The Best Toaster Ovens of 2020
Best Overall Toaster Oven
Breville Smart Oven Air
For those that want the highest performing, most versatile cooking appliance for their countertop, the Breville Smart Oven Air is the clear choice. On top of providing field-leading baking performance and nearly unparalleled temperature accuracy, it also offers more cooking functions than almost any other oven. These capabilities include slow cooking, dehydrating, and air frying, amongst others. It's also easy to manage and use all of those different functions thanks to a large display screen and intuitive control panel. This may seem like a bit of an afterthought considering the Smart Oven Air's impressive resume, but it can make really good toast as well.
The only real downsides to the Smart Oven Air are its price and its size. Those 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. However, it's likely cheaper and certainly space-saving when compared to getting a separate oven, dehydrator, slow cooker, and air fryer. If you're going to take advantage of all the Smart Oven Air has to offer, we certainly think it's worth the cost and counter space.
Read review: Breville Smart Oven Air
Best High-Performer for Standard Cooking
Breville Smart Oven BOV800XL
If you're enticed by the impressive baking quality and temperature accuracy of the Smart Oven Air, but don't think you'll use all of its extra features, the original Breville Smart Oven is a perfect fit. It offers all of the high-end cooking performance of the Smart Oven Air, but drops the extra slow cooking, dehydrating, and air frying functions. This comes with a significant reduction in price, making it a bit more palatable. It is also significantly smaller than the Air, making it slightly more friendly towards crowded countertops.
Though the Smart Oven is much less expensive than its multi-faceted cousin, it's still on the more expensive end of the spectrum. If you're just looking for something that can make toast and bake a few basic dishes, this extra cost likely isn't worth it. But if you want something that can churn out consistent results for even exacting recipes, this oven is up to the task.
Read review: Breville Smart Oven
Best Bang for the Buck
BLACK+DECKER Extra Wide Crisp N' Bake
If you're looking to add some convenient cooking abilities to your countertop without breaking the bank, the BLACK+DECKER Extra Wide Crisp N' Bake is a great choice. This oven starts with getting the basics right, producing excellent toast and bagels throughout our testing. It also displayed a broader repertoire in our tests, serving up good drumsticks, cookies, cakes, and, possibly most importantly frozen pizzas. Plus, it's large enough to fit a full 12" frozen pizza, making it perfect for late-night cravings.
While we think the cooking prowess of this oven will please most people, it certainly isn't equipped for more advanced recipes. We measured multiple temperature inaccuracies and encountered hot and cold spots within the baking chamber throughout our testing, making this oven a poor choice for temperature-sensitive baked goods or dishes that require very even heat. As long as you don't have gourmet meal aspirations or expectations, this oven offers an impressive amount of performance and convenience for an equally impressive price.
Read review: BLACK+DECKER Extra Wide Crisp N' Bake
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 of its big sibling, but in a more economical and space-saving package. 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. It is also the smallest oven we've found that can still handle more finicky meals and baked goods, thanks to its stellar temperature accuracy.
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. It could also be argued that the price tag is a bit steep, but 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 for dorm dwellers that don't want to give up their baking habits.
Read review: Breville Mini Smart Oven
Best for Convenience
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 heat up almost instantaneously. Those elements both eliminate the need for preheating, and can produce such an intense heat that most standard cooking times get cut in half. They also can get a near-perfect crisp on toast and bagels, and quickly heat leftovers without any of the sogginesses of a 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 temperature scale that is based on celsius. 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
KitchenAid 12" Convection Digital Countertop Oven
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 as well. This oven nearly matched the backing performance and temperature accuracy of the top-scoring Breville and made some great toast to boot. Plus it comes in a variety of different colors, offering an option for pretty much any kitchen aesthetic you're going for.
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
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.
In order 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 in order to remain completely objective. 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. We also used 2 professionally calibrated thermometers to test the temperature accuracy of the ovens at varying temperatures and assessed their overall user-friendliness and ease of cleaning. No matter your needs or budget, out testing results can help you find the perfect countertop cooker.
Related: How We Tested Toaster Ovens
Analysis and Test Results
We split our toaster oven testing and scoring into five 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 all 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 Extra Wide Crisp N' Bake 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. At the far expensive end of the spectrum, the Breville Smart Oven Air provides exceptional performance and a vast array of features, but asks a hefty premium for those offerings.
Being able to bake individual meals or small batches of confections without wasting energy and time heating an entire conventional oven is one of the biggest advantages of having a countertop model. Accordingly, 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, and the Calphalon Quartz Heat all shared top marks in this metric. All of 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 proclivities, we don't think any of these ovens will disappoint.
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, its cake slices came out still delicious, but noticeably less moist in comparison.
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, these shortcomings were minor and we still think the Breville Mini Smart Oven is a fantastic choice for bakers that are short on space.
The Cuisinart just missed out on a top-tier score in our baking tests, earning a 7 out of 10. While it cooked pretty much everything we made acceptably, it did have a slight propensity to dry things out, meaning those that like their cake particularly moist and fluffy or their meat particularly juicy may be a bit disappointed.
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. However, these issues were minor enough that we still enjoyed eating everything that came out of this oven.
The Panasonic FlashXpress and its unique double infrared elements should be thought of more as a super-fast reheater rather than a proper oven. As such, it excels at quickly making toast and bagels, heating leftovers without the sogginess of a microwave, 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 earning the FlashXpress a similarly truncated 4 out of 10 in this metric.
The Oster Extra Large Digital Countertop also earned a 4 out of 10 in our baking testing. it also tended to dry things out, though not to the degree of the FalshXpress, and had 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.
Ease of Use
Toaster ovens are, by their very nature, versatile. But with versatility comes complexity. The controls on these devices must allow you to select whether you are making toast, bagels, frozen food, baking, or broiling, and 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 tend to 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, and the Calphalon Quartz Heat all sit in the former group. These models all feature large, easy to read LCD screens and easily removable and cleanable crumb trays.
The Cuisinart and Breville Mini Smart Oven both scored a 7 out of 10 in our ease of use testing. Both 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 full-sized Breville's dedicated knobs 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 it feels like a small sacrifice to get such a space-saving package.
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, so it's hard to tell if you've chosen your exact desired temperature and time.
The best model in the runner-up group was the FlashXpress, which picked up a score of 5 out of 10. 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). However, using the device can be a bit tricky. You can't make any selections until you press the power button, and if you wait too long it will just fire up on its own, forcing 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 Oster Countertop Oven provided our least favorite user experience in our ease of use testing. While not exactly onerous to use, it serves up more annoyances 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, requiring 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.
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 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 and we should thus stop worrying about it. 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. Obsessing over checking your oven with a thermometer is going to add hassle and take some (or all) of the fun out of baking, but 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.
To test accuracy we set each oven at three separate
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, Breville Mini Smart Oven were the rock stars of this metric, all earning the top score of 9 out of 10. The Breville Smart Oven settled in at exactly 350˚ and 400˚ when set to 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 ran only 5˚ hot when set to 400˚ and 450˚. 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.
Also earning a 4 out of 10, 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. The Oster ran very hotly at all temperatures. 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 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 to find which ovens produced the crispiest crusts and gooiest mozzarella. We also threw in some frozen tater tots for good measure, 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 barley a third of the time it took other ovens to do so. The biggest downside is that this tiny oven can only accommodate a 9-inch pizza, not a full 12-inch pie. To make matters worse, 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. However, 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.
Somewhat surprisingly the models that led most of our other metrics were only middle-of-the-pack in our frozen food testing. Both the full-sized Breville Smart Oven and it's 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, though this could be fixed by extending the cooking time. 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.
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 out 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 tended to burn the cheese on frozen pizza a bit. The Cuisinart cooked pizza much more evenly but had similar issues with leaving the dough a bit too underdone. It was also able to crisp the outsides of tater tots nicely but left them just a bit too mushy.
If a toaster oven doesn't excel at preparing its namesake breakfast item, it's going to lead to some disappointing mornings. To avoid such a catastrophe, we made hundreds of slices on toast in our ovens, paying close attention to how evenly each slice toasted, both across the face of the bread and between the two sides of the bread. To make sure we covered every preference, we used white, wheat, and sourdough bread, and toasted 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.
The original Breville Smart Oven and the Smart Oven Air again led the field in this metric, 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. They also achieved impressive consistency when toasting bread. When we did our toast map test, filling the ovens wall-to-wall with toast, we find only small cold spots at the very extreme edges of these ovens. In comparison, most models left edge slices looking sadly neglected.
The FlashXpress also earned an 8 out of 10 in this metric, largely due to its speed. 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.
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 to lack any particular qualities that would make it stand out. It toasts both bread and bagels relatively evenly, but certainly leaves some cold spots throughout. The KitchenAid avoids those cold spots, but also tends to toast the tops of bread slices noticeably more than the undersides.
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.
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, and there are hundreds on the market, making it difficult to pick the right one, We hope our testing results have 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