With the rise of the toaster oven, some people are considering getting rid of their toasters all together in favor of the ultimately more versatile and more impressive toaster oven. While it’s true that the toaster oven is more of an impressive piece of equipment in some respects, it doesn’t necessarily mean that there is no need for a normal toaster in the modern kitchen.
We are going to look at 5 different ways in which we can judge the toaster vs toaster oven debate: energy use, cooking time, accuracy, versatility, and use of space. If one of these sections is more important to you, our relevant section will give you all the information you need to make your decision.
If you are just interested in general, see our conclusion where we will evaluate the overall usefulness of these appliances and which the undecided buyer should go for if they can only afford one. So let’s look at the battle of the kitchenware – toaster vs toaster oven, who will win?
Table of contents
- Which is the most energy-efficient?
- Which cooks the fastest?
- Which cooks the most accurately?
- Which is the most versatile?
- Which uses the most space?
Which is the most energy efficient?
We live in a green world now, so buying a green device is becoming more and more important to people. This extends to the kinds of kitchenware we use regularly – a full sized oven takes a lot more power than a toaster oven, so some people prefer just owning a toaster oven.
However, if you need an energy efficient device in the battle of toaster vs toaster oven, there’s only one winner – the toaster. Even though the toaster oven is an efficient appliance compared to an oven, it uses almost 5 times the energy to make toast.
The humble toaster rarely needs more than 1200 W to function. Obviously, brands differ on this, with some needing as little as 800 W and some need as much as 1500 W. The actual time that a toaster is on, however, is rather small.
They very rarely need more than 54 W to actually cook a batch of toast. Unless you are a toast addict, you will not be using your toaster for more than a few minutes a day, so this small number better reflects the amount of energy a toaster needs.
Toaster ovens, on the other hand, need a comparably greedy 1700 W on average to heat up for an hour. Due to the slow cooking time, this means that they will need on average 255 W to cook a batch of toast. This is slightly over 5 times the wattage that is necessary for a toaster, meaning that toasters are simply much more energy efficient.
Which cooks the fastest?
Cooking time is another key factor for many people today, especially for busy professionals who need to make a piece of toast before heading off on their commute. Bearing that in mind, we have to say that the humble toaster wins out.
Toasters on average (depending on the desired level of toasting) take around 2 minutes to get the beautiful caramelized finish that we want in the morning. Some brands can take longer, but the average cooking time for a toaster doesn’t tend to go over 4 minutes. This means it is perfect for people on the go, trying to leave the house with their portable snacks.
On the other hand, toaster ovens need between 4 and 9 minutes to get the same finish. Remember that 4 minutes was the absolute maximum amount of time it would take our regular toaster to cook our toast. That’s already a lot slower.
For the person who needs toast and they need it now, the toaster oven can seem like quite a slow machine. If you are waiting for 9 minutes to get your piece of toast, you can probably spend at least 5 minutes of that thinking about how much quicker a cheaper regular toaster could have cooked your breakfast by that point.
Which cooks the most accurately?
Accuracy, in this sense, refers to cooking to a specific temperature. Toasters don’t generally come with temperature settings (outside of cryptic and slightly confused numbered dials), so can you guess who is going to win this?
Now, I’ve been a little unfair to the toaster. Some mid-range and up products do indeed have temperature gauges and timers to make your toasting experience exactly how you want it. However, for most people using their toaster, they only have the switch, the lever, and their own instincts to guide them.
This means that toasters give a generally inaccurate cooking temperature (cooking at whatever temperature the elements are superheated to for as long as the toaster is turned on).
Toaster ovens are almost always very accurate. Working more like a grill in an oven, they can be set to exact temperatures and many come with timers that automatically turn the appliance off. This means that all you need to know is exactly how you want your toast (or any other dish that you are preparing in your toaster oven) prepared and set the dials to the correct settings.
For accurate cooking, the toaster oven can’t be beaten. This is, of course, a much more feature in a toaster oven as they are designed to cook a range of foods. Maybe you don’t need an accurate finish for a toaster that only makes toast?
Which is the most versatile?
This takes us swiftly onto our next point – versatility. Versatility, in this case, means which of the appliances can cook and prepare the most kinds of dishes, preferably with as little special intervention or gimmicky extras as possible.
With some clever preparation, toasters are capable of cooking a wide range of dishes easily. This can include the use of specifically made toaster bags or making your own out of parchment paper as well as buying a range of foods that are also designed to be cooked in a toaster.
But that’s kind of all there is to it – unless you put in extra effort to buy little extras for your toaster, you’re really only going to be able to make toast or toast like snacks. Some would see this as a strength of the toaster (it is designed to do one thing and it does it well), but in terms of versatility, the toaster is really very poor.
Toaster ovens were made with the intention of bringing the functionality of a traditional oven and making it more portable. This means that they are designed to roast, broil, and bake just as well as they toast.
You can throw a chicken under the larger-sized toaster ovens to roast one up for a full dinner. You can broil steaks under the toaster oven grill. You can bake cookies if you need to! The versatility of the toaster oven only really depends on what you are physically capable of fitting into the oven.
If you need to get a versatile piece of kitchenware for your home, you really can’t go wrong with the toaster oven. If you have other appliances already, you might want to think if versatility is as useful as it first seems.
Which uses the most space?
Some people don’t have a great deal of worktop space in their home kitchens, so getting their bang for their buck spatially is important to them. Some people do have large kitchens but prefer to cut down on the amount of space that they use for other reasons. Regardless of the reasons, a lot of people don’t want appliances that take up a huge amount of space.
Toasters are generally very small and don’t need a lot of space to tidily fit into any worktop setup. Many people will only keep small appliances such as toasters or kettles on their kitchen surfaces, but others may prefer to store these away. In a way, toasters can almost take up no space at all – they can be easily picked up and moved out of the way.
Toaster ovens are a bit more difficult. They are generally larger than toasters and need more space when actually in use (for example, space to pull out a baking tray), so they aren’t as spatially economical. Finding space to fit a toaster oven into your home may be more difficult if you do not have a lot of room on your work surface.
A middle of the range, 1800 W toaster oven will weigh between 8 and 15 pounds on average. Some of them actually even weigh as much as 20 pounds. Moving these appliances around is not as easy at all.
Whereas you can easily move around your tiny toaster and it doesn’t even take up much room, the toaster oven is much larger and heavier. If you have purchased a toaster oven in place of a traditional oven and toaster kitchenware combination, you may have an extremely heavy and bulky appliance that really can’t compete in the “use of space” category.
Toasters and toaster ovens serve different purposes. That’s clear to everyone. A prospective buyer needs to think carefully about the kind of product they want, what they have in their kitchen already, and what kind of space they have to work with before making the purchase.
If you need an appliance that wins out in the battle of our 5 sections, the traditional toaster is the device for you. It is energy-efficient, fast to make toast, versatile, and saves space. No toaster oven is competing with a standard toaster, especially if it has additional functionalities to help it improve its accuracy.
But that doesn’t mean that toaster ovens are useless – look at it from the other side. Their versatility means that they can be used as combined appliances in place of oven and toaster combinations. You have access to two functions from one device, which is actually a lot smaller and lighter than a traditional oven! If you need something that covers multiple duties within your kitchen, a toaster oven might be for you instead.
Neither device will let you down as long as you carefully think about what you want from it. Taking your time to choose a device carefully will give you the best chance of getting the product that serves your needs. If you want our suggestion, though, I’d say get a toaster and enjoy your delicious toast fast.