Have you ever been curious about the difference between toaster oven vs. conventional oven cooking times? You’re not the only one. Despite their significant size difference, toaster ovens and conventional ovens have very similar cooking times. While one model might be faster than another, they are usually about the same.
This will explore the reasons why and the different heating methods used by toaster ovens and conventional ovens. Read on to get answers to all the top toaster oven and conventional oven questions.
The first thing you must understand is how these ovens cook. Both use a heating element to increase the internal temperature of the oven until your food is finished. That’s where things stop with a conventional oven. Due to this, food closer to the heating element (either the bottom for baking or the top for broiling) will cook faster.
Not only that, but you may have to flip your food in the middle of cooking to ensure that everything is even. This depends on your exact oven, but this is common with conventional models.
Toaster ovens, on the other hand, are almost always small convection ovens. The words convection and conventional might sound similar, but there is a big difference between them.
Convection ovens include a fan that circulates hot air inside the oven. This usually leads to faster cooking and no cool spots, which means you shouldn’t have to flip food for even cooking.
Is a Convection Oven Much Faster Than a Normal Oven?
Convection ovens are significantly faster than regular ovens. Not only that, but they also tend to cook hotter, which means you should drop the temperature by around 25 degrees F in most cases. They will generally cook food about 25% faster, so be sure to adjust cooking times as well.
Now, this is referring to standard oven sizes and this is exactly why it gets tricky. Convection cooking is the superior cooking method, but will a smaller toaster oven be faster or hotter than a full-sized conventional oven?
Is a Toaster Oven Faster Than a Conventional Oven?
In general you’ll find that toaster ovens and conventional ovens cook at nearly the same time and temperature. This does depend on your exact model though. Sometimes a toaster oven will be faster while other times a conventional oven will be faster. You’ll have to do some experimenting. But in general, they are about the same.
When we say faster in this context, it’s not by 25% like with full-sized ovens. It’s by a matter of minutes. One might be several minutes than the other, but it’s not consistent. If you have a strong oven, then it might be faster, while a top-tier toaster oven might be a few minutes faster than a conventional oven.
Why is that? We just got done saying that toaster ovens are convection ovens and convection heating is faster and stronger than conventional heating.
There are significant differences in how toaster ovens and conventional ovens are built and those differences come into play now. A toaster oven is able to preheat in a flash with its small size.
The heating elements are able to cook food fast and efficiently without any flipping (usually, depends on the model). However, they have thinner walls than a conventional oven.
A conventional oven is made thick and sturdy. This allows it to hold heat better and ensures fast cooking time. While toaster ovens are sturdy as well, their size difference doesn’t allow them to hold heat quite as well.
That’s why they balance out to nearly the same cooking times. Some people say that toaster ovens are a few minutes faster and some models will be, but it won’t be the massive 25% difference you get with conventional vs. convection ovens.
Is a Toaster Oven as Useful as a Regular Oven?
That being said, can you use a toaster oven instead of a regular oven for your everyday cooking? Yes, absolutely. Is it practical though? Maybe. The cooking times are nearly the same, so you can make meals quickly for yourself and your family.
You’ll have to consider the number of people you’re cooking for. A toaster oven is able to make nearly any food you can think of. It’s usually not a problem of functionality or power, but of size. A conventional oven is big and can cook lots of food. You can easily fit a whole chicken on one rack and still have room for something small. On the toaster oven size, fitting a small chicken is often a selling point.
If you’re cooking for one or two people, then a toaster oven should be just fine for all your cooking needs. If you’re cooking for three people, then you will start feeling the size limitations, but you can still do it. Anymore than that and you’re going to struggle keeping up.
Toaster Oven vs. Conventional Oven Energy Consumption
If you’re looking to reduce your power bill, then a toaster oven will be your new best friend. They generally require 33-50% less energy than a standard oven for cooking similar meals at similar temperatures.
Unless you need the larger capacity of a conventional oven, a toaster oven can help reduce your energy consumption and may lead to lower energy bills.
Can You Bake in a Toaster Oven?
Everyone knows you can make chicken fingers, fries, burgers, roasted vegetables, and more in a toaster oven. However, many people are unsure about baking in a toaster oven. Is this only available with conventional ovens, or can a toaster oven bake cakes, pies, and pastries?
Surprisingly enough, you can bake in a toaster oven. Some are better than others of course, but yes, you can bake nearly any recipe with your toaster oven.
While there are size constraints, you should have no problem making a full pie, cake layer, or nearly any other sweet treat you can think of. Or, if you prefer regular bread, then you can bake that as well.
Is Aluminum Foil Safe in a Toaster Oven?
Aluminum foil is amazing. It might not do much with cooking time, but it sure helps with cleaning time. All the fat and grease stays on the aluminum foil, which you can simply throw away once cooking is finished. Foil pans are similar. They are disposable and meant for only cooking one time, so no clean up is needed.
Obviously these can be used in conventional ovens, but what about toaster ovens? Yes, you can easily use foil in a toaster oven without any problems. This will make it much easier to clean up if you’re cooking burgers, chicken thighs, or anything else with a lot of fat.
So, are there any major differences in toaster oven vs. conventional oven cooking times? Usually not. They tend to balance out because toaster ovens use superior heating methods while conventional ovens are better insulated. Some models are faster than others, but usually only by a few minutes here and there.
You also learned how versatile a toaster oven can be. While there are size constraints, they work very well for baking, you can use aluminum foil with them, and they even use less energy. If you’re cooking for one or two people, then a toaster oven might actually be better for your needs.