When you’re trying to save on space in your kitchen, choosing one appliance that can perform multiple functions can pay real dividends. For the space-conscious home planner, these kinds of devices can cut down on a lot of wasted and cluttered space.
This is why I love my toaster oven. Instead of losing out on space on my kitchen worktop, I can get multiple services out of one device. But a lot of people aren’t as convinced as me. I get it. It’s difficult to commit to a new device, especially when it just seems like an especially expensive toaster.
But toasters and toaster ovens are different – very different, in fact! That’s why I thought that I would put a guide together for people who were thinking about getting into the toaster oven world and give them a bit of insider knowledge.
Table of contents
- Is a toaster oven more energy efficient than a toaster?
- Does a toaster oven cook faster than a toaster?
- Is a toaster oven more accurate than a toaster?
- Does a toaster oven take up more room than a toaster?
- Can I replace my toaster with a toaster oven?
Is A Toaster Oven More Energy Efficient Than A Toaster?
Energy efficiency is something that is very important to a lot of people today. That includes me. And whether you’re concerned about the energy you use because you want to be a little greener or simply because you want to save money, it’s good not to buy a device that simply uses too much energy.
That’s why I want to be honest – toaster ovens take up more energy than toasters. Despite my love for toaster ovens, they are not as energy efficient as their toaster brethren. This has a lot to do with the way they heat up.
How Much Energy Does A Toaster Use?
Toasters need on average 800W per hour of cooking. That’s not a lot of energy, which implies that toasters are very energy efficient devices. This becomes especially nice when you consider that the average cooking time of a toaster is between 3 and 9 minutes.
Even if you have a particularly slow toaster, you will be able to cook at least 6 batches of toast before you reach an hour of cooking time.
On average (taking 5 minutes as the cooking time of a toaster), you will be using 90W per cooking session. That means spending $0.011 every time that you want to make a toasted snack. Very cost efficient.
How Much Energy Does A Toaster Oven Use?
Toaster ovens don’t have as much to bring to the energy efficiency debate. They usually need around 1700W to cook for an hour, meaning that you are already needing to use extra energy. That’s 900W extra over the toaster, more than doubling the amount of energy you need to use.
Now, remember that toaster ovens also cook slower than toasters. That means that you need to account for even more energy being spent during each cooking session. Cooking toaster takes on average 12 minutes with a toaster oven, meaning you are spending on average $0.04 every cooking session. That’s a pocket change, but you need to remember that this will add up over the course of a year.
Does A Toaster Oven Cook Faster Than A Toaster?
Related to energy consumption is cooking time. If you want something to cook fast, generally you’ll want the piece of equipment to be either:
- Specialized for the task, or
- Extremely powerful (that’s to say that it uses a lot of energy)
Because toasters are specialized pieces of equipment, they are generally faster at turning bread into toast. Everyone who has ever used a toaster could probably have guessed that. It’s a piece of equipment that is designed solely to toast, so it is going to be great at toasting. Makes sense, right?
But how do toaster ovens and toasters compare?
The Preheating Problem
Firstly, a toaster needs no preheating time. You plug it in, you pop in your bread, and you start the process. Then you can simply wait, 3 – 9 minutes and now you have toast. Because toasters use superheated heating elements, there’s no need to evenly heat up a heating cavity. Easy.
Toaster ovens need more time. They have cooking cavities and, depending on your model, this could take between 10 and 15 minutes to heat up properly. As you’re using what is effectively a small oven, you can’t just pop food in and forget about it.
Average Cooking Times
Additionally, toaster ovens are going to require longer cooking times (if you are cooking toast!) than a toaster. The actual time it will take will depend on the type, model, and age of your toaster oven, but it will almost always be slower than a toaster.
My toaster oven (a mid-range model that cooks relatively quickly) can cook toast in 9 minutes. For many toaster users, that probably seems quite slow. However, it is still within the expected range for the cooking time of a toaster (3 – 9 minutes). That means that it is not a ridiculous cooking time, but it is on the slower end of the scale of times we would expect to get a delicious toasted snack.
Is A Toaster Oven More Accurate Than A Toaster?
This depends on what you mean. If you want toast that is cooked to be crunchy, you will want a toaster. If you want to cook toast at an exact temperature, then you want a toaster oven. Let’s explore this difference.
Getting An Accurate Crunch
A lot of us want toast because it is an easily prepared, crunchy snack. If toast doesn’t have that crunch, then we don’t want to have it. It’s just warm bread.
That’s why using a toaster can give you a more accurate “toasted finish” – the bread will be crunchier because of the faster cooking times and you will get the snack that you planned on having. But we’re very much at the mercy of the toaster here. It’s easy to overcook toast in a toaster, but a toaster oven (despite its slower cooking times) can compete when we need to cook at an exact temperature.
Getting An Accurate Temperature
“Why do I need my toast to be cooked at an exact temperature?”
Good question. You probably don’t. But here’s where the toaster oven starts to overtake the humble traditional toaster. As you have a large cooking cavity and can change the cooking temperature setting to the degree, you can now cook a large variety of foods.
Think of some dishes you could never cook in a toaster – roast chicken, cookies, lasagna. Now you can cook them in a toaster oven. You have all the space you need and you can set exact temperatures.
So you might get slightly soft toast which is springy, but you can also cook a variety of other dishes which a toaster could never handle. That’s what makes the toaster oven more accurate if you’re asking me.
Does a toaster oven take up more room than a toaster?
The use of space is an interesting problem. A lot of people want to keep an uncluttered workspace. The easiest way to do that is to use devices which are:
- Easily stored (which is related to size and weight), or
- Able to perform the functions of more than one device
Looking at the above criteria, you probably think that the toaster has an easy win here. But I don’t reckon so.
The Size Of The Device
Toasters are smaller. Let’s just get that out of the way. If you have a toaster that is bigger than a toaster oven, it’s unusually large and it probably has an additional function you don’t know about yet.
Toaster ovens measure (on average) 16.5 inches across, 10 inches in height, and 14 inches deep. That’s not massive, especially when you compare it to an oven. But it is bigger than a toaster (14” x 10” x 10”).
Easy Of Storage
Because they’re smaller, toasters are also easier to store. Thanks to being small enough and light enough to simply pick up and pop in a draw, you can move a toaster off your worktop whenever you want to declutter your kitchen.
Toaster ovens, on the other hand, are not quite as easy to store. They’re bulkier and heavier, meaning that you will probably find it a bit more difficult to slot into a cupboard. That’s why, if you should get a toaster oven, you shouldn’t plan on moving it.
Performing Multiple Functions
Finally, a place that the toaster oven wins easily.
Do you want one device to perform multiple functions? If you do, you need a toaster oven. Yes, the toast might not be as crunchy as the toast that you would get from a traditional toaster, but what would a toaster-cooked chicken be like?
That’s why you need to use a toaster oven if you want to both save on space and get the most out of the appliances you have. A toaster oven can be thought of kind of like a small oven, but which is more energy efficient. This is why you can cook anything in a toaster oven (as long as you have enough space).
Can I replace my toaster with a toaster oven?
This is a big question. If you decide to get a toaster oven, you might find that your traditional toaster becomes irrelevant (despite toasters being smaller and more energy efficient). Because it can perform a wider range of functions, you might be able to use your toaster oven to replace more than one appliance.
I will say that you shouldn’t get your hopes up that you will be able to cut down on using any other appliance. Even though I mostly use my toaster oven to make toast as well as a variety of other dishes, I still occasionally use my main oven for larger dishes.
If you just want to make toast, the toaster is for you. You don’t need to replace it as it is specifically designed to get toast bread and toast it well. If you want a device that can perform multiple functions, then you should look into getting a toaster oven.
The toaster vs toaster oven debate has probably not been ended by this article. I have no expectations that people are going to abandon one form of technology simply because I’ve said that toasters are better at some things and toaster ovens are better at others.
What I can say is that, if you were like me and wanted to cut down on worktop clutter, that you should look into getting a toaster oven and relying on it more. Worst comes to worst, you can simply store your toaster away and get the best out of both devices whenever you need.