Eating healthy is all the rage, but it can be difficult to do when you're pressed for time. Enter the toaster oven. This kitchen appliance is perfect for cooking up quick and simple dishes that are nutritious as well as delicious. It's also small enough that you can use it anywhere.
In this article, we'll look at one of the most beloved kitchen appliances and discuss what it is, how to use a toaster oven, and more – let's get started.
How to use a toaster oven
A toaster oven – also known as a small electric oven – allows you to prepare food quickly in an efficient way. It uses electricity and can be plugged into a standard wall outlet.
To use your toaster oven, plug it into an electrical socket near the countertop or table where you'll place it. Then preheat the oven for 10 minutes. Some models have controls with specific settings that allow you to dial-up temperatures of 200 degrees F (93 degrees C) and 400 degrees F (204 degrees C). These settings let you choose from low broil, medium broil, and high broil. You can skip this step if your model doesn't offer this feature; just select “preheat” instead.
To get the temperature right, use an oven thermometer to test and make sure your toaster oven is operating at the desired level of heat. Now you're ready for any meal that suits your fancy.
What you can cook in a toaster oven
What you can cook in a toaster oven depends on your personal preferences as well as the cooking space available.
A good rule of thumb is that if your food will not fit onto a tray using the dimensions provided by the manufacturer, then it's too big and should be split up into smaller portions before being cooked in your small electric oven. As long as portions are reasonable enough (your typical baked potato or toast), then the leftovers can be reheated when needed.
What you shouldn't cook in a toaster oven
It's not possible to deep fry food using a toaster oven, but you can use some similar techniques:
- If you're cooking chicken pieces or hamburger patties, try baking them instead of frying.
- You can also bake casseroles instead of boiling them on the stovetop – this method is especially ideal if you need to serve your meal in a pot. Just place it on a pan, add hot water, seal the lid onto your portable oven and let it go.
- One thing you shouldn't use a toaster oven for is boiling vegetables. While this is possible, it will take up too much space and time. Boil your food using the stovetop instead.
Optimal results when using your toaster oven
For optimal results when using your toaster oven, pay attention to these tips:
- Clean it regularly after you use it so it'll stay in optimum condition. Do this by wiping down surfaces with a damp sponge, and unplugging the unit before cleaning (not everyone does this.).
- The outside of your unit should be cleaned periodically as well – just wipe it down with a moist cloth or paper towels or better yet, throw some window cleaner on a soft rag and wipe it down.
Pros and cons of using a toaster oven vs an electric or gas stovetop or full-sized oven
Even though there are some limitations to using a toaster oven, it has many advantages over other methods of cooking. The main benefit is that the appliance uses less electricity than your standard stovetop or oven – this saves you money on energy costs while limiting the impact on the environment.
Another perk of using a toaster oven is that it's small and easy to take with you when moving into a new apartment. Even if you'll be staying in the same place for years, having one means you don't need to spend extra time preheating your home's main cooking equipment before use.
On the downside, some models may require more attention during use; they tend to get pretty hot so always make sure not to leave food unattended. It's also important to know the limitations of your unit so you can figure out how best to use it and what mistakes to avoid making.
Finally, keep in mind that most models can only fit one or two small pots at a time. You may need multiple units if you're planning on cooking more than one meal at a time. Fortunately, this is affordable and there are many options available – some of which even come with accessories like overhead shelves so you don't have to dirty up your counters when using these appliances.
Do you need to preheat a toaster oven?
The short answer is no, but the long answer can be a bit more complicated. While most models don't need to be preheated like an electric or gas stovetop does, there are some instances where you may want to. In fact, your oven's manual should state whether or not it needs to be preheated so check this first before using your unit.
If you're cooking something that contains large amounts of meat (like ribs), then it's best to preheat the appliance first. Putting raw meat into very hot oil isn't good for either substance – both will burn easily if they aren't properly heated beforehand.
On a side note, never put food on a heated surface without having any sort of protective covering over it. You can get a cooking mat or silicone pad for relatively cheap – just make sure to do your research first so you know what's best for your appliance.
How long does it take to preheat a toaster oven?
The amount of time that it takes to preheat an oven will depend on its size and wattage. An average unit (1100-1500 watts) should be heated within ten minutes while larger models may take longer than this – especially if they're already filled up with food. The good news is, the temperature controls on these units are quite precise as well; you don't have to worry about burning the inside by leaving them in there too long. Finally, remember that most models come with preheating indicator light – this is another way of letting you know if it's ready to use.
Final thoughts on how to use a toaster oven
In conclusion, there's a lot to consider when you're thinking about buying a toaster oven. However, even though it may seem like a complicated appliance, once you get the hang of it now, you'll be able to use one with ease without having to worry about burning yourself or your food.
This will give you the peace of mind that you can cook many foods quickly and efficiently without any bad consequences in return.