Toaster Oven: An Energy-Efficient Appliance for Any Kitchen

Red toaster oven with lid open

In 1910, while working for the Westinghouse Electric Company, scientist William S. Hadaway invented the toaster oven. Flash forward and about 1.7 million toaster ovens now are sold each year in the United States. Besides toasting bread, the toaster oven can be used for cooking and reheating smaller quantities of foods such as pizza, cookies, vegetables and leftovers.

Toaster oven models range from straightforward to highly customized, with features such as pre-programmed settings for different foods and oven-specific bakeware accessories. Prices range from $20 to about $150, depending on size, functionality and style. These compact ovens are ideal for smaller spaces and for people who want an energy-efficient way to cook and reheat small volumes of food. Another attractive feature: They can cook and reheat using about 50 percent less energy than full-sized ovens.

Toaster ovens can be great for preparing single servings, crisping leftover foods and teaching kids basic cooking skills. On average, toaster ovens take about five to 10 minutes to preheat. After each use, unplug your toaster oven for safety and to save energy.

Convection toaster ovens are more modern and extend the possibilities of this compact appliance. Countertop convection ovens, some of which can accommodate a 9-by-13-inch casserole dish or 13-inch pizza, are ideal for small spaces. Convection ovens use high-speed fans to circulate heat evenly throughout the unit, resulting in a more even and uniform temperature. Depending on size, capacity, functionality and power, prices range from $40 to more than $200 for convection toaster ovens.

Much like standard toaster ovens, convection toaster ovens preheat quickly and often have a timer to assist with the cooking process. In general, if you’re using a baking recipe that’s not specifically designed for convection ovens, reduce cooking temperatures by 25 to 35 degrees Fahrenheit.

The same cleaning methods can be used for standard and convection toaster ovens: Clean the outside and inside with a soft, damp cloth and a mild detergent. Before cleaning, unplug the toaster oven and let it cool. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions for proper safety precautions. Avoid getting the heating element wet, and dry all parts thoroughly. To minimize scratching and damage to the oven, do not use abrasive cleaners or materials.


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Emily Cooper
Emily Cooper, RDN, is a registered dietitian nutritionist based in central New Jersey. Read her blog, Sinful Nutrition, and connect with her on Pinterest, Facebook and Instagram.

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