To make good toast, you need a good toaster. And if you want an appliance that can do more than just brown up thin slices of bread just right, you're in the market for a toaster oven instead of a standard pop-up toaster.
As you browse for the best toaster oven for your household, it's important to become familiar with all of the different functions and capabilities available with these appliances. But it's even more important to think, realistically, about how you are going to use your toaster oven.
In other words: Are you basically going to use it as a toaster? Or as more of a substitute oven?
If you think you'll mainly be using the appliance for toasting bread and bagels and such, and perhaps for reheating last night's pizza or melting the cheese on a sandwich, then there's no need to pay upwards of $200 for a large, multi-functional toaster oven. A basic toaster oven, for $50 or less, will suffice.
On the other hand, many toaster ovens today are brilliant little machines that can handle a huge array of tasks — bake a cake, broil ribs, rotisserie roast a full chicken, crisp up onion rings as an air fryer — and offer even more versatility than a standard oven.
A large, multi-function high-quality toaster oven can allow you to prepare full (if small) meals all on its own. If you often host dinner parties or cook for big groups, one of these machines can serve as a second oven. It might also be a worthy substitute to a microwave or dedicated air fryer. Oh, and it should probably make very nice toast, exactly the shade you want it.
Best toaster oven buying guide
Here are some features and specifications to consider as you shop for toaster ovens:
• Size. It sounds pretty sweet that a toaster oven can accommodate nine slices of bread or a standard 9" x 13" baking pan. But it's key to consider where you are going to put your toaster oven and how much space you're willing to give up for it.
The exterior dimensions of the biggest of these appliances are nearly 2' x 1' x 18". That's a lot of counter space to sacrifice — like adding another microwave to your kitchen. Naturally, a larger appliance is also heavier and more awkward to move, and it would occupy more cabinet or pantry space if you were hoping to tuck it away somewhere.
Some, but not all toaster ovens, list their interior cooking capacity in cubic feet (CFT), and multi-function units generally range from 0.5 CFT to nearly 1 CFT.
It's probably more helpful for home chefs, however, to look at what actually fits inside the oven. All of these appliances state how many slices of bread they'll hold, ranging from four to nine, and buyers should beware that these measurements are usually based on smallish slices. To give you an idea of their cooking capacity, some models also state the diameter of a pizza they can accommodate (9" and up) and the size of a chicken they can roast (in pounds).
In addition to the size of the toaster oven, think about the size of your household and who you're usually cooking for. Many people rarely find themselves wishing they could toast nine slices of bread simultaneously. The flip side is that even the biggest toaster ovens won't be up the job of cooking full meals for larger groups. It all comes back to figuring out how you'll most likely use the appliance.
• Functions and features. All toaster ovens will toast bread and bagels, and do simple oven functions like cooking frozen pizza. Some models go far beyond the basics. Not only do they come with movable trays so you can broil foods closer to the heat source, they also might have options like convection heating (for quicker cooking), infrared heating (to cook inside and out), air frying (healthier alternative to deep-frying), dual cooking (with different temperatures at different levels) and more.
All of these features might sound fantastic. But if they're redundant with the appliances you already have in the kitchen — do you own an oven with convection heat and/or an air fryer? — then buying a toaster oven that also has these functions may be superfluous.
• Controls and display. Do you like old-fashioned knobs and levers to adjust temperatures and shade of toasting? Do you prefer the sleek appearance and functionality of digital controls? These are issues to ponder as you consider different models (and how they'll look in your home).
Think about how you actually use other appliances, like your microwave or perhaps an Instant Pot. Odds are, your approach to these appliances will be the same with your toaster oven.
Do you have only a couple of default buttons you press, or do you like to explore and try all of the different functions out? If you like simple one-button cooking, then look specifically for a toaster oven that lets you work that way, with idiot-proof buttons dedicated to functions like "toast," "defrost" and perhaps even "frozen waffles" or "reheat rolls." If you're the exploratory type, check out toaster ovens with upwards of 10 or more different functions and easily adjustable controls.
Best toaster ovens
1. Best overall: Cuisinart TOB-260N1 Chef's Convection Toaster Oven
The 15-function Cuisinart Chef's Convection model does more than you'd think possible for a toaster oven — and it may put your main oven to shame.
Among the special features are speed convection cooking that eliminates the need for preheating, two trays that handle up to nine slices of toast, and dual cooking so you can run different cooking functions (and temperatures) at two different tray levels. The capacity of 0.95 CFT is ample enough to accommodate a 9" x 13" baking pan, a 5-pound chicken, or a 13" pizza. This unit even comes with a pizza stone for a pro-style crust.
Additional nice features include digital controls and LED buttons, a drip pan, removable crumb tray for easy cleanup and a rack that slides out automatically when you open the door, so you can easily retrieve or inspect food.
Bear in mind that this Cuisinart model doesn't have air fryer capability, so you should check out other options if that's a must. Overall, the Cuisinart would be a great addition to your kitchen assuming that you have the space (it's bulky, around the size of typical microwave), and that you actually have the need for many if not all of the functions.
2. Best overall runner-up: Breville Smart Pro Toaster Oven
Another strong contender for best overall multi-functional toaster oven comes from Breville, a brand renowned for top-notch small kitchen appliances.
Like the Cuisinart Chef's model, the Breville Smart Pro is basically a fully functional miniature oven with a gorgeous look that would fit seamlessly into any upscale kitchen. It has a convection heating feature, an LCD screen that's easy to read and program, and 10 different functions, including bake, roast, broil, reheat and (oh yeah!) toast. The Breville also has a slow cook function, which is unusual in toaster ovens and allows you to tenderize dishes on low heat for up to 10 hours.
As for size, the Breville Smart Pro is slightly smaller than the Cuisinart, able to toast six slices of bread or bake a 13" pizza. For that matter, Breville makes high-end toaster ovens in several different sizes, ranging from the four-slice Mini to the nine-slice, 13-function Smart Oven Air, which has enough space inside to fit a 14-pound turkey. Be aware, though, that several Breville products have periodically been sold out or available only in short supply in 2021, and some sellers have been asking over $400 for the brand's top toaster ovens.
3. Editor's pick: Panasonic FlashXpress Compact Toaster Oven
If you're interested in a very good toaster oven but can't quite stomach the idea of paying hundreds of dollars, check out the Panasonic FlashXpress.
Normally running in the range of $130 to $150, this model is less than half the price of top products in the category. At 12" x 13" x 10" and weighing under 8 pounds, the Panasonic is also significantly smaller and lighter than the mammoth "toaster ovens" on the market that run over 30 pounds and nearly two feet wide.
The Panasonic not only has great temperature control for consistent toasting, it features double infrared heating so it can cook foods inside rather than just crisping and browning up the outsides. That means this toaster oven can sub in for a microwave when you just want to heat something up, and it will actually melt the cheddar inside your grilled cheese instead of just toasting the bread.
The controls and display are very simple, with one-button settings for things like "frozen waffles" or "reheat rolls" (and, yes, "toast"). It comes with a removable crumb tray for quick cleaning, and — rare in toaster ovens — an oven light to see how things are progressing without opening the door. Roughly 90% of Amazon reviewers give it four or five stars, with 77% awarding it five stars.
Just remember that while it bakes up to 500 degrees and can handle a lot of the same tasks as an oven, this is a compact model. It's around the size of a standard toaster oven and will accommodate a maximum of four slices of bread and nothing bigger than a 9" pizza.
4. Best toaster oven air fryer combo: Instant Pot Omni Plus Air Fryer Toaster Oven
To really give your toaster oven an upgrade, consider buying one that also works as an air fryer. Air fryers have become incredibly popular lately for their ability to crisp up French fries, vegetables and other foods similarly to deep fryers — only with significantly less grease and fat.
Our favorite toaster oven air fryer is the Instant Pot Omni Plus, which can handle those tasks and much, much more. Like other Instant Pot products, the Omni Plus is a true multi-tasker. It boasts 11 functions, including: dehydrate, roast, bake, broil, reheat, convection and slow cook, alongside toast and air fryer. Most surprising of all, it includes a lift and rotisserie spits and forks, so you can rotisserie roast a whole chicken.
With a stainless-steel exterior, a sleek digital display bookended by two matching knobs, and a large window and oven door handle, the Omni Plus looks exactly like a real oven. That is, it looks like a real oven that's been shrunk and can fit on a countertop. It measures roughly 18" wide and 16" high, and fits up to six slices of bread or a 12" pizza.
5. Best toaster oven air fryer combo runner-up: Cuisinart TOA-60 Convection Toaster Oven Air Fryer
For around the same price as the Instant Pot Omni Plus ($200), Cuisinart also has a terrific, highly rated convection toaster oven and air fryer combo.
The Cuisinart TOA-60 and the Omni Plus both come with an oven rack, baking pan and air fryer basket. They are also almost exactly the same size, with the same capacity, able to fit six slices of bread, a 12" pizza or a mid-size whole chicken. We give the Omni Plus a slight edge because it has a few more functions, including the rotisserie feature.
However, both of these models are high performers, and if it's important that all your appliances match your kitchen aesthetic, take a close look at the Cuisinart. It comes in four colors (black, cream, copper, and silver), compared to only stainless-steel silver for the Instant Pot Omni Plus.
6. Best for low prices: Black+Decker TO1313SBD 4-Slice Toaster Oven
There's nothing remotely wrong with a basic toaster oven. In fact, a simple, straightforward machine with few bells or whistles may be exactly what you need when you're fumbling around trying to prepare breakfast and haven't had coffee yet.
If that's what you're in the market for, check out this classic Black+Decker toaster, priced at around $35 to $40 and available in silver/black and stainless steel. It has space for four slices of bread or a 9" pizza, and the controls are limited to three simple knobs for controlling the temperature, toasting or baking level, and the timer.
Inside, there's a standard rack, a bake pan and a removable crumb tray. That's it. But it's all you need to make good toast daily in the morning, or to melt the cheese on your open-face sandwich at lunchtime. Kitchens all over have this exact model toaster, which is known to last years and years.
7. Best large low-cost toaster oven: Hamilton Beach 6-Slice Countertop Toaster Oven
Perhaps you want something simple and affordable, but that's a step up in terms of appearance, functionality and size? Check out this six-slice Hamilton Beach toaster oven, which is usually listed for less than $70.
Yes, it's big enough for six slices of bread, as well as a 12" pizza or a 9" x 11" bake pan. It also offers two different rack positions for more variety in cooking style, contoured knobs for comfortable cooking settings and a removable tray for easy cleanup.
What really sets the Hamilton Beach toaster oven apart is its roll-top door. Like it sounds, the oven door rolls back completely out of the way and stays propped open without the need to hold it. That enables you to get a full view of how your food is progressing, and it frees up both of your hands to add ingredients or remove your creation when it's done.
8. Best large low-cost toaster oven runner-up: Black+Decker 8-Slice Extra Wide Toaster Oven
If the capacity for six slices of toast still just isn't enough, this extra-wide eight slice Black+Decker model may be a match for your household.
Like other Black+Decker products, it's un-fancy and reliable. And this one is BIG, at least in terms of width. It's large enough to fit most 9" x 13" baking pans, though depth-wise it's not much different than the Hamilton Beach and maxes out with a 12" pizza. As a nice bonus feature, this Black+Decker toaster oven, as well as the slightly smaller six-slice model, offer convection heat for quicker cooking.