Black and Decker Countertop Convection Oven Review
Price: $100 List
Pros: Inexpensive, reasonable performance
Cons: Poor temperature accuracy, fiddly controls
Bottom line: Relatively good cooking performance, but held back by poor temperature accuracy and finicky controls
Maximum Pizza Diameter (in.): 12
Accesories: Broil Rack, baking pan
Manufacturer: Black and Decker
The Black and Decker was a consistent, average performer across the board. In fact it earned an overall score of 50 from our testing, making it the definition of average. While this means the Black and Decker is not a particularly stellar performer in any category, it also means that it's not a bad performer in any category either. The Black and Decker is a reliable workhorse that will consistently perform all the functions one would expect of a toaster oven. Sure it will do so with a bit less panache than the Editors' Choice Award winning Breville Smart Oven, but it also does so at a list price that is $150 less. This ability to deliver all of the functionality you could ask for at a low price made the Black and Decker an easy choice for our Best Buy Award.
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Our Analysis and Test Results
Given its performance, the Black and Decker Countertop Convection Oven provides an excellent value if you're on a budget.
The Black and Decker scored a 6 on our baking test. This put it right in the middle as the highest scoring models earned a 9 and the lowest scoring model earned a 4.
In our test the Black and Decker churned out some very soft and gooey cookies. While we're huge fans of soft and gooey, we felt the Black and Decker's cookies were just a little bit too much so. We definitely wouldn't call them undercooked, but other ovens were able to make cookies with a slightly crispy outside and gooey insides, which we felt was better. Still, we'd never refuse a plate of cookies from this oven, and that's coming from a group of people that just spent weeks consuming a copious amount of baked goods.
The Black and Decker was able to produce some fairly appetizing cake in our testing. While it didn't produce the moistest cake we tasted, it did retain a good amount of moisture, leaving the cake relatively light and fluffy. It also cooked very evenly with the cake having a very consistent texture throughout. We felt it did over brown the outside of the cake just a bit. This oven struggled a tad more with chicken drumsticks. It baked them fairly evenly, but they came out just a bit drier and without that meat falling off the bone quality that other models were able to produce. Despite these few drawbacks we feel the Black and Decker would be able to satisfy the baking needs of most oven users.
Ease of Use
As we said before, the Black and Decker is able to provide all of the cooking functions of more expensive models, but with slightly dampened performance and at a much lower price. One area where we feel that the Black and Decker does represent a significant step down from more expensive models is in ease of use. It scored a 4 on our ease of use testing, putting it very close to the bottom of a metric that had scores between 3 and 9.
The top scoring Breville Smart Oven and KitchenAid 12" Convection both have interfaces that make it feel like there is very little resistance between you and delicious food, but the Black and Decker throws some hurdles in the way. While the crumb tray is easy to clean, it's also a bit flimsy. The buttons also feel a bit flimsy and can be difficult to press. It has eight function buttons, including bake, broil, toast, bagel, cookies, pizza, frozen snacks, and potato. Pushing any one of these function buttons brings up a temperature setting that can be adjusted with two up and down arrow buttons. The up arrow is on the left and the down arrow is on the right. This may make sense to some, but our testers found it frustratingly counterintuitive. The cooking time can then be set by pushing the timer button and then using these same up and down arrow buttons. The time button is somewhat hidden among the function buttons, which left most testers quite confused on their first encounter. Once you hit start the oven begins preheating, and once it finishes preheating it automatically starts the timer. This is efficient for those that like to throw their food in the oven during the preheating stage, but can be a pain for more discerning bakers who don't want to put their cookies in until the oven has come up to temperature. The convection fan turns on with the push of a button, but is a bit louder than the fans on the more expensive models. The door can be an unpleasant surprise when you first open it. All of the other models have some sort of spring that prevents the door from swinging wildly, but the Black and Decker doesn't. Its door will slam down into the countertop if you let it. Obviously, all of these shortcomings are things that you could get used to if you're looking for an inexpensive model, but we do feel there is a continued return on investment for models that are simpler and easier to use.
The Black and Decker scored a 4 on our temperature accuracy test, again putting it near the middle of the field in a metric that had scores as low as 2 and as high as 9.
It did a bit better at low temperatures. When set to 350˚ our thermometers showed the oven to be 20˚ cold at the 15 minute mark and 10˚ cold at the 30 minute mark. When set to both 400˚ and 450˚ it ran 25˚ cold at the 15 minute mark and 20˚ cold at the 30 minute mark. While this isn't perfect it was better than one third of the models we tested.
The Black and Decker scored a 5 on our frozen meal preparations test. In an absolute sense this means the Black and decker performed about what we would expect to be average. However, relative to the other models we tested this ended up being the lowest score earned in a tightly packed field that saw scores ranging only from 5 to 7.
While it was still acceptable, the Black and Decker made the worst frozen pizza in our test. It tended to leave the dough feeling a bit too gooey and underdone for our liking, and we never saw any noticeable crisping on the pepperoni. The back wall of the oven has a small, curved push out section, which allows it to just barely fit a 12-inch pizza. The bit of the pizza in this section tended to be a bit more underdone than the rest of the pizza. While we weren't ecstatic about the pizzas the Black and Decker produced, they were still acceptable doughy slices. And if you don't like doughy slices you can just leave the pizza in for longer than the box suggests. It did a bit better with frozen tater tots. It was able to brown the outsides and leave the insides chewy, more on par with the rest of the models we tested.
The Black and Decker mirrored its results from the baking test in the toasting test. Here it again scored a 6 in a metric that saw scores ranging from 4 to 8.
It was able to make better bagels in our testing than any of the traditional slot toasters, but was middle of the pack in terms of toaster ovens. On medium shade settings the Black and Decker's bagel mode made bagels that were somewhat on the light side. The faces were fairly evenly toasted with just a few small white spots. The backsides were left mostly untoasted but just a little bit crunchy. Overall, it produced bagels worthy of the name. It lost some points for its performance in toasting bread. We found its toasting sweet spot to be in the middle and towards the back of the oven. It was a fairly small sweet spot, able to accommodate only 2 slices of bread. We found the front of the oven to not toast very well, our toast map had a cold spot greater than the length of a slice of bread. However, toast made in the sweet spot did come out fairly even and with good texture. So while the Black and Decker isn't the best toast maker, it can produce some reasonable breakfast fare.
Despite its numerous flaws and annoyances, we did leave our testing feeling the Black and Decker represents the best value. It offers all complete functionality and reasonable performance for just 40% of the list price of the higher performing models. If you're looking for a toaster oven and are on a budget, the Black and Decker won't disappoint.
While the Black and Decker doesn't have the flash and panache of top performing models, it has all the fortitude needed to get you to the finish line. It can handle every application you would want a toaster oven to handle, and does so at a much lower price point than its somewhat higher scoring competitors.
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata
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