8 Foods That Cook Better in a Toaster Oven

8 Foods That Cook Better in a Toaster Oven

Learn when to turn to this humble countertop appliance for perfect results.

By Debbie Koenig

If you’re only using your toaster oven to, y’know, make toast, you’re missing out. That little countertop appliance can do a whole lot more than turn bread brown. It handles some things even better than a full-sized oven:

1. Frozen baked goods: If I have cookies in the house, I eat them. So instead of baking a whole batch at once, I portion into cookie dough balls and freeze them. Then when I need a quick hit of home-baked goodness, I pull out a few dough balls and bake them in the toaster oven. This works with frozen, already-baked items too. Waffles, bread, biscuits, muffins – any time you want to heat up just a few, turn to the toaster – no need to defrost.

2. Toasted nuts: Spread a handful or two of nuts on the toaster oven’s tray, and pop it in at 250-300°F until you smell that amazing aroma. Each toaster oven’s timing will be different, so keep a close eye on them until you get a sense for how long yours takes.

3. Nachos: The toaster oven was practically invented for melting cheese over carbs – the heating element is close enough to brown the cheese quickly without blasting what’s underneath. Think nachos, pita pizza, tuna melts, even French onion soup.

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4. Reheated leftovers: The microwave works fine for things like soup. But if you’re looking for any kind of crispy contrast, the toaster oven is the way to go.

5. Roasted garlic: Why heat up the whole kitchen when you’re just looking to mellow out a head of garlic? Cut off the top, rub oil all over, and wrap it tightly in foil. Depending on the toaster oven, it’ll take anywhere from 30-45 minutes at 325°F – check it after 20 to make sure it’s not scorching.


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6. Roasted fish: The toaster oven works perfectly for roasting small, delicate things like fish fillets. The outside gets a nice blast of heat, creating a gorgeous, browned exterior, while the inside is just cooked through. Set it to 450°F (or even use the broiler setting), and give it roughly 10 minutes per inch of thickness.

7. Baked pasta dishes: Remember how the toaster oven rocks at melting cheese on carbs? Yeah, that again. Start out with a covered dish, then uncover for the last few minutes to brown the top.

8. S’mores: Who needs a fire, when you’ve got an indoor appliance that’ll get those marshmallows every bit as borderline-burned? Put down some graham crackers, top each with a piece of chocolate, then top the chocolate with a marshmallow. Broil until you can’t wait a moment more, then top each with a second graham cracker.

What’s your favorite use for the toaster oven?

Debbie Koenig writes about family and food, and is the author of the cookbook Parents Need to Eat Too. Find her at debbiekoenig.com.

Image ©iStock.com/YinYang

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