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Toaster ovens are one of the most popular combination appliances in the kitchen, and for good reason. The love for toasts is pretty much universal, and no one could say no to a smaller countertop oven that does the job almost as well as a full-sized one. Pack them into a single unit that takes up minimal space, and you’ve got yourself a crowd favorite.
Being able to healthily bake and toast, even broil or heat up leftovers in a compact unit is the best feeling. Whenever you feel like it, simply pop some food into the toaster oven, and it comes out piping hot ready to be eaten.
In this article, we discuss all about how to shop for a toaster oven as well as our recommendations for the best toaster ovens under $100.
For an even more affordable option, the COMFEE’ CFO-BB101 4-slice toaster oven is a good entry into toaster ovens. And if you’re feeling extravagant, the Breville BOV670BSS is just under $200 and provides a superior kitchen experience.
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Toaster Oven vs Microwave Oven
Before we even go into the real-world usage of these two appliances, the first thing to know is that they are very different units. While microwave ovens use microwaves (duh) to heat up food, toaster ovens use heating elements to cook them – much like an actual full-sized oven.
Microwaves use less energy and heat up very quickly, but they are also more limited in terms of the types of foods they are able to produce. Noticeably, they lack the crunch of toasted or baked foods. Microwave ovens are also not able to toast a bread, whereas a toaster oven can.
To put it simply – if you want to get food heated up fast, like leftovers or frozen foods, microwave ovens provide a convenient way to achieve that. If you’re looking to imitate the oven-cooking process though, a toaster oven is the better choice.
Generally, if you don’t mind waiting around a little longer, a toaster oven is a more versatile and future-proof choice compared to its microwave counterpart. Most modern models will allow you to not only toast and bake, but also broil, reheat, or even to bake pizzas and cookies.
Another appliance that’s often compared to ovens is the air fryer. That being said, this is a topic for another day, because while similarities can be seen between them and regular ovens, the same can’t really be said for toaster ovens.
Buyer’s Guide: What to Look For in Toaster Ovens
If you’re in the market for a toaster oven but you’re not sure what to look for when shopping, here’s a simple guide on a few points that you should keep in mind.
For any kitchen appliance, size is an important factor. For toaster ovens, instead of volume-based capacity like quart, most manufacturers rate them as being able to fit a certain number of toast slices, or a certain pizza size.
The general size that fits well for most households is around a 6-slice capacity, or one that fits a 11/12” pizza.
Same as microwave ovens, the wattage of a toaster oven also plays an important role in its overall usability.
As a rule of thumb, around 1500W is likely satisfactory for most people. If you’re doing a lot of toasting and baking, and would hate waiting around, looking for a higher wattage model that goes up to 1800W might be a good investment.
Apart from having manual controls, many modern toaster oven models are going onto the digital route. The basic ones that almost every model includes are toast, bake, and broil. Higher-end models are able to reheat, or bake specifically for pizzas and cookies.
Just be sure to pick one that suits your use cases!
If you love having more control over the baking process, having two rack positions allow you to achieve more granularity. With two positions, you’re able to place it higher for the process to more closely resemble broiling, and lower to imitate baking and toasting.
Toast shade adjustability
If your primary purpose of getting a toaster oven is to toast, get one with toast shade controls. Some toaster ovens only come with manual temperature and timer controls, which require a bit more experimentation to get that perfect toast shade you’re going for.
To go even further, check out the Hamilton Beach 2-in-1 model on our list. It has a slot toaster on the top for convenient toasting, which produces noticeably better results than the typical toaster oven!
Our Picks of Best Toaster Ovens Under $100
High-end toaster ovens that sit above $100 provide a good experience, but does that mean those under the price point are not worth it? Not really. It’s the contrary actually, as many models can be found for under $100 that provide a lot more value for the price!
We have come across many models that manage to pack a ton of value into this price range. Some models, like the Black and Decker toaster ovens, while priced really low, have shortcomings that aren’t worth your time. Here’s our list of picks for the best toaster ovens under $100, that are actually worth your time and hard-earned money.
An important part of any kitchen appliance, or cookware for that matter, is size. On this end, the Toshiba toaster oven doesn’t compromise a tiny bit. It fits 6 slices of bread, and is rated to fit a 12” pizza. This is one of the more generously-sized models under $100 that we have come across.
Functionality-wise, this model really excels too. Not only does it come with the basic toast, bake and broil, it also includes cookies, defrost, reheat, and even rotisserie functionalities. While in use, the exterior stays cool as well, and the handle temperature is generally tolerable.
Personally, I love the digital display that the model offers. With many toaster ovens at this price range, they lack visual feedback, and are often controlled by only knobs. Having the display gives more information on the operation of the unit, but also arguably makes it a little more complicated to operate. At the end of the day, this mostly comes down to personal preference.
Apart from the unit itself, the purchase also comes with a rotisserie kit, as well as a baking rack and a baking pan. It also has a removable crumb tray to make cleaning easier.
Being a 1500W unit, it might not be enough for your use case. Toshiba does offer a variant of this that goes up to 1700W, but it’s above the $100 mark. It all boils down to your use cases, so be sure to check that out if you think that it would be a better fit for you. Or, keep reading on to the Cuisinart’s 1800W model!
- Has a large digital display that shows all the information – if that’s your thing
- Comes with 9 functions built-in
- Rack can be moved between two positions
- Comes with a removable crumb tray, rotisserie kit, as well as baking rack & pan
- Non-stick interior for easy cleaning
- Exterior stays cool when in use
- Beep at the end is also quite exaggerated
Being just under $100, this Cuisinart model manages to squeeze its way into our list. For a little under a Benjamin, you’re able to put this into your kitchen for very enjoyable toasting.
The unit is sized pretty generously and is able to comfortably fit 6 slices of toast, or an 11” pizza – although losing out to the Toshiba’s 12”-pizza capacity. Its functions include toast, bagel, bake, broil, pizza, and keep warm. Apart from its excellent toasting and food preparation capabilities, it also comes with a few tricks up its sleeves for more satisfaction.
To start with, the front construction is fully stainless steel, with a handle that stays relatively cool when in use. Because toaster ovens are often complained to have hot handles right after operating, this already puts it ahead of its competition, especially at the sub-$100 range.
Besides that, it also has features that make using it fuss-free. It has an auto slide-out rack that pops out when you open the lid, and a removable crumb tray for easy clean-up. If you use it a lot, you would appreciate these little touches for sure.
A big disadvantage this model has is the lack of a timer. Because of this, everything is manual and you should pay attention when using it.
- High wattage of 1800W offers great heating performance
- Includes 6 built-in functions
- Stainless steel construction with stay-cool cover handle
- Auto slide-out rack for easy removal of cooked foods
- Removable crumb tray for easy clean-up
- No built-in timer
- Beep at the end of the cooking process is over-the-top – as with the Toshiba model
If you’re looking for an affordable option, this model from COMFEE’ offers a simple yet good experience to the world of toaster ovens.
While it is unavoidable – the unit is basic, but it gets the job done very well. In terms of functionalities, it has three built-in, namely toast, bake, and broil. It also comes with a simple 30-minute timer, with the option of keeping the unit on indefinitely.
Even being at such a low price, it manages to bring in some features from the higher-end models. For one, the toaster rack can be put into two positions, the higher one more suitable for broiling, and the lower position for toasting or baking. The crumb tray is also semi-detachable and will drop open through the bottom, which simplifies cleaning. Note though that it does not fully detach from the unit.
If you’re running out of countertop space, the small capacity of this unit might prove as a plus for you. Even though the downside is that it only fits 4 slices of toast, the countertop space that it saves might be a lot more important to you, depending on your priorities. If that’s what you’re looking for though, this is definitely one of the best 4-slice toaster ovens we have come across at this price range.
This is about as low as we would go for a toaster oven. If you’re looking for, say, a toaster oven under $30, our advice is to settle on this one instead. Any lower and it gets really unreliable!
- Dual position toaster rack
- Semi-detachable crumb tray that opens from the bottom makes cleaning effortless
- Compact design saves space on the countertop
- Very simply operation with only two knobs
- Timer cannot be stopped prematurely
- Small capacity
Wait, what happened? Why did it go up to $200? I know, we’re going a little out of scope, but I’m sure there are some of you out there that started with $100 in mind, but realized what you need might not exist in that price range. This convection-powered model is for you. While it is quite the jump from even the highest-priced on the list above, it’s money well spent.
The headline-grabbing feature of this model is its smart heating functionality, no question. Termed as Element IQ by Breville, the unit is able to intelligently transfer heat across 4 quartz heating elements in the oven, depending on the current heat distribution. It sounds fancy, but not just that – it actually delivers in real-world usage. Heating is much more stable and even, giving you perfect results every time.
Apart from that, it also comes built-in with 8 functionalities. These are toast, bagel, bake, roast, broil, pizza, cookies, and reheat. It also has a large capacity that fits a 12” pizza. Anyway, what’s all these functionalities for if there’s only limited space?
All in all, this Breville toaster oven is very well-built with great real-world performance. For some people, the smart heating capabilities and the high wattage, paired with the convection design, is more than worth the price. If that’s not you though, the sub-$100 models are often sufficient for most households.
- 1800W of power for fast heating
- Element IQ technology transfers heat intelligently across elements for even heating
- Comes built-in with 8 functionalities
- Brushed stainless steel construction that looks and functions great
- Generous space fits a 12” pizza
- PFOA-free non-stick interior for easy cleaning
- Pricey option
- Knobs feel less premium than the unit as a whole
- Spring-loaded door slams shut if released
If you’re used to having interior lighting as with full-size ovens, this is one of the only decent models we have found that includes interior lights. Personally we don’t find it that useful, but if you rely on visual feedback more than the timer, you might find it valuable.
Other than that one advantage, it fulfills the role of a basic toaster oven pretty well. The model is quite generously-sized, being able to fit up to a 12” pizza. The digital controls are also easy to use and offer one-touch operation. The settings that come with the model includes bake, roil, toast, pizza, warm etc.
The main caveat with this model seems to be its heat management. The exterior gets hot while in use, but the problems go a little beyond that. The heating temperature when in operation appears to be higher than what is set in the controls, and you would often have to compensate by setting it lower than stated in the recipes. The electrical cord also heats up a little due to its thinness. If you can put up with these though, they’re not big problems.
- Digital controls that are easy to use, including preference for toast shade
- Comes pre-loaded with 7 settings
- Has interior lighting
- Includes a baking pan and a removable crumb tray for easy cleanup
- Has a 90-minute timer
- Heating temperature appears to be higher than what is set
- Digital buttons don’t light up on touch and are a little unresponsive
- Electrical cord is a little thin so heats up more than usual
If you love having a slot toaster but would love to have oven functionalities, this Hamilton Beach toaster oven is perfect for you. If one of your main uses in a toaster oven is to actually toast bread or bakery, most models make really dry toasts. With this unit, because it’s designed to be primarily a toaster more than an oven, it makes really good toasts. That being said, an actual toaster would still, always, perform better.
Apart from that feature, it functions pretty well just as any reliable toaster oven. It comes with three modes – bake, broil, or toast – and can be easily switched with a lever. It comes with two rack positions, a 60-minute timer for auto shutoff functionality, and a removable crumb tray and baking pan.
Something small to take note of – if you hate annoying beeps in modern toaster ovens, you’d be happy this only makes a very tolerable ‘ding’ at the end of the toasting or baking process! In many ways, this is one of the best small toaster ovens we have found.
Looking past all its advantages, one drawback is its smaller size. In real-world usage, you would only be able to fit a 9” pizza in it. If you have bigger volume needs, this is definitely the main shortcoming of this Hamilton Beach model.
- Toaster-centric unit gets toast done 40% quicker than toaster ovens
- Toast shade selector
- Convenient lever switches between bake, broil or toast modes
- Has two rack positions
- Comes with a 60-minute timer
- Includes a removable crumb tray and baking pan
- A little small, fitting only a 9” pizza at maximum
- Exterior gets fairly hot when in use
How to Pick for Your Use Case?
If you’re still undecided after reading through the reviews, we’re here to help you pinpoint the exact model for your use cases.
For most people, the Toshiba AC25CEW-BS is an excellent all-around choice. With virtually no shortcomings except for its slightly annoying beep, it is more than sufficient for most households. If you need more heating power though, the 1800W of the Cuisinart TOB-1010 generally performs better than the Toshiba’s 1500W.
Budget-wise, if you need something even more affordable, the COMFEE’ CFO-BB101 is a good choice for a small toaster oven. Or, if you need something even better than the sub-$100 models, the Breville BOV670BSS at under $200 is one that is able to satisfy all kinds of users, and will be able to continue doing so for at least a few good years down the road.
For the other two models, the Oster digital toaster oven is great for people who want interior lighting in their toaster ovens, as this is one of the very few models that offer it. The Hamilton Beach 2-in-1 is a better pick for people who use the toast function more than any other modes on their toaster ovens, as it offers dedicated toasting slots.
A toaster oven is a good appliance to have in the kitchen. While it doesn’t bake as perfectly as a full-sized oven, nor does it toast as well as a dedicated toaster, it meets in the middle and does both pretty well.
For a household with limited countertop space, this proves to be very useful. With the space of a single appliance, you’re able to have toasting and baking functionalities, with most models even including broiling or other modes like pizza or cookies.
Skim through our guide, pick one for yourself, and follow the links to check the latest prices. If you’re still hesitating, we’ll say this: get one and see for yourself. You’ll never go back!
Since you probably love bread, you might also be interested in some of the best bread machines out there – with the best part being they’re 100% gluten-free friendly. You probably also love versatility, and another great, multi-purpose kitchen appliance is the electric skillet, which we also have a list of our top picks.
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