
If you do plan on baking small batches of cookies, rolls, or other baked goods in your toaster oven, I recommend investing in a pair of mini jellyroll pans or baking sheets, which are more versatile and have a more even surface than the broiler pan. The ones that come in kiddie baking kits are a perfect fit.