Some of us just love to toast things. Be it a bagel, a waffle, a muffin, or simply a slice of plain bread – it is just better when toasted.
However, there is a fairly new piece of equipment that has gotten a lot of people talking. They claim it works even better than the old-fashioned toaster. This appliance is called a toaster oven – which to be honest, just sounds like a type of toaster.
So, what is the difference between a toaster and a toaster oven? Despite sounding like the same appliance, they are different machines with different functions. A toaster can only toast a few items such as bread and waffles, whereas a toaster oven can toast many items as well as perform the functions of a regular oven on a smaller scale.
In this article, we will look at many aspects of toasters and toaster ovens and look at how they differ in function, uses, electrical usage, and more. We will also touch on topics such as safety and how they could be used to replace other appliances in the kitchen.
This article will answer all of your questions related to these appliances and hopefully, you will gain some clarity on which will work best in your home.
Is a Toaster Oven a Toaster?
Just to get this out of the way and help everyone get a better understanding, a toaster and a toaster oven, although they sound like they are the same thing, are not the same at all.
They do have similar functions or purposes, although they are designed differently, work in different ways and a toaster oven can perform a lot of additional functions that a toaster cannot.
Toaster Vs Toaster Oven
Before we compare the toaster and toaster oven side by side, let’s first have a look at what they are.
Toasters come in two shapes, 2-slice or 4-slice. Although these are the only two forms you get, there are a surprising amount of functions and designs these toasters can have.
They are made from different materials such as plastic, metal, stainless steel, and glass, and nowadays they come in many different colors beyond the traditional white, black, and silver. Their designs range to fit any style kitchen from retro to modern and sleek.
The price can range drastically, although we feel that the price tag is not necessarily an indicator of quality. The price you pay for a toaster probably has more to do with the design of it. We have had many toasters over $150 that last less than a few months.
Toasters have evolved a lot from their original basic toasting function and most now have a setting to control the time the item toasts.
The lower the number (most often a “1”) the quicker it toasts resulting in a light toast. Typically, the higher the number, the longer it will toast resulting in a darker product.
Toasters however cannot do anything else than plain toast or similar plain bread-based products. It cannot have other ingredients or even buttered items inside of it and cannot cook or prepare items.
Toaster ovens also come in two forms: countertop or mounted toaster ovens (just like many microwaves). Countertop toaster ovens are free-standing and can be placed (and moved) on top of counters.
Mounted toaster ovens are usually mounted in cabinets or underneath counters and therefore cannot be moved once installed.
Like toasters, they also come in a wide range of designs and colors, but the main feature that makes them so attractive to people is the fact that they have many oven functions (grilling, defrosting, etc.), timers, temperature controls, speed control, and start and stop buttons.
Toaster ovens can also toast anything a toaster can: muffins, toast with spreads, sandwiches, as well as any other bread (like filled wraps, buns, or dinner rolls) that a toaster cannot.
Because of their design, they can fulfill many other functions. They can cook pizzas, roast meats and vegetables, and perform many baking functions as well. They also warm up more quickly than a typical oven.
This means that a toaster oven is exactly what it sounds like: a cross between a toaster and an oven.
What’s the Difference?
So, now that we have looked at what each is it is much easier to distinguish between the two.
A toaster is much smaller in size and can only toast items, compared to a toaster oven that is sometimes large and bulky, but can perform all the functions of a toaster as well as many of those an oven can.
Most toaster ovens have precise temperatures you can set the oven to or at least different temperature settings such as broil, reheat, defrost, bake, toast, etc. Toasters on the other hand have numbers that don’t indicate a specific duration of time or temperature.
That is another big difference: a toaster oven can be precisely timed, like a microwave, and shuts off when the timer runs out.
Both come in a wide variety of designs and the only factor to take into consideration would be its use in your home. Toaster ovens will sometimes take up a lot of space, depending on the model and power, even if mounted, so you should consider what you want to use it for.
Another big deciding factor for many people between the two is the time it takes to make toast.
Toasters instantly heat and can give you a burnt slice of toast within a few minutes. Some toaster ovens will require the oven to reach the correct temperature first before even starting the toasting process.
We’ve summed up a lot of these differences into a couple of handy pros-and-cons charts:
Toaster Vs Toaster Oven – Pros and Cons:
|Toasters come in many different designs and colors.||They can only make 2 or 4 slices at a time.|
|Doesn’t require a ton of time to make toasts. Can make 2-4 slices within minutes.||Their temperatures are not precise and you have to experiment with the numbers and times to make a toast to your liking.|
|The size of a toaster is very convenient; it is very easy to move and does not take up a lot of space.||Can only toast items and only do so to items that have firm structures and which can fit into the sockets.|
|Toaster ovens come in many different designs and colors.||They may take slightly longer to perform simple functions, like toasting a slice of bread. |
Of course, if you toast several slices at once, it might take the same time as a toaster which only does 2-4 slices at a time.
|Can replace the function and need for a toaster.||Often very large and bulky and may take up a lot of space.|
|These ovens can perform many different functions that toasters cannot and can even replace an oven if they have temperature settings.||
|Some have precise temperatures that you can set the oven to or different function buttons that work with different temperatures.||
|They also have timers, like microwaves.||
We hope we’ve clarified the main differences between toasters and toaster ovens. We’d also like to invite you to check out these related questions you might have about toasters and toaster ovens.
Does a Toaster Oven Use More Electricity Than a Toaster?
Of course, there are many different toasters and toaster ovens on the market, some of which might use less electricity than others.
Toasters usually have wattage between 800 and 1500, making the average around 1200 Watts.
If a person uses the 1200 Watt toaster for 12 minutes per day, it means they are using 2.4 kilowatt-hours (kWh) per day. If you times 2.4 kWh by the price you pay for 1 kWh, you will get the amount you pay per 12 minutes.
The majority of toaster ovens use 1200 Watts. This means that if you use a toaster or toaster oven for the same amount of time, you will pay the same (if their wattage is the same).
However, answering which uses more electricity and ultimately will cost you more money is a very hard thing to do as there are many factors to consider other than Wattage.
For one, you have to compare specific appliances you want to purchase to each other. There is a range of wattage for each type. So if you compare a 1700 Watt toaster oven to an 800 Watt toaster, the toaster oven will use more electricity per minute and thus cost you more.
Toaster ovens will usually take a little longer to toast a slice of bread and thus will use more electricity to complete that function. However, toaster ovens have many other functions that can replace the usage of your regular oven.
Regular ovens use a lot of electricity averaging around 2400 Watts. Automatically they will cost almost double a toaster oven would. Your toaster oven will be able to complete similar functions than your oven, provided the item you are roasting or baking can fit in it.
In the end, you have to look at how you are planning to use each appliance. If you only plan to use a toaster oven to toast, you might as well opt for a normal toaster as it will be quicker and cost less money.
Can I Use a Toaster Oven Instead of a Regular Oven?
You can use your toaster oven instead of your regular oven. In fact, some might even say they are better than ovens in many instances.
Like we previously mentioned, toaster ovens consume much less electricity than regular ovens if you compare it minute by minute.
Another factor to take into consideration is that regular ovens take much longer to come to the right temperature, which will end up using a lot more electricity and cost you more money.
If we look purely at the functionality and not the costs related to using each, toaster ovens and ovens are very similar.
They can both set exact temperatures and both have similar oven settings such as grill or fan. It has been noted that toaster ovens circulate air much better than regular ovens, resulting in a more even oven temperature.
A bonus feature that most toaster ovens have is that they will automatically shut off when the timer runs out, unlike ovens. You can find ovens that have this automatic shut-off feature, but they are very rare and often expensive.
If you plan on making large dinners and are cooking for more than two people, we wouldn’t necessarily recommend getting rid of your regular oven. Toaster ovens are much smaller and compact. They’re great when you don’t need to make tons of food.
But it is going to be a long night if you are trying to cook a Thanksgiving dinner in your small, compact toaster oven.
You have to look at your lifestyle and if the toaster oven will be sufficient before deciding to replace your regular oven.
What Can You Cook in a Toaster Oven?
Like we have now established, toaster ovens are amazing. They can perform many of the functions of a toaster, oven, and microwave combined.
They can toast breads, bagels, muffins, flatbreads, and even create dough bases for many other products. Surprise! They will also be able to bake all of these items.
For those with a sweeter tooth, bake scrumptious summer fruit tarts, chocolatey cookies, birthday cakes, and many types of crispy and flaky pastries. What is better than a freshly made muffin, hot out of the toaster oven?
They make delicious roast chicken because they circulate air much better and have much more even temperatures, which is exactly what you need to make a juicy, crispy roasted chicken.
Other ideas for meat lovers include roasting gammons, legs of lamb, a beautiful fresh fish, ribs, or anything you would in a regular oven – size permitting, of course.
You can also roast any type of vegetable to perfection or make a creamy mixed vegetable bake.
The only thing standing in your way is the size of the item, other than that, your imagination is the only restriction.
Is a Toaster Safer Than a Toaster Oven?
If we were to nit-pick and be technical, toaster ovens have more risks involved, but honestly, they are both equally safe or dangerous to use.
In case you need to know all the safety details for any members of your household, however, here are a few potential dangers related to toaster ovens:
- Burns – It is easier to burn yourself as toaster ovens tend to get very hot and if you are not careful, you might burn yourself on the metal grid or side or top of the oven.
- Fire – Fires are a real concern when it comes to any appliance that uses electricity and produces a lot of heat. Leftover food or chemicals might spark a fire that can cause a lot of damage to you and the surrounding area.
- Explosion – No, we don’t mean the actual appliance would explode, rather the glass door could theoretically. Sometimes glass can be very fragile and if it cannot handle the temperature of the oven, it could explode. This is however very unlikely and would probably only happen if you left it on the highest heat possible for 24 hours.
- Electrical shock – Any electric appliances have the risk of creating electrical issues and even causing a shock, big or small.
However, if you look at a toaster, it has all of the same risks. We have had a toaster in the office that got so hot that it couldn’t be moved right after toasting bread two times in a row. Your burns might not be as bad as with a toaster, but they are still possible.
The same goes for fires and electric-related issues; they are all a very real possibility with toasters as well.
A glass explosion is even less likely if you don’t have a glass toaster. Food can, however, get stuck in a toaster which may lead to bad judgment and a possible shock. Be sure to never stick your fingers or any metal object into a toaster, especially while it is on.
The best way to prevent any hazard is by reading manuals. Yes, we are nerdy when it comes to safety! Always be safe when working with heat and electricity and never use shortcuts.