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4.7 Reviewed by SusanRating:
If you’ve done much looking for one of these countertop appliances, you know that the Cuisinart TOB-260N Convection Toaster Oven is not the number 1 top seller. That would be the Breville Smart Oven, and you can read all about that model here – but don’t run off just yet!
Though the Breville is an amazing unit, there is some concern over the longevity of the unit, and it has only a one year warranty.
That’s why it’s worth reading about the Cusinart TOB-260N. This is a large capacity, full-featured countertop convection toaster oven with a digital backlit LCD display, 15 cooking functions, built-in patented performance technology, and perhaps most importantly, a 3 year limited warranty.
Maybe it’s considered old school now, but to my mind any appliance in this price range should have a life expectancy of more than one year. As well, you might also interpret the length of the warranty on a product as an indication of how much confidence the manufacturer has in its quality.
Of course, every convection toaster oven has its pros and cons. In this case it may be a tough choice, so before you decide, keep reading to get all the details about the Cuisinart TOB-260N Chef’s Convection Toaster Oven.
Table of Contents (Click a topic to read ahead!)
- 1875 Watts
- Exact Heat™ Sensor for Precision Temperature Maintenance
- Always Even™ Toast Shade Control
- 0.95 Cu. Ft. Interior Capacity (6 toast slices, 9″ x 13″ baking pan)
- Digital Controls, Backlit LCD Display
- 15 Cooking Functions (these are not all pre-sets* see below)
- 2 Hour Timer and Automatic Shut-off
- 2 Rack, 4 Height Positions
- Auto-Slide Out Rack
- Removable Front Load Crumb Tray and Nonstick Interior
- Interior Light
- Internal Cord Storage
- 2 Accessories Included
- 3 Year Limited Warranty
What about the model Cuisinart TOB-260 (without the “N”)?
Sometimes model numbers are enough to drive you nuts. There is not and never was a model TOB-260. It has always been the TOB-260N, but for whatever reason, some retailers chose to drop the “N”. That led to some confusion, so hopefully this clears it up.
*To clarify, the 15 Cooking Functions are as follows:
- Keep Warm
- Speed Convection
- Dual Cook
Speed Convection circulates air faster than regular convection, and therefore cooks foods faster. It is mainly recommended for frozen dinners or roasting meats and vegetables.
Dual Cook gives you the option to select two cooking functions or two temperature settings and run them consecutively. For example, you might program a Bake time and temp followed by a Keep Warm period.
+30 is simply an option to add 30 seconds to the cooking time with the push of a button. It can come in handy when the time you set is about to expire and you want your toast a little darker.
This model will also alert you with beep sounds when the preheat temperature is reached and at the end of the cooking cycle. These beeps can be turned off, and the volume is adjustable too, but some feel that even the loudest setting is too quiet for their liking.
Controls & Ease of Use
The controls on this unit are fairly intuitive, and they are explained well in the instruction booklet which you can view online here. The booklet also explains settings and uses of the various cooking functions, so for example you know to choose “Roast” for meats and “Bake” for more delicate foods such as muffins and pastry.
Even changing settings on the alerts is pretty easy. You do have to refer to instructions to know which buttons to push, but there is nothing complex about it.
The temperature range can be set from 150° to 450° Fahrenheit. The “Broil” function operates at a fixed 500°F.
When you open the oven door, the interior light automatically comes on for two minutes. You can also touch the “light” button to turn it on, and after 2 minutes the light will shut itself off.
When this unit is plugged in but not in use, the LCD display is white and shows a clock. During operation, the backlit LCD display is blue.
After you set a program and press Start, the display will read “Preheating” until the correct temperature is reached. The display then changes to “Ready” and the timer starts counting down. The one exception to this is with Speed Convection mode – in that case, no preheating is required, so the timer begins counting down as soon as you press Start.
It’s hard to find a single complaint about the quality of results you get with this Cuisinart. One of the biggest challenges for toaster ovens is cooking foods evenly, and this model does well on everything from toast slices to roasted meats to baked goods.
Occasionally, brand new owners report that breads or other baked goods turn out too brown or even burnt, but the only problem there is timing. Even in non-convection mode, some foods will cook faster than in your traditional oven, so in the beginning you’ll want to keep close watch until you get a feel for the best settings.
Like it’s big competitor from Breville, the Cuisinart TOB-260N incorporates its own patented technologies. Both the Exact Heat™ Sensor and the Always Even™ Toast Shade Control are designed to maintain accurate, even temperature throughout to prevent uneven cooking due to hot spots.
This unit is built with 5 heaters that operate independently. Each will turn on and off and run at varying power levels depending on the cooking function being used. One example is that the top, center heater is only ever turned on for the Broil function.
Because of this, during cooking you may see some heaters glowing more brightly than others, and some not at all. That’s how it is supposed to work, and it doesn’t mean that anything is broken.
Size and Capacity
Exterior Dimensions: 18.5″ x 13″ x 22.5″
Interior Capacity: 0.95 Cubit Feet
The photo at right is provided by the manufacturer, and the claim is that this oven will hold 9 slices of toast. However, owners will tell you that is only true with something like those small Sara Lee breakfast breads. For “normal” sized bread you should count on toasting only 6 slices at once.
That isn’t to say this model is small by any means. It will hold a 13 inch pizza, a whole 5 lb. chicken, and a 9 x 13 inch baking pan. Be aware that a typical glass 9×13 baking dish may not fit because of its wide handles. One 9×13 baking dish is included with this model, and extras can be ordered separately.
This unit also includes 2 racks, which can double your capacity depending on what you’re cooking.
When considering your available counter space, keep in mind that the exterior walls of this unit get extremely hot. You must allow 2 to 4 inches clearance between the oven and any walls or overhanging cabinets.
- 2 Oven Racks
- Baking/Drip Pan
- Broiling Pan
- 13″ Pizza Stone
- Recipe Booklet
The Baking/Drip pan can be used alone for baking or roasting. It can also serve as a drip pan for broiling (the broiling pan fits inside the baking/drip pan).
The oven is built with 4 optional height positions for use with one or both of the 2 included cooking racks. The two upper positions have a “stop” feature that will stop the rack when it’s pulled halfway out. To remove a rack completely you simply lift the front and slide it all the way out.
The manufacturer recommends that in order to extend the life of the racks, baking/drip pan, and crumb tray, these items should not be placed in a dishwasher.
There are no accessories specifically designed by Cuisinart for this model, but one item worth mention is an oven liner.
When you view this toaster oven on Amazon, it shows suggestions labeled “Frequently Bought Together”. One of those items is a nonstick toaster oven liner that is made by another manufacturer. It is designed to fit most toaster ovens and, some say, is easier to clean that most crumb trays.
That sounds like a good idea, but before you buy it note that the instruction manual states:
Do not cover crumb tray or any part of the oven except the baking pan with metal foil. This will cause overheating of the oven.
A similar statement is repeated later in the booklet, and to me, that indicates that the crumb tray shouldn’t be covered with anything, including another liner.
A whopping 93% of owners give this model a 4 or 5 stars, and mostly 5. The only truly unhappy customers are those who received defective units, but there have been only a handful of those. With so few, there also isn’t much feedback about customer service, but the reports that do exist are all positive.
I did find a single report of a unit that worked well for months but then had a faulty timer, which caused the oven to turn itself on and start smoking inside. That was an isolated case, and there is no information as to whether that owner filed a warranty claim.
Otherwise, there are many general comments regarding build quality as compared to its leading competitor, the Breville Smart Oven. Where the Breville wins out is in its excellent engineering design down to the smallest detail – even the plug has a finger loop for easier gripping. Overall, it gives the impression of superior construction quality.
With the Cuisinart TOB-260N, one thing mentioned by numerous owners is that the door does not shut evenly, with one side closed tightly and the other having a very slight gap. This does not seem to affect cooking performance in any way, but it’s a detail owners notice as less than perfect.
Despite that, more and more are choosing the Cuisinart because they are noticing something else. The Breville Smart Oven may still be the number one bestseller, but if you look deeper into the reviews you’ll find an increasing number of reports of units that quit working very early on, often right after the warranty has expired. (For more details see our Breville review.)
For all its appearance of being better as far as build quality, the Breville carries only a one year warranty. The Cusinart warranty is for three years.
To be fair, the Cuisinart does not yet have as long a history, so much more time will have to pass before you can make an honest comparison between the two on longevity. Yet with so many reports of the Breville dying a premature death, it sure makes the Cuisinart more attractive with its much longer warranty. To me, it also says something about the level of confidence that each of these companies has in its own product.
Among those 180 or so people who are thrilled enough with their Cusinart to give it top ratings, their favorite features are basically everything. Most expected to use it mainly for toasting and reheating, only to end up using it instead of their main oven most of the time. It’s a very good toaster (and many toaster ovens are not), but it’s also big enough and versatile enough to handle most anything short of a turkey or huge beef roast. Consumers are overwhelmingly pleased with the quality results they get with roasted chicken, baked biscuits, stuffed peppers, open face sandwiches, pizza, muffins, pans of lasagna and other casseroles, baked beans and other side dishes, and the list goes on and on.
If you’ve ditched your microwave or are trying to avoid using it as much as possible, this toaster oven does a great job heating up leftovers too. Cleanup is easy too, and when it does get dirty, it’s certainly a much faster job than cleaning a traditional built-in oven.(Back to Top)
- Spacious interior with 2 racks to double cooking capacity
- Very versatile and consistently produces quality results
- 15 cooking functions and user-friendly control panel
- Pizza stone included
- Excellent consumer ratings with very few complaints
- Three Year Limited Warranty
- Newer model without enough history to know much about longevity
- Some reports that door does not close with completely tight seal
- Cooks some foods faster than traditional oven (This is actually a “pro”, but it may require some trial and error to learn perfect time settings for certain dishes.)
Cuisinart TOB-260N Convection Toaster Oven Review: Summary
See the lowest price listing I’ve found on Amazon:
For anyone interested in a full featured convection toaster oven, the Cuisinart TOB-260N is certainly worth serious consideration. It is priced lower than its top competitor yet has virtually the same capabilities. Consumers love it for its size and versatility, and they are extremely pleased with the taste and quality of everything they cook. The controls are reasonably easy to understand, and the included instruction booklet explains how to use each of the 15 cooking functions to achieve the best results when preparing various meats, baked goods, and other dishes. Perhaps the most appealing feature of this model is that three year warranty. In that respect, Cuisinart beats its competition hands down.