We are all fully aware of the importance of healthy eating. There are a lot of do’s and don’ts whenever we stop and consider what to eat for a meal or snack.
So many times we opt for convenient and tasty without even thinking about alternative healthy eating options and possibilities.
For example, eating at home is usually a better choice than eating out.
So, we decided to focus a bit on identifying those cooking tools that facilitate a healthy cooking and eating experience.
Our conclusions will probably come as no surprise. You can bet that baking, toasting and broiling are some of the healthiest cooking methods, apart from boiling.
What cooking appliance provides these better cooking methods?
Why, an oven of course. And here, we break down some of the best countertop oven models for the ultimate in ease-of-use and cooking convenience.
We have been engaging with our cooking professionals to test several different countertop ovens for a period of time in order to identify the best ones based on usability, basic performance, features and value for the money.
We’re pretty sure that when you think about a modern countertop oven you can’t possibly be aware of all the different options and capabilities they offer.
This review guide aims to make it easier for you, so that you can pick the best one.
These days, technologically advanced countertop ovens can offer a number of features that help you actually enjoy your cooking experience to the fullest.
These features can be similar across most models and of course can vary depending. Again, we focused on the primary and necessary features you would look for in every model. Then we compared how each product measured up against the others.
These features include, but are not limited to:
- Convection technology
- Digital control panels
- Number of pre- programmed settings
- Easy to read LCD Screen
- Element “IQ”
- Energy saving
- Number of accessories included
All of the above-mentioned factors are indicative of the quality of the oven and the results it can provide. No need to mention that all these elements are reflected in the price ranges of the appliances as well.
Our professionals have had our consumers in mind when testing these larger appliances, and documenting the results of each function.
Check out our in-depth reviews for a solid list of the best countertop ovens you can find online and at great prices.
Best Countertop Oven Types
There are two major types of countertop ovens that you will most readily find in stores: toaster and convection.
Rotisserie and infrared options are also available, although they are not nearly as popular.
The toaster oven is what most often comes to mind when people think of a countertop oven.
This is your most basic model. Its primary function is to heat or toast smaller items quickly.
It is more versatile than a regular toaster because it can hold more pieces of bread (or whatever you are heating) at one time. You also have more control over the heat level and duration of cooking.
You can find a wide variety of very affordable toaster ovens at just about any store that sells small appliances.
Keep in mind that if you are looking to do anything more than rewarm leftovers or toast bread, you may want to consider a slightly more advanced model.
Convection countertop ovens have a special fan and exhaust system built into the appliance. This system blows hot air over and around your food before venting it back out.
The benefit of this is that hot air is constantly surrounding your food during the cooking process, reducing the time needed to cook and often requiring lower temperatures.
Aside from cooking your food faster and saving energy by using lower temperatures, convection ovens are also better at browning food than regular ovens and tend to cook food more evenly.
You can use convection ovens for a wider range of meal preparation than a regular toaster oven.
Baking, broiling, and roasting are all available options on the vast majority of these types of countertop ovens.
Keep in mind that because this model uses air movement to cook, it can get noisy.
For you chicken lovers out there, there is a particular type of countertop oven available that is dedicated solely to roasting the perfect bird.
Rotisserie ovens come in two main designs. One looks somewhat similar to your average toaster oven but comes with a spit rod to spear and hold your bird in place.
The other design resembles a traditional baking pan or dutch oven but does not go into the oven.
Instead, it is electric.
This style has the capacity to hold much larger birds than the more traditional-looking rotisserie ovens usually do.
If you like a good rotisserie chicken but aren’t enough of a fanatic to invest in a dedicated appliance for it, keep in mind that many “regular” countertop ovens these days offer a rotisserie function.
The newest kid on the block in the countertop oven genre. Infrared ovens use light energy to cook your food.
Since this technology is still rather new, you won’t have as many options and styles to choose from with infrared ovens.
What they lack in options, they make up for in quickness of cooking and energy savings.
Other benefits of infrared ovens are their short warm-up time and their ability to bake, defrost, cure, and dry, in addition to regular cooking.
You don’t even need to defrost your food before placing it in one of these ovens!
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What to Consider Before Buying a Counter Top Oven:
When you’re getting ready to decide on the best toaster oven that fits your requirements, it’s very important to consider a few factors that no doubt weigh into your decision.
You’ll want to think about:
Do you have the necessary space in your kitchen to place the new device you are about to purchase?
Do you have the appropriate power outlet that matches the device you are about to bring home? Consider the fact that some devices are built only for a certain type of energy standards.
Functions vs Size
Does the device meet your needs? You might be really attracted to the device settings, features and appearance, but is it able to cook the amounts of food you need per serving?
Does this modern oven fit into your classic kitchen?
It might seem this is an irrelevant question for a small appliance, but when you set up your new device in your kitchen check and make sure you’ll be happy with how it looks sitting up on your counter all the time.
How to Get the Most from Your Countertop Oven
Countertop ovens are a more advanced form of toasters. Choosing the best small toaster oven can be a challenge; we have some advice for you here.
Machines to toast bread have been around since the early 1900s. The past several decades have seen a huge diversification in the types of countertop cooking devices.
Nowadays, you have a variety of models to choose from if you are looking for a small countertop oven.
Just because you have purchased something doesn’t mean that you know all the ins and outs of how to use it.
We have outlined some of the most important “how-to’s” for these appliances to help you get the most out of your oven.
How to Choose the Best Option for You
The variety of options available for countertop ovens can be a little overwhelming. While most ovens these days are fairly reasonably priced, no one enjoys buying something that they never use.
So, think long and hard about what you want to use it for.
What foods do you eat most frequently?
What does your kitchen lack that frustrates you most?
What do you miss having from places you have previously lived?
For example, if toast is a must for your breakfast routine, then a machine with a precise preset is essential.
Pizza lovers will want something with high wattage to give their pie a good crisp.
Bakers should avoid anything that doesn’t have a convection option to ensure their creations get evenly cooked.
Meat lovers who enjoy broiling will want to prioritize an oven that has been designed to place the top rack close enough to the heating element to get a good sear.
Many models don’t allow the racks to be placed closer than half-way up the oven, and this will result in some disappointing burgers and steaks.
If you’re still unsure how to choose, check out this step-by-step guide.
How to Clean
One of the most annoying things about countertop ovens is how dirty they get.
This happens because the things we most often make or heat in them tend to leave the toughest stains and residue.
Take, for example, pizza cheese or burger grease. Both of these take a lot of effort to remove once they’ve been baked on.
Unless you’re a domestic superhero, the chances are high that you don’t get around to cleaning your oven after every single use.
So that leftover food probably gets reheated and rehardened multiple times over before you have a chance to clean it.
This video walks you through how to thoroughly clean your oven without harsh chemicals.
One of the most serious mistakes to avoid is using oven cleaner. Most countertop ovens are made of aluminum, and these oven cleaners are not made to be used on it.
How to Bake
Baking in a countertop oven is similar to baking in a full-sized oven, but it does have some differences.
If you are planning to bake, hopefully, you have purchased a convection oven.
If this is the case, you will want to set the temperature to 25 degrees lower than the recipe calls for. This is because these ovens heat up faster and cook food more quickly than a full-sized oven.
Cookies, cakes, and cupcakes should be baked using a shiny aluminum sheet underneath them. This will reflect more heat and thus prevent over-browning.
Conversely, you want to use dull aluminum sheets and baking pans for bread, pies, and pastries.
In this case, you want to encourage browning, and the dull color absorbs additional heat.
How to Defrost
Defrosting is super easy and one of the most useful functions of a countertop oven.
Many modern models will have a “defrost” option that you simply select and after dropping your frozen food of choice onto the tray.
If your oven doesn’t come with such a function, all you have to do is set the temperature to 200 degrees Fahrenheit and the timer to 15 minutes.
Note: This time and temperature is for meat products. Most frozen veggies can be cooked directly in the oven without thawing first.
Many kitchen appliance manufacturers make their own versions of countertop ovens. This means that customers have a wide range of options from well-known brands to choose from.
Just because a brand is well-known does not mean that they specifically excel at making countertop ovens. Breville and Black & Decker are two brands that do countertop ovens well.
Breville is an Australian company that was founded in Sydney in 1932. They now sell their kitchen products in more than 70 countries worldwide.
Although they only entered the American market in 2002, they have made an impact with their innovative and quality designs.
Breville appliances tend to fall along the higher end of the market. Their ovens offer more advanced cooking options than what many people think of when they think of a toaster oven.
Black & Decker
Black & Decker is an American company founded in Baltimore, Maryland, in 1910.
Although it began as a machine shop and its early patents focused on its portable electric drill, by the 1980s, it had expanded to small appliances, as well.
Black & Decker is an extremely popular brand for countertop ovens thanks to its combination of quality and affordability.
While you won’t find the most cutting-edge technology on one of these ovens, you will find durable construction, reliable performance, and a moderate price tag.
Countertop Oven FAQs
Q: Do I Need to Preheat My Countertop Oven Prior to Use?
A: It depends on what you are cooking.
Things that you want to toast, defrost, or rewarm do not require preheating.
If you are planning to bake or cook something dense like a chicken or frozen food, then yes, you should preheat.
Q: What Should I Avoid Using in My Toaster Oven?
A: While they look like just a mini version of a regular oven, toaster ovens have their own quirks that you need to keep in mind when using.
Two of the most confusing things that are okay to use in a regular oven but not your countertop version are Pyrex/glass baking dishes and aluminum foil.
The proximity to the heat source is the culprit in these cases.
Your glass dishes can crack if they get overheated.
Aluminum foil can melt onto surfaces or even catch on fire if it comes into direct contact with the heating element in these much smaller appliances.
While many people have used aluminum foil for years without issue in their toaster ovens, we feel that it is an unnecessary risk to take, especially when silicone baking mats are now so widely available.
Parchment paper is another no-go for use in countertop ovens.
Q: Are Cooking Times the Same with Countertop and Regular Ovens?
A: Countertop ovens heat up faster, reducing the amount of time that you need to spend preheating.
If you have a convection model, it will also cook food up to 25% faster while using significantly less energy.
Q: When Should I Use the Convection Function on My Countertop Oven?
A: Convection ovens are great if you want to do the following things:
- Roast either meat or veggies
- Baking pies and pastries
- Cook something with a cover, because the cover prevents moisture loss
- Dehydrate food
Q: When Should I Avoid Using the Convection Function on My Oven?
A: You want to avoid using convection when you cook anything that starts out as a delicate batter and will set while cooking. Blowing air on these types of foods can create lopsided results.
Do not use convection for cooking custards, flans, souffles, cakes, or quickbreads.
As for baking regular bread, some people claim that using convection creates a great crust while others accuse it of drying out the bread. We advise you to try it out for yourself.
Countertop ovens are a great addition to any kitchen.
Whether you are an amateur chef who craves versatility in your kitchen or a super lazy person who wants to be able to reheat those takeout leftovers without much effort, there is a countertop oven for you.
We have presented the best countertop oven list showing the nicest models on the market today and provided you with a diverse slice of offerings from several brands.
Our toaster oven reviews are designed to help you choose the appliance with the features best suited to your needs so that you get lots of delicious use out of your new toy.
Good luck and happy cooking!