My boyfriend and I often joke that the three things we always bring up in conversation are: 1. Costco, 2. wanting to be friends with our neighbors (accomplished!), and 3. how much we love our toaster oven.
Toaster Ovens Are for So Much More than Toast
The Breville Mini Smart Oven was one of our first purchases when we first moved in together about three years ago, and we consider it as much of a daily essential as the couch, shower curtain, and vacuum we bought at the same time.
As two endurance athletes and generally hungry people, we eat a LOT of bread in this house and therefore, a lot of toast. A toaster oven is great for that! Obviously! But here are six other things you should be using your toaster oven for.
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1. Thick Toast
Okay, okay, I know I already mentioned toast. But I’m not talking about just any old toast here. We often have thick slices of sourdough or doughy bagels, which simply don’t fit in a slot toaster or they require you to rotate them halfway through. A toaster oven enables you to lay flat whatever size slice you want for easy, even toasting.
2. Reheating Leftovers (and More)
I bake a lot, even when I don’t have many people around to feed said baked goods to. If we can’t consume them quickly enough, I put the already-baked treats in the freezer. Since the toaster oven preheats so quickly, I can set it to 350 degrees, throw in a square of frozen cornbread or a frozen muffin, and have a thawed, lightly crisp snack in 10 minutes. If, unlike me, you’re not a lover of cold pizza, the toaster oven is also perfect for reheating a slice.
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3. Baking a Single Cookie
This may be a very niche use, but it’s one I use All. The. Time. My parents were recently visiting and asked if I had any leftover baked goods lying around. I lamented that I did not but then remembered my freezer cookie-dough stock.
Instead of baking a dozen plus cookies at a time, I like to make a batch of cookie dough, roll it into balls, and put them in the freezer in a storage container or bag. The toaster oven preheats in less than 5 minutes, and the cookies baked for 20, so warm, gooey cookies were in my parents' hands (and mine) just 25 minutes later.
4. Extra Oven Space
The toaster oven can fit a loaf pan or 8-inch square baking pan, so on busy food holidays, you can add one more dish to the spread by turning to your toaster oven.
But it’s not just useful for special-occasion cooking. When I made croissants for the first time, both racks in my regular oven were occupied. But I had all these little scraps left over after shaping them, so I braided and twisted them into little pastries and baked them off in my toaster oven while the bigger croissants baked. Toaster ovens are perfect for one-off projects like this too!
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5. Roasting Vegetables
Sometimes I don’t realize that I should make lunch until I’m already ravenous, in which case I want to whip up a satisfying, nutritious meal quickly. I almost always have a sweet potato or bunch of carrots around, and roasting one of these quickly makes a simple salad heartier and more satisfying.
There’s no use heating up my oven for a single sweet potato; a toaster oven heats up faster and keeps my kitchen from getting too hot (especially as the seasons get warmer).
6. Toasting Nuts
Whether it’s for a bread-dough mix-in or salad topper, the toaster oven is ideal for toasting nuts. You can do this on the stovetop, but it’s not the most even heat source and can cause some nuts to burn while others stay pale. It feels silly to preheat the big oven for such a small job, so the toaster oven is ideal. I usually toast my nuts at a low temperature of about 275-300 degrees so that it preheats in a flash.