Kitchen Stewardship | A Baby Steps Approach to Balanced Nutrition

Ten Tips to Maximize your Convection Toaster Oven {GUEST POST}

July 27th, 2012 · 28 Comments · Uncategorized

This is a guest post from Ellen of Appliance Freaks.

Convection toaster ovens are such multi-tasking, handy small appliances that in many homes they do most of the work. They can do practically everything the big oven can do, but faster, with less energy and less mess to clean. And there are some chores convection toaster ovens do even better than their big brothers.

Note from Katie: In our culture, the art of cooking without a microwave is becoming lost. We real foodies can revitalize it! The toaster oven is one of my top favorite appliances, and we use it all the time to reheat leftover and bake. It’s an eco-friendly choice, too, because if you don’t have to preheat your large oven, you’re saving energy. Here’s mine, serving as a place to dry out yogurt jars:

toaster oven

Curious about why I don’t use the microwave? I ran a series on avoiding the microwave and why, and you can see a list of all the posts, research and experience/tips, at the bottom of this one.

10 Ways to Use Your Toaster Oven

1. You can cook just about anything

It might sound funny, but your convection toaster oven is used for so many things that people forget that it can toast bread as well. You can cook any meal that you used to cook in your regular oven, from pot roast, to whole chicken, pizza and lasagna. Baking bread is easier than ever, cookies come out perfectly. When cooking bigger pieces of meat, make sure it has two inches of clearance for even cooking.

2. Become a cookie monster

Baking cookies in a convection oven is so easy that you can let your kids do it. High end convection ovens like the Breville Smart Oven BOV800XL even have a self-eject tray, so that the kids do not have to reach inside and burn their little fingers. Because your oven is small, there is no wasted energy even if you want just a few cookies to satisfy a sudden craving. Be careful to get them out when done, they will be cooked much faster than in a regular oven.

3. Pizza for breakfast

Warming up pizza was never easier than with your convection toaster oven. Usually, you end up getting a soggy piece left over from last night, with limp veggies and hard cheese. Your convection toaster oven will make that warmed up piece taste like it is freshly baked, with nicely melted cheese and wonderful, crunchy crust. Make sure that your convection oven comes with one of those handy crisping trays.

Here’s an old picture from Katie demonstrating how you can reheat leftovers for the whole family at once – a bowl of cream of potato soup, leftover pizza, a piece of fish and a baked potato. They might come out at different times, but only one tray is dirtied. More on reheating leftovers without the microwave.

reheat no mic.jpg (500x375)

4. Bake the best potatoes

The secret to making perfect baked potatoes is to make them soft, well done inside and golden brown on the outside. Since your convection toaster oven cooks evenly on all sides, your potatoes come out cooked to perfection even if they are very large. Add some cheese and bacon bits and your guests will love you for ever.

5. Make your own trail mix

Many health-conscious people like to make their own mix of nuts, to avoid harmful chemicals that are often used as preservatives in commercial packages. Just throw a bunch of mixed nuts on a shallow cookie tray and roast them for a few minutes in your convection toaster oven. You can experiment with flavors by adding anything you like, from salt to vanilla.

6. Speed up defrosting

Defrosting in your convection toaster oven is fast and convenient. If you are in a hurry to make a pizza and forgot to defrost mushrooms or peppers, throw them into your convection oven and they will be not only defrosted but partially cooked as well.

7. A bit of luxury – chocolate fondue

Melting chocolate can be a hit or miss job. If you try to cook it on the stove top, it can burn or turn into lumps. Your convection toaster oven will do the job with no mess and no fuss. Use a shallow heat-proof ceramic dish that you can put straight on the table, and let your guests dig in. Melted chocolate, also called chocolate fondue, works best if you dip strawberries, pieces of pineapples or papayas in it. Cookies work fine too.

8. Become a baking expert

Hot air that circulates evenly through your convection toaster oven makes it perfect for baking. Whether you want to make your own bread, throw in a few tortillas or bake ciabata for sandwiches, they will come out of your convection oven just perfect: fluffy and light inside and golden and crunch on the outside.

9. Save money on kids’ crayons

Crayons do not last long. Kids love them, but they break easily and their bits and pieces end up collecting dust in kids’ drawers and under the bed. Since they are made of wax, the broken bits can be easily melted in your convection oven, and re-made in any shape or size you like. Make appropriate forms out of sturdy aluminum foils and fill them with broken bits. Few minutes in your convection oven on 250 degrees and they will melt and fuse. Once cooled, let kids play with them until they are again in bits and pieces, and then start all over.

10. And finally, toast bread

Of course, you can toast your bread in the convection toaster oven. The ‘convection’ part will just make the process faster. Some people complain that the bread is not toasted as nice as in classical toaster oven, but they probably did not read the manual. Most convection toaster ovens have simple buttons that say ‘toast bread’. How hard is that?

It will take you some time to discover all that you can do with your convection toaster oven. Only your imagination is the limit, and the speed with which everything gets done will encourage you to experiment with various dishes even if you are normally too busy for cooking. Think about how much healthier it is to cook your own dishes with fresh ingredients, free of all additives, sugar and fats. Your convection toaster oven will make it fast, simple and easy.

Thanks for the guest post, Ellen!

Ellen Kaylor co-authors a popular blog Appliance Freaks with her friend Karen May. Their goal is to provide their readers with the expert advice on pros and cons of various kitchen and home appliances, by offering thorough and unbiased reviews. Ellen, the passionate juicer, recently did a detailed review of the Breville Juice Fountain Elite 800JEXL juicer.

Ellen is also a mother of three and a popular teacher of cooking classes in which she shares her culinary expertise and her favorite recipes with her students.


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28 Comments so far ↓

  • Stacy Makes Cents

    I LOVE my toaster oven!!! Since I kicked out the microwave, it’s about the only way that I reheat leftovers. If mine broke today, I’d immediately go out and buy another one – and I’m cheap, so that says a lot. :-)

    Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Stacy,
    Ditto! And I’ve done it – we lived about 2 days without it and I was off to Bed Bath and Beyond!! i couldn’t handle it… :) Katie

    Stacy Makes Cents Reply:

    Ah yes, but at least Bed Bath and Beyond has coupons! :-)

  • Beth @ Turn 2 the Simple

    I love my toaster oven! I always use it on the “bake” setting b/c I don’t know what the difference is with the “convection” setting — any help, tips please!?

    Katie G. Reply:

    I believe convection turns a fan on which moves air around. I used to almost constantly use convection for cooking, until the fan broke…..

  • Kelly

    So are you concerned about the nonstick surface of toaster ovens?? I know that when I bought mine it took a while to burn off that initial chemical smell. I just left it outside until it seemed to be gone, but still I wonder if it is releasing some Teflon like substance into the air. Do you know anything about this???

    Katie @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Kelly,
    I don’t think mine is non-stick on the inside, but i could be oblivious. ?? Sounds like you made a wise call IMO by letting it air out a little bit. I think my big oven had some sort of chemical finisher on it that had to burn off the first half hour, so maybe little ones do too.

    Hopefully Ellen will weigh in, too.

    :) Katie

    Angela J. Reply:

    I know this post is old, but I was wondering if we could revive the discussion. I LOVE my toaster oven, but I love it so much that I’ve worn mine out, and I have been wanting a bigger one… so, I purchased one for about $150.

    Yikes! That price tag made me cringe, but I didn’t want a “cheap” one that was going to break down on me, and I was really excited about the bigger size (cooking whole chickens, etc). Also, this one claimed to be “100% stainless steel”.

    Unfortunately, when it came, the coating inside was definitely non-stick/teflon. The recommended “burnoff” period definitely induced a chemical smell. A call to the company confirmed that it has some kind of coating. So I returned it, because my husband and I have made a commitment to have the safest possible materials in our house from now on. Upon inspection, my old toaster oven most likely has a coating on it as well. (I had just never thought about it before.) Ick! Now that I know, I’m totally freaked out about putting my food into a super hot box that is baking fumes into my (good!) food.

    Since then, I’ve done a ton of Google searches only to come up frustrated/confused. The most help I’ve found has been on pet bird sites! (Teflon is not safe for birds… Wouldn’t it make sense it’s also not safe for humans? … Anyone ever heard of the canary in the mine shaft?) Anyway, after a ton of searching and lots of grumbling, I gave up.

    I started to think about who might 1) Care about safe cookware, and 2) Might be knowledgable about the types of kitchen appliances out there, and/or 3) Might have resources/contacts to find out … And you were the first person to come to mind! I’ve been following your blog for awhile now and I love your posts and your outlook on food, cooking, safety, etc.

    Is there any way you might have any interest in helping me find a safe toaster oven to use? You say your toaster oven doesn’t have a coating on it – would you mind sharing the brand and model? Maybe that would work for us!

    Thank you for any insight you might offer!

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Angela,
    Sorry I’m so late catching your comment; I got buried releasing the latest ebook.

    I just went and checked the inside of my toaster oven, because you’ve got me so curious. It’s totally silver in color, so I assumed it was just a metal of some sort. However. Maybe it is coated? What color was yours on the inside, the one you took back?

    Mine is just an Oster, $50-70 maybe at Bed Bath & Beyond. I wonder if ovens are non stick on the inside too now!!! That would explain why it’s decently easy to clean them and why they’re so slippery/shiny. I just never think of anything being nonstick unless it’s black, like a fry pan.

    I’d love to hear more about how you figured out yours!
    Katie

    Angela J. Reply:

    Hi Katie,

    My turn for apologies for the late reply – I got bogged down at work!

    The model I purchased had a black coating on the inside, so it was pretty easy to tell it was non-stick. Also, it really made quite a smell when I heated it the first time. Although I was careful to read the description, and to purchase “100% stainless steel”, I wasn’t quite up on the lingo. Anything that says “Easy to Clean” has some kind of coating on it, even if it says it has a stainless steel interior.

    Incidentally, Oster seems like the best brand, and apparently they used to sell non-coated models. Now their interiors are something called “aluminized steel” (I contacted the company) which is stainless steel coated with some kind of aluminum alloy, and I think may be the lesser of two evils. I’m not thrilled with aluminized anything, but I think it may be better than teflon, or it’s derivatives.

    There is also something called Durenamel, which seems like it may be better because it has enamel in its name, but upon further research, contains teflon!

    I wish I could just get a standard stainless steel interior, I really didn’t think it would be this difficult. For now, I am limping by on our old one, which is really starting to fail. I can’t bring myself to “approve” anything on the market… BUT I don’t like to use a microwave, and heating a big oven seems very wasteful (not to mention that has a non-stick interior too!), so I will have to cave pretty soon.

    I will keep you and your readers posted if I find anything good. Or if anyone has anything to add on this subject… I’d love to hear about it!

    Thanks!

    Jennifer Reply:

    Angela, I have been on a similar search, and also came to Katie’s website because I thought the issue might have come up here. I tried a Waring Pro which seemed to have a stainless steel interior, but it was very hot to the touch and with two small kids I decided it just didn’t work in our kitchen space. We may end up with a regular toaster, which is what we had for years before the old one stopped working, but I had hoped for something more versatile. In stores I have noticed that some nonstick toaster oven interiors smell worse than others, but I don’t know whether that is significant or not.
    I’m curious whether you’ve made a decision one way or another since your last post here?

    Beth Reply:

    Please see my updates below with my research on which toaster ovens no not have nonstick coatings.

  • jamie

    Maybe this is obvious, but my toaster oven has a convection button. On which occasions should I flip it on or off?

  • jt

    THANK YOU!! Now this makes sense. I gave up on Microwaves about 10yrs ago. I haven’t looked back. While there have been a handful of times I’ve used them in the past decade, I do not own one and I always look for other ways to cook my food. I think if I’m at someone’s house and they use a microwave, I’m not going to get into a whole discussion so I let those instances slide.

  • sonya

    Today we bought a very large all stainless steel Oster digital convection oven at Walmart for $79. Not my favorite place to shop, but after looking around online it was not too pricey, and we I didn’t notice any smell when we did the precook heating as suggested in the manual before you use it. I had a large toaster oven before, but this is even bigger. It will fit a quarter size industrial baking sheet 9×13 easily (or 2, one on each rack). I will totally use the crayon tip…I have silicone ice trays that are long and skinny, meant for inserting into bottles, but they would be perfect for crayons too! I know they work in the oven, since I made cake sticks today :)

  • Lisa

    Hi, I’ve had a Black & Decker convection toaster oven for years and use it for everything – I love it! However, it has started burning everything – I keep turning the temp lower and lower, but still everything I try and cook is rapidly burning – any ideas on what’s going on?

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Sorry, sounds like you’re losing your toaster oven…what a bummer! :( Katie

  • Mara

    We have a Waring convection toaster oven– no Teflon interior coating to off-gas toxic fumes into the food! Toaster ovens without the non-stick coating inside are very difficult to find, but worth it for the peace of mind.

    I see you have a Cuisinart, going by the photo. I think Cuisinarts have the non-stick coating.

    Beth Reply:

    Yes, I called Cuisinart directly and they do not make any toaster ovens without a nonstick coating. All Cuisinarts have a nonstick interior.

    What a disappointment to think that every time we used our Cuisinart toaster oven over the last several years we were unwittingly releasing toxic fumes into our home and bodies.

    See below for info on my talk with Waring Pro.

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Beth,
    Thank you so much for calling – you rock!! Kind of makes me want a new toaster oven, of course…BUT the good thing is that even teflon has only been shown to emit fumes at 500F and up, and I rarely get mine that high (phew). Hopefully that info is accurate and not out of date.

    So glad you called! Yay!
    :) Katie

  • Beth

    I’d REALLY love to find a Teflon-FREE toaster oven to replace our Cuisinart toaster oven which just died and which I now realize has a silver colored nonstick coating inside. Yikes. Toxic fumes all these years. Does anyone have any updated recommendations since the older comments were made above? I see nonstick interior listed on the specs for Waring toaster ovens, but maybe not all theirs have this? Any other ideas anyone?

    Kelly Reply:

    This is supposedly the only “non toxic” one out there…

    http://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B005RRBMVW/ref=oh_details_o06_s02_i00?ie=UTF8&psc=1

    Waring Pro TC0650

    Beth Reply:

    Thank you, Kelly. I called Waring Pro directly and they confirmed that none of their toaster ovens have a nonstick interior. Hooray!

    Jennifer Reply:

    I saw this one at Target recently: http://www.target.com/p/black-decker-stainless-toaster-oven-4-slice/-/A-14504219#prodSlot=medium_1_1&term=stainless+toaster+oven
    It didn’t appear to have a non-stick interior (though it’s hard to tell) and it doesn’t mention it in the description, while a more expensive one of the same brand lists that as a feature. Might be worth checking into.

    Beth Reply:

    I’ve found that you can’t tell by looking. The nonstick coatings can look like brushed silver/stainless steel. Waring Pro is the only brand I’ve found so far that confirmed to me directly that none of theirs has a nonstick coating.

  • How to Stop Using a Microwave {Kitchen Tools of the Trade} - The Humbled Homemaker

    […] I use a few different things to warm up our leftovers now.  Of course the oven would work well for many things.  But I hate the idea of heating up the whole oven for a single serving at lunch.  And there are a bunch of things you can use the smaller oven for. […]

  • Elizabeth

    Hey Katie,
    A friend had given me an electric stainless steel bowl convection and I want to know how to use it for steaming. I don’t know why but somehow the instruction manual only comes in one language I could not read, and I have tried to search for it, but no luck !!
    Can you help, please ? Thanks a million !!

    Katie Kimball @ Kitchen Stewardship Reply:

    Elizabeth,
    Sounds fascinating, but I’ve never heard of it, so sorry! Katie

Welcome!  Meet Katie.

I embrace butter. I make homemade yogurt. I eat traditional real food – plants and animals that God created, not products of plants where food scientists work. Here at Kitchen Stewardship, I share how I strive to be a good steward of my family's nutrition, the environment, and our budget, all without spending every second in the kitchen. Learn more about the mission of KS here.

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