My kingdom for a repeatable toaster oven!
June 3, 2009 10:49 PM   Subscribe

What happened to toaster ovens? And are there any left that are any good?

Our humble Black & Decker died a few months ago. This was the kind where you turned a knob to your desired toast setting, then pressed a lever. The toaster would pop automatically.

When I went looking for a replacement, I found that every toaster oven -- including Black and Decker's -- had replaced this lever mechanism with something more like an egg timer. You turn the dial to your desired setting and it tick-tick-ticks back to zero, at which point it pops.

This is inherently a worse design as it's impossible to turn it to the exact same spot every time. On our replacement Euro-Pro toaster, it also doesn't even stop ticking at the same place on the dial every time. As a result, my family burns every piece of toast that isn't babysat.

What happened to toaster ovens? And are there any left that allow for repeatable toasting experiences?

(PS please don't tell me to buy a regular slotted toaster as there is no counter space for one!)
posted by rouftop to Home & Garden (18 answers total) 9 users marked this as a favorite
Toastmaster still makes toasters with levers. In fact, when I searched Amazon for "toaster," just now, almost all the results had levers, including a couple of Black and Deckers. Is there a specific feature you need that available lever-pusher toasters don't have?
posted by katillathehun at 10:57 PM on June 3, 2009

Don't mind me. I misread your question. But! I do see several toaster ovens on Amazon that, while they don't have levers, they do have digital settings. That might be what you need if the egg timer style is annoying.
posted by katillathehun at 10:59 PM on June 3, 2009

I have a very nice Krups toaster oven that I use almost exclusively over my real oven. It has a digital timer for everything with something like 10 settings just for toast. Works great.
posted by elendil71 at 1:16 AM on June 4, 2009

As a longtime toaster oven aficionado, I'm deeply interested in this question.

My go-to source for these kinds of recs (besides AskMe, love you guys!) is Consumer Search. It's usually the first result for any google query of "best ITEM" in this cast "best toaster over". Results here.

MeMail me for extra-special savings - I run a deals site and can hook you up with the bomb diggity price-wise when you make your choice and generally advise, though Consumer Search does a good job of that already. FWIW, I've heard GREAT things about those models that utilize convection technology.

Happy hunting and happy toaster oven usage!
posted by xiaolongbao at 1:35 AM on June 4, 2009 [3 favorites]

What's your budget?
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:59 AM on June 4, 2009

Toaster ovens are pretty simple, mechanically speaking, and I see them at thrift stores all the time. Small kitchen appliances, generally, are a pretty good thing to buy used.
posted by box at 5:03 AM on June 4, 2009

My (less than a year old) toaster oven has one of those dials, and not only can you not be exact with it, but the marks are wrong. You can set it to "five minutes" and it takes something like nine. So I just set it to "cook forever" and turn it off when it's done. It still makes a satisfying "ding" when you turn it off manually.
posted by Casuistry at 5:58 AM on June 4, 2009

We have one of the old ones like you describe, and you'd have to tear it from my partner's cold, dead, hands. Your best bet might be garage sales and thrift shops. Toaster ovens are one of those appliances that some people don't use all that often and so are prime candidates for these sorts of things.
posted by synecdoche at 6:56 AM on June 4, 2009

I've got a digital one from Black and Decker, and it works fine. I do find the "toast" function to be unbearably slow, but Mr. Arkham thinks that I am just obsessed with toast and impatient, so YMMV.
posted by JoanArkham at 7:13 AM on June 4, 2009

I have the Cuisinart with convection. Go digital. I had the Black and Decker and it died a heinous death. The cuisinart works well for a small family including roasting chickens with some adjustment and hey, it does a 12 in pizza too, if you get the square one.

You can get a good deal at Costco on them but if you are willing to pay more a good cooks store will have them too.

The only flaw with cuisinart is that the construction of the earlier models was not as robust and it was a bear to clean properly. I have a new one and it seems to be holding up to heavy use every morning and roasting/cooking 4x a week.
posted by jadepearl at 7:42 AM on June 4, 2009

I went without a stove and oven for two years because I had a toaster oven, I wouldn't replace it for the world. Ones with a lever are still available, but the one I just got has a metal insert you have to put between the top element and the toast for the bread to just toast and not char. I'm going to take synecdoche's advice and buy a different one used.
posted by variella at 8:08 AM on June 4, 2009

2nd-ing the digital convection Cuisinart. I have an old one, and as jadepearl says, it's not as robust as the newer ones, but it's still great. I'd love one of the new ones, but after 10 years, it's still doing such a good job I can't really justify a new one yet.
posted by angiep at 8:32 AM on June 4, 2009

Go to Williams-Sonoma on line. We have the De Longhi, and it's fantastic, but the one made by Breville rules.
posted by Zambrano at 9:02 AM on June 4, 2009

I can't personally speak for the Cuisinart, but it's what chef Eric Ripert uses on his blog.
posted by padraigin at 9:05 AM on June 4, 2009

Response by poster: Thanks for all the comments.
  • Budget has to be sub-$100. Preferably sub-$70.
  • Aside from toast, we like to use it to toast nuts and seeds, reheat pizza, melt cheese on sandwiches, etc.
  • I'm not so keen on buying used -- our last one was used and it had the habit of knocking out our circuit breakers. Once bitten, twice shy.
  • Really big toaster ovens are also out as we don't have much counter space. I purchased a six-slice Rival that had good reviews from consumer reports but had to return it due to its monstrous size.
If anyone has experience with this Hamilton Beach Toastation I'd be really interested as well. I can't tell from the pictures how the timing works.

posted by rouftop at 10:47 AM on June 4, 2009

I'm now using my second Cusinart convection toaster oven, TOB-165. The first one performed well for a very long time, and I expect the same of the new one -- it's four years old now, so not that new, now that I think about it. The significant drawback is that when you just want toast, it takes a long time. I've tried using conventional toasters for toast because they're much faster, but the three I had lasted less than one year each. They were T-Fal, Black and Decker, and Oster.
posted by wryly at 11:38 AM on June 4, 2009

We have a Delonghi toaster oven that we absolutely love. We've had it about 6 years. It does not have a dial, and the oven, broiler and toaster features are awesome. Ours wasn't cheap, but it's really high quality and is very useful.
posted by gesamtkunstwerk at 8:05 PM on June 4, 2009

Response by poster: Thought I'd follow up on this for anybody curious.

We finally broke down and bought a different toaster that also has a dial. Yet it's vastly better than the one we had before!

The dial represents a much shorter period of time than the old one. In other words, the maximum amount of time is significantly less, so a degree of variation in my wrist turn translates to a less significant amount of toasting time. And it ends much closer to the marked end spot than the Euro-Pro did. No more burned toast, hallelujah.

It's a basic Cuisineart toaster oven.
posted by rouftop at 4:34 PM on December 23, 2009

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