The Best Toaster Oven
Today’s high-end toaster ovens are Mini-Me versions of full-size ovens, useful for so much more than just making toast. They can also do everything from roasting a beautiful, golden-brown chicken to baking a cake. After many hours of testing since 2015—making stacks and stacks of toast, mini pizza bagels, and cookies—we think the small Panasonic FlashXpress toaster oven and the large Cuisinart Chef’s Convection Toaster Oven are the best options, depending on your space and needs.
You may also like some of the best toasters from our list, so check them out..
The Best Toaster Oven
We recommend the Panasonic FlashXpress for those who want a small model for making toast, preparing a few frozen snacks, or reheating a couple slices of pizza. We were impressed with its strong baking performance, compact size, and reasonable price. It cooked foods to an even, lovely golden brown better than most other models we tried, and its toast shade settings were among the most accurate we tested. For a relatively low price, the FlashXpress stands out from a crowded pack of mediocre, cheap models, offering performance and features we found comparable to toaster ovens that are larger and double the cost.
Bread toasted on the medium setting came out beautifully golden brown without any scorching or charring. Other models we tested, such as the KitchenAid KCO273SS, toasted bread unevenly, with extreme light and dark patches. Most toaster ovens get hotter with every batch of toast you make, which can quickly leave you with charred pieces of toast if you’re not closely watching. The FlashXpress compensates for the increased temperature by automatically reducing the cook time so the results are the same every time. In our tests, the first batch of toast took about 2 minutes, 30 seconds, while the second and third batches took 2 minutes, 4 seconds and 1 minute, 20 seconds, respectively. These were some of the fastest toasting times of all the toaster ovens we tested.
The FlashXpress made crispy-yet-melty Bagel Bites that were more consistently browned from one edge of the oven cavity to the other. Some ovens’ results weren’t dark enough; others put out too much heat or had hot spots in the center. Up against bigger, more expensive toaster ovens, the FlashXpress more than held its own.
Beyond performance, there are other features that set the Panasonic FlashXpress apart from the competition. Hooks on the door help eject the toaster’s wire rack so you don’t have to reach your hand as far into the oven cavity to retrieve your food. Though this feature was common with some of the larger, more expensive models we tested, the Panasonic FlashXpress was one of the few to include door hooks at a lower price.
It is a perfect kitchen gadget for those who like to cook.
Hamilton Beach 4 Slice Toaster Oven
The Hamilton Beach has manual knobs that adjust the temperature (from 150 °F to broil/toast mode), the function (broil, toast, and bake), and the 30-minute timer. The biggest drawback to this model is the toast shade setting on the timer dial. You have to turn the knob past the 10-minute mark and then reverse it to the desired shade setting. However, it’s difficult to determine exactly where the dial should be placed for your preferred toast shade. Eventually, we were able to find the sweet spot on the dial for our desired doneness, but it took multiple attempts. That said, the toast came out remarkably even for a toaster oven of this caliber. Like most toaster ovens, the Hamilton Beach will get hotter after each batch of toast you make in a row. You’ll need to reduce the toast shade setting for each subsequent batch you make to prevent the bread from burning.
This model comes with the most basic accessories, including an oven rack, a baking pan, and a crumb tray. More advanced digital models will alert you once the oven is preheated to a set temperature, but the Hamilton Beach lacks this feature. The instruction manual recommends allowing five minutes for the toaster oven to preheat. That said, a charming, old-school ding does alert you when the timer goes off. We preferred this subtle sound to the ear-shattering beeps on some digital models, like the Wolf Gourmet Countertop Oven.
The Hamilton Beach runs cooler than other models we tested, so you’ll need to increase the temperature by about 25 degrees when baking cookies or snacks. However, we think this is a forgivable drawback considering its low price tag. The indicator light is a helpful feature that allows you to see that the unit is on, but we did notice it’s difficult to detect unless you crouch down to see it. The Hamilton Beach doesn’t have a strong spring mechanism to keep the oven door from falling open like our other picks. Be mindful of this when opening the door to avoid putting unnecessary stress on the hinge.
For more cool products for your kitchen, check out our guide to the best bread machines.
Breville Smart Oven
The medium-size Breville Smart Oven has all of the functionality of our larger main pick, the Cuisinart TOB-260N1, but has a slightly smaller footprint. This model did well in our tests, toasting bread almost as evenly as the Cuisinart. However, it’s slower to preheat and lacks an internal light. That said, we appreciated the Breville’s intuitive interface, easy-to-read display, and ability to regulate heat well. Since the Breville didn’t surpass the Cuisinart in our tests and costs significantly more, we recommend it only if you prefer its medium size.
The Breville Smart Oven toasted bread evenly from front to back, with paler results from side to side, but it still toasted more evenly than the Breville Smart Oven Pro and the Hamilton Beach 31230. The Breville Smart Oven can fit up to six slices of bread or a 12-inch pizza. (We found that six slices of bread toast best on heat setting 4, while one to four slices toast best on heat setting 6.)
The Breville Smart Oven comes with several accessories, too: a single rack, a baking pan, a broiler pan, and a non-stick pizza pan. Though we preferred the pizza stone from the Cuisinart over the round metal pan from the Breville Smart Oven, it’s still a nice addition for baking frozen pizza. The oven is also wide enough to fit a standard quarter sheet tray. Additionally, we liked the magnets on the Breville Smart Oven that glide the rack out when opening the door, making it easier to retrieve hot items.
Of all the toaster ovens we tried, this model has the easiest-to-use controls. In fact, we understood how the controls worked without having to refer to the user manual, which wasn’t the case with the Cuisinart. The legend displayed on the door also conveniently tells you where to place the rack for broiling, toasting, and baking.
One glitch is that the convection mode automatically activates whenever you adjust the function knob. To deactivate this mode, you have to press the convection button each time to turn it off. This is a little annoying, but we don’t consider it a dealbreaker since this model is so easy to use and provides solid results. Also, the Breville doesn’t have an internal light, but we found that the heating elements provide enough illumination for you to see inside to check your food.
The Breville is backed by a one-year limited warranty, which isn’t as good as the Cuisinart’s three-year warranty. Contact Breville for repairs or a replacement.
If you are a fan of waffles, be sure to also check out our guide to the best waffle makers and pick your favorite.
The Best Large Toaster Oven: Cuisinart Chef’s Convection Toaster Oven
Without a doubt, the Cuisinart distributed heat evenly across its voluminous cavity, toasting nine slices of bread in a single batch to near golden-brown perfection. Corner to corner, no other oven was as consistent (aside from the exorbitantly priced Wolf Gourmet Countertop Oven). Similarly priced large toaster ovens (like ones from Breville and KitchenAid) both concentrated heat in the center of the oven and had a more significant fall-off of heat toward the edges.
The Cuisinart comes with a number of accessories: two racks, a baking pan, a broiling tray, and a ceramic pizza stone. After years of long-term testing, the pizza stone continues to make crisp, golden-brown pizza crust. Most of the other competitors we saw at this price level come with only a single rack and a flimsy metal pizza pan, so the extras with the Cuisinart feel like a step up. The oven cavity is also wide enough to fit a standard quarter-sheet tray. The Cuisinart has four slots for the racks, with metal hooks that pull out the middle rack when the door is opened. It was one of the fastest models to preheat to 350 °F, taking just over 3 minutes.
The Cuisinart has one unusual feature we didn’t see with any other toaster oven: a setting called dual mode. It’s a basic way of programming your own cooking cycle by hooking two existing modes together to play out back-to-back. So, let’s say you’re baking a couple of cinnamon rolls. Using dual mode, you could, for instance, bake them to perfection, and then run a 15-minute warming cycle automatically after they’re done cooking while you wait for your family to get out of bed.
If you want to use this oven as an air fryer, the Cuisinart also has two convection speeds, regular and high. We’ve found that the high speed setting works better for air frying, cooking food a little faster. And overall, after testing the Cuisinart against numerous air fryers for our guide to air fryers, we think it’s the better appliance for that purpose because it fits more food, cooks more evenly, and comes with better accessories.
The Cuisinart has a three-year limited warranty, while most competitors include just one-year warranties for the same price. In the past we’ve heard complaints about Cuisinart requiring customers to pay for shipping when returning items under warranty. But according to a representative we spoke to, Cuisinart recently updated its warranty service program, and the company will cover shipping costs to and from its service center if your model is defective under warranty.
Why you should trust us
To winnow down our selection of models to test we spoke with Martha Rose Shulman, cookbook author, food writer, and frequent contributor to The New York Times (parent company of Wirecutter). We also consulted reviews from America’s Test Kitchen (subscription required), Serious Eats, and Good Housekeeping. Additionally, we looked at highly rated models on the sites of retailers such as Amazon, Sears, and Bed Bath & Beyond.
Michael Sullivan has spent more than 50 hours researching and testing toaster ovens for this guide since 2016. As a staff writer at Wirecutter, he has written reviews for all kinds of kitchen equipment and gadgets, including toasters. This guide builds on work by freelance writer Brendan Nystedt.
[Want to save money on your grocery bill? Check out Wirecutter Money’s guide to the best credit cards for groceries.]
Who should get this
A toaster oven is a multipurpose appliance that lets you toast bread and bake or reheat food. It’s a nice alternative to firing up your full-size oven, especially in warmer months. It’s also great for small rentals that have tiny kitchens with an oven that doesn’t work well (or is missing altogether). If your kitchen is so active that the oven is full, you can use the toaster oven like Martha Rose Shulman, chef and author of The Simple Art of Vegetarian Cooking. When she runs out of room, she told us, she turns to the toaster oven to make gratins, lasagne, and sandwiches.
And what about regular old toasters? We have picks for those, too. In our original guide, Wirecutter strategy editor Ganda Suthivarakom likened a toaster oven to a passenger car and your big oven to an SUV: “Both are useful, and both will take you where you need to go, but the little car may be faster, more energy efficient, and more convenient for those shorter, smaller trips you commonly take.”
Toaster ovens can cost anywhere from $25 to $1,000, but we focused our search on those costing between $25 and $550. Wondering how much bang you’ll get for your buck? Here’s what each price level typically offers:
- Small-to-medium oven cavity (that can hold four pieces of toast or a few frozen snacks)
- Imprecise temperature regulation (usually)
- Manual controls and timer
- Fewer accessories (think one oven rack instead of two)
$100 to $250:
- Medium to large oven cavity (that can hold up to six or nine pieces of toast)
- Good temperature regulation (usually)
- Digital screen/electronic controls and timer
- Preset cooking functions (such as those for cooking pizza or frozen foods)
- More accessories (such as multiple racks and baking pans)
- An oven light
$250 and up:
- Everything you get from a $100 to $250 toaster
- Better temperature regulation
- Extra features (such as air frying modes and dehydrating modes)