How To Use A Toaster Oven

A toaster oven is easy to use, especially if you buy one with uses knobs to control the time, temperature and function. It is intuitive because all you need to do is to turn the knobs to the desired settings. However, digital models may not be as straightforward. You might need to press a few buttons to find out how to adjust all the settings. Furthermore, digital toaster ovens tend to have more features. Hence, you might really need to pore over the manual to take advantage of all the features offered. Nevertheless, we will try to explain generally how to use a toaster oven in the article below.

Out Of The Box

A toaster oven operates using electricity. You don’t have an option unlike conventional ovens which may run on gas. So, right out of the box, you just need to plug it into the power outlet. Bear in mind that the cord for toaster ovens tend to be quite short for safety reasons. Therefore, be prepared to allocate a space on your counter that is near a power outlet. You must also ensure sufficient space all round as the toaster oven can get quite hot when in operation.

Your toaster oven would usually come with accessories such as a crumb tray, wire rack and/or baking tray. Remove and wash them before use. Some can be dump into the dishwasher but it is best to check the manual to ensure that they are dishwasher safe before doing so.

Turn on the toaster oven and let it run empty the first time. Most models would recommend you to do so to get rid of the smell.

How To Use A Toaster Oven For Toasting

Unless you have a toaster oven with a toaster on top like the Hamilton Beach Toastation, all other models will have a wire rack for you to place your bread on. Put the rack in the centre slot. Generally, you don’t need to preheat a toaster oven for toasting bread.

Select the toasting function and shade preference. Some models would require you to adjust the timer instead of shade settings. The longer you leave it in the toaster oven, the darker your toast will turn out.

For digital models, the shade preference may be in the form of numbers with 1 being the lightest. Some models like the Cuisinart TOB-260 can have up to 7 shade selections to give you that perfect toast.

Start from the lower shade setting when toasting for the first few times. It is better to err on the side of caution rather than burning your toast for the first few uses. Alternatively, keep a lookout as the toaster oven does its job rather than relying solely on the timer. Trial and error may also be needed to get the settings right for the toast results that you want.

Using A Toaster Oven For Other Cooking Functions

Apart from toasting, a toaster oven can also be used for other cooking functions such as baking and broiling. How to use a toaster oven for these functions is similar to using it for toasting. Select the cooking function, temperature and time. Preheat the oven if required. Then, put in your food and wait for it to cook. A bell will sound at the end of the process to let you know that your food is ready.

Some large toaster ovens like the Breville Smart Oven Pro will have 3 or 4 rack positions. Where to place your food will depend on how you intend to cook it. You will have to check the user manual for the recommended rack position for each function. Generally, broiling should be done near the top, toasting in the middle and baking in the middle or lower slot.

Other factors to bear in mind involve the baking function and convection feature. For instance, if you are baking a cake, you have to ensure there is enough head room for it to rise. This is especially so for smaller toaster ovens that has limited height in its interior. Otherwise, the food may touch the heating element and cause a fire.

As for the convection feature, it is useful for shortening the cooking time and for a more even cooking result. So, if you are following a recipe for conventional ovens, it is recommended to reduce the temperature and cooking time accordingly if you are turning on the convection feature. Failure to do so may result in the food being overcooked and dried out.

Safety Considerations

Baking Toaster OvenHow to use a toaster oven wouldn’t be complete without being mindful of the safety issues. Even the best toaster oven must be handled with care. Firstly, as mentioned, the toaster oven can get very hot while in operation. Therefore, using an oven mitt is recommended to avoid burns.

Because the outer casing can reach high temperatures, you need to allow for sufficient space around the sides and top. Some models recommend a minimum of 4-inch space all round the sides and 6-inch for the top. In other words, if you have a low cabinet, that spot below wouldn’t be safe for your toaster oven. Neither would it be safe to place it near curtains and other flammable materials.

Secondly, using metal foil to cover the trays and any part of the toaster oven is not recommended. This can cause overheating in the oven. Thirdly, ensure that you use only oven safe pans and dishes. Covered pans must be used with caution because of the risk of cracks as the pressure builds up inside the oven as it is heated up. Fourthly, avoid cooking oversized food in the oven as it is a potential fire hazard.

Lastly, read and follow the safety warnings in the user manual. Use your judgement and common sense too. How to use a toaster oven correctly and as intended isn’t rocket science. It is an easy to use kitchen appliance that can help you to cook simple, fast and tasty meals.

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