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Finding the best convection toaster oven can be tricky because in addition to all the obvious differences, there are some details that are easy to overlook. One example is an issue with the Breville Smart Oven, and you’ll find more on that below, but first let’s start with a brief introduction.
Overview of Countertop Convection Toaster Ovens
Adding one of these little combo ovens to your kitchen can be the best idea you ever had, or a big disappointment. If your only intended use is for making toast, any of the most popular convection toaster ovens will probably be overkill for you. They all take up a considerable amount of counter space, and some are rather pricey for “just a toaster”.
On the other hand, more adventurous cooks have discovered some of these countertop combo ovens can all but replace your conventional oven. If you fall into that category, one of the higher end models may serve you best as they offer the most versatility as well as the best performance.
For a quick start you may want to click here to take a look at our Convection Toaster Oven Comparison Chart (page will open in a new tab or window so you can keep reading here). That table lets you compare features of the top selling models side by side.
The most common problem with standard toaster ovens is “hot spots” that can result in unevenly cooked foods. Toast may be too light in some areas and burnt in spots. Casseroles may be bubbly in one area and still cool in another.
One feature you are paying for in the more expensive models is the patented technology certain manufacturers have developed to maintain accurate temperatures and controlled, even heating throughout the oven. These units also have higher wattage than less expensive models.
Most likely you are very familiar with the three companies who make these models: Breville, Cuisinart, and KitchenAid.
Worth Noting: All toaster ovens get very hot on the top and sides, and you must allow proper clearance between the appliance and your kitchen walls or overhanging cabinets. When considering your available counter space, remember to count both the product dimensions and the inches needed for clearance.(Back to Top)
A Quick Look at the KitchenAid KCO273SS 12″ Convection Bake Digital Countertop Oven
Compared to others in its class, this KitchenAid model is competitive on price and features, but it doesn’t make the top of our list because of performance. While it seems to do great on some foods, many owners have been very dissatisfied with its ability to achieve and maintain proper temperatures and to produce consistently good results all around.
Complaints mentioned most often are: making toast takes forever, and it cooks unevenly; oven cooks unusually slowly even in convection mode. One other thing that many people find annoying is that the print around the knob is so tiny it’s difficult to read (maybe fine for you 20 year olds!).
This KitchenAid model does not sell as well as its competitors, but despite some issues it still has an average consumer rating of 4.5 stars. If you want to consider this model you can check it out here on Amazon.(Back to Top)
Breville Smart Oven vs. Cuisinart TOB-260N Convection Toaster Oven
The two convection toaster ovens that sell the best are the Breville and the Cuisinart models. They have the highest price tags, but both also have a reputation for excellent performance. For detail in depth, you can click one of the links below to read the complete review of each one:
In this article we’ll take a broader view and consider what advantages each one might have over the other.
Price and What’s Included
Price in itself is not a huge consideration because there is only about $15 difference between the two models, with the Cuisinart being the lower. Both include a baking pan and broiling pan, but the Breville ships with a round metal pizza pan whereas the Cuisinart comes with a pizza stone.
The Breville includes a cooking rack, but the Cuisinart is designed to cook on two separate racks at once, so it comes with 2 oven racks.
Size, Capacity, & Standard Features
The Cuisinart offers a larger interior capacity, but not by much. In effect you end up with only about a half inch more width inside. However, unlike the Breville with its one rack, the Cuisinart enables you to expand your total cooking capacity by using both oven racks at once. One caveat to note here is that height-wise it’s a fairly tight fit. That is, you could bake two cake layers at once, but there is not a tremendous amount of space for a layer to rise far above the top edge of the pan.
All the standard features on these models are the same, so any food you can cook in one should work equally well in the other.
The Cuisinart has an interior light, which many people think is a huge plus. For tidiness, it is also designed so that the cord can be stored internally.
The Cuisinart also has a Speed Convection feature that works two ways to reduce your total cooking time: no preheating is required, so that wait time is eliminated; the fans run at a higher speed, so foods cook even faster than with regular convection cooking.
The Breville is noted for having some great design features down to the smallest detail. It’s a nice looking unit, the round handle is easy on the hand and easy to clean, and even the plug has a finger loop for better gripping. The manufacturer also offers a bamboo cutting board (sold separately) designed to sit on the top of the oven. This gives you a way to reclaim your lost counter space because otherwise, the top of the oven gets too hot to safely place anything on it.
Controls and Ease of Use
There is nothing terribly complicated about operation of either unit, but you do need to read instructions. For example, the Breville handles the preheating process in a unique way, and if you don’t understand this you may think your unit is not heating up properly. (See our Breville review for a complete explanation of this.)
Which Oven Does a Better Job Cooking?
It’s a tie. Each model has its own patented, proprietary technology, but both seem to perform equally well to ensure that temperatures are accurate and cooking is always even.
Both models turn out 6 slices of evenly browned toast. (The Cuisinart claims it can hold 9 slices, but that’s only if you’re using very small bread.) Both will also handle pizza, whole chickens, roasts, biscuits and muffins, casseroles, and a wide variety of other main dishes, side dishes, and desserts. In both cases, owners are overwhelmingly pleased with results no matter what they cook.
Consumer Reviews and Ratings
Now we come to a difference that is very important but difficult to judge. That is, longevity.
The problem with this comparison is that there is so much more feedback available on the Breville than on the Cuisinart. The Breville has been on the market longer and now has online reports from almost 4,700 owners. On the Cuisinart, to date there are only about 200 customer reviews available online.
Keeping that in mind, one big difference in these two is that there are very few (almost none) reports of the Cuisinart breaking down within the first three years. The Breville is another story. Out of 4,690 consumer reviews, 6% report that within the first 3 years their unit either broke down completely or malfunctioned to the point that it was virtually useless. For a detailed explanation on that, please see the Breville Smart Oven review.
What’s more, the Breville carries only a 1 year warranty, but the warranty on the Cuisinart is for 3 years.
For that reason it might be easy to dismiss the Breville, except that despite those problems there are literally thousands of owners who are absolutely thrilled with it. Clearly, it’s a judgment call, and the best way to decide is to read the complete review on each model so you can consider all the details, pro and con.(Back to Top)
Best Convection Toaster Oven: Summary
All things considered, what most people will determine to be the best convection toaster oven comes down to a choice between the Breville Smart Oven and the Cuisinart TOB-260N Chef’s Convection Toaster Oven. Both have earned high praise for producing excellent results on all types of foods. Many owners are surprised at how much and how often they end up using these counter top ovens, some to the extent that they could almost do away with their traditional ovens. Those who have health concerns about microwave cooking may also discover that convection cooking offers you an alternative that works just as well on many foods and is almost as fast. These are not small appliances by any means, but if you have the counter space, and if you look into details to be sure you know what you’re getting before you buy, chances are that your new convection toaster oven will be a very welcome addition to your kitchen.
Breville Smart Oven
See it on Amazon: Breville BOV800XL Smart Oven 1800-Watt Convection Toaster Oven
Cuisinart TOB-260N Convection Toaster Oven
See it on Amazon: Cuisinart
TOB-260N Chef’s Convection
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