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Best Toaster Oven of 2021

Credit: Jenna Ammerman
By Max Mutter, Michelle Powell, and Steven Tata  ⋅  Mar 25, 2021
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In a quest to find the best toaster ovens, we researched more than 100 models before buying the 12 most compelling. We then used those machines to bake hundreds of cookies, more than 100 drumsticks, dozens of pizzas and cakes, and countless bagels and pieces of toast. For those that offer such a feature, we air fried sweet potato fries as well. After comparing both the food offerings and general user friendliness of each oven in a side-by-side manner, we've found the best for every kitchen, no matter your budget.

Top 12 Product Ratings

Displaying 1 - 5 of 12
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Awards Editors' Choice Award Editors' Choice Award   Top Pick Award 
Price $500 List
$399.95 at Amazon
$230 List
$209.99 at Amazon
$300 List$450 List$180 List
$159.95 at Amazon
Overall Score Sort Icon
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88
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79
78
Star Rating
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Pros Excellent temperature accuracy, great all-around cooking performance, bevy of cooking modes, user-friendlyGreat baking performance, great temperature accuracy, cna also air fry and dehydrate, flips on its end when not in use to save spaceEasy to use, great all-around cooking performance, great temperature accuracyGreat temperature accuracy, good all around performanceCompact, great all-around cooking performance, great temperature accuracy
Cons Very expensive, may be too large for smaller kitchensSomewhat expensiveExpensiveExpensiveSmaller capacity
Bottom Line The best option for versatile cooks that don't mind paying extra for better performance and more featuresA top notch oven that adds air frying and dehydrating functions as wellLikely as good, if not better, than your conventional ovenTop notch cooking quality and temperature accuracy, but is just slightly inferior to competing modelsPerfect for space constrained, discerning cooks
Rating Categories Breville Smart... Ninja Foodi... Breville Smart... 12" Convection... Breville Mini...
Baking (30%)
9
9
9
8
8
Ease Of Use (25%)
9
9
9
8
7
Temperature Accuracy (20%)
9
9
9
9
9
Frozen Food (15%)
9
8
7
7
7
Toasting (10%)
8
8
8
6
8
Specs Breville Smart... Ninja Foodi... Breville Smart... 12" Convection... Breville Mini...
Outer Dimensions 17.2" x 21.4" x 12.8" 19.7" x 7.6" x 15" 11.2" x 18.5" x 16.2" 16.1" x 18" x 12.1" 15.5" x 14" x 8.8"
Maximum Pizza Diameter 13" 13" 12" 12" 11"
Accesories 13" Pizza Pan, Oven Racks x2, 9"x13" Broil Rack, Enamel Roasting Pan, Mesh basket rack Wire rack, air fry basket, sheet pan Baking pan, Broil rack, Pizza pan Baking pan, Broil rack Baking pan
Manufacturer Warranty 2 Year Limited 1 Year Limited 1 Year Limited 1 Year Full 1 Year Limited
Power Consumption (W) 1800 1800 1800 1800 1800

Best Overall Toaster Oven


Breville Smart Oven Air


Breville Smart Oven Air
Editors' Choice Award
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$399.95
(20% off)
at Amazon
See It

89
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Baking 9
  • Ease of Use 9
  • Temperature Accuracy 9
  • Frozen Food 9
  • Toasting 8
Outer Dimensions: 17.2" x 21.4" x 12.8" | Maximum Pizza Diameter: 13"
Great all-around cooking performance
Excellent temperature accuracy
Can air fry and dehydrate
User-friendly
Expensive
May be too large for small kitchens

For those that want high performance and versatility, the Breville Smart Oven Air delivers on both fronts. It offers more cooking functions than most competing ovens, on top of providing field-leading baking performance and temperature accuracy. These capabilities include slow cooking, dehydrating, and air frying, amongst others. Thanks to a large display screen and intuitive control panel, it's easy to manage and use all of those different functions. Considering the Smart Oven Air's impressive resume, toast may seem like a bit of an afterthought, but the final product is excellent.

The only real downsides to the Smart Oven Air are its price and its size. All of the extra features push the price well above that of most competitors, and the large footprint can make it feel like a bit of a space-hog on smaller countertops. If you're going to take advantage of all the Smart Oven Air has to offer, and have some spare counter space, it's definitely worthy of consideration.

Read review: Breville Smart Oven Air

Best For Most People


Ninja Foodi Digital Oven


Ninja Foodi Digital Oven
Editors' Choice Award
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$209.99
(9% off)
at Amazon
See It

88
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Baking 9
  • Ease of Use 9
  • Temperature Accuracy 9
  • Frozen Food 8
  • Toasting 8
Outer Dimensions: 19.7" x 7.6" x 15" | Maximum Pizza Diameter: 13"
Great all-around cooking performance
Impressive temperature accuracy
Air fry and dehydrate functions
Flips up for space saving storage
Somewhat expensive

The Ninja Foodi Digital Oven is one of the most impressive countertop appliances we've ever come across. At its core it is a simple, quick-heating oven that is large enough to handle a 13" pizza. In this capacity it shines, as it baked some of the best cakes and chicken in our tests. On top of that, it offers both air fry and dehydrate functions that we found to be as effective as those found in dedicated air frying and dehydrating devices. The pièce de résistance, particularly if you have a smaller kitchen, is the convenient flip up feature.Thanks to a small foot and hinge on the back of the oven, you can easily flip it up when not in use. In this storage configuration it can still fit under most cabinets while sticking out from the wall less than 8 inches. And, of course, it toasts bread and bagels like a champ.

It's hard to find much to complain about with this device, with the price tag being the most obvious target. It is on the more expensive end of the spectrum, but generally right in line with what other high-performing ovens cost. Additionally, it costs much less than many of the oven/air fryer combos currently on the market. If you're willing to pay a bit extra for top tier performance, we can't imagine anyone being disappointed with the Ninja Foodi Digital Oven.

Read review: Ninja Foodi Digital Oven

Best Bang for the Buck


BLACK+DECKER TO3250XSB


BLACK+DECKER TO3250XSB
Best Buy Award
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$70
See It

60
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Baking 6
  • Ease of Use 6
  • Temperature Accuracy 5
  • Frozen Food 6
  • Toasting 8
Outer Dimensions: 14.5" x 22" x 11.5" | Maximum Pizza Diameter: 13"
Cooks frozen pizza well
Easy to clean
Convection mode
Good toast
Poor temperature accuracy
Only average baking performance

For those looking to add the functionality and convenience of a countertop oven to their kitchen but for cheap, our recommendation is the BLACK+DECKER TO3250XSB. This relatively inexpensive oven offers a convection mode — something rarely seen in budget-oriented models. This ability makes for quick and delicious preparation of toaster oven staples like frozen pizzas and premade meals, as well as evenly browned and delicious toast. On top of all this, it's quite easy to clean, making it both low-budget and low-hassle.

While the BLACK+DECKER TO3250XSB is undeniably convenient, it isn't exactly precise. It displayed relatively poor temperature accuracy in our tests, often deviating 25˚ or more from its set temperature. Consequently, getting predictable or repeatable results with baked goods or more finicky dishes can be difficult. But if you're mostly looking for a convenient way to make frozen pizzas, toast, and cook basic meals, the BLACK+DECKER TO3250XSB provides all that you need at a great price.

Read review: BLACK+DECKER TO3250XSB

Best Small Oven


Breville Mini Smart Oven


Breville Mini Smart Oven
Top Pick Award
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$159.95
(11% off)
at Amazon
See It

78
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Baking 8
  • Ease of Use 7
  • Temperature Accuracy 9
  • Frozen Food 7
  • Toasting 8
Outer Dimensions: 15.5" x 14" x 8.8" | Maximum Pizza Diameter: 11"
Compact
Great all-around cooking performance
Great temperature accuracy)
Smaller capacity

If you're short on space but big on baking aspirations, the Breville Mini Smart Oven was designed just for you. This space-saving model has nearly all of the performance and temperature accuracy capabilities of its big sibling but in a package that's more economical and space-saving. The small size also lets it heat up incredibly fast, offering the quickest route we've found from emergency cookie craving to fresh-baked goodness. Thanks to its stellar temperature accuracy, it is also the smallest oven in this review that can still handle the more finicky meals and baked goods.

The only complaint we can levy against the Mini Smart Oven is its relative lack of capacity, but that's a tradeoff you have to make if you're looking to save space. Some might It argue that the price tag is a bit steep, but we feel that dollar for dollar, this oven offers more cooking performance than almost any model on the market. It is the perfect oven for cooking aficionados that live in small apartments or dorm dwellers that don't want to give up their baking habits.

Read review: Breville Mini Smart Oven

Best for Convenience


Panasonic FlashXpress


Panasonic FlashXpress
Top Pick Award
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$129.99
(24% off)
at Amazon
See It

49
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Baking 4
  • Ease of Use 5
  • Temperature Accuracy 2
  • Frozen Food 8
  • Toasting 8
Outer Dimensions: 13" x 12" x 10.2" | Maximum Pizza Diameter: 9"
Fast and convenient
Great toasting quality
Great for frozen foods
Smaller capacity
Odd controls

While the Panasonic FlashXpress is technically a toaster oven, it has quite a bit of microwave in its DNA thanks to unique infrared heating elements that can almost instantaneously heat up. Those elements both eliminate the need for preheating and can produce such an intense heat that most standard cooking times get cut in half. This model can provide that close-to-perfect crisp on bagels and toast and can rapidly heat leftovers without the sogginess associated with the microwave. If you've ever wished that your microwave could also make toast, this is the oven for you.

The biggest downside to all this expedient heating is that moisture retention falls by the wayside. Case in point, we were never able to make chewy cookies with the FlashXpress, only very crispy ones. The machine itself is also a bit quirky, with some odd presets and a Celsius temperature scale. This means you may not be able to select the exact Fahrenheit temperature that a recipe calls for. But if you're mostly looking for a fast and convenient way to make toast, heat leftovers, and prepare frozen foods, and don't mind making some sacrifices in the baking realm, the FlashXpress is the perfect countertop companion.

Read review: Panasonic FlashXpress

Also Great


KitchenAid 12" Convection Digital Countertop Oven


KitchenAid 12" Convection Digital Countertop Oven
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$450
List Price
See It

79
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Baking 8
  • Ease of Use 8
  • Temperature Accuracy 9
  • Frozen Food 7
  • Toasting 6
Outer Dimensions: 16.1" x 18" x 12.1" | Maximum Pizza Diameter: 12"
Great Temperature accuracy
Good all-around cooking performance
Expensive

While the Breville Smart Oven is our clear favorite, we'd feel remiss if we didn't give the KitchenAid Convection Digital Countertop some props. This oven rivaled the temperature accuracy and baking performance of the top-scoring Breville. It was also able to make some great toast. Plus, it's available in various colors, offering an option for pretty much any kitchen aesthetic.

It's easy to balk at this oven's absurdly high list price, but don't let it scare you too much. You can generally find it for much less at online retailers. Overall the Smart Oven is a bit better and tends to sell for a bit less, but for those that don't like its styling, the KitchenAid is a worthy alternative.

Read review: KitchenAid Convection Digital Countertop Oven


Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Why You Should Trust Us


Senior Research Analyst Michelle Powell has worked for more than a decade in the specialty food industry, including four years as the manager of an artisanal bakery. This experience affords her the knowledge and skill needed to meticulously compare the food offerings and other attributes of our testing ovens. Senior Editor Max Mutter has been assessing the relative attributes of kitchen appliances at TechGearLab for four years, has now penned reviews on more than 100 ovens, air fryers, pressure cookers, waffle makers, and espresso machines.

To find the best toaster ovens currently on the market, we researched more than 100 before purchasing the very best at full price — we never accept any free samples from manufacturers to help achieve our goal of providing unbiased expert reviews. We then used those ovens to make more than 1000 slices of toast, more than 300 bagels, over 100 frozen pizzas, and dozens of cakes, cookies, and bags of tater tots, comparing each in side-by-side taste tests. To test temperature accuracy, we used two professionally calibrated thermometers. We then assessed their overall user-friendliness and ease of cleaning. No matter your needs or budget, our testing results can help you find the perfect countertop cooker.

Related: How We Tested Toaster Ovens


Analysis and Test Results


We tested and scored each model across five precisely weighted metrics. We attributed the most clout to baking performance, closely followed by ease of use. Temperature accuracy and frozen food preparation both received moderate weightings. Because differences in toasting performance were generally smaller than those we saw in other metrics, toasting performance received the least weight of our testing metrics.

Related: Buying Advice for Toaster Ovens

Value


We've found that greater cost generally equates to better performance in the world of toaster ovens, but that correlation isn't linear. For example, the relatively inexpensive BLACK+DECKER TO3250XSB managed to turn in an above-average performance in our testing. The Panasonic FlashXpress also offers a great value in a similarly low price range. However, it is a bit of a specialty product that excels at quick reheating, but not baking. Possibly the best value-per-dollar, the Breville Mini Smart Oven offers top-tier performance at a relatively reasonable price, though it does come with a smaller capacity. The Ninja Foodi Digital Oven manages to deliver top notch performance and multifunctionality at a relatively reasonable price.

Baking Performance


Two of the primary advantages derived from using a countertop model is speed and energy efficiency. You can quickly bake single-portion meals or small batches of confections without wasting energy and time involved in heating a large conventional oven. The principal function of these products is baking, so we assigned it significant weighting in our scoring scheme and made sure to bake a representative spread of tasty food during our testing. We evaluated each model's ability to cook evenly without drying out or undercooking any of the meals. This led us to look for the ideal crispy-on-the-outside chewy-on-the-inside cookies, fully cooked yet, moist cake, and drumsticks with crispy skins and juicy, tender meat.


Though no models performed particularly poorly in our baking tests, there were some clear front runners. The Breville Smart Oven, the slightly upgraded Smart Oven Air, the Calphalon Quartz Heat, and the Ninja Foodi Digital Oven all shared top marks in this metric. These ovens prepped crispy on the outside, moist on the inside drumsticks, chewy cookies with slightly browned edges, and kept cakes fluffy and moist without any hot or cold spots. Bottom line, no matter your baking biases, we don't think any of these ovens will disappoint.

The Ninja Foodi Oven consistently served up great tasting food in...
The Ninja Foodi Oven consistently served up great tasting food in our baking tests.
Credit: Laura Casner

The KitchenAid Digital Countertop Oven fell just behind the top Breville models in our testing, earning an 8 out of 10. It excels at getting chicken drumsticks crispy on the outside and tender on the inside. It was possibly even better than those Breville models at getting the outsides of cookies crunchy while leaving some chewiness on the inside. However, while its cake slices came out still delicious, they were noticeably less moist in comparison.

The Breville Mini Smart Oven performed very well in our baking test...
The Breville Mini Smart Oven performed very well in our baking test, but has a smaller capacity than most ovens.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

The Breville Mini Smart Oven also impressed in our baking tests, earning an 8 out of 10. For the most part, this oven cooks just as well as its larger siblings, but with a few minor drawbacks. For instance, the drumsticks we made were not adorned with quite as crispy skins, and our cakes came out just slightly less delectably moist. However, we still think these shortcomings were minor and that the Breville Mini Smart Oven is a fantastic choice for bakers that are short on space.

The BLACK+DECKER TO3250XSB offers a convection mode at an...
The BLACK+DECKER TO3250XSB offers a convection mode at an impressively low price.
Credit: Laura Casner

The Cuisinart just missed out on a top-tier score in our baking tests. While this model cooked our test foods acceptably, it was held back by a mild tendency to dry things out. If you love a moist and fluffy cake or your meat incredibly juicy, then you may be slightly disappointed by this model.

All of the Breville models able to produce some delectable...
All of the Breville models able to produce some delectable drumsticks during our testing.
Credit: Steven Tata

The BLACK+DECKER Extra Wide Crisp N' Bake earned a slightly above average 6 out of 10 in our baking tests. It did a fairly good job with everything, but generally had slight issues with even cooking/browning of baked goods and struggled a bit to retain moisture when cooking meats. Fortunately, we still enjoyed everything that we made in this oven and found these issues to be minor.

We tested each model&#039;s ability to bake cake evenly and retain the...
We tested each model's ability to bake cake evenly and retain the right amount of moisture, it was a difficult job.
Credit: Steven Tata

When our baking tests were said and done, the BLACK+DECKER TO3250XSB also scored just above average. Across the board, it cooked things well but slightly unevenly — chicken drumsticks were well cooked but the skin had some crispy and some less than crispy areas, cake was moist but with some darker spots on the outside, and cookies cooked a bit unevenly and tended to be overly crispy even when we tried to make them moist and chewy. This baking performance, for the most part, is more than acceptable in most cases but if you have gourmet aspirations you may be disappointed with the results.

The Panasonic FlashXpress and its unique double infrared elements should be thought of more as a super-fast reheater rather than a proper oven. Its design gives the model a particular niche in which it excels, such as quickly making toast and bagels, heating most leftovers without creating sogginess, and prepping things like frozen burritos. However, items like cakes, cookies, and drumsticks come out with a very dry and charred quality. This relatively narrow and specialized skill set eared the FlashXpress a similarly truncated 4 out of 10 in this metric.

The Smart Oven Air&#039;s unique air crisping feature allows for oil-free...
The Smart Oven Air's unique air crisping feature allows for oil-free fries.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Also earning a 4 out of 10 in our baking tests is the Oster Extra Large Digital Countertop. It tended to also dry things out, though not to the degree of the FlashXpress. Along with that, there were some issues with burning the surfaces of things while the centers weren't as done. For instance, it blackened the outside of the cake we made, but the center felt a bit underdone.

We meticulously evaluated every oven&#039;s user interface. We...
We meticulously evaluated every oven's user interface. We particularly liked 3-knob designs, as seen here on the Chefman XL.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Ease of Use


Toaster ovens are, by their very nature, versatile. But with versatility comes complexity. The interface and feature set help to unlock the products' versatility when user-friendliness is prevalent in the design. The controls on these devices must allow you to select whether you are making toast, bagels, frozen food, baking, or broiling. Then, allow you to choose the proper temperature settings and duration of cooking for each one of these functions. Models with intuitive controls and thoughtful user interfaces make navigating this myriad of options a breeze, but clunky interfaces can turn meal prep into a rage-inducing experience. We had everyone in the office dial each one of the models into a variety of settings to determine which were easy to use, and which may start you down a path towards anger management seminars. We also assessed how easy it was to remove and clean each crumb tray.


We found that companies either go out of their way to design an intuitive and delightful user experience or keep things disappointingly spartan, with very few models occupying a middle ground. The Breville Smart Oven, the Smart Oven Air, the KitchenAid Convection Digital, the Calphalon Quartz Heat, and the Ninja Foodi Digital Oven all sit in the delightful category. These models all feature large, easy to read LCD screens and crumb trays that are easy to remove and clean.

With all of the various functions a countertop oven can perform, it...
With all of the various functions a countertop oven can perform, it is vital to have an easy way to navigate through them. The three knob design of the Breville Smart Oven makes selecting and adjusting functions a breeze.
Credit: Katherine Elliott

Both scoring a 7 out of 10 in our ease of use testing, came the Cuisinart and Breville Mini Smart Oven. These models utilize a similar interface to the full-sized, using a large LCD screen and knobs to select and display settings. The Cuisinart has only one knob. Pressing on it allows you to cycle through selecting function, temperature, and duration settings. While these controls are straightforward, the dedicated knobs on the full-sized Breville made things feel just a bit more seamless. The Breville Mini has one knob to cycle through cooking modes and uses arrow buttons to set temperature and time. We'd prefer more knobs instead of buttons, but to get such a space-saving package, it feels like a small sacrifice.

The Ninja Foodi Oven flips up when not in use, taking up a lot less...
The Ninja Foodi Oven flips up when not in use, taking up a lot less storage space than the vast majority of ovens.
Credit: Laura Casner

Again falling into the slightly above average category, the BLACK+DECKER Extra Wide Crisp N' Bake is simple to use, but we wish its control panel were a bit more specific. It features dedicated knobs for cooking function, temperature, and time. However, these knobs are labeled with very small writing, and there is no LCD screen displaying exactly what's been selected. It's pretty hard to tell if you've chosen your exact desired temperature and time.

The user experience from the BLACK+DECKER TO3250XSB is similar. It has three knobs dedicated to cooking temperature, time, as well as one specifically for making toast. It lacks a digital readout, so getting the time and temperature knobs in the exact right positions can be hard, and similarly, it can be difficult to tell exactly how much cooking time is left.

Cooking in a countertop oven can produce a lot of crumbs. Having a...
Cooking in a countertop oven can produce a lot of crumbs. Having a sturdy crumb tray that is easy to remove and clean can make a world of difference.
Credit: Katherine Elliott

Picking up a score of 5 out of 10, the best model in the runner-up group was the FlashXpress. Its controls are generally clear, with dedicated buttons for each preset (annoyingly, it does not have a bagel function, you'll have to settle for normal toast settings). We found that using the device can be a bit tricky. You can't make any selections until you press the power button, and it will just fire up on its own if you wait too long to make your selection. This forces you to shut everything off and start over. The temperature settings are converted from Celcius, so you likely won't be able to select the exact temperature your recipe calls for (for example, you can't set it to 400˚, but you can set it for 390˚).

The Breville Mini Smart Oven has a single knob and a set of arrow...
The Breville Mini Smart Oven has a single knob and a set of arrow buttons. This feels much less streamlined than having multiple knobs, but it remembers your preferred settings to save you some time in the long run.
Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Our least favorite user experience in our ease of use testing came from the Oster Countertop Oven. While not exactly intolerable to use, the annoyances it serves up is more than most. Its buttons are laid out intuitively, but they are all flat — like the buttons you'd find on most microwaves. In our experience, these buttons aren't sensitive at all, so you are required to apply quite a bit of pressure --and occasionally frustrated poking-- before they register your commands. We found this to be a particularly disappointing hurdle to overcome to prepare a late-night pizza snack.

Double checking all of the thermometers used in our temperature...
Double checking all of the thermometers used in our temperature accuracy testing.
Credit: Steven Tata

Temperature Accuracy


The most surprising results of our testing came from the temperature accuracy test. We were somewhat taken aback to find that a number of our ovens routinely differed from the indicated temperature by 20˚, with some having discrepancies as high as 50˚. It seems that achieving the correct temperature is the most basic function of an oven, and those inaccuracies we felt were unacceptable. As we dug into this issue a little further we found that it is quite a divisive topic in the baking world. You can find many articles peddling the idea that oven temperature is a relatively uncontrollable variable, so we should stop worrying about it because of that. However, you can find an equal number of articles extolling the virtues of accurate oven temperature and the fact that a change of just 25˚F can have a noticeable impact on the quality of baked goods. Both camps have a point. Having to obsessively check your oven with a thermometer is going to be a hassle and could take some (or all) of the fun out of baking. Having a more accurate oven will most likely yield better more predictable results. With that in mind, we measured temperature accuracy with two different NSF-approved oven thermometers and a Extech EA11A-NIST thermocouple thermometer.


In our testing, we set each oven to three different temperatures and monitored the thermometers for 30 minutes to see at which temperature each oven reached equilibrium. The Breville Smart Oven, its sibling the Smart Oven Air, the KitchenAid, the Breville Mini Smart Oven, and the Ninja Foodi Digital Oven were the rock stars of this metric, all earning the top score of 9 out of 10. When set to temperatures of 350˚ and 400˚, the Breville Smart Oven settled in at exactly at those temperatures. When set to 450˚ it ran just 5˚ hot. The Smart Oven Air turned in a similar performance, generally staying within 3˚ of its set temperature. The KitchenAid also hit exactly 350˚ when set to that temperature and when set to 400˚ and 450˚, ran only 5˚ hot. Despite being more susceptible to temperature fluctuations due to its small size, the Mini Smart Oven was always within 10˚ of the temperature we set it to. The Ninja Foodi Digital Oven ran slightly hot at its lowest temperature, but was almost perfectly accurate at every temperature above that. It also tended to preheat much faster than most of its competitors.

Running one of our temperature accuracy tests.
Running one of our temperature accuracy tests.

Particularly when set to lower temperatures, the BLACK+DECKER TO3250XSB tended to run fairly hot in our tests. For example, it often hovered around 375˚ when set to 350˚, even got as hot as 400˚ at one point. When we cranked the set temperature over 400˚, accuracy vastly improved.

The BLACK+DECKER Extra Wide Crisp N' Bake consistently ran hot in our testing. Somewhat frustratingly, this temperature discrepancy was not consistent — sometimes the actual temperature was just 5˚ above the set temperature, while at other times it was as much as 50˚ hotter.

The Cuisinart performed similarly but in the other direction. It ran 25˚ hot when set to 350˚ and 400˚, and 20 ˚ hot when set to 450˚. The Oster Countertop and the Panasonic FlashXpress brought up the rear in this metric. At all temperatures, the Oster ran very hot. It was 30˚ hot when set to 350˚, 50˚ hot when set to 400˚, and 55˚ hot when set to 450˚. The FlashXpress heated up almost instantly but also ran hot. It was 20˚ over when set to 350˚, and 50˚ above when set to 425˚ (we had to adjust our test for the FlashXpress because its temperature presets are based on the Celsius scale). The Calphalon Quartz Heat consistently ran 15˚ cold in all of our tests, so while it isn't accurate, it is at least consistent.

Frozen Food


The quicker preheat times of toaster ovens when compared to conventional ovens make them a perfect avenue for quelling late-night hunger pangs by pulling a frozen pizza out of the freezer. Most of our frozen food testing focused on this staple. We consumed possibly dangerous amounts of dough and cheese in the search to test and find which ovens produced the crispiest crusts and gooiest mozzarella. For good measure, we also threw in some frozen tater tots as these ovens are also great for a quick hit of warm comfort food when it's needed.


The quick and easy convenience of frozen foods aligns perfectly with the strong suits of the Panasonic Flash Express. In our tests, it managed to prep frozen pizzas to near perfection in barely a third of the time it took other ovens to do so. The biggest downside is that this tiny oven can not accommodate a full 12-inch pizza pie, but it will a 9-inch pizza. Unfortunately, 9-inch frozen pizzas are hard to come by in most grocery stores, so chances are you'll be settling for a 6-inch pie. If you tend to eat a lot of frozen food and don't like the inherent sogginess of prepping such foods in a microwave, the Panasonic Flash Express is a fantastic choice.

The FlashXpress was particularly adept at preparing frozen food.
The FlashXpress was particularly adept at preparing frozen food.
Credit: Steven Tata

The Breville Smart Oven Air is the only model we've found that can match the FlashXpress's proclivity for frozen foods. While the larger size means it takes a bit longer to make a pizza or tater tots, the Air creates a delightful crunch in both without sacrificing any tenderness. It can also handle a full 12" pizza, an inability of the FlashXpress that is its most glaring weak spot.

The Ninja Foodi Digital Oven also performed quite well in preparing frozen foods, with a proclivity to brown one side of a frozen pizza a bit more than the other being its only slight weak point.

Surprisingly, the top models in other metrics only produced middle of the pack results in our frozen food testing. The full-sized Breville Smart Oven and its Mini version scored a 7 out of 10 in this metric. The Mini Smart Oven tended to leave pizzas a bit softer and doughier than we would have preferred, but by extending the cooking time this can generally be fixed. The full-sized Smart Oven had some inconsistency problems, cooking the backside of the pizza more than the front. The KitchenAid had this same problem and also scored a 7 out of 10 in this metric.

A fluffy field of tater tots, fresh out of the oven.
A fluffy field of tater tots, fresh out of the oven.
Credit: Steven Tata

When making frozen pizza, the BLACK+DECKER TO3250XSB excelled in our tests, managing to cook everything well without too much unevenness. Tater tots ended up a bit more uneven, but they were still delightful. Overall we highly doubt anyone cooking frozen foods with this oven will be disappointed.

The BLACK+DECKER Extra Wide Crisp N' Bake was a good but not fantastic performer in our frozen food testing, picking up a score of 6 out of 10. It effectively cooked every frozen item we threw at it, but always with some notable inconsistencies. For example, some tater tots came out much crispier than others, and the crusts of frozen pizzas remained doughy and chewy long after the cheese and toppings started to get crispy (a bonus for lovers of soft crust, but a disappointment for those that prefer crispy crust).

The Oster earned a 6 out of 10 in this metric. It cooked frozen foods fairly evenly but the cheese on frozen pizza tended to burn a bit. The Cuisinart cooked an even pizza but had similar issues with leaving the dough slightly underdone. It made tater tots with nice crispy outsides but overall they were a little too mushy.

Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Toasting Performance


If a toaster oven doesn't excel at preparing its namesake breakfast item, it will lead to some disappointing mornings. To avoid such a catastrophe, we made hundreds of slices of toast in our ovens. We paid detailed attention to the toast's evenness, both across the face and between the top and bottom sides of the slice. To make sure we covered every preference, we used white, wheat, and sourdough bread, and toasted them at every setting from very light to borderline burnt. We also stuffed every oven chock-full of bread from wall to wall, then ran a standard toast cycle. This "toast map" elucidated if the oven had any cold spots, or if it started bleeding heat towards the edges.


Once again leading in this metric are the original Breville Smart Oven, the Smart Oven Air, and the Ninja Foodi Digital Oven, all sharing a score of 8 out of 10. The bagel modes of these models made some of the most evenly toasted bagels we've seen. Leaving the backsides of bagels warm and gooey while giving the cut sides a nice, even crust, is a difficult thing to do, but these models did it with aplomb. When toasting bread, they also achieved impressive consistency. When we did our toast map test, filling the ovens wall-to-wall with toast, we found only small cold spots at the very extreme edges of these ovens. In comparison, most models left edge slices looking sadly neglected.

We looked for bagels that were toasted as evenly as possible.
We looked for bagels that were toasted as evenly as possible.
Credit: Steven Tata

Largely due to its speed, the FlashXpress also earned an 8 out of 10 in this metric. It is the only model we tested that can make toast and bagels as fast, if not faster, than a traditional slot toaster. It also had no cold spots on our toast map. The infrared elements can also easily be used directionally, so it has no trouble toasting the cut sides of bagels without browning the backsides.

The BLACK+DECKER TO3250XSB also performed splendidly in our toasting tests, creating impressively even browning on both bread and bagels. Our only real complaint is that if you try to toast the maximum of eight slices of bread at once, those that are near the edges of the oven will likely come out with some cold spots.

Another top performer in this test was the BLACK+DECKER Extra Wide Crisp N' Bake. It browns toast quite evenly and manages to get the cut sides of bagels even and crispy while leaving the backside warm and gooey.

We found the Cuisinart's toast to be acceptable, but it lacked any particular qualities that would make it stand out. It toasts both bread and bagels relatively evenly but certainly leaves some cold spots throughout. Those cold spots are avoided by the KitchenAid, but also tends to toast the tops of bread slices noticeably more than the undersides.

Toast maps like this one show both how well an oven toasts, and...
Toast maps like this one show both how well an oven toasts, and whether it has any cold spots.
Credit: Steven Tata

Earning the last slot in our toast quality testing, the Oster Countertop Oven can still make toast that is more than passable. However, said toast had more inconsistencies and deficiencies than any of the other toast that came out of our testing. The sides of the bread facing the top of the oven tend to toast much more than the sides facing the bottom, and we struggled to brown the face of cut bagels without burning the edges.

Credit: Jenna Ammerman

Conclusion


A toaster oven can add a wide range of cooking abilities to a dorm room or a spartan city kitchen without taking up much space. Even if you have access to a full-sized oven, these countertop models can still provide more expedient heat-up times and better energy efficiency when you're only cooking for two. However, on the surface, they all look very similar. With hundreds on the market, it can be difficult to uncover their differences and select the correct one for you. We hope our expert review has helped you sift through all of the options and find the perfect model for your space, tastes, and budget.

Max Mutter, Michelle Powell, and Steven Tata