The race for counter space continues apace with new specialty appliances hitting the market seemingly every day. One of the latest is the Black & Decker 5-Minute Pizza Oven & Snack Maker, which promises to cook a fresh or frozen 12-inch pizza in just five minutes. Such claims may be as irresistible to a family of pizza lovers as they were to the testers in Consumer Reports labs. We bought the $150 pizza oven recently and got to work.

Black & Decker says the oven has a “thickness selector for optimal results.” The selector amounts to five settings: Bake, Snacks, Regular Pizza, Rising Pizza, and Deep Dish Pizza. Preheat and cooking time is controlled by a timer and that’s where it gets tricky. The oven heats to 375 ° F when on the Bake and Deep Dish settings. It heats to 600 ° F or higher when on the Snacks, Regular, and Rising settings. The setting you pick automatically adjusts the intensity of the infrared elements, which affects the way the food cooks.

Finding the perfect settings for the pizzas in our tests required a bit of tweaking to get the best combination of preheat time and oven setting. For example, when we cooked a take-and-bake pizza with a par-cooked crust, we found that 5 minutes of preheating and using the Rising setting produced the best results. Other settings resulted in pizzas that were overdone on top and underdone on the bottom. But the same preheat time and setting didn’t work for homemade pizza or frozen pizza with a thinner crust. Again, trial and error led to better results.

In the end, all of the pizzas cooked faster in the Black & Decker pizza oven than in a conventional oven and preheat time was speedy. In fact, the whole process from start to finish required less time than it takes to preheat a pizza stone in a regular oven. The trade-off was often a less crispy crust.

Cooking frozen foods on the Snacks setting was another adventure. We tried fish sticks, chicken nuggets, and Hot Pockets. When we put only a few pieces on the ceramic tray, we ended up with burned bottoms and undercooked interiors. The food cooked more evenly when we filled the tray with snacks.

As you might imagine, the oven gets pretty hot with surface temperatures topping 240 ° F. The owner’s manual instructs users to wear oven mitts or use potholders whenever touching the oven. The high heat can pose a safety risk to consumers who are the most likely to buy a pizza oven—families with small children.

The bottom line. Only you can decide if you want to devote almost 220 square inches of counter space to a shiny new appliance. (The oven is 18-inches wide, 12-inches deep, and 10-inches tall.) But the oven did live up to its promise of cooking pizza faster than you can in an oven so if your freezer is typically stocked with frozen pizzas then this oven may be for you.

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