Best Cheap Toaster Ovens
A toaster oven is an energy-efficient, space-saving, multitasking alternative to a traditional toaster and a traditional oven. With a dizzying array of choices, sizes, and capabilities -- from simple toasting, baking, and broiling to convection cooking -- and leading brands offering multiple models that sometimes differ only minimally, it's sometimes difficult to distinguish which makes the most sense for budget-conscious cooks. We've done the research and pored over hundreds of consumer reviews to find several toaster ovens for less than $50 that earn solid reviews and serve up quality alongside convenience.
Our Top Pick
Black & Decker TO1322SBD Review
Pros: Backed by solid ratings on Amazon, Best Buy.com, and the Sears Outlet site, the Black & Decker TO1233SBD (starting at $31; available on Amazon) earns commendations as both toaster and oven. Despite the usual griping about disappointing results when using these dual-purpose appliances for toasting, plenty of reviewers are more than satisfied with this model's ability to turn squishy slices into crispy goodness. Bread and bagels toast quickly and evenly, many report, and the shade is true to the settings on the dial. The little oven heats quickly and does a bang-up job on grilled cheese, baked potatoes, pizza, and foods that would get soggy in a microwave oven. Users also like the intuitive controls and low price.
Cons: The Black & Decker TO1322SBD has been available since 2004; given its long run, complaints inevitably pop up. As with other entry-level toaster ovens, some reviewers say the build quality doesn't measure up to older models that provided years of service. Others write about the bottom element burning out and other breakdowns that occur within months of purchase. Another minor critique concerns a rack that doesn't pull out when the door is opened, and a few reviews insist that the advertised four-slice capacity is overstated. One user concludes that families with more than two people should choose a larger toaster oven.
Features: This is a four-slice model with a curved interior back wall to accommodate a 9-inch pizza. One knob controls oven temperature (up to 450 degrees), broil, and toast; another controls the timer, toast shade, and "stay on" mode. This countertop appliance comes with a baking pan, a toast rack, and a removable crumb tray. The housing is stainless steel and black plastic, and the footprint measures about 17.3 x 12 x 9.4 inches. A two-year warranty bests the one year of coverage offered for most other budget toaster ovens.
Takeaway: A basic toaster oven without extraneous bells and whistles, the Black & Decker TO1322SBD will appeal to consumers looking for a small oven that produces above-average toast.
Hamilton Beach 31330 Review
Pros: The largest toaster oven on our list, the Hamilton Beach 31330 (starting at $40) wins kudos from hundreds of users. In reviews on Amazon, where it averages 4 stars out of 5, consumers cheer the roomy interior, which they report actually holds six slices of bread or a 12-inch pizza as marketing materials claim. The oven heats quickly and bakes evenly, key reasons why so many reviewers award this small kitchen appliance a top grade. Pizza duty seems to be the overwhelming favorite assigned task, with good results guaranteed. As for toasting, plenty of users attest to the quality, but the consensus is muted at best.
Cons: According to the review site Time 4 Toast, the controls on the Hamilton Beach 31330 are a bit confusing -- an observation echoed by many consumer reviewers. The toast shade selector is on the same dial as the timer, a common setup for toaster ovens. But with the light and dark settings close to each other, users report difficulty getting the desired degree of doneness. Even hitting the sweet spot once is no guarantee of consistent results, because the dial must be set for each toasting session. Some also gripe that toasting simply takes too long. One reviewer gets a better outcome by setting the temperature control to 450 and using a stand-alone timer to signal when the toast is ready. A few users grouse that markings on all the dials are hard to read and the exterior gets very hot.
Features: The Hamilton Beach 31330 offers bake, broil, and toast settings. (Do not confuse this model with the Hamilton Beach 31333, which also features a convection-bake mode and costs about $10 to $15 more.) There are three dials, one each for temperature, cook function, and time/toast shade with a "stay on" option after the 30-minute timer has run its course. The toaster oven comes with a baking pan and rack, which can be positioned at two heights. At the lowest level, it slides out as the curved glass door is pulled open -- a feature many users cheer. The removable crumb tray pulls out from the front for easy cleaning. The rear wall and rack bulge out slightly to enlarge the available surface area. External dimensions are about 17.7 x 14.2 x 9 inches and the warranty lasts for one year.
Takeaway: The Hamilton Beach 31330 hits a trifecta of small-oven capabilities, comparative spaciousness, and low cost.
Proctor Silex 31116R/31118R Review
Pros: A truly entry-level price notwithstanding, the Proctor Silex 31116R/31118R (starting at $24; available on Amazon) does a better-than-average job toasting and baking. In more than 400 reviews posted on Amazon, many satisfied consumers award this toaster oven an average of just about 4 stars out of 5 for its fuss-free and compact design. The oven heats quickly and warms leftovers without strain, users report, and handily beats using a regular-size oven for small items like grilled-cheese sandwiches, chicken nuggets, and soft pretzels. Many reviews also give this countertop appliance a thumbs-up for toasting, a somewhat surprising assessment at the low end of the toaster oven market, where toasting proficiency is often considered mediocre. Equally important, the Proctor Silex 31116R/31118R doesn't take up a lot of space, a boon for consumers who live or work in cramped quarters.
Cons: Although the company touts the Proctor Silex 31116R/31118R as featuring an "extra-large" interior that holds four slices of bread and two personal pizzas, users protest. Reviews posted on sites including Walmart.com assert that the capacity is far less than claimed, with two slices of bread the maximum. A minority report that toasting is uneven and erratic, and requires flipping the bread to make sure both sides feel the heat. Others bemoan the limited life of this toaster oven, saying heating elements conk out after a few months. And some are irritated by the tick-tick of the timer spring.
Features: Like other toaster ovens in this price class, the Proctor Silex 31116R/31118R toasts, bakes, broils, and keeps food warm. The top knob controls temperature (up to 450 degrees) and is used to select toast or broil. The bottom knob is a timer that controls toast shade and maxes out at 15 minutes of baking but can be set to "stay on" after the timer shuts down. This model comes with a baking pan and a rack that sits in two positions. Apparently, however, some older models do not have multiple positioning options. The crumb tray drops down, so the little appliance must be tipped slightly for cleaning. It measures about 13.9 x 11 x 7.6 inches and comes with a one-year warranty. Buyers can choose black (31118R) or white (31116R).
Takeaway: The compact size, cheap price, and user-friendly functionality of the Proctor Silex 31116R/31118R more than compensate for any minor weaknesses. This model meets the routine toasting and baking needs of many consumers.
Oster TSSTTVVG01 Review
Pros: The Oster TSSTTVVG01 (starting at $25; available on Amazon) may not sport lots of features, but scores of users don't seem to mind. Reviewers attest that it does its job perfectly well for one or two people, especially where there is limited counter space. In reviews on Amazon and Walmart.com, consumers talk up the size -- it doesn't hog much real estate and lets small households prepare light meals and snacks without heating up a large oven. They report success with cookies, biscuits, brownies, and grilled sandwiches and say bagels, waffles, and oversize bread toast evenly, for the most part. It may take some time to find the ideal setting for perfect toast, but users say it's easy enough to get back to the magic spot once it's located. Many marvel at the strong performance given the very low price, and more than 400 users reward it with an average of 4.2 stars out of 5 on Best Buy.com.
Cons: The knob setup seems simple enough, and similar to that found on other budget toaster ovens, but some reviewers insist that mastering the arrangement takes a while. Others doubt the veracity of Oster's claim that the TSSTTVVG01 is a four-slice toaster, saying four pieces of bread fit only if they're the size of an English muffin. A handful grouse about foods burning. Reviewers also warn that the outside gets extremely hot and urge caution to avoid injury. And some express dismay about limited longevity.
Features: The Oster TSSTTVVG01 sports a rounded, black and silver retro look. It features two knobs -- one to select oven temperature (up to 450 degrees) and toast or broil; the second for toast shade, time, and "stay on." There is some confusion over the timer. Specifications and images on some websites indicate it runs for 15 minutes and others indicate 30 minutes. The Oster TSSTTVVG01 comes with a baking pan and a rack that can be set at two heights and a warranty that covers one year. The toaster oven measures about 15.9 x 11.6 x 8.3 inches.
Takeaway: This is a good choice for a small household if expectations about performance and longevity don't reach into the stratosphere.
Elite ETO-113 Review
Pros: The Elite Cuisine ETO-113 is very small and very cheap (starting at $19; available on Amazon) and about as simple as a child's Easy-Bake Oven. Consumers who lack space atop a counter and need more functionality than a pop-up toaster (in a camper or dorm room, say) are satisfied with this little two-slice toaster oven. In reviews on Amazon, where it garners an average of 3.1 stars out of 5 from about 150 users, fans of the Elite Cuisine ETO-113 report that bread and muffins toast as desired, grocery-store hash browns warm nicely, and the compact size saves a hungry office worker from the dreaded microwave and fast-food alternatives. It appeals to those who are put off by too many setting options. This model, as one user points out, requires little thought or effort.
Cons: The features that make the Elite Cuisine ETO-113 a winner in some kitchens are the same as those that sink it. The size is smaller than many purchasers expected. The review site Time 4 Toast notes there are only 2 inches of clearance between the rack and the heating element, which isn't high enough to warm a roll. Some gripe that the toaster cuts off before English muffins are properly done, and others say the 15-minute timer is too limiting. A major complaint is the absence of specific temperature markings, which means lots of guesswork trying to identify where to set the temperature. One frustrated user says heating chicken nuggets took about 10 minutes longer than the usual 15 minutes because it was so difficult to judge the oven's heat. And a review on eBay cautions that this lightweight appliance can tip over easily.
Features: The Elite Cuisine ETO-113 comes with a baking pan and a one-position rack. There is no crumb tray, an absence that irks many users. To clean out crumbs that collect on the bottom, users must turn over the appliance and give it a few shakes. Fitting for its size, it runs on 650 watts of power, which is about two-thirds the amount of most four-slice toaster ovens. The exterior dimensions are in the neighborhood of 13.3 x 8 x 7.5 inches. This model comes in black or white and is backed by a one-year warranty.
Takeaway: The Elite Cuisine ETO-113 is a very budget-friendly countertop appliance, but the limited functionality may prove frustrating. Pass this one up unless a tiny footprint trumps all.