As a busy mom juggling work and family, I have used a toaster oven for 100+ hours. With minimal counter space, any appliance better be incredibly useful, easy to keep clean, and as small as possible. The KitchenAid 12” Convection Bake Digital Countertop Oven is my pick for the best toaster oven that hits all my priorities: small footprint, ease of use, and easy to clean.
Whether I’m heating up a quick meal of chicken tenders for the kids, defrosting leftovers for lunch, toasting bagels for breakfast, warming up tacos for Taco Tuesday, or baking quick quesadillas for dinner, I need my toaster oven to be able to handle a wide range of functions. My toaster oven (like my Instant Pot for larger dishes) acts as a backup for cooking or heating small dishes, especially at large family gatherings when guests bring extra items that need to be warmed up while my oven is in use cooking the main entree.
There are many uses for a toaster oven. I will walk you through my top choices to help you decide what is best for you.
The Best Toaster Oven: KitchenAid 12” Convection Bake Digital Countertop Oven
Sleek, Flexible, and Easy To Use
The KitchenAid 12” Convection Bake Digital Countertop Oven has 9 settings: bake, pizza, asado roast, toast, broil, cookie, bagel, keep warm, and reheat. These settings cover a wide range of easy to use options for items that are often made in a toaster oven. My toaster oven gets used to toast bread, English muffins, and bagels on a daily basis.
Any toaster oven that gets my vote has to have a setting for toast. It’s helpful that the settings cover specific foods like pizza and cookies. But it’s nice that it also gives you ultimate control with settings like keep warm and reheat. These 9 categories serve a variety of people and their cooking needs.
When reviewing toaster ovens, this was a priority for me. I want the flexibility to press the bagel button for breakfast but then cook chicken breasts for dinner. When using the bake setting, the temperature can be set anywhere between 150-450 degrees.
The asado roast setting is particularly unique. When using this setting, the oven starts with using the convection capability to brown and crisp the food. It then moves on to cook slowly in order to cook the inside of your meat evenly.
What is convection?
Convection ovens blow hot air throughout the oven using a fan. They then vent the hot air out using an exhaust system. This flow of hot air cooks food evenly. However, it does it without creating hot and cold spots that can happen in a regular oven.
Since moisture is escaping through the exhaust system, the atmosphere inside the oven is dry. This creates a better browning capability for your food while simultaneously keeping the inside of your food moist. With the KitchenAid 12” Convection Bake Digital Countertop Oven, you can turn the Convection setting on anytime.
Plenty of Space
The KitchenAid 12” Convection Bake Digital Countertop Oven has two racks, so you can actually bake two 12” pizzas at the same time. The two racks offer the flexibility of using both racks at once. This helps to increase the number of pizzas or pieces of toast that can be cooked at the same time. Alternatively, there is the ability to use one rack on the bottom for taller food in a baking pan.
This toaster oven comes with a nice selection of accessories. They include a 12-inch non-stick pan, a 12-inch broiling rack, a cooling rack, and a non-stick drip tray.
Removable Drip Tray
The drip tray was also a feature that was a requirement for me when looking at toaster ovens. Since my toaster oven gets used so often, it has to be easy to clean. The drip tray is removable from the front of the oven and can be cleaned easily.
When reviewing toaster ovens, a deal breaker for me was an oven that didn’t come with a removable tray. Another deal breaker was if an oven had a tray that pulls out from the back of the oven. Most toaster ovens sit at the back of a countertop. Having to move the oven to get the tray out is inconvenient. The inside of the KitchenAid 12” Convection Bake Digital Countertop Oven is nonstick, so wiping up any spills inside is easy to do.
This toaster oven is often highly regarded. The most frequent complaint is about the inconvenience of the pre-heat function. After the oven has finished preheating, a timer beeps. At this point, it is necessary for the cook to go back to the oven and press Start, otherwise, the oven will automatically shut off. However, the positive reviews focus on how easy the knobs are to use, how the food cooks evenly, and that it is aesthetically pleasing.
The Breville BOV800XL Smart Oven Convection Toaster Oven is by far the most expensive toaster oven that I reviewed. Coming in around $70 more than the KitchenAid (and around $170 more than my 3rd choice), I definitely expect more from this oven. The extra capability that you get for the extra investment is some additional flexibility.
This oven has 9 settings: toast, bagel, bake, roast, broil, pizza, cookies, reheat, and warm. The combination of settings for specific foods like a bagel, pizza, and cookies along with the settings for types of cooking like bake, broil, and warm are similar to my first choice oven.
The flexibility comes in with their Element IQ functionality that allows you to adjust the time and temperature for any of those specific food settings. The toaster oven then remembers your preferred setting next time you use that setting. This is a nice little feature that makes those pre-set functions for specific types of food more useful, especially when you frequently cook a specific item in your toaster oven.
I also like that this toaster oven includes the broil function, which the KitchenAid toaster oven did not. The Element IQ functionality also allows the toaster oven to be more energy efficient when necessary. It automatically changes the number of watts it utilizes depending on the setting that is being used.
This toaster oven comes with a nice set of accessories, including three trays: a 13-inch non-stick pizza pan, a 12-inch baking pan, and a 12-inch broiling rack. The addition of the pizza pan is a nice touch, as this is a frequently cooked item in a toaster oven.
One of the things that I like the most about this particular toaster oven is the auto-eject rack system. There are magnets inside the oven that cause the rack to glide out of the oven when you open the door. This makes it so much easier to grab hot food out of the oven without having to reach inside and risk getting burned. This isn’t a common feature on toaster ovens, and I think it really adds to the ease of use for this kitchen appliance.
The Breville BOV800XL Smart Oven Convection Toaster Oven also usually gets high ratings. The main complaint about this oven is that it does not have an interior light, which can make it difficult when toasting or baking to see if your food is browning to the desired doneness without opening the door. For me, the lack of an interior light is a bit of a flaw but is not important enough to be a deal breaker.
The other complaint is that the toaster oven has stopped working in some cases earlier than it should – anywhere between a number of months and three years. This unit does come with a 1-year warranty, which should cover any mishaps in the first year. However, it is a valid concern for a pricy toaster oven that may only have a 3-year lifespan.
Most reviews focus on how evenly the food is cooked, the intuitive interface, the removable tray which makes for an easy cleanup job, and the large interior that is big enough for a whole chicken.
Honorable Mention: Oster Large Capacity Digital Convection Toaster Oven
Value Plus Good Size
The Oster Large Capacity Digital Convection Toaster Oven comes in as the least expensive of these three toaster ovens, and also in the low price range when looking at toaster ovens in general. If you use your toaster oven infrequently, a lower priced unit may make sense for you, instead of investing in an appliance you won’t be using often. It also has the largest footprint of the three. See the chart below to compare dimensions of the toaster ovens reviewed here.
The Oster Large Capacity Digital Convection Toaster Oven has seven settings: toast, bake, convection bake, broil, warm, defrost, and pizza. The only food specific setting on this unit is pizza. However, the other settings provide enough flexibility to cook any of the foods that you may find in an automatic setting on another unit (such as cookies or a bagel).
This toaster oven comes with only two accessories: a baking pan and a broiling rack. It has one rack with two rack positions. You can fit one 12-inch pizza inside this toaster oven. Temperature can be adjusted anywhere from 150-450 degrees by using the + and – buttons, but only in 25-degree increments (in comparison, the KitchenAid can be adjusted in 5-degree increments).
This unit utilizes a push button interface rather than relying on knobs like the other two toaster ovens. This makes the front of the toaster oven easier to wipe down and keep clean, although there are some complaints that the buttons can be hard to push.
One complaint about the interface that I have is a small and idiosyncratic one. This toaster oven has a digital clock on it. This may be a petty complaint, but I don’t see the need for every kitchen appliance to have a clock.
When power goes out or during Daylight Savings Time, it just increases the time it takes for me to set yet another clock in the house. There is a very high probability that you already have at least one clock in your kitchen, and this space could have been used for a different function specific to the toaster oven.
The Oster Large Capacity Digital Convection Toaster Oven is highly regarded. However, there are a few complaints about this toaster oven. The oven turns off after 30 minutes of baking, so if you are cooking something for longer than that, you will need to reset the cook time.
There were complaints about how the toast feature doesn’t allow enough flexibility to get the desired degree of browning. A few users complained about the touchpad buttons, saying that they are hard to use and that their ease of use deteriorated with age. The positive reviews were highly focused on price.
Users also liked the easy cleanup on this unit. One feature that got mixed reviews was the interior light. Some people loved the fact that the light automatically turns on when the toaster is in use. Other people found this feature a waste of electricity and went through the extra step of turning the light off each time they cooked something in this toaster oven.
Best Toaster Oven For Smaller Sized Kitchens: Hamilton Beach 31126 Easy Reach Oven with Convection
A Space Saver
The feature on the Hamilton Beach 31126 Easy Reach Oven with Convection that caught my eye is its unique upward-opening door. To open the toaster oven, you roll the door back and up. This makes it easier to access your food and leaves room on the countertop in front of the toaster oven when it is open.
All the other toaster ovens I reviewed have doors that open downward, so you can’t place any dishware in front of the toaster oven when it is open. This is an ingenious design feature that I’d like to see more toaster ovens emulate. Not only does the door save counter space, but the door can also be removed for cleaning purposes.
Price and Specs
The Hamilton Beach 31126 Easy Reach Oven with Convection is a lower-cost toaster oven (even less expensive than the Oster Large Capacity Digital Convection Toaster Oven). It has four basic settings: bake, broil, toast, and convection. It’s also similarly sized to the others I reviewed above at 18.74 x 15.24 x 9.41. You lose out on the flexibility of other toaster ovens at this price point, with a more outdated look and feel with its black knobs and lack of any digital display.
Best Toaster Oven For Limited Kitchens:
Retro, Compact, and Heats Up More Quickly Than the Rest
The Panasonic Flash Xpress Toaster Oven uses infrared technology to heat up, which results in the toaster oven coming up to temperature much faster than with the pre-heating function on other toaster ovens. This is also the only other toaster oven (other than the Breville BOV800XL Smart Oven Convection Toaster Oven) that has an auto-eject rack when the door opens. At 13.9 x 10.3 x 7.8, it is the smallest of the bunch by a significant margin. If you are especially low on counter space, this might be a good option for you.
The price for this toaster oven compares similarly with my first choice option, the KitchenAid 12” Convection Bake Digital Countertop Oven. But with this model, the only settings available are toast, waffle, roll, pizza, hash browns, and reheat. I find the options for a waffle, roll, and hash browns as overly specific, especially since there is no bake or broil setting available. This is the only toaster oven that I’ve reviewed here that does not utilize convection heating. And common temperatures like 350, 375, and 450 degrees are not offered.
The main selling points for this toaster oven are its speed and small size. But, it lacks functionality that similarly or lesser priced models offer. To me, this toaster oven looks like a TV from the 1950’s. While that is a look that would complement some kitchens, it does not seem like the sleek modern look that many home cooks are looking for and is therefore only an honorable mention.
A toaster oven can be a useful addition to any home cook’s countertop. When looking for a new toaster oven, important features to consider include ease of use, ease of cleanup, and size. This is an appliance that doesn’t get put away after each use. It gets used often and stays in its spot, making appearance and size important.
The toaster oven that gets my vote as the best toaster oven on the market now is the KitchenAid 12” Convection Bake Digital Countertop Oven. As with all three of the best toaster ovens I reviewed here, it has an intuitive interface and a removable tray for easy cleaning. The KitchenAid has the smallest footprint of the top three. It also has the double rack which allows for cooking two pizzas at one time.
The Breville BOV800XL Smart Oven Convection Toaster Oven is my second choice. This is the priciest of the top three ovens. I’m not entirely sure it has enough extra functionality to warrant the larger price tag. The feature I like the best about this toaster oven is the auto-eject rack that helps make getting hot food out of the oven a little easier.
My third choice option is still a very good toaster oven. The Oster Large Capacity Digital Convection Toaster Oven has similar flexibility in cooking various types of food as the other two ovens but at a much smaller price tag. The inside dimensions allow for the same-size pans to be used as with the KitchenAid, although you can only use one rack at a time in the Oster.
If you have a preference between knobs and a touch-button interface, this is the only unit of the three that uses touch buttons rather than knobs. This can lead to an easier cleanup, but there have been complaints that the buttons are not easy to press.
All three of these toaster ovens utilize convection heating when necessary. They also offer flexibility in turning it on or off during certain cook cycles. All three come with a removable drip tray so that crumbs and spills easy to clean up. They are all similar in size, coming within an inch of each other in terms of counter space.
The other two models, the Hamilton Beach 31126 Easy Reach Oven with Convection and the Panasonic Flash Xpress Toaster Oven, offer some unique features not found on other toaster ovens, but ultimately didn’t make the list as one of the Top Three.
If you are an avid home chef like I am, you may want to check out our reviews of other handy kitchen appliances, such as the Instant Pot Review and the Best Stand Mixer Review. For more specialized cooking appliances, the reviews for the Best Food Dehydrator and the Best Electric Smoker are useful resources too.
Q: Why use a toaster oven instead of my regular oven?
Since a toaster oven is much smaller in size than your conventional oven, it will heat up much faster. Smaller items can cook much more quickly in a toaster oven because it doesn’t take as much time to pre-heat. You still have the flexibility of setting a specific temperature, but you use less energy and electricity by using a smaller appliance. All of these toaster ovens (except the Panasonic) also include convection cooking, which your conventional oven may or may not have.
Q: How do I clean my toaster oven?
All of the toaster ovens above come with a removable tray at the bottom of the oven. This will catch any crumbs or drips when cooking. Simply pull the tray out on a regular basis and wash it off before putting it back into the toaster oven. Unplug the toaster oven and wipe the interior and exterior of the toaster oven with a damp cloth to keep the rest of your oven nice and clean. It is important to clean the tray regularly, as built up food particles can become a fire hazard.
Q: Are there any safety concerns when using a toaster oven?
Just like an old-fashioned toaster, you should never use a metal utensil inside the oven when it is hot, to avoid the risk of getting shocked. Toaster ovens do get hot, both on the inside and the outside. Always use oven mitts when reaching inside a hot toaster oven. But also be careful when touching the outside of a toaster oven that is in use.
For this reason, it is also wise to be careful about what you put on top of the toaster oven or place near it. Most toaster ovens recommend leaving about 4 inches of space all around it in order to stay safe. Always read the instruction manual that comes with your toaster oven for any additional safety tips and procedures.
Q: Who is a toaster oven good for?
A toaster oven is a versatile tool that can be a convenient addition to any kitchen. A toaster oven is great for people who live on their own. Smaller dishes are cooked using less time and energy than with a standard oven. Toaster ovens are helpful for people who have a hard time bending over when using a conventional oven. They are also useful for college students, RV’s, and for busy moms like me who tend to bake a lot of chicken nuggets and tater tots.