How we test toaster ovens – behind the scenes of H&G's testing process

Here's all the details of how we test toaster ovens for our reviews and buying guides

Best toaster oven
(Image credit: KitchenAid)

At Homes & Gardens, we think it's important that we help you to get the most out of your toaster oven. That’s why we put lots of consideration into how we test toaster ovens for our reviews, buying guides, and recommendations.

People are always asking whether they can peek behind the scenes of how we test the toaster ovens. If you're one of those people, you're in for a treat. We're here to tell you exactly how we research, review, and refine our recommendations for the best toaster ovens on the market.

I'll talk you through every part of the process, from unboxing, to cooking, to cleaning.  You'll find out how we assess the value of a toaster oven as well as why we compare it to other models on the market as well as what warranty you should expect.

Why we talk about unboxing and first impressions

Unboxing the Elite Gourmet French Door Convection Toaster Oven

(Image credit: Future)

You’ll have spotted that at the top of all of our reviews we talk about the unboxing process and our first impressions of a toaster oven. Whilst we know that looks aren’t everything, we know that it’s important that yours looks nice on the countertop. A smart and sleek appliance will get much more use than a bulky, ugly one (with the exception of those that are really incredible and very industrial). 

The reason that we also talk about unboxing is that you’ll likely want to know about the kind of toll that the packaging will take on your garbage (and the environment). The way that brands help you to set up your toaster ovens also speaks volumes. If they’ve given you useful instructions and some neat extra accessories, you’ll want to know about it.

What our tests look like in the kitchen

Making kofte in the Elite Gourmet French Door Convection Toaster Oven

(Image credit: Future)

The way that we test toaster ovens from here really depends on the offering from the models. Some come with simple functions and others will have a lot more to offer.


Making toast in the Our Place Wonder Oven

(Image credit: Future)

It’s in the name of toaster appliances so our experts always make sure to at least test how well a toaster oven can brown bread. We’ll assess the capacity of the oven as well as how thorough it is at getting the toast evenly golden, warmed right through, and deliciously crisp


A garlic, spinach, and black olive fiorentina pizza cooked in the Breville the Smart Oven Air Fryer Toaster Oven

(Image credit: Future/Alex David)

The next test we put every toaster oven is pizza. This is another culinary classic and your toaster oven should be able to do a good job of crisping up a pizza base and turning your cheese into golden colors of stringy deliciousness. We'll let you know about the size of pizza that you can put in the oven as well as the temperature that it cooks at and how quickly it cooks.

Baking and cookies

Cookies baked in the Elite Gourmet French Door Convection Toaster Oven

(Image credit: Future)

Most toaster ovens can also make cookies. Our experts will jump at any opportunity to do some baking, so we’ll whip up a standard batch of cookie dough and bake as many as we can. The oven should be able to reach the perfect temperature for giving out cookies some good, crisp bite, whilst leaving them soft, chewy, and gooey. You can tell a lot about the temperature of an oven from how your cookies turn out: too hot and all the oil will melt out of your cookie, leaving them a thin, burnt crisp. Too cool and they’ll end up looking a little, well, sad.

Air frying and other functions

French fries in the Proscenic T31 Air Fryer.

(Image credit: Future / Alex David)

Lots of toaster ovens also have air fry functions. We have a whole other process for how we test air fryers, which we like to cover. At the very least we’ll check how effective the air fryer is at leaving your fries golden brown, crisp on the outside, and fluffy on the inside. Generally, when you cook fries in an air fryer, you want them fast, so we’ll check the speed of the air fryer too, making sure that it’s worth investing in the extra air fry function. 

Why we talk about cleaning, storage, and maintenance

Proscenic T31 Air Fryer with recipe guide on a kitchen counter.

(Image credit: Future / Alex David)

Your toaster oven needs to be easy to clean for multiple reasons, namely because you’ll be more inclined to keep it sparkling. This will extend the life of your oven, meaning you get better value for money.

Some ovens come with non-stick, slide outs, and easy, wipe-clean surfaces, which we love. Others might not have non-stick, but they’ll have cleaning settings and special accessories to help you maintain yours.

Plenty of toaster ovens can be folded and locked away neatly, which is why we’ll also let you know about the details for storing and maintaining your toaster oven. If you live in a small space, you’ll want yours to be ultra-compact and easy to use. With our in-person experiences, we’ll be able to let you know how compact they really are. 

Why we compare them?

Making chicken drumsticks in the Elite Gourmet French Door Convection Toaster Oven

(Image credit: Future)

Then, we do all the rest of the research for you. Our experts have tested the best toaster ovens (as well as the best toasters and air fryers) on the market, so we can let you know how it compares. At this point, we can offer some good alternative and competitive options if this is close to what you want. Often, we'll show you what you can get for a little less money as well as what you can get for a little more money. 

Giving our verdict

Kofte cooked in the Elite Gourmet French Door Convection Toaster Oven

(Image credit: Future)

We’ll also give you our verdict on the value of the toaster oven, taking into account our tests, the warranty, and the overall build of the toaster oven. It's good if you can find an oven with at least a five-year warranty. It's important that you know your toaster oven is good quality, made to last, and that the manufacturers back that too. Taking everything into consideration, we'll let you know who we think the oven suits and who it won't. That way, when one ends up at your door, there'll be no unwelcome surprises.

Laura Honey
eCommerce Editor

Laura is our eCommerce editor. As a fully qualified barista, she's our expert in all things coffee and has tested over thirty of the best coffee makers on the market. She has also interviewed Q-Graders and world-leading experts in the coffee industry, so has an intimate knowledge of all things coffee. Before joining Homes & Gardens, she studied English at Oxford University. Whilst studying, she trained as a master perfumer and worked in the luxury fragrance industry for five years. Her collection of home fragrance is extensive and she's met and interviewed five of the world's finest perfumers (also known as 'noses'). As a result of this expansive fragrance knowledge, she always puts quality and style over quantity and fads. Laura looks for products which have been designed simply and with thoughtful finishes.