In a world where people are trying to save on worktop space, finding devices that function like toasters and something else is key for many kitchen appliance buyers. The two most popular right now leads us to the important problem: countertop oven vs toaster oven.
Each of these devices is great because they bring something different to the party. If you need to simply cook more than a conventional oven can handle (or you don’t have one), you might prefer the countertop oven. If you want a stronger toaster that can fill in a few other dishes that you can’t do in a traditional toaster, you might want a toaster oven.
I’ve done some research into what I think is the best out of these products. I have looked at 4 key areas: energy efficiency, versatility, speed, and safety. If any of these areas are particularly important to you, skip to the relevant section and find out more.
Table of contents
- Which is the most energy efficient?
- Which is the most versatile?
- Which cooks the fastest?
- Which is safest to use?
Which is the most energy efficient?
Energy efficiency is important in the green world of ours. I found that countertop ovens can actually save up to 50% of energy compared to using a conventional oven or oven-stove set-up. As long as you only need to cook a small batch, countertop ovens are a great alternative.
But we’re not comparing it to conventional ovens. We’re worried about countertop ovens vs toaster ovens. Let’s look at some numbers.
Although a countertop oven uses less energy than you’d expect, it doesn’t compare to a toaster oven. Per hour, toaster ovens only use 1700W of energy. Compare this to a middle range countertop oven – they use on average 4500W of energy per hour. That’s over double the energy a toaster would use.
There’s only one winner in this round – the countertop oven.
Which is the most versatile?
Toaster ovens are great for versatility. They really do overtake the traditional toaster in giving cooks the chance to broil, bake, or roast. But compared to a countertop oven, they don’t have such an easy competition.
Your countertop oven is excellent for replacing a conventional oven. Using only half the energy, you can do anything you can do with a full sized oven. Some even come with convection / non-convection switches. This means you can cook a great range of dishes simply by flicking a switch.
The toaster oven can also cook a great range of dishes, but most are held back by their size. You can buy specially designed toaster ovens that can cook pizzas or larger dishes, but mid-range toaster ovens generally aren’t.
If you want versatility to cook dishes of all sizes (except the very largest ones), a countertop oven is for you.
Which cooks the fastest?
This one really depends on the model you are buying. Many toaster ovens take between 4 and 9 minutes to reach their optimum temperature. This is great when you are cooking smaller dishes like toast or reheating leftovers.
On the other hand, a countertop oven is more in line with its conventional counterpart. Although some commercial models can heat up faster than toaster ovens, I found that most models below $200 in price take at least 10 minutes to heat up properly.
If you are comparing it to a toaster oven on the slower end, that doesn’t matter too much. But as you start to invest in better equipment, you will find that 10 minutes is much slower than many decent toaster ovens can deliver.
Which is safest to use?
Safety in this case basically means the risk of freak accidents. Both are very safe devices to use, so the risk of injury from sensible, regular use is very low. However, they do carry some small risk of non-serious injury.
For glass covered toaster ovens and countertop ovens, there is a risk of burning. Both the glass doors and the steam that escapes the oven sections are burn risks. Taking time to protect yourself again from these minor burns is key to safe use with either appliance.
Similarly, glass doors can shatter. With improper use, they can crack or break completely. This can cause a serious risk of cuts from broken glass.
Neither type of appliance is more dangerous from an electrical perspective. Although there are more stories about toaster ovens shorting and causing electrical fires, they are the more popular device. I don’t think there is any reason to believe that toaster ovens or countertop ovens are particular health risks to you or your family.
If you are worried about any toaster oven health risks, just remember that the rate of accidents are in line with the conventional ovens.
So, if you are asking yourself “can I use a toaster oven instead of a countertop oven?”, the answer is yes. You will have to account for the versatility of the appliances, but there is a definite overlap in their use.
Overall, you can get an efficient, healthy device whichever one you choose. But if you had to push me to pick one, I would suggest a toaster oven. I love versatility of the device and would willingly trade the size of a countertop oven for the efficiency and speed of the toaster oven.