Convection Oven vs. Toaster Oven: Which One To Buy?
Raising two kids and a having a working husband means very busy mornings for me. So, unless I sort the breakfast on time that means my three boys are either going out hungry or late for school/work. And that is something I never allow to happen. And under no circumstances am I giving them cereals every day, so having these ovens to help me prepare a good fast meal for them in the morning is a life-saver.
It has come to a point where I have Convection oven vs. Toaster oven battles to see which one wins the daily challenge.
Short Information About Both Ovens
Before I move to comparing these two awesome kitchen gadgets, let’s review some basics about them first.
As we know, toaster ovens are basically mini-ovens with some extra options like defrosting for example. They use fast-warming heating elements, usually placed on the top and bottom, that warm the air up and then we can use our oven for toasting, broiling, and baking.
They are practical and fast in use, so you can make all kinds of food in them, be it salty or sweet and cleaning is also very easy.
Convection ovens, or fan-assisted ovens, are similar but still different from the toaster ones. They work by heating the air first, then using a fan the hot air moves around the oven and cooks your food.
This way of preparing a meal helps to produce evenly cooked food. So, if you need something baked, roasted, grilled, made crispy (and it is still easy to clean after), this oven will do all this for you.
Similarities and Differences between these Two Ovens
To make all the features easier to compare, I will set aside a few areas that will explain some of what you need to know about both of these ovens.
Size and Cost
This is where there is hardly any difference between these two ovens. Nowadays, the market is full of so many new models, so that size, cost and look depend mostly on your personal choice and budget. You have the regular appearance, or for convection ovens, you have the round see-through plastic or glass one.
You can place them on the counter if you use them on an everyday basis, or move them on the side and they will not take much space in the kitchen. The cost depends on the model and functions it has as well, so it’s best to read what each model has to offer before purchasing either one.
Maintenance and Safety
Firstly, be sure to keep them out of reach if you have small children because these appliances can get quite hot while you cook in them (unless you choose a model with cool-to-the-touch exterior). After you are done with cooking, it’s time to clean your kitchen and ovens.
What you need to do first, whether it's the convection or toaster oven, is let them cool down. Most of them are coated with non-stick material so don’t use harsh cleaners and sponges/brushes that will damage the surface or the coating.
If your oven has a tray all you need to do is clean it regularly. Do this, and your ovens will last a long time.
Also check out my best oven mitts here.
The temperature you are using to prepare your food is something to pay attention to because it varies between these two ovens. Toaster ovens use a fast-warming heat source placed inside the oven, so the temperature you use for cooking is the one you would use in a regular big oven.
Convection ovens work a bit differently. Because the hot air is circulating and the heat is even inside the oven, you need to set the temperature 25 degrees less than instructed, and the time you are cooking your meal is ¼ shorter than written in the recipe. It might not always be these figures, it mostly depends on what you are cooking.
Because of how the food is cooked, these ovens also have different energy consumption. Toaster ovens need a bit more time to heat the oven, so they use more power than the convection ones. Sometimes we need to cook a meal a bit longer as well, so toaster ovens use more energy for that, too.
Convection ovens, on the other hand, cook the food faster because of the hot air circulating. So the time you need to finish cooking a meal is shorter. Hence the energy expenditure is lower.
Type of Food You are Preparing
Depending on what kind of a meal you want to make, sometimes you will need the function a convection oven can give you. Sometimes, however, you will need the toaster function more. So here is what I can tell you from my personal 20-year experience:
- If you are making something delicate that just needs heat, then toaster oven is what you need.
- Those are usually custards, cakes, soufflés and particular types of bread. Basically, the food that starts out as batter and sets while you cook it. But you can also make some easy everyday snacks, too.
- If having a crust is not something you need especially, then consider using the toaster oven for cooking. Bread will especially be soft if made using a toaster oven.
- However, if you need to roast meat or vegetables, to make that nice crust but still have it moist inside, then you need a fan of a convection oven.
- Or if you need pies and pastries to lift more while baking them (like croissants), the fan will help you achieve that.
- For the meals you prepare using a lid, it doesn’t matter if you use a convection oven or a toaster one because the steam stays under the lid anyway. Same goes for cookies and muffins for example. It depends if you want them a bit more dried up or moist, crunchy or softer, it all varies on the taste you want.
Lately, there are more and more models that have it all in one. That means you can find a toaster oven model with convection or Convection oven model that can turn off the fan and automatically function as a toaster oven.
They are a bit costly, though, because of the extra functions, but well worth the price in my opinion. In one mini-oven you get everything you need.
And the winner of the debate is…
It was only by chance that I got to own both of these appliances. I have used them for long now, and I could not imagine my kitchen without them. It will always be a tie between them in a cooking match in my opinion.
However, if by any chance one or both break (if it comes to that), I will get one of the hybrid ones. It’s just being practical and saving some kitchen space.
As for my advice to you in choosing one, it all depends on what type of food you cook most often. The answer to that question is your winner.