Toaster oven tests: top performers

FRESNO, Calif.

They're called toaster ovens, but they promise to do a lot more than just make toast. Their packaging shows luscious pictures of turkey, chicken and pizza.

This Hamilton Beach comes with something new - a built-in temperature probe. It promises to deliver "perfectly cooked, juicy meat."

Consumer reports tested that Hamilton Beach, along with 22 other toaster ovens, ranging in price from $40 to $250.

"The Hamilton Beach could cook a seven-pound roast. The outside was crusty. But the temperature probe we tested wasn't all that accurate," Dan DiClerico said.

The meat was supposed to be medium rare but came out noticeably rarer. As for pizzas, most of the toaster ovens did well - but not this $200 Delonghi.

"The back is almost raw, and the front is nicely cooked, except for the bottom you can see is still not cooked well," Cindy Fisher said.

Many toaster ovens tout convection cooking or baking, but Consumer Reports says it doesn't pay.

"Convection cooking uses a fan to circulate the air and speed up cooking, but toaster ovens are so small that air circulation probably doesn't make a difference," DiClerico said.

As for toast, many toaster ovens can fit six slices. But not all toast evenly.

"It's darker here, light here, and this one looks like it's not even toasted," Fisher said.

But consumer reports did find several good toaster ovens. It named this Oster for $80 a Best Buy. It does a very good job making toast and cooking pizzas.

If all you need is a toaster, consumer reports has tested dozens and named a $35 Hamilton Beach a best buy. It is model number 22502.

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