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Toaster ovens get larger but are they better?

Consumer Reports tests some of the biggest to find the best

Published: December 02, 2014 01:30 PM
Cuisinart TOB-260

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Some of the latest arrivals to our toaster oven lab are about the size of a microwave, with speed-cooking claims to match. Consider the Oster XL Toaster Oven TSSTTVXLDG. Measuring 22 inches wide and 19 inches high, it's the largest model in our toaster oven Ratings and its manufacturer promises "faster, more even cooking for optimal results." We put the toaster oven to the test, along with several other behemoths, to see if these countertop wares are truly ready for "second oven" status.

As with all the new toaster ovens we tested, the $100 Oster uses convection technology to distribute heat throughout its cavity. While we see some benefit to this feature in full-size ovens, where it can lower cooking times, it doesn't seem to be a game changer with toaster ovens, even with the latest oversized models. While the Oster produced an evenly-baked pizza and tray of corn muffins, several toaster ovens without convection performed better overall. Another extra-large model, the $70 Black and Decker TO3250XSB, whose extended interior can handle a 13x9-inch lasagna pan, lost points due to its so-so broiling.      

Oster XL Toaster Oven TSSTTVXLDG

If you are looking for the benefits of an extra-large toaster oven—including multi-tiered cooking and the ability to bake 13-inch pizzas and toast 8 slices of bread at once—our tests did find some winners. Best of the latest batch is the $260 Cuisinart TOB-260. Its spacious interior is big enough for a 9-pound chicken, according to the manufacturer, and it actually held 9 slices of toast in our tests. More importantly, it's very capable at both baking and broiling, and it turned out a nice batch of toast, which not all toaster ovens can manage.

Despite the Cuisinart's solid performance, it couldn't quite dethrone our top-rated toaster oven, the Breville Smart Oven BOV800XL, $250, which is also on the large side, measuring 19 inches wide. If your countertop doesn't have that kind of real estate, consider the Panasonic FlashXpress NB-G110P. It's a compact 10x13x12, and it performed comparably to Breville and the Cuisinart, for about $100 less.

—Daniel DiClerico (@dandiclerico on Twitter)                                

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