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Which toaster ovens work the best?

January 18, 2011 12:00:00 AM PST
New toaster ovens promise to do a lot more than just make toast. Their packaging shows luscious pictures of turkey, chicken, and pizza. A new Hamilton Beach comes with something a built-in temperature probe, promising to deliver "perfectly cooked, juicy meat."Consumer Reports tested that Hamilton Beach, along with 22 other toaster ovens ranging in price from $40 to $250.

"The Hamilton Beach could cook a seven-pound roast. The outside was crusty, but the temperature probe we tested wasn't all that accurate," said Consumer Reports' Dan DiClerico.

The meat was supposed to be medium rare but came out noticeably rarer.

As for pizzas, most of the toaster ovens did well, except for the $200 DeLonghi. Consumer Reports' Cindy Fisher said the back and bottom of the pizza were almost raw, while the front of the pizza appeared to be cooked.

Many toaster ovens tout convection, cooking or baking, but Consumer Reports says it doesn't pay.

"Convection cooking uses a fan to circulate the air and speed up cooking, but toaster ovens are so small that air circulation probably doesn't make a difference," said DiClerico.

As for toast, many toaster ovens can fit six slices, but not all toast evenly.

But Consumer Reports did find several good toaster ovens. It named an $80 Oster toaster a best buy. It does a very good job making toast and cooking pizzas.

If all you need is a toaster, Consumer Reports named the $35 Hamilton Beach, model number 22502, a best buy.