The age of the toaster oven is here. The toaster oven is a fantastic, versatile device, but can it replace a regular oven? For people wondering if a traditional oven is worth investing in these days, it can be a difficult decision. Some kitchens aren’t big enough to fit in both devices with making the place look cluttered.
But the truth of the matter is that there is very little a conventional oven can do that a toaster oven can’t. They’re versatile, fast to heat up, and energy efficient. For some people, the toaster oven might actually just be better overall because they are also smaller and don’t take up as much space on the worktop.
I did some investigating into where I could reasonably replace my convection oven with a toaster oven. I found that it was a close call, especially when judging it on my 3 categories: versatility, energy efficiency, and area efficiency.
Table of contents
- How versatile is a toaster oven?
- How energy efficient is a toaster oven?
- Is it worth buying a large oven?
How versatile is a toaster oven?
When you look at a toaster oven, you might not think that it is very versatile. Going off the name, you might think they are just for making fancy toast. But they’re so much more than that. Really, the versatility of a toaster oven makes it one of the best kitchen appliances you can buy if they need devices that can double up in their utility.
My general idea of versatility means you can do 3 things: you can roast a chicken, cook a casserole, and bake a cake. If a device can do all 3 of those things, I’m impressed and count the device as versatile.
Can you roast a chicken in a toaster oven? Yes, if you have the space. This might blow some people away, but most mid-range (and even lower-range) toaster ovens have enough space and power to roast a chicken. A few devices even had specific settings on them to roast chickens. If you feel this is important to you, make sure you get a toaster oven that is big enough to fit one in.
Can you cook a casserole in a toaster oven? Yes, you can. I was really happy when testing out my toaster oven, especially considering it that I had no idea casseroles were even a possibility with the appliance. I stuck it into the toaster oven, set the temperatures to be a little higher than I would use for my convection oven, and let it cook. Easy.
Can you bake a cake in a toaster oven? Yes, easily. I’m not much of a baker, so I only made cookies in the toaster oven. They came out slightly on the chewy side as the toaster oven cooks in a different way to most ovens, but this would be perfect for bakers wanting to make brownies.
Toaster ovens pass my versatility test with flying colors. I loved using it and I’m glad that I made the decision to buy one. The only drawback is that I can’t cook especially large dishes in it. If you usually cook larger dishes like turkey, you might want to have a regular oven as well.
How energy efficient is a toaster oven?
I was really impressed with how energy efficient toaster ovens can be. From a numbers perspective, my oven uses 8500W per hour of cooking. This is fine for an appliance of its size, but it is a little energy inefficient. That’s why for smaller dishes I just use my toaster oven these days.
Using only 1700W per hour, I find that making cookies or heating up food is a lot easier on my electricity bill and the planet. I am particularly concerned with the latter, so I am happy to take the slightly longer cooking times to use my toaster oven (even for larger chickens, it’s usually no more than 20 minutes extra).
Toaster ovens are far more energy efficient than a regular oven. If you are particularly green or like cheap electricity bills (who doesn’t?), a toaster oven will be the one for you.
Is it worth buying a large oven?
Large, regular ovens still have a place in any kitchen (including mine). If you have to cook multiple dishes at the same time, a regular oven is better. For large dishes like a turkey at Thanksgiving, the traditional oven is far better. If you like to use a convection style set-up, getting a convection oven might be a better investment than a top-of-the-range convection toaster oven.
If you have the budget to buy both, there is no real reason to only get one. But a toaster oven can’t compete for cooking multiple dishes at the same time. The size is a massive boon for most users because saving space is key to having a tidy kitchen. But it is also a problem for people who like to throw parties or need to host a Thanksgiving party.
I can’t recommend a toaster oven enough. I love the versatility and the energy efficiency. But I have a toaster, a toaster oven, and a regular oven in my kitchen. Having such a range of devices isn’t possible for everyone due to size considerations, so it makes the question a bit more difficult.
If you need to make the choice between a toaster oven and a regular oven, think about the size of dishes you are regularly cooking. If you often cook sides of beef or whole turkeys, you may want to invest in a regular oven. If not, then find a decent toaster oven to buy and enjoy all the modern conveniences of these fantastic devices.