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What’s a Toaster Oven? (The Amazing Two-In-One Mini Oven)

Tired of the same old microwave that results in soggy food and toughened bread? Or maybe you have a huge oven that you simply cannot fit into your small kitchen. Well, we have the perfect solution for you... a toaster oven!

These mini-ovens can fit all your cooking needs, from warming up your food to baking your favorite bread! Still not sure what is a toaster oven or what it can do? Well, to answer that and more, keep on reading!

What is a Toaster Oven?

Front Image Of A Toaster Oven

If you've perhaps been living under a rock, then you might not know what is a toaster oven. These mini ovens are small electric ovens equipped with a wire rack, removable baking pan, and a front door as well. These devices function as both a toaster as well as an oven.

The primary function of this kitchen staple is to toast the bread by heating it. It works by evaporating the water content of the bread to char its surface! They are slower than standard toasters, taking 4-6 minutes to make the toast instead of the regular 2-3 minutes!

However, that disadvantage is easily overcome by its variety of functions it performs as a mini oven. These are incredibly versatile and can help you prepare all kinds of dishes. 

As a mini-oven, it can:

  • 1
    Bake Bread and Desserts
  • 2
    Cook Fresh Foods
  • 3
    Bake Potatoes
  • 4
    Cook Frozen Food
  • 5
    Warm-up Food
  • 6
    Roast Your Food
  • 7
    Make Snacks
  • 8
    Reheat Leftovers

The counter-top space required by these devices is about 20 by 10 inches at the maximum.

Toaster Oven General Features:

  • Compact Size and Shape
  • Multiple Shelf and Racks
  • Broil Options
  • Easy Cleaning and Maintenance
  • Interior Lighting

A Brief History of the Toaster Oven

Side Front Image Of A Toaster Oven

The history of the toaster oven is a rich one and starts all the way from when bread was toasted for the first time! Romans used the toasting technique to preserve bread. However, it was not until the invention of electricity that the toaster saw a revolution in its design.


Although the idea of a toaster had been tested and invented by Maddy Kennedy in 1872, toasters did not take its current shape until the invention of a high resistance alloy wire called Chromel. This enabled William Hadaway to build the first toaster oven by 1910. Although the idea was accidental, it was certainly revolutionary.


The traditional Pop-up Toaster was invented by Charles Strite in 1919 who implemented this idea successfully with the help of Waters Genter Company. The main advantage of this model was that you did not have to manually turn the bread over during the process. The first commercial models were set to sell by 1926.

1936 - 1961

The next changes in the world of the toaster oven were based on making the operation smoother and quieter. In 1936, a company added a pneumatic shock absorber while in 1950, self-lowering technology was introduced.

1971- 1978

Most of these appliances were available in woodgrain and painted finishes. However, during this era, decorative finishes were introduced that made the look even more attractive.

During 1978, the double slice toasters were introduced which remain popular to this day.

1985 - 1996

There were many accelerated changes in the toaster oven during this time period. The first under cabinet toaster was introduced to combat the problems of limited space. A cool touch toaster was invented as well.


Currently, you can choose from a host of different models that feature many advanced features and an enhanced performance. A number of settings allow you to define the temperature while some even have 4 slots for the bread.

How Does a Toaster Oven Work?

Left Front Image Of A Toaster Oven

The basic operation of the Toaster Oven is the heating up of the heating element to the desired temperature. Since, the toaster oven performs baking, cooking, and toasting; it has different controls and settings for each option.

For the toasting option, a toaster thermostat is set. Then the oven operates the upper and lower heating elements according to the setting you choose. Next, these heating elements are heated up and all moisture is drained for the bread in order to give it that desired brown color.

When used for either baking or broiling, the baking thermostat is used. This thermostat operates the temperature you want as well as the time.

Two Types of Toaster Ovens

  • Conventional Toaster Oven: this oven uses radiant heat that emanates from the heating element, warm air as well as the conduction of the pan to the item. 
  • Convection Toaster Oven: in this oven, everything is similar; instead, the heating used through the warm air is enhanced through a fan. This removes moisture more efficiently, cooks food faster and increases your oven's temperature range.

Benefits of A Toaster Oven

The Toaster Oven holds its own over a wide range of other appliances such as toasters, microwave ovens, and even regular baking ovens. These mini smart ovens can perform a large range of functions and so have become a kitchen staple over the years.

The Main Benefits of the Appliance are:

Small Size

The major benefit of the toaster oven is its small size. These appliances are lighter than most microwaves and more user-friendly. They generally take very little space on your kitchen countertop and with the new low headroom versions; you can set them up quite nicely anywhere in the kitchen.


Most toaster ovens are equipped with a broiler function that works exactly like the oven broiler. Most microwave ovens cannot broil food. However, these devices can brown evenly and quickly as well.

Energy Efficient 

These smart devices use the lowest wattage possible. Generally, toaster ovens use half of the energy at about 1200 – 1800 Watts. It is extremely energy efficient.


Bread and all sorts of other foods can be rewarmed and reheated with a toaster oven without becoming soggy or hard. Tough bread from the microwave is a result of faster heating. The toaster oven takes its time to heat up the food evenly.


While the microwave may be faster in heating, it can result in tough or soggy food. This is because the rapid heating action can damage the food. Therefore, the toaster oven takes longer, nevertheless it heats it up quickly and efficiently.

Final Thoughts

So, there's the answer to the question of "what is a toaster oven"! All these amazing facts and figures surely showed you what a toaster oven is and why you should use it! It is a device with amazing versatility, which will certainly make your baking and cooking needs easier to fulfill!

Ready to buy your own toaster oven? Here's our top 10 toaster oven picks to get your started!

Happy Toasting!

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