There are a few home electrical appliances that every kitchen really must have, and one of these is an oven. They are indispensable for cooking special dishes, and even suitable for something a little more adventurous – like baking pastries. The only real issue that you might have with an oven, is if you don’t have sufficient space to install one in your kitchen. This is when you could really benefit from a countertop oven – also known as a mini oven.
Whether it is because your apartment is really small, or simply because you don’t want to spend a lot of money at the moment, a countertop oven will get you out of trouble. It will let you show off your culinary skills, and allows you to cook in virtually exactly the same way as when using a conventional, or built-in oven. In this guide you will find all the most important advice that you should follow, if you are purchasing one of these amazing appliances for your kitchen.
- 1 Key Facts
- 2 Our Selection: The Best Countertop Ovens on the US Market
- 3 Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about countertop ovens
- 3.1 What exactly is a countertop oven or mini oven?
- 3.2 What is convection cooking?
- 3.3 Is a countertop oven the same as a microwave?
- 3.4 Can I use an electric small oven for baking?
- 3.5 Is a countertop oven the same as a portable oven?
- 3.6 What are the advantages and disadvantages of a countertop oven?
- 3.7 How to clean a countertop oven?
- 4 Shopping Criteria
- 5 Summary
- A mini oven, or countertop oven, offers virtually all the same advantages as a conventional oven, but it is much smaller. This obviously means it will save you space in the kitchen.
- Another great fact about these ovens, is that because these are small devices, they reduce the electricity bill by consuming less energy than a conventional oven.
- It’s not simply all advantages with this type of oven however, as they have a shorter lifespan, due to the fact that the internal heating elements will deteriorate over time. However, the benefits they provide greatly outweigh the drawbacks, and you will not regret purchasing one of these devices.
Our Selection: The Best Countertop Ovens on the US Market
The first electric cooking appliance was invented in 1891, but it was really during the 1950s that the world saw a massive spike in the use of domestic kitchen appliances. Now consumers are able to buy a smaller version of the most important kitchen appliance – the electric oven. Here we have compiled a list of the five best products on the market. We have chosen a wide-range of products, so that you get a good idea of what’s currently available. Oh and we also made sure that every product on our list offers great value for money. So whichever one you choose, you can be sure you are getting a fantastic deal:
- BLACK+DECKER Countertop Convection Toaster Oven
- Oster Extra Large Digital Countertop Convection Oven
- Hamilton Beach 31103DA Countertop Convection & Rotisserie Convection Oven
- Calphalon Quartz Heat Countertop Toaster Oven
- Mueller Natural Convection Oven
BLACK+DECKER Countertop Convection Toaster Oven
Here we have one of the best selling countertop ovens on the market, it is moderately priced and has great features. It offers a convection heating fan that circulates warm air throughout the oven for fast, even baking. It is powerful with a maximum rating of 1500 Watts, enough for cooking any type of food.
As one of the best selling products on the market, this countertop oven has great reviews from buyers. They love the fact that is is easy to use, and due to its lightweight design, it is just as easy to put away when not being used.
Oster Extra Large Digital Countertop Convection Oven
Here we have another excellent option, that is slightly more expensive but is bigger in size than the BLACK + DECKER. Its large interior fits 2 take and bake pizzas, a family sized chicken, or 18 slices of bread. It has digital settings for pizza, bake, broil, toast, and defrost. Easy clean interior, with a 90 minute timer featuring auto shut off. With 1500 Watts of power it is suitable for any cooking task.
This product has positive feedback from users, who love how easy it is to use, and how much time they are saving because this oven heats up and cooks fast. The large size is perfect for cooking large meals if you are having lots of people to your house for dinner.
Hamilton Beach 31103DA Countertop Convection & Rotisserie Convection Oven
This another large sized countertop oven, that has some great features. It has a self-basting rotisserie that locks in your food’s flavor and juices, while turning the outside brown and crispy. It is large enough to fit a 5 lb chicken, two 12” pizzas, two 9” x 13” casseroles, or two cake pans. Includes removable drip tray, rotisserie skewer & lifter, 2 racks, 2 baking pans, and broiler rack.
Fantastic reviews from happy buyers who love how well this countertop oven roasts, broils and grills. The rotisserie function is a great extra, and users love the look of the stainless steel finish.
Calphalon Quartz Heat Countertop Toaster Oven
This is the most expensive option on our list, but well worth the extra outlay if your budget can afford it. It has an extra large capacity and a quartz heating element that delivers 40% more even heat and preheats faster. With a high contrast LCD display for intuitive control of all features and 11 preset cooking functions: Bake, Pizza, Broil, Toast, Bagel, Roast, Defrost, Warm, Reheat, Cookies and Dehydrate.
This countertop oven from Calphalon has very positive reviews from buyers. It is a favorite of people who have owned many countertop ovens over the years, and they affirm that this is the best one they have ever owned. It offers a very even cooking, and is reliable and cooks extra fast thanks to the quartz heating element.
Mueller Natural Convection Oven
This is the cheapest option on our list, but it still has a lot to offer. Wide temperature range of 150 to 450 degrees lets you cook with the convenience of an oven and the natural convection circulates air for faster, even cooking. The cooking functions include: baking, broiling, toasting, and keeping food warm. It has a timer and is easy to clean.
This reviews for this product are outstanding. Users love the build quality, and how easy the it is to use. The stainless steel finish gives a professional look, with a streamlined design that will easily fit anywhere in your kitchen.
Shopping Guide: Everything you should know about countertop ovens
If you are passionate about cooking and you have great culinary skills, don’t assume that a countertop oven isn’t suitable for preparing your favorite recipes. It no longer matters if you have a small kitchen, countertop ovens now include so many functions that were unthinkable only a few years ago. In this section, we answer the most frequently asked questions people have, when considering purchasing one of these products.
What exactly is a countertop oven or mini oven?
A countertop oven (also known as a mini oven) is a small electric appliance that is used for cooking, baking or roasting food. Just as with a conventional oven, it cooks food by using the heat emanating from its internal walls – which is generated by heating elements. Simply connect it to the mains power, just as you would a microwave oven, and you are ready to start cooking. Current models of countertop ovens offer lots of different features, like the convection function for example.
What is convection cooking?
Conventional ovens have offered convection cooking for many years, and now this function can also be performed by many countertop ovens. In this mode, an oven uses fans to distribute the heat evenly. This allows the food to be cooked in an evenly and uniform manner. Additionally, this function means that cooking can be done much more quickly.
Is a countertop oven the same as a microwave?
No. They are similar in size and both simply need to be connected to a wall plug to be fully operational, but the similarities stop there. A countertop oven works by using of heating elements, while a microwave oven uses electromagnetic waves, which cause the food to cook or heat when heated.
Microwaves are designed for heating and defrosting because they heat the inside of the food to a depth of one inch. The food is not roasted, it is dehydrated. Conversely, an oven pushes heat inside food, which is cooked as the dehydration process occurs. In the following table we set out the differences:
|The waves cause the food molecules to stir to create heat.||Heats the surface of the food and the heat moves inside.|
|Does not grill or toast food.||Toasts and grills food, generating a soft interior and a crispy exterior.|
|It is faster than the oven, which is why it is used to defrost and heat.||It is slower than a microwave, although it is also used for heating.|
|Dries the food a little while heating.||Does not dry food while cooking or heating.|
|In the last ten years they have improved significantly and now incorporate functions such as crisping, broiling, roasting, bain-marie or convection mode – among many other possibilities.||Combi ovens are also currently available on the market. A combi oven is a countertop oven that combines the functions of an oven with the heating methods of a microwave. They are also called combi steamers, or combination ovens.|
Can I use an electric small oven for baking?
Yes, absolutely! It is a great way to start making homemade biscuits, cakes and other baked foods. However, for the best results, be sure to check that the model you are thinking of buying has both a top and a bottom heating element. It should also have convection mode, in order for the heat to be evenly distributed.
Is a countertop oven the same as a portable oven?
Yes. These appliances can be called mini, portable or countertop ovens – the names are interchangeable. When these products first appeared on the market, they only had limited functions and were only use to roast food, but today they offer many different options and cooking methods.
They can grill, heat, bake, broil and do just about anything that a conventional oven can do.
What are the advantages and disadvantages of a countertop oven?
If you decide to purchase a countertop oven, you will not need to go through the painful installation process of a conventional oven, but there are also many other advantages offered by this type of appliance that you probably are not aware of. In the following table we show you the advantages and disadvantages of having one of these small appliances in your kitchen:
|They are inexpensive and it is possible to buy one for an approximate price of around $50.||The internal elements deteriorate over time.|
|They are small and will fit in any corner of a kitchen. If you don’t use it for an extended period, you can store it in the pantry to save space.||They are not designed to cook a large volume of food, because the interior space is smaller than that of a conventional oven.|
|It is much easier to clean than a conventional oven.|
|Being of a smaller size, it can be preheated faster – as the internal surface area is much smaller.|
|They consume less energy than a conventional oven, due to their size and rate at which they can be heated up.|
How to clean a countertop oven?
A countertop oven is cleaned in exactly the same way as a larger oven. The main advantage you will encounter when cleaning a mini oven, is that you won’t have to bend down or squat while performing this task. The maintenance and cleaning of these appliances is much easier – due to the smaller size. Here are some basic tips on how to keep your countertop oven sparkling clean:
- Firstly, be sure to unplug the oven from the wall socket. Don’t mess around with electricity, it is super important to disconnect the device from mains power in order to avoid accidents.
- Allow it to cool completely and remove any excess fat. It is crucial for your safety that you let the device cool down completely, so you avoid burning yourself. A great tip for removing excess fat, is using paper towels dipped in hot water.
- Rubber gloves. For your own safety and to avoid unexpected allergic reactions, always wear protective gloves.
- First cleaning method. One method is to use a dish filled with water and a few drops of ammonium. Simply place the dish in the oven, turn the heat on at a low temperature for a couple of hours, then turn it off and when it has cooled and simply wipe with a cloth.
- Second cleaning method. Another method to clean your countertop oven is to sprinkle the inside with baking soda. This is best done just after you finish cooking, while the oven is still hot. However, do not forget to disconnect the oven from the wall plug. After an hour, collect the waste with a warm and soapy sponge.
- Third cleaning method. While degreasers are easy to use and conveniently sold in stores, we do not recommend their use. It is always better to use a natural cleaning method, when possible, and avoid nasty chemicals.
- Ventilation. It is super important that you leave the door of your countertop oven open after you have completed your cleaning tasks. Allow it to ventilate properly for two to three hours, so that any gases from the products you used will be expelled.
If you are thinking of buying a mini oven (or countertop oven), it is vital that you consider a series of important criteria before making your purchase. There are some crucial factors that you must keep in mind, so that you don’t end up wanting to return the product, and that your purchase totally suits your needs. The most important criteria to keep in mind are:
- Temperature regulation
The capacity of a tabletop oven, like that of conventional ovens, is measured in inches. Larger conventional ovens are usually around 36″ wide, but countertop ovens are significantly smaller – with the largest size being around 16″. The following table will show you the capacity of an oven in relation to the number of people an it can cook for:
|Number of people||Capacity|
|1-2 people||Up to 9″|
|3 people||Between 9-12″|
|4 people||Between 12-16″|
|More than 6 people||16″ or more|
It is important that you measure the space where you are planning on placing your countertop oven. You don’t want to buy one that is so big that you can no longer use your kitchen comfortably. Also, make sure that there is a wall plug nearby, so that you don’t need to use an extension cable. You should also leave at least a little space around the appliance for ventilation.
The power rating is an important feature of a countertop oven, because it determines what dishes the appliance is able to cook. Generally, these types of ovens have a power rating that ranges between 800-3000 W. A mini oven with a rating between 1400 and 2000 W will be sufficient to cook any type of food. So be sure to keep that in mind!
Another crucial feature to pay attention to when purchasing a countertop oven, is that it has fully adjustable temperature settings. Some foods need more heat than others, so only consider appliances that have this feature. The maximum temperature for this type of appliance is usually around 480 degrees Fahrenheit.
As we mentioned previously in this article, the latest countertop ovens have various functions that are very useful for cooking. Choose a models according to your needs, whether you need a grill, defrosting mode or even the function of a bain-marie. Don’t forget about a timer either.
Another feature that we do not always think about when buying a countertop oven is visibility. What exactly do we mean by visibility? That the food is visible during the cooking process. For this, it is important that the appliance has a transparent glass door. You should also decide whether or not you need an interior light.
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Most of the latest countertop ovens include additional accessories, such as a crumb tray, racks or a rotary roaster so you can roast chickens. Check that the accessories are high quality, so that you don’t have to keep buying replacement parts, and that the offered features are actually something you think you will use.
A countertop oven (or mini oven) is practical and functional, especially for single people – or couples who do not have much available space in their kitchen. This type of appliance is not only small and compact, but also very versatile. It makes hosting dinner parties a breeze, and the faster cooking time will let you spend more of the evening entertaining your guests.
As we mentioned earlier, countertop ovens are faster than conventional ovens and will save you money on your bill by consuming less energy. It’s not just positives with this type of appliance, as they do have a shorter lifespan, but the benefits far outweigh the negatives. If you think you could find a countertop oven useful in your kitchen, just go for it and buy one, you will not regret it.
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