Best Toaster Oven of 2021
|Price||$300 List||$400 List||$300 List|
$249.99 at Amazon
$206.99 at Amazon
$199.00 at Amazon
|Pros||Easy to use, great all-around cooking performance, great temperature accuracy||Excellent temperature accuracy, great all-around cooking performance, bevy of cooking modes, user-friendly||Good baking performance, good toast, easy to use, even convection mode is silent||Great baking performance, great temperature accuracy, can also air fry and dehydrate, flips on its end when not in use to save space||User friendly, easy to clean|
|Cons||Expensive||Very expensive, may be too large for smaller kitchens||Expensive, consistently runs cold, less than ideal for frozen foods||Somewhat expensive||Poor temperature accuracy, expensive|
|Bottom Line||Top-notch cooking performance and incredible temperature accuracy||The highest performing, most fully-featured model we've tested, but it comes at a high price||A good choice if you want a dehydrating function and sleek aesthetics||One of the best multifunction cooking devices on the market||While this device is easy to use and has great toasting and baking capabilities, its poor temperature accuracy keeps it from being a top pick|
|Rating Categories||Breville Smart Oven...||Breville Smart Air...||Calphalon Quartz Heat||Ninja Foodi Digital...||KitchenAid Digital...|
|Ease Of Use (25%)|
|Temperature Accuracy (20%)|
|Frozen Food (15%)|
|Specs||Breville Smart Oven...||Breville Smart Air...||Calphalon Quartz Heat||Ninja Foodi Digital...||KitchenAid Digital...|
|Outer Dimensions||11.2" x 18.5" x 16.2"||17.2" x 21.4" x 12.8"||18.7" x 15.8" x 11.6"||19.7" x 7.6" x 15"||16" x 17" x 11.3"|
|Maximum Pizza Diameter||12"||13"||12"||13"||12"|
|Accesories||Baking pan, Broil rack, Pizza pan||13" Pizza Pan, Oven Racks x2, 9"x13" Broil Rack, Enamel Roasting Pan, Mesh basket rack||Baking pan, pizza pan, dehydrator rack, and wire rack||Wire rack, air fry basket, sheet pan||Wire rack, air fry basket, baking pan, broiling rack|
|Power Consumption (W)||1800||1800||1400||1800||1800|
Best High-Performance Toaster Oven
Breville Smart Oven Air Fryer Pro
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 worth considering.
Read review: Breville Smart Oven Air
Best Option For Most People
Ninja Foodi Digital Oven
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, other than the price tag. 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
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
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 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
Most Convenient Option
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
Notable for Versatility and User Friendliness
KitchenAid Digital Countertop Oven with Air Fry
While it wasn't quite up to par with our award winners, the incredibly versatile KitchenAid Digital Countertop Oven with Air Fry is worth mentioning. If counter and storage space is an issue for you and you need all of your appliances to be as multifunctional as possible, this toaster oven packs a whole lot of functionality into its design. Besides the standard toasting and baking functions, this device can also be used as an air fryer, a dehydrator, and to proof your bread dough. The sleek dial and digital display make using this device about as user-friendly as an oven can be. The provided crumb tray is large and easy to slip in and out of the oven, and its non-stick coating makes it simple to keep clean.
Temperature accuracy is where this model falls short. The temperature of the toaster oven failed to reach the selection on the digital display. It consistently held a lower temperature, which is less than desirable when you need reliability. However, noting the difference makes it easier to compensate for this drawback. All in all, the KitchenAid Countertop Oven is a user-friendly and versatile device that performs well whether you're roasting chicken or heating up a frozen pizza.
Read review: KitchenAid Digital Countertop Oven
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
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.
Two of the primary advantages derived from using a countertop model are 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.
While not the absolute highest scorers, the Breville Mini Smart Oven and the KitchenAide Digital Countertop with Air Fry also impressed us in our baking tests. For the most part, the Breville Mini 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 is a fantastic choice for bakers that are short on space. The KitchenAid Digital Countertop excelled at keeping our baked items moist but had a few obvious dead spots in the oven that resulted in some slightly uneven cooking.
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.
The Black+Decker Extra Wide Crisp N' Bake earned a slightly above average score 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.
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. For example, chicken drumsticks were well cooked (though 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 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 considered 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.
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 they must 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 Calphalon Quartz Heat, the KitchenAide Digital Countertop, 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.
Next, the Cuisinart and Breville Mini Smart Oven 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.
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.
Of the poorer scoring devices, 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 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 we felt those inaccuracies 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 will 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 Breville Mini Smart Oven, and the Ninja Foodi Digital Oven were the rock stars of this metric. 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. 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.
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.
The KitchenAide Digital Countertop was another unit that struggled tremendously with temperature accuracy. It consistently ran low, at times only 5˚ off and occasionally up to 25˚ off. When set to 425˚, the oven consistently measured in at 400˚, regardless of how much time we let go by.
Compared to conventional ovens, toaster ovens preheat fast making them the superior mechanism for a quick delivery of frozen pizza when late-night hunger strikes. Due to its commonality and composition, 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 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 hold 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 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.
The KitchenAide Digital Countertop was another top scorer for heating frozen food. Food was consistently ready faster than the time listed on the instructions. This is an attribute in terms of cooking efficiency. Additionally, pizza crusts came out crisp, and more importantly, evenly cooked.
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 both scored well 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.
When making frozen pizza, the Black+Decker 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 good, but not stellar at cooking frozen food. Every frozen item we threw at it was decently cooked, but always with some notable inconsistencies. For example, some tater tots came out much crispier than others. Meanwhile, the frozen pizzas we baked had gooey cheese and crisp toppings, but the crusts remained doughy and chewy. If you like a soft crust, no biggie, but for fans of crispier crusts, this was disappointing.
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. 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.
Largely due to its speed, the FlashXpress also scored well 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.
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 be worth adding to your arsenal of kitchen appliances. They heat up faster and have much better energy efficiency than conventional ovens. With hundreds of options on the market, it might seem like all toasters ovens are created equal, but when you really start to look at the details, you'll find that the quality varies widely. 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, & Steven Tata
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