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A Toaster/convection oven in place of a regular oven?

Charmed83 Jul 27, 2012 09:59 AM

Hello everyone, here is my situation:

I live in a tiny attic apartment with my boyfriend and when we moved in the kitchen was equipped with a refrigerator, dishwasher and oven (designed for small apartments) so they are small.

When we started to use the oven to bake, we quickly discovered that no matter what heat setting we used, the oven would heat up to extremely high temperatures! It would seem as though the mechanism used to detect and control the heat within the oven does not work, but we are not sure. We informed the landlord, he gave us the billing receipt for the oven and told us to call the manufacturer. We were fine with that until we noticed that the oven was past the manufacturer's warranty period. So now all we can do is use the stove top and a microwave.

Lately we have been considering buying a toaster/convection oven to replace the regular oven, but as it is a small kitchen we questioned whether it would be worth the investment. We only cook for the two of us, and we have been trying to scale down recipes to avoid too much leftovers. What are your thoughts and opinions about this?

If a toaster/convection oven is not the best choice, do you have any different suggestions? Any advice would be greatly appreciated! Thanks!

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  1. r
    ricepad RE: Charmed83 Jul 27, 2012 11:38 AM

    You have landlord/tenant issues that are beyond Chowhound's scope (ie it would typically your landlord's responsibility in most American jurisdictions to provide for the repair of the oven), but as far as a countertop convection/toaster oven is concerned, that's really up to you to assess. You won't be roasting any full size turkeys in it (not that you'd be entertaining a dozen relatives at Thanksgiving in a tiny apartment). Lots of people get by without an oven at all, but your cooking/eating habits are the only things that matter here.

    One thing to keep in mind is whether the loss of counter space will be acceptable to you. If the kitchen is really small, you may find that the toaster oven takes up more of the counter than you're willing to accept.

    2 Replies
    1. re: ricepad
      Leepa RE: ricepad Jul 28, 2012 05:55 AM

      I agree. I've been a property manager/landlord for the last 34 years and their response to your request is ridiculous. Call them again and tell them the stove is out of warranty and you need someone to repair it. Your lease should spell out what their responsibilities are. Good luck.

      1. re: Leepa
        sueatmo RE: Leepa Jul 30, 2012 02:21 PM

        Yes. Also, the oven could be a fire hazard. Insist on getting it repaired.

    2. drongo RE: Charmed83 Jul 27, 2012 04:56 PM

      I have a Breville Smart Oven ( http://www.brevilleusa.com/the-smart-... ).... it's expensive but the only "toaster" oven I've been able to use confidently for cooking... as opposed to merely reheating leftover pizza!

      Before the Breville, I had a Dualit "Professional Mini Oven" ( http://www.cooksillustrated.com/equip... ) which is also expensive... but my experience has been that the Breville is in a completely different class. I use the Breville to broil, roast, or braise, whereas I found the Dualit appropriate only for toasting bread and reheating pizza.

      Edit: Breville also have some other ovens you may want to consider: http://www.brevilleusa.com/cooking/ov... ... but my experience (and recommendation) only relates to the standard "Smart Oven".

      11 Replies
      1. re: drongo
        rasputina RE: drongo Jul 29, 2012 11:21 AM

        I completely agree, we replaced our 10+ year old toaster oven with the Breville Smart Oven and I never was able to use my old one for all the things I do with this one. I've baked cakes, muffins, breads, pies in it and they come out great. It fits a 13x9 pan.

        1. re: drongo
          al b. darned RE: drongo Jul 29, 2012 10:59 PM

          I second the Breville. We use ours for baking all the time and it does a good job. They do make a smaller version, but be aware it is not a convection model.

          1. re: drongo
            monopod RE: drongo Jul 31, 2012 12:49 PM

            Third recommendation on the Breville (the larger one). I roast chickens, make spanikopita, and cook homemade pizza in mine all the time (as well as toasting things). If I was just cooking for two all the time, I'm pretty sure I could use it exclusively and not need an oven - I only really need the oven for larger amounts of food.

            1. re: monopod
              drongo RE: monopod Jul 31, 2012 04:08 PM

              I agree, monopod. I use my Breville more than my regular oven (particularly in summer because the Breville heats up the kitchen less than my regular oven -- though I think more than most "toaster" ovens).

              1. re: drongo
                kaleokahu RE: drongo Jul 31, 2012 04:42 PM

                Hi, drongo:

                What size footprint are we dealing with here? You put it on the counter, or does it have its own shelf?


                1. re: kaleokahu
                  drongo RE: kaleokahu Jul 31, 2012 05:01 PM

                  Mine sits on the counter. By my own measurements, it's 18.25" wide, 11" high, 12.5" deep (14.75" if you include the door handle). I think Breville recommends 4" free space from back, sides, and top... but I have 2.75" free space from the sides, 3" from the back, and I have a stack of baking sheets (for my regular oven) piled directly on top. And I've not had any problem with overheating. YMMV, of course.

                  1. re: drongo
                    kaleokahu RE: drongo Jul 31, 2012 07:58 PM

                    Thanks, Drongo. Breville doesn't seem to put the dimensions out. But it *does* say that you can bake a 13" pizza in it, so I'm thinking it must be at least that deep.

                    It is attractive, and commercial-looking.


                    1. re: kaleokahu
                      drongo RE: kaleokahu Aug 1, 2012 08:07 AM

                      Yes, you're right. I measured the side... but it must stick out further in the back. There's a picture at the following link of the indentation in the back that allows the 13" pizza.


                      I'll have to take a closer look when I get home.

                      1. re: kaleokahu
                        drongo RE: kaleokahu Aug 1, 2012 03:01 PM

                        I checked, and it does indeed have a bump-out in the back. So the depth is more than 12.5" include the bump-out (but then I have less than 3" clearance in the back if I consider the bump-out).

                        1. re: drongo
                          al b. darned RE: drongo Aug 1, 2012 07:13 PM

                          In case anyone is wondering, that is actually called a "pizza bump" and quite a few toaster ovens have them.

                          1. re: drongo
                            kaleokahu RE: drongo Aug 1, 2012 09:18 PM

                            Thanks, drongo. I'm seriously thinking about junking my combo oven at the beach house for one of these and a small MW. But it will have to sit on the open island shelf under the cooktop--I hate giving up counter space.


              2. j
                John Francis RE: Charmed83 Jul 28, 2012 05:44 AM

                ricepad has said what I would have said. I'll just add some comments from personal experience.

                Since my apartment has enough kitchen counter space for a large toaster oven, I bought one, and use it for most cooking not done on the stovetop. (Don't have a microwave oven.) Recently I started making bread again, and for that I need the larger gas oven; otherwise, I use it to store excess pans and pots. The toaster oven's advantages over my "real" oven include a timer, toast bake and broil modes including convection baking, and energy efficiency - it heats the food but not the kitchen and the apartment. One thing I don't use it for is making toast, but I assume it's OK at doing that.

                The kitchen in my previous apartment was shoe-horned into a space not designed to have one, and with the sink and stove-oven, there wasn't even room for a refrigerator, which was in the next room just outside the kitchen door. A dishwasher? Forget it. The counter space wasn't much more than a yard square, and much of that was taken up with a Kitchenaid stand mixer. The standard (i.e. small) toaster oven, which makes little more than toast, would have been nearly useless to me, so I didn't have one.

                What do you bake? Some baked goods, like sandwich loaves, can't really be scaled down in size and still serve their purpose. Corn bread, cookies, lasagna, meatloaf - no problem, they're pretty flat to begin with.

                Drongo recommends the Breville Smart Oven, America's Test Kitchen's top choice, which costs $250. ATK's second choice, the Hamilton Beach Set & Forget Toaster Oven with Convection Cooking, is under $100, and is rated nearly as highly except that it is "slightly less accurate" and "baked a tiny bit unevenly." They like its built-in meat probe. Recommended with reservations: TOs by Black & Decker, Krups, Dualit, and Oster. Not recommended: Cuisinart, De'longhi, T-Fal Avanti, and West End.

                1. c
                  Chowrin RE: Charmed83 Jul 28, 2012 06:15 AM

                  Sharp Convection Oven. Made pies, french fries, pizzas, breads... basically everything you'd want out of a normal oven except a turkey.

                  And the roasts were done in 30 minutes, not two hours.

                  Not a toaster oven, but it will do.

                  1. r
                    rasputina RE: Charmed83 Jul 29, 2012 11:18 AM

                    As a replacement? That would never work for me. I love my Breville smart oven and it gets more use than our full size oven but sorry it's not a stand alone for me. I need to fit 1/2 sheet pans in my oven.

                    1. c
                      Cam14 RE: Charmed83 Jul 31, 2012 08:43 AM

                      I purchased the Compact Breville Toaster Oven for my aging parents for Christmas. They just couldn't bend over and get things in and out of the oven any longer. They use it for toast, cooking meats, baking gluten free homemade crackers, etc. They cook small quantities and are very happy with it. It's simple to use, which is key for them as well. No convection. Price is around $179.00. It has non-stick oven walls and front pull out crumb tray, so very easy to clean.

                      1. kaleokahu RE: Charmed83 Jul 31, 2012 10:10 AM

                        Hi, Charmed:

                        Let me join the chorus of "Make the landlord fix or replace it." Although many people live without an oven, it's a very basic part of a habitable dwelling. You're paying for it--it should be fixed or replaced.

                        I have two residences, one of which has no conventional oven (I replaced a range with a cooktop). For this house, a beach cabin, I bought a combo MW/convection/broiler oven. It works OK as a MW, but the other functions are a joke. My $20 toaster oven is bad, but even it bakes, broils and toasts better than the combo unit. Out of frustration with the size dish that I can use, I actually bought one of these primitive things (except much better condition), which I like better than either powered appliance. http://www.ebay.com/itm/Vintage-1920s... Which is just a larger, older version of these. http://www.ebay.com/itm/Kitchen-Art-S... You just set them over one of your hobs.


                        1. s
                          sueatmo RE: Charmed83 Aug 12, 2012 06:01 PM

                          So, Charmed83, what course of action did you follow? Did the landlord fix the oven?

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