Making the most of your toaster oven makes cooking a lot easier. Not only are they energy and space efficient, they also cook a range of foods that most people wouldn’t expect them to. But does the toaster oven win in the battle of the conventional oven vs the toaster oven?
Conventional ovens are fantastic for most people because: a) they’re easy to use; b) they are very big, so you can cook a lot of things in them; and c) we are just used to using conventional ovens. I don’t think I’ve ever been in a kitchen that doesn’t have a conventional oven, even if it is hidden away somewhere.
But toaster ovens are an excellent choice of kitchenware too. How excellent are they? Well, some people are thinking about getting rid of their conventional ovens altogether and just using a toaster oven. People like me.
Before I bought my first toaster oven, I really wasn’t sure what I was getting into. I didn’t know the benefits of owning one. But now I am a fully fledged convert and that’s why I’ve put this guide together – can I realistically replace my conventional oven with a toaster oven and still be able to cook all the things I love?
Table of contents
- What’s the difference between a toaster oven and a conventional oven?
- Does a toaster oven use more energy than a conventional oven?
- Is a toaster oven as fast as a conventional oven?
- Can you use a toaster oven to replace an oven?
What’s the difference between a toaster oven and a conventional oven?
We all know what a conventional oven looks like. They’re large pieces of kitchenware that take up a lot of room in any kitchen. This means that they are large enough to prepare pretty much anything that you would expect the home cook would handle, such as a turkey or a large joint of beef.
This also means that they are space and energy greedy, however. A lot of people do not have large kitchens, so this means that ovens come at a real estate premium. If we are going to have an appliance that big, we need it to be used often, good at what it does, and preferably energy efficient (who wants to spend more money than they need to when cooking?)
Regardless of what kind of oven you are using, you will be using a lot of energy. I own a convection oven. This means that there is a fan on the inside to evenly spread the heat around. That saves on heating up the cooking cavity as much. Still, ovens are extremely fuel greedy and require around 2000 watts to 2200 watts per cooking hour. When we compare this to other kitchen appliances, we are fighting a losing battle.
Toaster ovens are much smaller and generally fit onto your kitchen worktop with little trouble. They aren’t as lightweight as a regular toaster, but they are much easier to move than a big gas oven. They generally come with a grill style set up in an oven-style cooking cavity. The cooking power comes from a heating element, much like a regular toaster.
If you have a toaster oven, you know that toaster ovens are space-friendly, energy-friendly, and can cook a wide range of foods. This includes (and is not limited to) pizzas, roast chickens, cookies, bagels, and a simple batch of toast. I wasn’t expecting such a range of dishes to be easily prepared in a toaster oven, but my own model has really improved the way I cook.
Does a toaster oven use more energy than a conventional oven?
No, a lot less, in fact. When comparing my toaster oven to my conventional oven, I found that I would be using over 500 watts per cooking more just to fire up the larger one. This means, over the long term, serious spending implications.
For every hour I cook with my conventional oven, I am spending on average 7 to 8 cents more. That’s not a lot on its own, but over the course of the year, I could be spending up to $280 needlessly (assuming I use my oven for 365 hours across the year).
By using a toaster oven, not only do I save my wallet, but I save the planet too. This is especially true if you are using a gas oven or any other appliance that requires fossil fuel to work. Thanks to the toaster oven’s comparatively generous 1200 to 1700 watts per hour, I can put lesser demands on the grid for energy and keep the savings for myself. Easy.
Is a toaster oven as fast as a conventional oven?
Conventional ovens cook faster, but I generally haven’t found this to be a huge difference. In many cases, I find that the difference is only 5 to 10 minutes. If you can afford an extra 5 minutes whenever you need to make delicious food, there’s no reason not to think about getting a toaster oven.
Toaster ovens also save on time when cooking by having a smaller cooking cavity. This means that preheating takes less time and you will get to experiment with your toaster oven faster. Even if you are using a slower convection toaster oven, you will find that most appliances will be suitably heated in 15 minutes. This is much better than the 25 to 30 minutes you would need for a conventional oven.
Overall, I don’t think a toaster oven is slower than a conventional oven. Even though you may need to leave food in the toaster oven for slightly longer, you make time savings on not needing to let it preheat for as long. It’s all swings and roundabouts, but I don’t think there’s a clear winner in this heat.
Can you use a toaster oven to replace an oven?
Although you might have started reading this article thinking “no way!”, but I actually think that you can. It’s not easy and you do need to adapt the way you cook a little, but I genuinely believe that you can use a toaster oven to replace an oven.
We know that toaster ovens are great pieces of equipment. They are energy efficient, they easily fit onto a kitchen worktop, and they have excellent versatility. And their versatility is why I believe you can replace your conventional oven with a toaster oven and not feel any great problems due to the switch.
If you do plan to replace your conventional oven with a toaster oven, you need to prepare for a few changes:
- You won’t be able to cook a Thanksgiving Turkey this year – there’s just not enough room
- You will have to adjust your knowledge of cooking times and temperatures appropriately
- You will need to plan alternative ways to cook a number of dishes at the same time
If you create a plan to account for all these things, there’s no reason not to replace your conventional oven with a toaster oven.
In my case, I’m not replacing and getting rid of my conventional oven. I’m just using the toaster oven more and more. Now, I probably cook 70 to 80% of my food in a toaster oven. I use the larger, conventional oven for exceptionally large dishes or when I need to bake or roast multiple trays worth of food at the same time. If you were to do this, you’d probably save a lot of money.
In my home, there’s a clear winner in the battle of the conventional oven vs the toaster oven. I don’t believe that my day-to-day cooking is any worse now that I mainly use a toaster oven. In fact, I reckon that I use my cooking time more efficiently because I just love using my toaster oven.
If you are passionate about green appliances, the toaster oven is for you. If you are passionate about efficient cooking times, the toaster oven is for you. If you are prepared to change the way you approach cooking, the toaster oven is for you.
Whether you’re thinking “can you reheat coffee in a toaster oven?” or “can I really cook a whole chicken in a toaster oven?”, the answer is yes. The versatility and energy efficiency of a toaster oven makes it a better appliance for all families, especially because you don’t lose out on cooking great tasting food.