While they appear to perform the same function, toasters and toaster ovens are actually quite different kitchen appliances. If you’re in the market for one of these devices, you’ll understand the value of the differences and want to plan your purchasing decision accordingly.
What they have in common?
They both heat food
Both toasters and toaster ovens heat your food. They both toast toast, though as you’ll see in a moment, that’s about where the heating similarities end.
Both are portable
Toasters and toaster ovens are both very portable, making them ideal for storing away between use. Plus they’re easily moved, which makes them particularly useful for individuals and families looking for a food heating option to use while away from home in a motorhome or some other mobile living situation.
Both are electric
Toasters and toaster ovens both work by plugging into the wall and doing their cooking work. This is particularly useful, since no special hookup is required. Additionally, because both are small appliances, they don’t use too much energy to hook into a regular outlet.
Differences between toasters and toaster ovens
Toaster ovens self-clean
While toasters and toaster ovens are both rated for safety in the kitchen, toaster ovens do have an advantage over toasters. Toaster ovens clean themselves to prevent spilled food from building up and causing a problem.
When working with a toaster oven, you can simply let the heating mechanism burn away old food bits the next time that it runs. It is possible for remaining crumbs to leave a fire hazard, so removal of the included crumb tray for cleaning is necessary.
Toaster ovens offer many settings
Toaster ovens do much more than toast up your bread. They have many settings to give your toast the perfect crunchiness or to allow you to melt a piece of cheese on top for making a breakfast sandwich.
Additionally, toaster ovens can accommodate many different types of food, from leftover pizza slices to frozen chicken nuggets, making them an ideal family appliance. The multiple settings come in handy for quick breakfasts and lunches. Breville BOV450XL Mini Smart Oven which is one of the best four-slice toaster ovens come with eight preset cooking functions. Panasonic NB-G110P Flash Xpress Toaster Oven comes with six illustrated presets built in and is ideal for toasting, defrosting, and cooking.
Toasters are more efficient at toasting
Because they’re a single purpose appliance, toasters are better at straight up toasting than toaster ovens are. The toaster delivers infrared heat to your bread slices to crisp it up in no time.
While toaster ovens can toast your bread, they’ll take twice as long to do so, thanks to the need to heat the entire convection chamber. Additionally, they usually only offer one source of heat – from the bottom – so it can be difficult to evenly toast both sides of the bread.
Toaster ovens are mini convection ovens
Some toaster ovens are essentially mini convection ovens, which makes them ridiculously convenient for quick meals and snacks. As we mentioned above, multiple settings allow you to customize the temperature and cook time of your food.
Some toaster ovens even come with particular settings for heating up leftovers or baking a few cookies to help save you the guess work. Plus, with the tiny size and powerful heating options, a toaster oven uses far less energy than a traditional one. So if you’re only feeding one or two people, a toaster oven is a great appliance to have on hand.
BLACK & DECKER Digital Convection Toaster Oven is an excellent example. It comes with eight pre-programmed functions, allowing you to choose from bake, broil, toast, bagel, pizza, frozen snacks, potatoes, and cookie functions. You can get these all functions for less than $50.
Cuisinart TOB-200 Rotisserie Convection Toaster Oven is also one of the best convection toaster ovens. It has a large capacity. You can conveniently bake a 12-inch pizza, toast 6 slices of bread, and roast a 4 pound chicken or pot roast
Toasters are much smaller
Toasters are much smaller than even the smallest toaster oven. Because they only perform one function and cook one type of food, there really isn’t a lot of complicated gadgetry going on inside.
Thanks to their small, focused design, toasters can typically store away in a cabinet when not in use, saving valuable counter space. For families that only really need to toast their toast, this space saving can be a real asset.
Toaster only offers one type of cooking
Toasters only offer one type of cooking, which means that they can do that one thing very well. Every toaster has some variation of the same design – an upright box, with slots on the top for two to four pieces of bread, bagel halves, etc.
Infrared heating elements on both sides of these slots evenly toast pieces, depending on where you set the darkness setting. Some toasters might imprint a logo or silly design, though most simply leave little toast lines from the holders on the sides of the slots.
Overall, the toaster oven gives you greater bang for your buck. Not only can you toast up your morning bread, but you can heat a whole lot of other foods insides.
Unless you have incredibly limited space or eat most of your food besides toast cold, then you might want to consider adding a full-service toaster oven to your small appliance lineup. The versatility of this appliance just makes sense.