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I need some help in buying a toaster oven:

My needs are primarily to roast/grill vegetables, occasional baking (bread, brownies, muffins). I am vegetarian and this is for a 2 person home. I'd like it to compact, simple to clean, and built to last. (I can live without more advanced features if this means it will be more reliable.)

  1. Is it helpful to have a toaster oven with a convection feature? Does this lead to better results in baking? What exactly is this feature anyway? Is it a fan that moves the hot air around in the toaster oven?
  2. Will a rotisserie feature help with grilling vegetables? (Or is it of use only for meat?)
  3. How big does it need to be? (would a 0.9 - 1 cu.ft model be appropriate?)

The choices I have are mainly among these:

Morphy richards - 0.9 cu.ft

Bajaj

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They are impossible to clean properly. Expect to recycle it when it look gross, so don't go to heavy on the "built to last" part –  TFD Jun 8 '12 at 6:09
    
@TFD: I disagree about the impossible to clean. If they're stainless or aluminum inside, and you line the bottom with aluminum, you can scrub them down pretty well with steel wool. –  BobMcGee Jun 12 '12 at 11:58

1 Answer 1

Toaster ovens are awesome. For a toaster oven, there are three key features:

  1. Big enough to fit the largest item you'll cook.
  2. Convection, so food cooks quickly and evenly.
  3. Enameled or stainless/aluminum interior. This lets you use harsh abrasives to keep it clean.

It's a given that your oven should have bake, broil, and roast modes.

For size, you'll probably want it big enough to comfortable fit a 1/4 sheet pan, or a 9" x 12" brownie pan. That will allow you to bake. Much bigger and it will take up a huge amount of counter space and realistically you should use a full oven for the big stuff. Too small and you'll have to fire up the full oven for everything, which defeats the purpose.

Convection makes a huge difference in toaster ovens; because they're so small, they are more prone to uneven heating than normal ovens, and leak heat out the front. If you open them to move food, they'll lose most of the heat, and take a while to get back up to temperature without convection. Convection lets you cook faster and more evenly.

For cleaning and long-term use, you need to be able to scour off the burned-on crap with steel wool or other harsh abrasive. Otherwise the oven will quickly become so unsanitary that it must be replaced, and nonstick finishes never last. The bottom will, of course, be lined with aluminum foil for easy cleanup of drips.

Oh, and rotisserie is a useless gimmick. I've had it on ovens, and never used it yet. Other people may have different experiences with it, of course, but that's my $0.10.

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