Best Cheap Toaster Ovens
Published on By Elizabeth Sheer
Black & Decker TO1322SBD Review
From $31 Best
A low price, commendable toasting, even baking, and ease of use earn this compact appliance with a four-slice capacity two thumbs up.
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
From $40 Best
This six-slice toaster oven with rounded back and curved door is a pizza lover's dream, and it doesn't disappoint on the toast front, either.
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
From $24 Good
A good entry-level choice, this four-slice Proctor Silex toaster oven deftly satisfies demands for toasting, baking, and warming leftovers.
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
From $25 Good
Consumers may be drawn to the rounded retro look of this little four-slice oven, but the toasting and baking performance really give it an edge.
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
From $19 Think Twice
The Elite ETO-113 suits tight spaces but is hampered by its ultra-compact size -- it holds only two slices -- and lack of specific temperature markings.
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.
Choosing a Cheap Toaster Oven
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.
There are only a few players in the toaster oven market, and most of the action is at the lower end. This is where Black & Decker, Hamilton Beach, and Oster rule, although each also produces models for the mid- and upper tiers. These higher strata are inhabited by other brand names, as well, notably Cuisinart and Breville, whose offerings reach well into the triple digits. Costlier toaster ovens generally are larger than budget models, look sharper, feature more precise controls (often digital) and sensors that regulate temperature, and offer additional functions such as convection baking. They tend to produce exemplary results.
But for frugal consumers, fancy appearance and finely calibrated performance probably don't justify spending a lot for a small kitchen appliance that toasts, bakes/reheats, and broils adequately, albeit not perfectly. This where our picks enter the fray.
User reviews indicate that several budget-priced toaster ovens stand apart from their peers. Our top choices are the Black & Decker TO1322SBD (starting at $31) and the Hamilton Beach 31330 (starting at $40), followed by the Proctor Silex 31116R/31118R (starting at $24) and the Oster TSSTTVVG01 (starting at $25). The tiny Elite ETO-113 (starting at $19) made by California-based small-appliance manufacturer Maxi-Matic, turns in a passable performance according to many consumers, but it's comparatively short on controls and accessories.
Features Comparison Buying Guide continues below table
Toaster Oven Reviews: What We Considered
Expert reviewers writing for outlets such as ConsumerSearch, The Sweethome, Bon Appétit, and the review site Time 4 Toast generally judge toaster oven models with price tags well above the Cheapism ceiling, so we turned to consumer reviews on Amazon, Walmart.com, Target.com, BestBuy.com, HomeDepot.com, and company websites to learn how inexpensive toaster ovens perform day after day in real life, not in a lab.
Toaster oven users generally crow about the benefits of toasting a bagel or piece of bread in the same countertop appliance that frees them from turning on a large oven to reheat leftovers or bake a small casserole or a tray of brownies on the fly. They also appreciate the relatively small footprint of this appliance, which fits even in compact kitchens. That said, our research found that no cheap toaster oven is perfect and none earn glowing reviews across the board. Owners of these low-cost appliances are not so happy about so-so toast (uneven, underdone, and/or burned) and interior capacity that seems less spacious than marketing materials suggest. Some gripe about too many knobs and hard-to-adjust controls and others contend that newer models are less durable than those that once graced their counters. Still, for all the carping, when it comes to the models on our list, at least, users generally say they're happy with the price-to-performance ratio and feel they've gotten their money's worth.
Capacity.The size of a toaster oven is usually denoted by the number of bread slices the appliance can hold. Our top picks are either four- or six-slice models, which are the most common. Of course, how many slices will actually fit depends on the loaf, which may explain some users' disappointment about stated capacity.
To better determine whether a toaster oven is large enough for your family, look at the measurements and other specifications provided by the manufacturer. Budget toaster ovens generally measure about 15 to 18 inches across, 9 to 14 inches deep, and 8 or 9 inches high. But keep in mind, the external dimensions of a toaster oven might not accurately indicate the amount of space inside: Some can fit a (small) chicken, as the instructions claim, and some barely fit a hot dog bun.
Many models also hint at capacity by noting what size pizza they can hold (usually 9 or 12 inches). To better accommodate a whole frozen pizza, for example, the Black & Decker TO1322SBD trumpets its curved interior back and the Hamilton Beach 31330 sports both a bulging back and a curved glass door. To be safe, before making a purchase, head to a store with a few slices of the family's favorite bread, a baking pan, and maybe a frozen pizza to see if the interior dimensions suit your needs.
Toasting Performance.It's somewhat surprising that some toaster ovens struggle to fulfill one of their primary purposes: giving bread, bagels, and English muffins just the right amount of tender crispness. We came across plenty of griping in reviews about patchy, burnt, or underdone toast, although the models on our list fare better than most cheap toaster ovens in this regard. These small kitchen appliances also take longer to make toast than traditional toasters, which is another source of minor dismay. Both foodies and consumer product experts stress that if excellent toast is the highest priority, a dedicated pop-up toaster is the best bet. To get around this dilemma, some consumers might opt for the hybrid Hamilton Beach Toastation 22703H/22708H (starting at $38), which has a design that incorporates a wide two-slice toaster slot at the top and a mini-oven below. Users warn, however, that food going into the oven section should be flat (think chicken nuggets or pizza), because anything else bumps up against the top element.
Controls and Settings.While many higher-end models feature digital displays, entry-level toaster ovens rely on analog controls, usually in the form of knobs, for selecting time, oven temperature, and function (toast, bake, broil, stay on, and, where relevant, convection). Some models have two knobs and some have three. Toast and broil generally appear on the temperature knob, and settings for toast shade usually appear on the timer knob. The Hamilton Beach 33130 features three knobs, one each for temperature, function, and time. A lever on the Hamilton Beach Toastation switches function between toaster and oven. While some consumers are relieved not to worry about fancy electronics going haywire, others are a bit flummoxed and irritated by the need to maneuver multiple knobs just to toast a bagel. And the close placement of the toast and broil settings on some models, like the Proctor Silex 31116R/31118R, confuses some users, as well.
Most cheaper toaster ovens heat up to 450 degrees, with digits specifying the amount of heat. The timer typically runs up 30 minutes, with the power automatically cutting off once the allotted time has been reached. One common critique of the Proctor Silex 31116R/31118R and Elite ETO-113 focuses on the timers, which max out at 15 minutes, although the Proctor Silex model, like all our other top picks, sports a "stay on" function, as well. While most of the ovens turn in acceptable performance in general, precision baking is not necessarily a given: According to many reviews, the stated temperature on these inexpensive appliances may not be exact. Another big drawback of the Elite ETO113 is the presence of dots rather than numbers to indicate temperature options, leaving users to guess which to choose. Moreover, reviews say, it doesn't heat very well regardless of temperature.
For consumers who particularly value the baking function, a toaster oven with a convection cooking option might be of interest. Convection technology delivers more even and faster results with a fan that circulates the hot air. Usually increased efficiency comes with a higher price tag, but one decent option under $50 is the Oster TSSTTVDFL2 (starting at $40). This model is a good choice for frugal consumers who want a small countertop oven that bakes well and don't particularly care if toasting fails to hit the same mark.
Accessories.Some of the best cheap toaster ovens come with a baking pan and a rack that can be positioned closer to the top heating element for broiling and closer to the bottom for toasting and baking. All our top picks, with the exception of the Black & Decker TO1322SBD, have this option. The racks on models with smaller interior space, such as the Hamilton Beach Toastation and the Elite ETO-113, generally cannot be relocated. The baking pans and racks are dishwasher-safe, although users complain that the pans become discolored and spotty.
One feature reviewers sorely miss on most entry-level models is an oven rack that pulls out when the door is opened. The only one of our picks with this feature is the Hamilton Beach 31330, although it pulls out only when the rack is in the bottom slot. A crumb tray is another must-have accessory. Catching and getting rid of tiny morsels of bread is critical for preventing fires. Removable crumb trays usually slide out, which makes them very easy to empty. With a drop-down crumb tray, like the one on the Proctor Silex 31116R/31118R, is harder to empty without making a mess when lifting the appliance to open and clean the tray. Specifications for the Elite ETO113 are silent about the presence (or absence) of a crumb tray; users say there is none.
Durability.The build quality of budget toaster ovens is a topic of some discussion in consumer reviews. Most models we researched get zapped by users for plastic parts that break, fall off, or melt; electrical components that malfunction; ovens that won't turn off; doors that stick; and insulation that doesn't contain the heat. While the Black & Decker TO1322SBD comes with a two-year limited warranty and the Oster TSSTTVDFL2 guarantees satisfaction for five years, most low-cost toaster ovens promise only one year of coverage, and there are at least a few reports of every model on our list not lasting even that long.
Reviewers sometimes compare newer models with a beloved old toaster oven and find the former wanting. Today's toaster ovens just don't seem to last that long, users suggest. On the other hand, consumers who enjoy the fruits of their toaster ovens' labors are quite pleased to get one at a price that lessens the sting if the appliance doesn't survive more than a few years.
Additional Products We Considered
Hamilton Beach 22703H/22708H Review
Pros: The Hamilton Beach Toastation Toaster & Oven (starting at $38) has two things going for it: a pop-up toaster function and a narrow profile. The traditional toaster component alleviates the main problem of most toaster ovens, which is mediocre toast. More than 1,100 reviewers assign it an average of 4.3 stars out of 5 on Walmart.com, and many say the Toaststation produces exemplary toast. Users report that the 1.5-inch slot is wide enough to hold a bagel, toaster pastries, and almost any type or size of bread. This toaster oven is about the same size as a regular toaster, and its slim footprint is a welcome feature for many reviewers. Toastation partisans crow that the combination of traditional toaster with mini-oven below gives them the best of two essential kitchen appliances.
Cons: The Toastation may shine as a toaster, but the oven is less than ideal. First, it's really small. One post on Walmart.com says there are only about 1.5 inches of clearance above the rack, so whatever goes in must be quite flat. In other words, foods such as pizza, open-face sandwiches, and a few chicken nuggets are about all that fit. This limitation may suit consumers who crave toast above all but will disappoint those who want additional, albeit it small, oven space for bulkier items. Some consumers balk at a crumb tray that drops down rather than pulls out, and are disappointed that the rack doesn't slide out when the glass door is opened, as it did on older versions of the Toastation.
Features: The Hamilton Beach Toastation relies on a lever to switch between the toast and oven functions. In toaster mode, foods are partially visible through the oven door, and a cancel button lets users cancel the oven or pop the toast if it's getting too dark. This is billed as a "two-slice" model that can accommodate two 5-inch pieces of pizza. There are two control knobs -- one for toast shade and one for oven temperature, which ranges up to 450 degrees -- but no timer. This model comes with a baking pan and a rack, and the crumb tray can be removed for washing. The exterior dimensions are 16.4 x 8.9 x 8.1 inches. It comes in red (22703H) or black (22708H).
Takeaway: For people who require a toaster more than a small oven but like the versatility of a two-in-one appliance, this hybrid toaster oven provides good value with a small price tag.
Oster TSSTTVDFL2 Review
Pros: It's hard to find a convection toaster oven for less than $50, but the price tag on the Oster TSSTTVDFL2 (starting at $40) proves there are exceptions to the rule. Users are quite satisfied with the performance-to-price ratio of this entry-level model even as they concede it isn't perfect. Reviews on Walmart.com, where it earns an average of 4.1 stars out of 5 in nearly 500 reviews, conclude that its best use is as an oven rather than a toaster. Often called upon as a substitute for a full-size oven (it doesn't heat up the kitchen) and a microwave (it helps users keep to a healthier diet), reviewers say the Oster TSSTTVDFL2 produces commendable side dishes, vegetables, pot pies, fish, chicken, pizza, cake, and more. No surprise, really, given that the point of fan-driven convection technology is to cook foods more quickly and evenly than a traditional oven. Some users give the toasting function a solid grade, but most seem indifferent to or disappointed with this aspect of the toaster oven's performance. In general, users appreciate the versatility and space-saving size.
Cons: Even on the company website, reviews say using the Oster TSSTTVDFL2 for toast can be disappointing. Some claim it holds only four slices at a time rather than the six advertised, never mind a family-size pizza. Others add that the toast settings are erratic, even when choosing the same position on the dial time and again. A few users complain about inaccurate oven temperatures and stress the importance of carefully watching how quickly or slowly foods bake. And one gripes about the smallish baking pan relative to the interior space. Reports of limited longevity crop up occasionally.
Features: There are three dials on the Oster TSSTTVDFL2, one each for temperature (up to 450 degrees), cook function, and time (up to 60 minutes; a "stay on" option keeps foods warm past that maximum). It comes with a baking pan, removable crumb tray, and rack that can be set at three heights. The housing is brushed stainless steel and the external dimensions are about 16.8 x 14.4 x 8.8 inches. The back wall and back edge of the rack are curved slightly to better accommodate round items. Oster offers a five-year satisfaction guarantee.
Takeaway: The Oster TSSTTVDFL2 is a good additional oven with convection technology that bakes and broils well -- and is tagged with a very attractive price, not to mention a longer warranty than other models in this price range. If toasting is to be the primary use, though, look elsewhere.
Where to buy
Hamilton Beach 31806 Review
Pros: Consumers have a soft spot for this budget-priced convection toaster oven (starting at $35). For starters, they're wild about the vivid candy-apple-red color and the overall value of this countertop appliance. Its performance earns applause in comments posted on Walmart.com, where well over 400 reviewers award it an average of 4.4 stars out of 5 for above-average baking, broiling, and toasting. They tell of relying on this model to reheat leftovers at home and at work, to produce the kind of crispness a microwave oven can't offer, and to bake pie or roast chicken in the recommended amount of time without turning on a full-size oven. Some admit to using the Hamilton Beach 31806 as a toaster and report decent results, although the process is a tad slow. One user notes that the included non-stick baking pan is as described; another is surprised at the whisper-quiet convection fan; and others appreciate the spacious interior given the countertop-size footprint.
Cons: The biggest complaint lodged against the Hamilton Beach 31806 concerns the setting labels. Dozens of users say the letters and digits are too light and very hard to read against the metallic background. One reports that the print washed right off when cleaning -- even without scrubbing -- and another says the bilingual signage makes the markings cluttered and seem smaller than usual. Some users caution that the door handle gets very hot and the oven rack is hard to pull out.
Features: The six-slice Hamilton Beach 31806 features a slightly curved interior rear wall, leaving more room for pizza and other large items. There are three knobs: oven temperature, cook function (toast, bake, broil, convection), and timer/toast shade, plus a "stay on" option when the desired bake time exceeds the 30-minute maximum. This model comes with a rack that can be set at two heights and a removable crumb tray. The outer dimensions measure about 17 x 14 x 10 inches, and this model is backed by a one-year warranty.
Takeaway: Users are best served by this convection toaster oven's baking prowess but also well served when toast is on the menu. For the price, the Hamilton Beach 31806 is hard to beat. Unfortunately it may become increasingly hard to find, because the company just stopped making the model.