I baked pizzas, croissants, and cakes in Cuisinart's toaster oven to see if it's worth $230, and it's the best one I've ever used

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cuisinart toaster ovenCuisinart

  • You may wonder why you need a toaster oven, but if you love to bake and you've ever had to use a full-sized oven in the summer, you know why a toaster oven is a good appliance to have in your kitchen.
  • Cuisinart's Chef's Convection Toaster Oven (currently $231 on Amazon) is the best toaster oven I've tested.
  • It bakes evenly, doesn't take up a ton of room, is easy to use, and comes with pans and a pizza stone so you can get baking right away.
  • I've made countless pizzas, cookies, pastries, slices of toast, and delicious dinners in this toaster oven since I got it last July.

I'm something of a toaster oven expert. From the age of 11 to 18, I lived in a house without an actual oven. We used a rinky dink $40 toaster oven from a brand I don't even remember. Although it wasn't the best toaster oven, it served its purpose: It baked things, toasted bread, roasted chicken, and even baked a loaf of bread once.

Since then, I've always had a soft spot in my heart for toaster ovens, and I've tested ones that cost way more than that humble $40 toaster oven I grew up with. And boy are they so much better. The best one I've used, though, is the Cuisinart Chef's Convection Oven.

Not only does it come with everything you need to get baking right away - from two baking racks and baking pans to a 13-inch pizza stone - it also bakes evenly, heats up quickly, and doesn't take up much counterspace at all.

I've been using it almost exclusively since I got it in July, and my actual oven is starting to feel a bit neglected. Keep reading this review to find out why I think it's so great - but first, some specs.

Cuisinart Chef's Convection Toaster Oven pizza.JPGGuillermo Garszon/Business InsiderThe toaster oven makes great pizza, and the included pizza stone makes a nice, crispy crust.

Specs and dimensions

  • 1800 watts of power
  • 0.95-cubic-foot capacity oven fits 13-inch pizza, 9 x 13-inch baking pan, or 9 slices of bread
  • 15 cooking functions, including innovative Dual Cook, Sandwich, and Speed Convection
  • Digital controls on a backlit display, clock, 2-hour timer
  • Includes 13-inch pizza stone, 2 cooking racks, 9 x 13-inch enamel baking pan and broiling pan
  • Interior light and auto-slideout rack
  • Pull-out crumb tray, nonstick interior
  • 3-year warranty
  • Size: 20.87 x 16.93 x 11.42 inches
  • Weight: 32 pounds

Design and accessories

Cuisinart's oven has a sleek, stainless steel build that looks great in any kitchen. Although it's not the smallest toaster oven, it doesn't take up a ton of space, either. It measures 20.87 x 16.93 x 11.42 inches, and it fits on the relatively slim bar-like countertop on one side of my galley kitchen. The sides of the oven can get warm, so it's important to have a few inches of clearance on the back and sides.

It has a 0.95-cubic-foot capacity, which is large enough to fit a 13-inch pizza, a 9 x 13-inch baking pan, or nine slices of bread. Cuisinart includes everything you need to get cooking right in the box. You get a 13-inch pizza stone, two cooking racks, one 9 x 13-inch enamel baking pan, and one broiling pan of the same size.

Cuisinart Chef's Convection Toaster Oven pizza closeup.JPGGuillermo Garszon/Business InsiderThis is a pizza I made with the included pizza stone.

What it's like to use

The toaster oven is incredibly simple to use. I've baked everything from cupcakes and croissants to salmon and potatoes in it without any hassle. I also regularly make pizza with the included pizza stone, and it turns out a perfect, crispy crust every time so long as I use the pizza setting and let the stone heat up first.

Cuisinart put a nice crisp screen on the front of the toaster oven along with a dial you turn to run through the various preset cooking functions. You can choose between toast, bagel, bake, pizza, and other settings to cook any kind of food to perfection. You can also adjust the temperature to your liking and ignore the modes.

I particularly love using the toast setting, because you can decide the shade of your toast on a scale from 1 to 6 with 1 being the lightest and 6 being the darkest. I use the toast function to make garlic bread and sandwiches with melted cheese in them.

The oven shuts off when the preset baking time is over, too, so you won't burn your toast unless you chose the wrong setting for your bread.

Normally, during the summer months I have to bake less often or risk turning my apartment into an inferno because big ovens pump out so much heat. With this toaster oven, I could still bake and keep my kitchen fairly cool - well, cooler than I would if I'd baked those croissants in the actual, full-size oven. It's also a great help during the holidays when you need to cook a lot of things at once and the oven is quickly filled up with dishes.

The included pans, racks, and pizza stone are all high quality and well made. There's really no need to go out and buy more pans, which is great, because this toaster oven isn't cheap. If you factor in the cost of all those baking pans and the pizza stone, you're getting a great deal. This isn't the rinky-dink toaster oven of my youth that cost $40 and lasted but a few years - this is one that's made to last.

Frankly, if this were the only oven I had, it would be perfectly adequate because it's so well made. I sometimes joke that my regular oven is languishing from lack of use these days.

Cuisinart Chef's Convection OvenMalarie Gokey/Business InsiderA closeup of the pan aux raisin I baked in the oven.

The bottom line

If I could go back in time and gift myself this toaster oven back when we didn't have an actual oven, I would. It is a wonderful toaster oven that comes with all the accessories you need, bakes food evenly, and has a lot of helpful presets that cook food to perfection.

  • Should you buy it? Yes. It's the best toaster oven you can buy and it's a good investment if you like to bake, make pizza, or cook a lot.
  • What are the alternatives? You can check out alternatives in our buying guide. We also recommend the Breville Mini Smart Oven if you need a smaller one or the Panasonic Flash Xpress Toaster Oven if you want an infrared one. There are plenty of cheaper toaster ovens, but they lack the features and accessories of the Cuisinart one. They also typically bake less evenly.

The Cuisinart Chef's Convection Toaster Oven may be expensive, but it's well worth the money if you like to bake and cook a lot, if you need an additional oven, or if you simply want to use this in lieu of a full-sized oven.

Pros: Bakes evenly, easy to use, includes pans and pizza stone, lots of settings, heats fast, good size

Cons: Expensive, gets hot on the sides

Buy the Cuisinart Chef's Convection Toaster Oven at Amazon for $231

Buy the Cuisinart Chef's Convection Toaster Oven at Walmart for $259

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