Last update on 2017-08-15 PST - Details
Are you fed up with eating fried food? Well, why don’t you try baking? Baking is an excellent alternative to frying. Not only is it healthier, it’s also more versatile in terms of the kind of recipes that you can create.
Baked food, because less heat is able to escape, brings out the natural juices in meat and spices giving you the most flavorful food there is. The juices that you get in frying is primarily from the oil which is not healthy nor tasty at all. For this reason, I have decided to get myself a countertop oven that I can use on the daily basis.
For this quest, I decided to review seven of what I consider the best countertop ovens in the market today. Included in this review are the opinions of those who have previously used the ovens and other reviewers who have personal knowledge of these items from their own kitchens. And since you can’t separate the reviewer from the review, also embedded in this review are my own personal experience with these items as well.
If you’re thinking about buying your own countertop convection oven, join me in this review. This is intended to help your buying decision and avoid having to go through different brands only to find the proverbial needle in a haystack.
Top Reasons for Investing in a Countertop Oven
There are a lot of advantages in investing for a countertop oven. If you want to start a healthy lifestyle, it is already mentioned that baking brings out those natural juices from the ingredients without adding any amount of oil. The only oil that you will get from baked food is the natural oil from the ingredients.
This means less cholesterol in your meat and more flavor. Cholesterol has been linked to a lot of diseases in the body and if you can reduce it by cooking healthy, that means a lot of thing already.
Another problem with frying that is solved by baking is the use of transfat. Deep fried foods from restaurants are usually cooked using transfat because it’s cheaper, easy to store and has longer shelf life. But according to a Harvard study, transfat has been associated with 1 out of 5 heart attacks in the US alone. It causes inflammation, obesity, weakening of the immune system and a host of other diseases like diabetes and stroke.
Another reason to buy a countertop oven the fact that it’s so versatile. It can act like a microwave and a toaster at the same time. This level of versatility is a winner in my book because this means that I can bake, broil and roast meals at great speeds while saving kitchen space. The ovens in this review have these as preset features.
Unlike traditional oven which uses 2 heat sources, one on top and one at the bottom, convection oven uses a fan to circulate the heat evenly resulting in a well-cooked food. With conventional oven, the possibility of burning the outside of the meat while remaining raw in the inside is always a dreaded possibility.
With convection oven, this is not going to be the case. The guaranteed even heat distribution ensures that your meat is evenly cooked while remaining juicy within.
How a Countertop Convection Oven Works
What makes the convection oven work is really simple—the inclusion of a fan. This deals with the issue of hot spots and uneven cooking because it allows air to evenly distribute heat inside the oven and keep temperature steady.
While all ovens distribute heat through temperature difference, a convection oven forces even distribution through the use of its fan. It’s the fan that really makes the difference here and some would even argue that the proper term for this type of oven is “forced convection oven”.
Now how does force convection affect baking? It makes baking faster because heat is circulated inside the oven faster and more evenly. While there are foods that are not suited for convection cooking, most convection oven has the option to turn the fan off and make it function like a conventional one. If you are cooking cookies, for instance, the fan will tend to dry it so just turn it off. This versatility also influenced me to buy a convection oven.
For meat, anything that will speed up baking is a welcome improvement. While we all love the taste of baked meat, almost nobody has the time to bake and wait for long periods before they can serve a meal. Who isn’t in a hurry these days? This is why baking is relegated to special occasions like weekends and vacations when everybody has the time to waste chatting while waiting for the food to cook.
Convection oven to the rescue! With cooking time reduced, now you can bake almost every day. Quick cooking time means that you can cook healthy on the daily basis.
Things to Consider When Buying a Countertop Oven
If you’re considering to buy a countertop convection oven, there are a few things that you should consider. Having these standards will ensure that you will get your money’s worth and won’t be wasting space in your kitchen with an appliance you wouldn’t use.
While there are hundreds of brands out there competing for your buck, there are only a few that you can trust. In this review, I only include brands that are trustworthy and have stood the test of time. But even with these brands, there are still things that you need to bear in mind when choosing your oven.
Although price is on top of my list, these three are also of primary importance—counter space, oven size and function.
We all live in limited spaces nowadays. Gone are the days of our forebears where they have all the space in the world and kitchen is just a minor chunk of it. For most of us, the kitchen is just the countertop and the dining area and the living room at the same place.
This means that the counter space is a huge consideration when buying a kitchen appliance. While kitchen appliances these days are becoming more and more compact, there are still those who design things like they have the luxury of space. When an appliance like an oven takes up more counter space than I’m willing to sacrifice, I’ll just scratch it off my list.
I usually try to measure the counter space that I’m willing to give an oven and base what I will purchase from there. Since there are a lot of brands to choose from, I don’t usually move an inch from my limit. If the oven doesn’t fit, I just move along.
Closely related to the counter space is the size of the oven itself. What good is an oven that fits if it’s not big enough for the food that you’d like to cook? There are a lot of ovens these days and some are designed for specific types of food. Some are designed for small ones like fajitas and cookies, while others have an adjustable tray that allows you to cook an entire chicken. It is best to consider what type of food you’re likely to cook before deciding to buy an oven.
As far as oven features are concerned, what you need actually depends on what you will use it for. The standard convection oven available in the market today have features for baking, toasting, broiling and heating and much more. What this means is, when you choose an oven, make sure to consider what you will need it for.
My Top 7 Countertop Ovens
Like I have said, coming up with these 7 countertop convection oven was based on what are the trusted brands in the market today. On top of that, qualities like counter space, oven size, functions and the price are also taken into consideration. Here are my top 7 countertop convection ovens:
Oster Large Capacity Countertop 6-Slice Digital Convection
The Oster Large Capacity Countertop 6-Slice Digital Convection is a large convection oven capable of cooking an entire chicken, a ham leg or a large casserole dish. It can accommodate a 13 by 9-inch pan and everything in it.
Baking, broiling and roasting all sorts of food is well within its alley because it has a high-temperature range of 150 to 450 Fahrenheit.Its reliable convection technology makes it the fastest cooking oven in this review. The digital controls make it the friendliest machine to operate.
If you are looking at huge preparations, frequent visits from friends and family, this is the oven to pick. Although this oven will also not shy away from daily cooking ordeals. With this kind of oven, you would expect to pay a premium, but think again, it's really affordable.
- Highly versatile, it can be used for broiling, baking and roasting
- Space age design makes it a sleek choice for the modern kitchen
- Really fast when it comes to baking
- High temperature range makes it ideal for a variety of recipes
- Unbeatable price
- Easy to clean
- Tends to retain odor inside
- A bit too big for smaller kitchens
Black+Decker CTO6335S Countertop Convection Toaster Oven
Another reliable product from Black and Decker, this oven can cook all types of food you throw its way because its unique convection technology ensures that heat is evenly distributed inside the oven. Its rack position gives more versatility when cooking because you can position food differently to maximize space.
With its really affordable price, you would think that you’d get less features, but no. It comes with pre-programmed functions and digital control making it the friendliest oven to use. All you need to do to thaw frozen food, cook pizza, bread, potatoes and cookies, broil or bake is just to push a single button.
- Digital screen makes it easy to operate
- Comes with a crumb tray for easy removal of food debris
- Unbeatable price
- Easy to clean
- Unbeatable versatility, you can use it for broiling and baking
- Pre-programmed functions add to its user friendliness
- Crumb tray tends to corrode over time
- Even with convection function turned on, it still tends to have cold spots
Breville BOV800XL Smart Oven 1800-Watt Convection Toaster Oven
This really nice convection oven comes with a hefty price tag. This is probably the most expensive oven in this review but if you don't mind spending a couple of hundred dollars for a convection oven, you will be rewarded with some awesome features.
Its preset features allow you to broil, toast, reheat, roast, warm, and bake food with just one press of a button. For most of us who are always in a hurry, this is really a life-saver. This machine comes in a very sleek silver color and a very attractive form factor that saves space. All these aesthetics is backed by a backlit LCD display that makes operation easy.
- Comes with 1-year warranty for parts and labor
- Sleek design and durable too
- 9 pre-programmed functions makes it highly versatile and easy to use
- Highly legible backlit LCD display
- Performs equally well compared to cheaper alternatives
- The price is prohibitive
- Slightly difficult to clean
Breville BOV450XL Mini Smart Oven
If you just want to cook quickly for two, this mini oven is the best pick. It has 8 pre-programmed functions that will allow you to cook different kinds of food easily. Although this would have taken several steps, with this oven, it can be done with just a click of a button.
This oven is also ideal for really limited counter space. Its small form factor of 15.5x14x8.75-inches easily fits small countertops, you don't have to sacrifice a lot of kitchen space. This smart oven comes with the Breville's own Element IQ technology, 3 rack position and 4-slice capacity interior. Don't let its small form factor fool you, this oven is a highly versatile cooking machine.
- Space saving
- Several rack position makes it highly versatile
- Comes with smart Element IQ technology
- 8 pre-programmed functions make it user-friendly
- Not ideal for cooking huge pieces of food
- A bit difficult to clean due to small form factor
Panasonic NB-G110P Flash Xpress Toaster Oven
If you're looking for an affordable oven you can use every day, the Panasonic Flash Xpress oven is for you. With Panasonic's Flash Xpress technology, you will be able to cook your food 40% faster than most ovens in this review.
With its automatic cook time function, you can set it to cook at autopilot with certain foods. It's easy to use control panel packs 6-menu presets making it highly versatile and easy to use. With its compact design, you don't have to worry about it taking too much space in your kitchen. To top it off, it's non-stick interior makes it so easy to clean.
- Space saving ideal for smaller kitchens
- Comes with 6-presets for easy operations
- Designed for small batches of food
- Too small for larger food preparations
- A little bit expensive for a small oven
Cuisinart TOB 260 N1 Chef's Convection Toaster Oven
If you're looking for premium convection oven the Cuisinart TOB 260 N1 is for you. Typical with Cuisinart products, this is a bit pricey for a convection oven. But don't let the price scare you, this comes with amazing features, it will make you shell out a lot of dollars. It comes with 0.95 cubic-foot capacity and 9" x 13" baking pan which can easily house 13" pizza.
If you plan to cook an entire chicken with it, it well prepared for the task. Its 15 cooking functions which include the innovative dual cook and speed convection makes this the most versatile of the ovens reviewed. Heating power of 1800 Watts equates to short heat up and cooking time.
If you worry about cleaning your oven, worry no more because it's non-stick interior makes this oven so easy to clean. If you don't mind spending a bit, this product from Cuisinart is a good value for money.
- Premium product
- Best for huge preparations
- Multiple rack positions to save space
- Well constructed
- Too pricey
- Cheaper products deliver similar results
- A bit too big for smaller countertops
Cuisinart TOB-195 Exact Heat Toaster Oven Broiler
The smaller sibling of the Cuisinart TOB 260 N1, the Cuisinart TOB-195 offers the same features although it gives up a few dollars in price and a little space. If you want the Cuisinart TOB 260 N1 but thinks it's too big for your kitchen and too expensive for your price range, this oven is for you. You practically get the same functions for a smaller form factor plus you spend a lot less.
This 6-slice convection oven comes in a 0.6-cubic-foot form factor which makes it ideal for smaller countertop. It comes with presets for broil, toast, bagel, reheat, defrost, and convection buttons. You will love its electronic touchpad controls, its timers will allow you to cook in autopilot. Its non-stick interior makes it so easy to clean.
- Good alternative for the more expensive Cuisinart products
- Premium quality typical of Cuisinart
- Well constructed
- The pan corrodes
- The timer sometimes fail to cut off the heat
While all the ovens reviewed here are all from good brands, my winner is the Oster Large Capacity Countertop 6-Slice Digital Convection. It is a good convection oven with a decent price range and its capacity gives me the freedom to cook large preparations or to use it every day. When I can get the features I need for less, the affordable one is always a sure winner for me.
That being said, if you don't mind spending a couple of hundred dollars for a convection oven, you can't go wrong with the Breville BOV800XL Smart Oven 1800-Watt Convection Toaster Oven or the Cuisinart TOB 260 N1 Chef's Convection Toaster Oven. These two are really high-end convection ovens and as far as results go, these are nothing to sneer at.
The only thing that stops me from picking this one is the price. I'm well aware that I can get the same quality with more affordable ovens. But there are those who don't mind spending a bit more for a premium quality kitchen appliance and these are my recommendations.
For a middle of the road item which will give you the best compromise between quality and price, the Cuisinart TOB-195 Exact Heat Toaster Oven Broiler is the best choice. You will give up a little on the space and capacity, but you will get the same premium quality oven for a lot less.
All in all, this has been a difficult review for me because it boils down to choosing between all good choices. While I settled for the best quality that my money can buy, all these items are good and at the end of the day, you are the best judge.
What would you pick among these oven? Do you have any experience with these convection ovens? Share your choice and opinions in the comment section below.