As a recent convert to toaster ovens, I’ve noticed that not a lot of people really understand why the appliances are so useful and make for excellent kitchenware. Unlike regular toasters, they aren’t staples in our kitchens. This means that people are yet to find out just how useful a toaster oven can be.
Before I made an impulse purchase, my wife didn’t know anything about toaster ovens. Needless to say, we’ve been full converts and now we use it more than our toaster or our regular oven. If you are curious about switching up your kitchen top appliances, toaster ovens can completely change the way you cook.
Because I noticed a lot of misinformation about toaster ovens, I wanted to write this article. I’m going to help you figure out what you should be looking for in a toaster oven as well as when they were invented and how you can benefit from getting rid of your inefficient kitchenware.
Table of contents
- Who invented the toaster oven?
- How does a toaster oven differ from a regular toaster?
- Why does a toaster oven make everyday life easier?
- What can a toaster oven be used for?
- What can I cook in a toaster oven?
Who invented the toaster oven?
Before we get started on why you should own one, we should learn when they were invented and why. Although they are growing in popularity now, toaster ovens have actually been around since 1910. A scientist named William S. Hadaway invented the toaster oven in order to make the increasingly popular regular toasters even more useful.
Think about how you can’t cook an entire pizza in a toaster. That’s not the biggest issue in the world, but having a toaster oven means that you can make toast, pizza, and a whole range of other dishes without having to worry about switching appliances. This was the thought behind Hadaway’s invention.
How does a toaster oven differ from a regular toaster?
In a lot of ways. Despite “toaster” being in the name of both appliances, they actually differ a lot. They are very different devices that are designed to do different things. When you learn to master all of the functions of a toaster oven, you can get the best results even faster than if you were using an oven.
A regular toaster does one thing – it cooks bread and bread-shaped snacks and makes them crunchy. This is great if you only eat toast. Hopefully, you don’t. Having a varied diet isn’t really possible if you only own a toaster.
A toaster oven takes the technology of a toaster (heated elements, generally powered by electricity) and combines them with the cooking cavity of a regular oven. This means that toaster ovens are:
Capable of cooking more things are the same time
Capable of higher heats
Faster for cooking larger foodstuffs
Along with all that, they are also generally energy efficient and extremely straightforward to use. My son makes his breakfast toast with our toaster oven and I have often used it to cook an entire chicken.
Why does a toaster oven make everyday life easier?
Swapping between kitchen appliances might not seem like the biggest problem in the world, but it can be in one important way – money. Having to fire up and preheat entire ovens can be expensive over the lifespan of a traditional oven. This is especially true if you use a gas oven.
By using a toaster oven, you can preheat the cooking cavity and then cook a whole range of food inside. This can include toast, pizzas, and roast chickens. Can a toaster do that? No, not at all. Can an oven do that? Yes, but it costs a lot more to get the whole oven heated up enough (as well as longer to actually heat up enough to begin with!)
As the device is really easy to use, we have found that it makes for a fantastic appliance in our home kitchen. We don’t need to worry about having to swap and change between devices when we cook dinner because our kitchen top toaster oven can handle pretty much anything.
What can a toaster oven be used for?
Depending on the size of your toaster oven, pretty much anything. Don’t try to cook a whole turkey if your toaster oven isn’t big enough. That’s just common sense. But you can be certain that your toaster oven will be able to cook a range of dishes thanks to its wide range of settings.
Just looking at the settings on my toaster oven, there are quick ways to start baking, broiling, roasting, and grilling. This makes my toaster oven absolutely invaluable in my home. In the green world we live in, it is important to find devices that can perform multiple functions. In the case of a toaster oven, you know that this will be useful for anything you need to cook.
Really, the question should be “what can’t a toaster oven do?” because they are just so versatile. The only thing holding a toaster oven back is the size of its cooking cavity. If you really want to invest in a device that can brown toast as well as cook a turkey, you might want to explore the exciting world of commercial toaster ovens.
What can I cook in a toaster oven?
This carries on from the previous section because you now know how much a toaster oven can do. Think about the number of dishes you cook in a week. How many of them could you throw into a toaster oven and simply wait for them to be finished? I’ve found that the answer is quite a lot.
Something that still catches me off guard is how well my toaster oven can roast a chicken. I like to make sure the skin is crispy and that the entire bird is cooked (like everyone should), so I wasn’t too sure the first time I put a chicken in to roast. But I was and continue to be pleasantly surprised with how efficient a toaster oven can be.
In addition to chickens and toast, toaster ovens can also cook:
Reheat frozen or chilled foods
What are the benefits of using a toaster oven?
As well as having a fantastically versatile piece of equipment, you will also have an appliance that can cook without breaking your bank. The energy demands of a toaster oven are low (only 1200 watts to 1700 watts per hour, compared to the 2200 watts per hour from a conventional oven). That means you make long term savings on powering your device.
You also get a device that is less likely to burn or char your food thanks to many toaster ovens coming with built-in fans. These convection toaster ovens spread the heat around the cooking cavity and make getting an even cook on your dishes even easier. I’ve been really enjoying that I no longer have to worry about cold spots in my oven. Now I just put my chicken in to roast and forget about it until it needs basting or it is ready to take out.
Toaster ovens are fantastic pieces of equipment for everyone. The fact that they are everyday appliances like toasters or regular ovens still confuses me. I love using a toaster oven to get my main meals, sides, and snacks all from one convenient spot.
If you think that a toaster oven is for you, shop around. Find a few different models and look into getting a toaster oven that has all the correct settings that you need. Similarly, find one which is large enough to cook all of the dishes you need. Then you might even be doing what I do – saying goodbye to your regular oven and enjoying the ability to cook pretty much anything on my kitchen worktop.