Toaster ovens are making a comeback in kitchens across the country. They're small enough to handle a snack, powerful enough to work quickly, and they brown foods better than a microwave. The Good Housekeeping Institute put several to the test.
The best overall toaster oven recommended by the institute is the T-Fal Avanté Elite.
"It did such a good job baking that we felt it could truly substitute for a full-size oven," reported GHI's food appliances tester Sharon Franke.
And a cool safety feature: it shuts off automatically after use.
Attention bargain hunters: the best value under $100 was the Oster 6-slice digital toaster oven. "It had lots of features that you would expect from a much more expensive unit, and its performance was almost as good as the T-Fal's," said Franke. "It has digital controls and it has a crumb tray that pulls out from the front, so it's easy to clean."
For those days when you have a large gathering, a toaster oven from Rival can make serving the crowd a breeze. You could bake two trays of cookies at the same time.
"The Rival comes with two racks, a cookie sheet for baking cookies and it also comes with a 12-inch pizza pan," said Franke.
The Rival is only $59.99, but a word of caution: the automatic shut-off safety feature only works when the timer is set.
This Hamilton Beach convection oven comes out on top as a space saver. The price, $69.99. "The Hamilton Beach was the smallest, so it takes up the least room on the countertop," said Franke. "But it's still large enough to roast a three-pound chicken."
And of course, these toaster ovens can also just make toast.
And here's a safety tip about toaster ovens: make sure you unplug yours after every use. That way, you won't have to worry about it being turned on or left on by accident, which could start a fire.
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