The Hack That Will Change The Way You Clean Your Toaster Oven

If you own a toaster oven, you know how handy it can be for reheating, cooking, and, of course, toasting all sorts of breads. The problem with all that tasty cooking is that these little countertop ovens can get messy quicker than you can down a perfectly toasted bagel. You can prevent a lot of that grime, though, with one key element: aluminum foil.

Yes, a simple roll of foil is all you need to keep the cleanup time for the toaster oven in your home to a minimum. Just wrap the food tray in aluminum foil before placing food on top of it. Any drips, grease, or crumbs from your food will stay on the foil so you can carefully remove it from the tray after cooling and toss it in the trash. Or, if you live in an area where you can recycle aluminum foil, you can clean it off, crumple it in a ball, and add it to your recycling bin. 

Heavy duty aluminum foil is often best for this purpose, because the quality of your aluminum foil is more important than you might have thought, especially when cooking with high heat. It's also easier to tuck into the pan without tearing than flimsy foil. Heavy duty foil is generally more expensive, so shopping for store brands or stocking up on discounted name brands at your local warehouse store can help with the cost. There are also some precautions to keep in mind.

Precautions for using foil in your toaster oven

Now that you know you can line your toaster oven's food tray, you might be wondering about other ways you can use foil in your toaster oven to make cleanup easier. As it turns out, that's about it. Toaster oven manufacturers — including KitchenAid, Black & Decker, and Cuisinart – routinely advise against using foil on anything other than the food tray. That means the crumb tray, racks, and other areas inside the toaster oven should remain free of foil. Why? Applying foil to other parts of your toaster oven can constrict airflow and cause overheating.

When lining food pans with foil to mitigate cooked-on messes that are hard to clean, Reynolds warns that the heat reflection of foil can make foods cook faster. It's wise to keep a close eye on your foods the first time you use foil for this purpose to avoid burning. Reynolds also notes that using foil to cook food with a high acid content can change its flavor, so keep that in mind as well. You might not be able to keep your toaster oven completely mess-free given these precautions, but you can make cleaning up a whole lot easier by lining the food tray with foil as often as possible.