Baking things like cakes, cookies, and casseroles is easy with a toaster oven. At least a few people see the word “toaster” and start to worry. Is this going to be able to do anything but toast? Well, I want to answer the baking in the toaster oven vs the regular oven debate and set the record straight.
I own both a toaster oven and a regular oven and I wanted to put together an article for people who were like me before I brought a toaster oven home. I compared both appliances and jumped them on a range of dishes and other factors. My results don’t necessarily say that there is a clear winner, but both appliances excel at different things.
Even though I do own both, my toaster oven gets used a lot more. I find that I spend most of the time that I am cooking looking over my toaster oven. That’s why I believe that kitchens are now incomplete without one. I’m not sure what I’d do without my toaster oven these days.
Table of contents
- Toaster oven vs oven energy usage
- Toaster oven vs oven temperature accuracy
- Can you bake a cake in a toaster oven?
- Can you cook a casserole in a toaster oven?
- Can you cook frozen lasagna in a toaster oven?
Toaster oven vs oven energy usage
Let’s get to it. A toaster oven is much better for energy efficiency if that is a high priority for you. Because we live in an increasingly green world, we need to be conscious of the energy we use and how much we waste. Using a toaster oven can save you a lot of wasted energy.
Toaster ovens come in a range of sizes, so their energy usage can vary. Generally, they need between 1200 watts and 1700 watts per hour of cooking. This is quite low compared to the 2000 watts to 2200 watts per hour than a regular oven would need. From the start, they are already using less energy to actually cook.
Similarly, I found that cooking smaller dishes was a lot more environmentally friendly with a toaster oven. Because they use less energy and they don’t take as long to cook things, you can rely on your toaster oven to easily cook your favorite dishes.
Toaster oven vs oven temperature accuracy
Temperature accuracy really depends on the kind of device you have. Really, I believe there isn’t a great difference between a toaster oven and a regular oven. They both cook by heating a cooking cavity and trying to get rid of cold spots.
If you were to use a convection toaster oven (like I do), I find cooking is far more accurate. Because there is a fan on the inside, my convection toaster oven blows around the heat that is inside the cavity. This means that heat is evenly spread and that cold spots are eliminated.
If you are using a convection toaster, you will find that the accuracy of the cook is greater than a regular oven. This means that if you are cooking a casserole or baking a cake, you won’t find undercooked or cold sections.
Can you bake a cake in a toaster oven?
Yes, you can. I really surprised my wife when I pulled a sponge cake out of our toaster oven. She didn’t realise that you could do that. But really, it’s extremely easy and you basically only need to follow the instructions that you would use for a regular oven.
I followed these steps:
- I made my cake mix and put it into a low baking dish
- I heated my toaster oven to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and allowed it to preheat
- I pop my cake and let it cook for 15 minutes (use your glass window so that you don’t open the toaster oven door)
- Take your cake out, let it cool, and enjoy your cake
This process was a little slower than a regular oven. I really like using my toaster oven to bake the cake and I was really happy that I was using less energy than I would have done with it.
Can you cook a casserole in a toaster oven?
Yes, and I do often. I found that casseroles were especially easy because my convection toaster oven cooked the dish without burning it. This was really helpful when trying to get crisp potatoes without ruining the rest of the food.
I followed this method:
- Make your casserole and put it in a baking dish
- Turn your toaster oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit and allow it to preheat
- Pop your casserole in and cook (time will depend on what kind of casserole it is)
- Take it out and enjoy a fantastic casserole
This is another case where I found the process was easier than using a regular oven. As the toaster oven was on a worktop, it was easier to take the casserole in and out. I was really happy with the results.
Can you cook frozen lasagna in a toaster oven?
Reheating food is extremely easy with a toaster oven. As you are “baking” the lasagna back up to an appropriate heat, you only need to use the reheating settings on your toaster oven. Then you can pop the lasagna back into the toaster oven and you can get fantastic results.
If you don’t have a reheating setting on your toaster oven, set it to 300 degrees Fahrenheit and leave it until you can see the top of the lasagna starting to crisp up or bubble (if you have cheese on top).
Baking with a toaster oven is much easier compared to a regular oven. I found that whatever I wanted to bake or reheat was handled easily by my toaster oven and I had no problems at all.
I would say that you need to learn how quickly your toaster oven can cook before you try cakes or casseroles. Getting a feel for your toaster oven is key, especially if you are using a convection toaster oven. As they take slightly longer to thoroughly heat the cooking cavity, you need to account for this in your cooking.
But the question we all want answered – “can a toaster oven replace an oven?” Well, unless you often cook extremely large dishes like turkeys, I would say that you definitely can. Regular ovens are useful for dishes which are bigger or heavier than what your toaster oven can handle, but these are rare occasions for me. If you have the budget, there’s no reason you can’t invest in an especially large toaster oven and cook them as well.