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What can infrared toaster ovens do that convection ones can’t?

Infrared vs convection toaster oven

Toaster oven technology has really changed in the past few years. If you’re trying to buy your first toaster oven, it can be difficult to know what one you should get for your exact needs. Regular, convection, infrared? It’s hard to know.

But understanding how they all work can give you a good insight into what you need to succeed. That’s why I thought I’d put this quick breakdown on the infrared vs convection toaster oven debate. After you read this, you’ll know if these devices are good enough for your needs.

I wanted to look at a few key areas that every toaster oven buyer should be considering: energy efficiency, time to cook, accuracy, and overall health risks. But before we do that, we need to know what we’re actually talking about.

Table of contents

  • What is an infrared toaster oven?

  • What is a convection toaster oven?

  • Which is the most energy efficient?

  • Which cooks the fastest?

  • Which cooks with the most accuracy?

  • Which is the safest to use?

  • Conclusion

What is an infrared toaster oven?

Infrared cooking isn’t new, but more and more people are becoming aware of it. Just like a microwave oven uses microwaves to cook food, an infrared appliance uses infrared rays to cook food. This means that it blasts the food with infrared light rays (which you won’t be able to see, sorry to say) and the food heats up.

Because infrared toaster ovens use infrared light to cook, there are questions about the quality of cooking. Much like a microwave, they work by cooking things quickly. However, you sacrifice the quality of a slower cook. You need to decide if it is worth it for your needs.

As an infrared toaster oven’s only difference from a regular toaster oven is that it uses infrared rays, it won’t look majorly different. In fact, you probably won’t notice a great deal between the different models unless you read the instructions.

What is a convection toaster oven?

Like a convection oven, a convection toaster oven cooks by heating up the cooking cavity and then blowing the air around. This is usually done with a fan, but not always. This means that you have an overall more even cook, especially if you are cooking something large.

Infrared vs convection toaster oven

These devices are great for cooking larger poultry or meat dishes because they very rarely have cool spots. This means that you can put in a dish that needs to be cooked just right and know you won’t find undercooked parts.

Convection ovens are generally better for cooking things to a higher quality, but need longer to do so. This means that you’ll be spending more money powering the appliance than if you were using an infrared model.

Which is the most energy efficient?

Because infrared appliances heat up quicker, they are better for saving energy. Most toaster oven devices operate at around 1200 to 1700 watts per hour, meaning that you only really need to think about how long you will be cooking for when you are comparing.

An infrared device will only take on average 5 minutes to heat up to the optimal temperature. This saves on cooking time and means that you won’t be spending as much time with the device turned on.

Infrared vs convection toaster oven

Although a lot of people who do use infrared cooking only use it for extremely high temperatures, you can also use it for slower cooking too. This means that you don’t necessarily have to swap quality for speed.

Convection ovens take longer. My own one takes around 15 minutes to heat up properly, so I need to wait longer than I would have to before I can start cooking. Those ten minutes may only cost 10 cents, but that adds up over the course of a year.

If you want the most energy efficient device, the infrared toaster oven is the one for you.

Which cooks the fastest?

Because of the quicker heating up and generally cooking times, infrared toaster ovens are faster. They cut down on overall cooking time meaning that you can just focus on getting the settings right and coming back when you need to take it out

That’s not to say that convection toaster ovens are slouches, though. They still cook in times which are competitive with conventional ovens. If you were to choose a convection toaster oven, you would be trading speed for quality.

Which cooks with the most accuracy?

Here is where the convection toaster oven comes into its own. By using the convection air flows, you can get much more even and thorough cooking from a convection toaster oven. This means that your food is cooked accurately and evenly.

The overall quality of your food will be better with a convection oven, especially as it is using heat as opposed to light to cook. Although your dishes won’t suffer the same way they would in a microwave, infrared fast cooking still can give very uneven results.

Which is the safest to use?

Infrared vs convection toaster oven

Convection ovens are largely safe if they are used properly. There are small risks of burning from a glass cover convection toaster oven, but this isn’t very large. Something that is a concern for some is the risk of the element popping and the glass shattering. Even though this has been reported, it is exceedingly rare and not something that should put you off buying a toaster oven.

Infrared rays can be dangerous. Although infrared toaster ovens are safe to use when they are working well, if you have a broken latch or any other defect with your device, you need to stop using them. If there is anything that could cause the infrared rays to leak out, you need to get it repaired or get it replaced.


From my 4 criteria, it’s 2 to 2 for infrared vs convection toaster ovens. I’m going to put my neck on the line and say that I would side with convection toaster ovens, however.

For me, the quality of cooking and safety are of the utmost importance. You need to get good food that you want to eat again in order to make an appliance worth using. If you just need something to eat fast, you might disagree.

But infrared rays can be harmful and that’s what settled the matter for me. I don’t want to risk dangerous rays leaking out into my home when I’m preparing dinner, so I think that convection toaster ovens are the better device overall. A little burn from not openly my convection toaster oven is a small price to pay for making sure my family are safe.

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