Toasters & Toaster Ovens
is the difference between a toaster and toaster oven? A traditional toaster is used for toasting bread, bagels and some pastries in one, two or four vertical slots. A toaster oven is essentially a combination of a traditional toaster and your conventional oven and can be used to make toast, sandwiches, pizza, cookies, and so much more. Its size and design allow it to cook, reheat and defrost other foods.
When trying to decide between each, consider:
Toaster ovens take up more room than traditional toasters and are not commonly moved around. How much room do you have to accommodate the appliance?
What kind of food will you be toasting? Are you planning on just toasting bread or do you also want to make toasted sandwiches or reheat leftovers?
A traditional toaster may be the best option for an on-the-go lifestyle as it can more quickly toast bread, whereas a toaster oven may take longer to heat and toast.
A toaster oven can be a dream come true for some households where heating up the oven means heating up the entire kitchen. In a toaster oven, the bread lies horizontally, which allows you to toast toppings as well as the bread. But it is not limited to just bread! You can also bake, broil, cook hamburgers, hot dogs, pizza or even a chicken.
Toaster ovens come in a variety of sizes with a variety of power supply. If you are looking to toast bagels, muffins or warm leftovers, you will probably want a smaller oven that has standard heating elements. However, if you want to create meals and sides, you will need an oven that will be able to accommodate this. Larger models may also be able to bake and broil and may use infrared or convection heating. For best results, you will want a toaster oven with a higher wattage since the higher the wattage, the more power it has. Be sure to select an oven with enough watts to effectively prepare your food.
In addition to looking at the size and power, you will also want to decide on the kind of controls you want your new toaster oven to have. A standard timer will feature a dial while an electronic keypad may have functions that are preset. An electronic timer may give you more accuracy, as you will be able to program the exact amount of time. An adjustable temperature gauge with multiple cooking options is also vital, as it allows you to broil, grill or bake as you desire.
The most important safety feature to look for is an automatic shutoff. The automatic shutoff will turn off the heating element once the time is up. If your oven does not have this feature, it will simply sound to let you know the time is up, but will continue heating your food until you shut it off.
You will also want to consider the toaster oven's windows. Are they large and clear? This type of window will allow you to watch your food as it’s being cooked without having to open the oven and release the heat. You may also want to look for models with adjustable racks. This allows you to maximize the interior usable space and cook a variety of foods. In terms of appearance, toaster ovens come in a variety of colors and styles, so you will be able to find one that coordinates with your kitchen décor.
Toaster Oven Cleaning & Maintenance
Toaster ovens with nonstick or continuous-clean interiors will be the easiest to keep clean. Continuous-clean finishes allow food buildup to breakdown overtime, turning it into ash that can easily be removed. It is best to find an oven with a removable crumb tray as opposed to a hinged crumb tray. A removable tray can easily be removed and cleaned and many are even dishwasher safe.
To clean your toaster oven:
Turn off and unplug the oven, letting it cool completely before attempting to clean it.
Remove the crumb tray and dump its contents. Scrub with warm water and dish soap or, if applicable, clean it in the dishwasher.
Wipe down the exterior using a lint-free cloth and sanitizing spray.
Scrub the hard-to-remove residue on the interior with a synthetic scouring pad.
Clean the interior with warm, soapy water and a sponge. The warm water should help to dissolve any built-up grease. You may find that vinegar will also help break down the residue. Rinse well.
If able, remove and clean the racks with warm, soapy water. Let them dry thoroughly before putting them back into the oven.
Your basic toaster will vary in size, typically ranging from one to four slots. Great for singles or small households, a two-slice toaster will do the trick. But if you find yourself cooking for more than just yourself, you may want to increase the amount of slots. If you are cramped on space, some toasters have one long slot that can fit two slices of bread, crust to crust. Referred to as "tandem", these toasters are long and slim as opposed to square and squat like a traditional toaster.
Features to consider are:
A removable crumb tray will make clean-up easier
A defrosting feature allows you to thaw frozen breads or pastries before toasting
A reheating feature allows you to reheat your bread without burning it, in case it was left too long after toasting
Different heat settings allow you to choose how dark you want your bread
An LCD display indicates the progress of the toast
Auto-centering will help center the bread for even browning
Adjustable slots allow you to toast everything from a slim slice of bread to a large bagel
Bread lift will raise the bread slightly after it has popped up, allowing you to access shorter slices of breads or muffins
Bagel Setting allows you to toast your bagel on just one side
To Clean Your Toaster:
Unplug the toaster, allowing it to cool completely, then remove and empty the crumb tray. You can dislodge any burnt-on food inside with an old toothbrush or credit card - do not use a metal object as this can scratch the interior. You can also use a wet pastry brush to clean smaller crumbs.
Common Safety Tips:
Never poke a metal object into a plugged-in toaster, even if it is off, as the coils could shock you
Do not touch metal parts with an oven mitt or potholder
Allow the toaster to cool completely before cleaning
Routinely clean the crumb tray, as crumbs are often the cause of burning smells and smoke