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KitchenAid 12" Convection Digital Countertop Oven ReviewPrice: $450 List | $226.59 at Amazon
Pros: Great temperature accuracy, good all around performance
Bottom line: Great baking and temperature accuracy, but slightly lower toasting quality than competing models
The KitchenAid was one of the top performers in our testing. It fell only slightly behind the Editors' Choice Award winning Breville Smart Oven in our toasting and ease of use tests, and matched it in all others. Although slightly inferior we feel the vast majority of people will be just as satisfied with the KitchenAid as with the Breville. It comes in a variety of colors, so it may be preferable to those that have strong opinions about kitchen decor. You might just want to look for a sale as its list price is fairly expensive, and it can often be found for much cheaper.
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Our Analysis and Hands-on Test Results
The graph below displays how the KitchenAid Convection Digital Countertop Oven fared in our testing (shown in blue) compared to the other models we tested.
Here we go into further detail of the KitchenAid's performance in each one of our tests.
The KitchenAid performed just a bit less spectacularly than the top scoring Breville Smart Oven in our baking test. It scored an 8 with the bottom score being a distant 4. It made delectable drumsticks with tender meat and crispy skin. Cookies came out with somewhat crunchy outsides and nice gooey insides, checking all of our boxes. Cakes made in this oven were evenly cooked and came out fairly moist with a good texture, but we felt the outsides were just a little over browned. All in all the we feel the KitchenAid would be able to handle the baking needs of anyone on the hunt for a countertop oven.
Ease of Use
The KitchenAid's controls are similar to those of the Breville, and it accordingly received a similarly high score. However, we felt its controls where just a smidge less intuitive. So it fell a point behind the top scoring Breville with a 8 out of 10, but still well ahead of the worst scoring model, which received a 3. The KitchenAid has a sturdy and easy to clean crumb tray. Its controls are dominated by two knobs. The first Knob allows you to select between one of the KitchenAid's eight cooking functions: reheat, cookie, bagel, toast, pizza, bake, asado roast, broil, and keep warm. The second knob then allows you to choose the temperature, or shade for the toast and bagel functions. Pushing in on this second knob then toggles over and allows you to choose the cooking time. Having to push the second knob was the one thing we thought was less intuitive than the Breville's three knob design. Cooking commences at the push of a start/cancel button and two other dedicated buttons allow you to turn on the convection fan and add a defrost stage to any cooking cycle. All information shows up on a large, easy to read LCD display. We can't imagine anyone having major complaints with the KitchenAid's user interface.
The KitchenAid was the most accurate oven in our temperature accuracy test. It didn't outpace the Breville enough to warrant a separate score, but it was just slightly better. Both the KitchenAid and the Breville scored a 9 on our test, while the lowest scoring model earned a distant 2. The KitchenAid never wavered more than 5˚ from the set temperature at the 15 and 30 minute marks when set to 350˚, 400˚, and 450˚.
The KitchenAid again scored in the middle range of our frozen meal preparation test, and was even with the Breville. It brought home a score of six in a field that spanned from 5 to 7. When making frozen pizzas it cooked the dough to a pleasing degree, but it tended to cook somewhat unevenly. Often the crust on one side of the pizza was much darker and crispier than the crust on the opposite side. That being said, it still didn't last long in our room full of testers. It made some of the best tater tots in our testing with crispy outsides and fluffy insides.
This is one area where the KitchenAid did appreciably underperform when compared to the Editors' Choice Award winner. It scored a 6 in our toasting test, putting it smack dab in the middle of a metric that had scores ranging from 4 to 8. It was able to produce decent bagels, but one half of each slice tended to toast more than the other. This is a problem we encountered in many traditional slot toasters, but most of the other toaster ovens we tested were able to fix it. It also had an average quality toast map. It showed cold spots around the entire perimeter. Its toasting sweet spot was in the center of the rack and slightly towards the front, and could accommodate about four slices of bread. Toast made in the sweet spot was fairly even, but came out a bit light near the crusts.
It's a bit hard to peg the KitchenAid's value. It lists for a whopping $450, which we feel is quite overpriced as you can get slightly better performance from the Breville for $200 less. However, the KitchenAid can be found online for prices comparable to the Breville, which would make it a decent value as it performed comparably, though just slightly worse, in our tests.
The KitchenAid is a top performing oven with all of the bells and whistles you would expect from a more expensive model. Slightly better performance can be found in the Breville Smart Oven, but if you don't mind making a small sacrifice in toasting quality in return for a greater color selection then the KitchenAid will serve you well.
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata
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