Ask Frugal Momma: The Amazing Toaster Oven

I have a toaster oven, but it is barely functional, at best. I got it for five dollars from the thrift store and was excited to upgrade from the standard two slice toaster to the toaster oven. It was quickly evident why this appliance had been donated as I burned the toast the first time. There is no signal to let us know when it is done toasting. You have to keep an eagle eye on our toaster to make sure your toast is perfectly toasted. I am thinking of just forging ahead and getting a new one though…one that actually works. Ironically, the question of the day comes from a reader who was interested in learning about the toaster and how to care for it.

The toaster oven can be used for a variety of things, not just your toast or bagels in the morning. In fact, toaster ovens are not necessarily the best option if you are looking for an appliance to just toast bread. A toaster will actually toast your bread, while a toaster oven will provide a good toasting on one side, but takes twice the time as the traditional toaster. If you are just looking for some good toast, stick to the regular old toaster.

There are many uses for the toaster oven and it is great for when you are dining alone, want to throw together a simple appetizer, need to heat a few chicken nuggets for the kids, or don’t want to heat up the kitchen. A quick search on Google for, “toaster oven recipes” will yield a ton of ideas for things you can prepare in your toaster oven.

Consumer Reports did a testing on toaster ovens, and surprisingly some of the better performing toaster ovens were the cheapest options. Consumer Reports named the Procter-Silex Cool Touch a best buy at only $15 & the Oster Counterforms 6335 at $40 as the best deals for your money.

When it comes to electricity though, which is the cheapest option to use? Compared to your oven rage, which can use more than 3, 500 watts of electricity, a toaster oven uses only 1,350-1,500 watts. Comparatively, a typical toaster only uses 900 watts so using a toaster for toasting is the cheapest option of all when it comes to the perfect bagel. For bigger jobs though, relying on your toaster oven is a much cheaper option, particularly during the summer months when heating up your kitchen requires more wattage and makes your air conditioner have to work overtime.

Cleaning a toaster oven is very easy. First, unplug the unit and make sure it is completely cool before cleaning. If you wipe spills up as they occur, it will be a lot easier to keep this appliance clean. Wash the racks in warm soapy water. Use a damp soft cloth to clean out the interior and never ever submerge your toaster oven in water. If burned food discolors the paint on your toaster oven, you can try using a liquid degreaser to help minimize the discoloration, but nothing will remove it entirely.

To clean the standard toaster, again make sure the unit is unplugged and completely cool. Carry the toaster oven to the sink, and slide out the crumb tray (located at the very bottom of the toaster) and dump out the crumbs. Next turn the toaster upside down and let any remaining crumbs fall into the sink (if you have a disposal) or over your trashcan. Wipe the exterior with a soft cloth that has been dampened a bit with water & dishwashing soap. The chrome surfaces can be wiped down with a little all-purpose cleaner sprayed on a cloth. Don’t spray into the unit, just spray on the cloth.

How often you should clean your toaster oven depends on how often you use it. We usually wait until we can see a load of crumbs on the bottom or start to smell a burnt toast smell when we run the toaster. We probably should clean our toaster oven more often, but with all of the other things demanding my attention, this usually does not top the priority list in our house.

I do remember eating at our grandparent’s house and after every breakfast, our grandmother would clean it out, wipe it down, and then put it up in her cupboard. This was just part of her morning routine, just like taking out the trash or anything else. Her toaster always looked like new, my toaster…not so much. Follow her example if you want a sparkling toaster.

For some great toaster oven tips, visit Real Simple’s Versatile Toaster Oven article. It has some really wonderful ideas for using that toaster oven of yours!

Toaster Oven Recipes:

Toaster Oven Pizza

Mini Meat Loaves (You could probably try this recipe with my own mini meat loaves recipe)

Toaster Oven Easy Muffins

Do you have any tips to share? What do you use your toaster oven for? Please share!

Keep those questions coming! Submit them to [email protected] on any topic related to cleaning, money, or food. I love to answer these and hope that this information is useful for you & your family.

Published April 23, 2007 by:

Amy Allen Clark is the founder of You can read all about her here.

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