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There are many different types of countertop toaster ovens with any number of various functions and features. Choose the best countertop toaster oven by first determining your particular food preparation needs. This appliance will be placed on one of your countertops, so make sure it fits in the space provided and can be easily operated by all family members. Another critical consideration when selecting the right toaster oven is the amount of interior space needed. In addition, valuable accessories can add functionality to your countertop toaster oven and make it even more useful.
In most kitchens, countertop space may be limited so be sure the countertop toaster oven model you select will function within the space allowed. If you have children who will use the toaster oven, consider choosing a model with easy-to-understand controls or dials. Basic temperature setting, cook function, and timer controls are all that's needed if the oven is used primarily for heating and reheating food. Elderly users will also appreciate simple controls and larger, easy to turn knobs. Look for other valuable safety features such as an audible tone or beep to let you know the food is done and an automatic shut-off that will turn the oven off after a set period of time.
Interior space is an important factor for some consumers who wish to prepare large food items. Some countertop toaster ovens have the capacity to hold a 12-inch (30.5 cm) pizza easily. A smaller oven will work if you're just plan on heating up smaller food items like pizza rolls or a few hors d'oeuvres. An auto-eject rack or platform will likely take up more interior space but will also make it easier to remove hot food out of the toaster oven. When it comes time to clean up, a smaller oven interior will likely require less time and effort.
If you are just going to use your countertop toaster oven for making toast or similar food items, a basic model is likely to work best for you. If your food preparation needs are a bit more complicated, toaster ovens are available with a variety of features. For example, some toaster ovens have a rotating rotisserie and can roast an entire chicken or other large food item like a roasts or a ham. Convection heating, in which heated air is circulated throughout the interior of the toaster oven, is another useful option. This convection feature allows you to use the countertop toaster oven for baking as well as other types of cooking.
My toaster oven is great for warming up leftover pizza, or making little mini pizzas from bagels. It does have a "toast" setting, which is nice, or it will heat to a certain temperature. That's pretty standard on most toaster ovens.
My main concern was finding one that stays relatively cool to the touch on the outside. I have cats and they are apt to get up on the countertops, and I didn't want them to get burned by a hot oven, if I left the kitchen for a second, and they hopped up on the counter. The "stay cool" exterior, then, was a big plus.
You can get a decent oven for about $40 at any discount store.
I don't know too many people who use a toaster oven for anything more than toasting bread or bagels, warming food, and that kind of thing. So really, simple is the best way to go.
Most toaster ovens I've seen don't even come until you turn the timer dial. Then, they will cut off once the time is up. That's a great safety feature.
I do like the auto-eject feature, because it is easier to get food in and out of the oven. They're great for warming small food items, and that's where they excel, so there's really no reason to get a really fancy one.
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