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Consumer Reports finds best toaster ovens

April 6, 2010 12:00:00 AM PDT
Toaster ovens come with a variety of features, but which are worth paying for? Consumer Reports tested 26 to find the best.When you're craving pizza, nothing beats a golden pie fresh out of the oven at a pizzeria. And with a multi-billion-dollar frozen-pizza market at stake, toaster-oven manufacturers are striving to help you get that pizza-parlor taste at home. Consumer reports tested 26 toaster ovens to find out which ones succeed.

"Toaster ovens are rivaling microwaves now for second oven status, so they're touting things like specialized pizza settings and dedicated pans for better baking," said Dan DiClerico, Consumer Reports.

If pizza is your passion, make sure you get a toaster oven that can accommodate a 12-inch pizza. Not all of the ones tested did, including the George Foreman, which proved a bit of a lightweight when it came to size.

"You can put a 12-inch pizza in there and you can even close the door, but a portion of it will hang over the rack, so it might not cook evenly," said DiClerico.

None of the toaster ovens browned nearly as well as a traditional oven. But testers found most crusts were crispier than you'd get from a typical microwave. And how about the most basic function, toasting?

"If you want top-toast, buy a toaster. Even the best toaster ovens took roughly twice as long as toasters and left tiger stripes on the bread," said DiClerico.

Testers recommend an $80 toaster oven from Delonghi, which has a rotisserie feature. Also recommended was a $70 Black & Decker, which does a good job with a 12-inch pizza and is a Consumer Reports Best Buy.

Both offer easy cleaning with nonstick interiors and pull-out crumb trays, which can help ensure you don't make a "crumby" decision.

With all the new features, many of today's toaster ovens are a bit bulkier than in the past. So before you head out to buy a new one, measure your countertop to be sure it'll fit.