Mistakes Everyone Makes When Buying Toaster Ovens

Toaster ovens have long been a staple in many homes. Capable of doing more than the average toaster, consumers love its versatility and, more importantly, its ease of use. Many people will even use a toaster oven in a pinch if they don't want to preheat their regular oven. That's why you'll find more and more people adding toaster ovens to their must-need kitchen appliance list.

But as it is with any appliance, choosing the right toaster oven can take time. While there are many things to consider when selecting the right one for you and your family, the bloggers over at Toaster Oven Love say you only need to do two things when choosing one. You need to know what you want to accomplish with it, and you need to do some research. Here are some common mistakes to avoid when shopping for one.

Not knowing what features you want

Since toaster ovens have begun to replace the common toaster in most kitchens, companies knew they needed to start giving these appliances more appealing features. Gone are the days when a toaster oven just toasts your bread. Now you can use it to prepare meals, bake, defrost, and broil to your heart's content. While most toaster ovens on the market have similar basic features for the appliance, certain brands offer some that others don't.

You'll want to know ahead of time what type of features you want your toaster oven to have. According to Abt, these features include cooking functions like toast, bake, broil, and more. You'll also want to see if you need a defrost option, automatic shut-off, manual or digital temperature settings, or timers, just to name a few. Taking the time to jot down the features you want your toaster oven to have will save you a lot of time when you begin shopping around for one.

Not having a dedicated spot for it

The popularity of the toaster oven has made manufacturers rethink its design as well as function. While the common toaster takes up little space on your countertop, the typical toaster oven needs a bit more wiggle room. They can run quite large, so it's important to have a dedicated spot for them to live in your kitchen. This can include your kitchen counter (most popular), but people have also built special pull-out shelves for them.

This may not be difficult for those with large kitchens and plenty of counter space. But for those in smaller homes and apartments, finding the perfect home for your toaster oven can be tricky — especially if you need that space for other things. KitchenSeer suggests that if you're low on counter space, using a freestanding shelf (like a rolling island) or installing a wall-mounted shelf can be great alternatives. Where and how you store your toaster oven matters. If you use it daily, your countertop is ideal. But if you use it intermittently, a freestanding or wall-mounted shelf will do. You can also store it in a cabinet if you tend to use it infrequently.

Not knowing the difference between a standard or convection toaster oven

There are a few options available to you when choosing a toaster oven. You can opt for the standard version, which includes the basic features we mentioned earlier, and some may even have a few advanced settings that'll require trial running. Or you can buy a convection toaster oven, which gives you more functions like baking and actual cooking. 

The biggest difference between a standard and a convection toaster oven, as reported by Toaster Oven Love, is that the latter works closer to that of your regular oven. It keeps the temperature more accurate and removes moisture. It also cooks your food faster and more evenly. This option is perfect for those who often don't have time to use their regular oven, but want to get food cooked thoroughly. Knowing the difference between a standard toaster oven and a convectional one will help you decide which one is better for your needs.

Tossing your toaster once you buy a toaster oven

Every kitchen appliance is used differently from home to home. You might use your air fryer way more than your neighbor, who swears by their instant pot. When buying a toaster oven, you might no longer need your toaster. According to The Kitchen Community, despite their similar names, a toaster and toaster oven are vastly different. The oven has a ton more functions, but if you're low on counter space, you might not need to keep both.

While toaster ovens are bigger, have various uses, can fit more pieces of bread, and get hotter, they're also slower when it comes to toasting. So f you usually have little time for breakfast, getting rid of your toaster might be a bad idea as you'll have to wait longer for your morning bagel. Before tossing your toaster, take a look at what you use it for and how often. That way, you'll get a better idea if it's necessary to keep.

Not using a strong enough power source

Toaster ovens do use more power than a standard toaster. That's why it's important to use a power socket that can withstand it. Most toaster oven fires are due to faulty plugs, old wiring, and not cleaning the appliance regularly. According to Energy Star, a standard toaster oven will use between 1,200 to 1,400 watts when in use, which is reported to be between six to 10 minutes.

While it is safe to leave your toaster oven plugged in when not in use, it's highly recommended that you unplug it. Manual toaster ovens aren't known to consume power when not used, but digital-controlled toaster ovens will consume about 0.2 watts when sitting idle. Whether you leave it plugged in or not, you still want to ensure you're using a power source that can withstand the wattage. Especially if you plan on using your toaster oven daily and longer than 10 minutes at a time.

Overcrowding the area

We mentioned before that having a dedicated home for your toaster oven is important. Because of their size, you may find it harder to organize your countertops efficiently. And too often, people cram too much stuff on top of or around their appliances, which could lead to fire hazards. Prod Protect suggests keeping a minimum distance of four inches on all sides of the toaster oven. This allows the air to circulate better and avoids any unnecessary damage.

Because toaster ovens radiate a lot of heat, you need to be careful with what you decide to store around them. If it is near a window, make sure any drapes or curtains are not touching or get caught inside the appliance. It's fine to store things like cutting boards or platters on top of the oven when not in use, but remove them when you plan on using them. It's always a good idea to take the time to know what you can safely store near your appliance, as this will help prevent fires and damage.

Ignoring the user manual

It comes with every new device or appliance you bring into your home. The informative user manual is there for a reason, yet we're all guilty of ignoring it. When it comes to kitchen appliances, it's always a good idea to take the time to read them. This is especially true if you have never owned a certain device before. And since many toaster ovens offer different features, it's good to know what yours can and cannot do.

Even the folks over at Toaster Oven Love read the manual whenever they bring home a new toaster oven. This, they say, will help you cook easier, and you'll learn all the little functions you may not have known are available. Reading the user manual will also give you instructions on cleaning and caring for your item, when to seek a professional repair person, and how to avoid common fire hazards. You'll be surprised by how often the wrong setting can cause toaster ovens to break or even catch fire. So take the time and read that user manual.

Not knowing what accessories you want

Like many kitchen appliances, toaster ovens have a ton of accessories that either come with them or ones you can buy separately. Because we're now able to do a lot more with toaster ovens than in the past, it's a good idea to sit down and figure out what kind of accessories you want with yours. Most come with a standard tray, but depending on what you want to use the appliance for, you might need more options, just like with a regular oven.

Toaster Oven Love suggests that every household with a toaster oven silicone oven mitts to protect your hands, an oven thermometer to help cook meat to perfection, and a large hot pad where you can place your trays straight from the oven. Other accessories you might want to look into buying are sizable bakeware, pizza stones, and silicone mats to catch spills and drips.

Not deciding between gas or electric

The most common types of toaster ovens sold in stores are electric. They have a cord and are stored on kitchen countertops near a plug for quick use. But there are also gas-powered toaster ovens. While you may not see many gas-powered toaster ovens in homes, they are available and, depending on your needs, might be the better option for you.

Life Family Fun reports that there are pros and cons to both electric and gas-powered toaster ovens. Of the main pros of the gas-powered toaster oven, the user has more control over the heat. It also preheats a lot faster than electric ones. But it can cause food to burn too much and doesn't heat as evenly as its electric counterpart. While you may end up with an electric toaster oven in your home, it doesn't hurt to research how a gas-powered one might benefit you more.

Not learning the proper cleaning techniques

If you have ever owned a toaster oven, you know how quickly it can fill up with crumbs, melted cheese, and more. Despite its convenience for toasting and reheating food, it can get messy really fast. That's why knowing the proper cleaning techniques will help prolong the life of your appliance, as well as keep your food from forming a new concoction on the bottom. Your appliance's user manual will provide you with the steps to clean it, but there are some standard things you can do in the meantime.

According to BoozWay, it's best to use a soft, moist cloth to clean the appliance's interior and exterior. This will pick up any loose crumbs and allow you to scrub away any residue. Never submerge your device in water, and make it a point to clean the crumbs every other week. This will depend on how much you use it, but a monthly cleaning of your toaster oven will definitely help prolong its lifespan. For tougher stains, sprinkle a bit of baking soda on a damp cloth and scrub away.

Not deciding on a basic vs. multi-purpose model

Certain toaster ovens on the market do way more than toast bread or reheat leftovers. Some, like the convection oven we mentioned earlier, can be used for baking and preparing whole meals. This is why it's good to know if a basic or multi-purpose model is better for your home and your needs. The Sugar Free Diva swears by her toaster oven and uses it daily for many needs outside traditional toasting. That's why she recommends multi-purpose ones.

While the basic models will do a bit more than just toast bread, multi-purpose toaster ovens can be used for a variety of things. You can use it as a secondary oven if your main one is in use. Craving cookies but don't want to preheat your main oven? Use your toaster oven. And because toaster ovens don't use as much energy as other appliances, you're saving power as well as time. So when looking for a new toaster oven, consider whether a basic model is your way to go or if the multi-purpose option will suit you better.

Buying the cheapest option

Because toaster ovens are becoming a kitchen staple, there are a lot of options on the market today. Some do the bare minimum of toasting bread and defrosting food, while others have a slew of settings you can use for baking, cooking, and more. Since toaster ovens now come with a range of features, their price points vary. Energy Star reports that the most common price range for a standard toaster oven runs between $40 and $60.

When choosing a toaster oven for your needs, it may be tempting to select the cheapest option. If you only plan on using it to toast bread, perhaps a generic toaster is better for you. But if you plan on using the toaster oven only a few times a week, you'll want to buy a durable model that will last longer. You don't need to buy all the bells and whistles if you don't plan on using them. But buying the cheapest option on the market might find you back at the store in a few months' time.

Not knowing how to repair it

Toaster ovens, like any other appliance in your home, will break down. It's not a matter of if but when. Appliances break all the time. This can be caused by overuse, improper use, or just longevity. Sometimes you must admit it's had a good run, but it's time to seek a replacement. Still, many people can troubleshoot a broken toaster oven by reading the user manual. Most issues are quick fixes that can be done in minutes. But for larger repairs, it's a good idea to take it to a professional.

According to HowStuffWorks, the main things you'll work with when fixing a toaster oven are the main switch, thermal fuse, heating element, and solenoid. Your user manual will walk you through how to fix any of these problems, but because toaster ovens are a bit more complex than toasters, taking it to a professional is your better option. The appliance's manufacturer could suggest local places for you to go. If not, your local hardware store could help.

Not considering how much you'll actually use it

You now know that there are a ton of toaster ovens out there on the market. Some are super basic, while others could essentially replace your main oven. That's why one of the biggest mistakes people make when buying a toaster oven is not considering how often they'll use it. Even the folks over at Toaster Oven Love say toaster ovens nowadays can do so much, it's the only appliance you may need. That's why when buying a new one, give yourself time to think about what you'll use it for.

Do you plan just to toast bread and reheat the occasional leftover or slice of pizza? Do you have more things in mind, like using it for baking or preparing larger meals? Before you head out to the store and buy one, write down what you definitely will use it for and what you hope to use it for. This will help you narrow down the type you're going to look at. And remember that most toaster ovens can do way more than you think, so even if you get a basic model, play around with the other features. You might find you want to go for a multi-purpose one next time.