Sure, you can reheat pizza and make a quick meal in a microwave but don't overlook that other trusty countertop staple: the toaster oven. Consumer Reports has been testing them for decades, including brand new models that do a lot more than toast and reheat.
Toaster ovens are a very versatile appliance. You can bake cookies, broil burgers, and reheat leftovers. So, to see how well a toaster oven can reheat foods testers heat up frozen lasagnas. You don't want cold spots in a meal that's supposed to be warm. Testers use thermocouples to take the temperature at different points in the lasagna.
To check how well a toaster oven can bake testers whip up batches of sugar cookies and corn muffins.
CR also looks at the features and how easy toaster ovens are to use. And yes - that means how well does it toast. Believe it or not, there is an industry standard chart that helps testers score how well each toaster performs. The best toasters match the evenly browned toast in the toast color chart.
So which toaster oven handles ALL of those tasks? The $170 Breville is top-rated plus it's one of the least expensive models CR tested. It turns out perfectly browned toast, is very good at baking and reheating and it's easy to use. Even better - it's compact so it won't take up as much precious counter space.
Consumer Reports says some additional features to look for when shopping for a toaster oven - an interior light so you can check in on your food without opening the door and a countdown timer to see how much more cooking time remains. AND - if you do plan on cooking a lot of frozen pizzas - a toaster oven with a rack that's at least 12 inches deep comes in handy.
Consumer Watch: Time for a toaster oven