Getting a toaster oven opens a world of possibilities for you and your kitchen. You can begin to prepare foods that you would never have expected something with “toaster” in the name could make.
From roast chickens to pizzas to lasagnas, the toaster oven can effectively replace a range of devices in your home and make cooking these dishes faster, easier, and kinder to your wallet.
As a toaster oven convert, I thought I’d put an article together to show you exactly how I’ve made the most of my toaster oven. Then you know that you can do the same by following a few straightforward instructions.
Table of contents
- How To Use A Toaster Oven To Make Toast
- How To Use A Toaster Oven For Baking
- How To Use A Toaster Oven To Broil
- What Else Are Toaster Ovens Good For?
How To Use A Toaster Oven To Make Toast
Because it has toaster in the name, it seems to make the most sense to start with how to make toast.
Depending on the model of toaster oven you have, you will need to set it and wait for it to preheat. Check out the power rating and user manual for the amount of time you should expect it will need before you can start cooking. As a rule of thumb, more powerful toaster ovens (around 1700W) will need shorter preheating times than lower power ones.
Now you can put your toast in. Most toaster ovens will have a toast setting – this should activate elements on both sides of the toaster oven. Superheating elements on both sides of a piece of bread is how a toaster works, so this is effectively the same process.
Depending on your model and the age of the elements in your toaster oven, you will have to wait (on average) between 9 and 12 minutes for your bread to fully cook. Because you have elements on both sides, you won’t have to flip it over (like on an oven grill). This means you can walk away and do whatever you need to until your toast is ready to come out.
How To Use A Toaster Oven For Baking?
Can you bake in a toaster oven? Yes! And this is one of the best reasons to get a toaster oven, in my opinion. You get all the wonderful functions of a toaster as well as being able to cook (or, in this case, bake) a whole range of other dishes.
For example, I like to bake cookies with my son. We can set our toaster oven to the “bake” setting and allow it to preheat. If your toaster oven lacks a bake setting, you should be able to find a way to only turn on the bottom elements of the appliance. If you can do this, then you are basically doing what our bake setting does.
Because you are using only the bottom elements of the toaster oven, you can begin to bake fantastic dishes like cookies, brownies, and small cakes (I recommend only cooking small cakes because of the size of a toaster oven – however, you are only restricted by the size of the cooking cavity!)
If you do wish to bake in your toaster oven, remember that you will need to adjust your cooking times appropriately. My toaster oven is reasonably powerful and I only need to add 5 – 15 minutes to any bake that I would otherwise have done in my oven. Yours may take longer if you get a weaker model.
How To Use A Toaster Oven To Broil
One of the best things about owning a toaster oven is being able to surprise people with the dishes that you can make with it. My wife in particular was extremely surprised to find out that I had made my first toaster oven pizza recently.
To make a pizza or any other dishes which requires broiling, you need to activate the broil setting on your toaster oven. Just like with the bake setting, you are not using both sets of elements. In this case, you are only using the top set.
Now, instead of cooking like a toaster, your toaster oven will act as a grill – heat will be blasted down onto the pizza (or other foodstuffs) and you will get delicious dishes in no time. Similar to the bake setting, adjust your cooking times appropriately. I find that my broil setting is particularly powerful, so I generally never need to add more than 10 minutes to the total cook time.
What Else Are Toaster Ovens Good For?
If pizzas, cookies, and toast weren’t enough to impress you, there are plenty more dishes that toaster ovens can easily handle. Toaster ovens are very much like regular ovens in that you can basically cook anything that fits inside. This is particularly handy if you are not in the habit of cooking dishes like turkeys or sides of pork.
Something I’ve started to do recently is testing out cooking eggs with my toaster oven. By placing eggs on a baking tray and using the broil setting, I can easily make sunny side up eggs for my family in only a few minutes. Similarly, using the toast setting gives me excellent omelets, scrambled eggs, and frittatas.
If you need something a little meatier, you can cook entire chickens in there too. I am a particular fan of roasting chickens in my toaster oven every Sunday. It’s as simple as turning on the toast or bake setting (depending on how crispy you want the skin) and letting your toaster oven do what it is best at.
Of course, if you don’t want meat, this technique also works for vegetarian or vegan dishes too.
And lastly, much to my son’s joy, we can make other cakes and cookies in our toaster oven. By using the bake setting, we’ve made cupcakes, cookies, sponge cakes, and brownies. It’s been a real joy to use an appliance which isn’t energy hungry and can make cakes in a short time.
So what is a toaster oven for, I hear you ask? Pretty much anything you can fit into it. From toast to a toasted sandwich to a casserole to a roast chicken, you can cook it all. This means you can get excellent dishes from a small appliance that would otherwise need an oven to prepare.
Better yet, compared to regular ovens, toaster ovens are energy efficient, quick, and take up a lot less room. This makes enjoying your favorite foodstuffs easy as turning it on, putting it in the right setting, and letting the device do its magic.
If you are on the fence about buying a toaster oven, think about the number of appliances you would need to cook most of the dishes that you prepare for your family. Do you often have to use two or three appliances to get one dish? Why not simplifying the process, declutter your kitchen, and get the most out of only one appliance by using a toaster oven instead.