Why can't I use toaster oven instead of real oven?

  • My toaster oven has a temperature gauge just like my oven 200-450 degrees. I opened a package of fish sticks and the instructions said "Do not cook in microwave or toaster oven." It only had instructions for cooking them in a regular oven. Do you have any idea why a toaster oven that can be put at the same temperature would not be good to use?

    I cook fishsticks in the toaster oven all the time....maybe I've never noticed that on the box and I've been daily risking my life!

    I do the majority of my cooking in a toaster oven, I always considered notes like that to be part of some kind of conspiracy. I'm not baking though, just reheating or broiling so you need less consistency / control in temperature. For this use, I think a toaster oven would be fine, just keep a close eye on them.

  • Possible reasons:

    • Horrible temperature control - this is simply a problem of cheap construction. One could theoretically build an excellent toaster oven with precise temperature control, but why would you?
    • Low thermal mass - If you get an oven to 400F and open it for long enough to put in food, the result is an oven at very slightly less than 400F, and which will quickly return to 400F. Do that with a toaster oven, and who knows what temperature you'll get, or how quickly it will get to your desired temperature (if ever, see #1). This is not a slam at toaster ovens, this is just due to them being approximately 2% of the volume of a standard oven.
    • Closeness to elements. It's easy for toaster ovens interiors to vary by nearly 50F from middle to edge, simply based on distance to elements

    Now don't get me wrong, I once made some kickin' Oysters Rockefeller in a toaster oven, when I thought that they would be the difference between serving an appetizer and being allowed to serve breakfast the next morning (wink, wink). If you know what you're doing, and watch carefully and continually, a toaster oven can be an excellent source of high(ish) direct heat. But they are extremely difficult to control, and extremely unforgiving of errors. I can't think of a circumstance where a toaster oven would be my first choice of cooking tool (and that includes microwave, campfire, plumber's blowtorch).

    Nice call on the thermal mass. That occurred to me, too. Then I forgot while I was typing.

    The problem with toaster ovens is usually scorching vs the normal oven use, for items where they say not to use the toaster oven, so I'm guessing proximity to the heating element and the uneven temperature distribution is usually the bigger problem.

    Hm. My toaster oven has significantly more stable temperature control than my oven, even with food in it. I measured it to check. So for me your first two points don't apply. Can you expand a little on ways to combat the third? Perhaps, wrapping in foil or something? Also the other difference that I always wonder about is the seal on my toaster oven door is poorer and more water vapor visible escapes. Is that an issue? Can it be solved if so?

    _"I can't think of a circumstance where a toaster oven would be my first choice of cooking tool"_ They're awfully good for toasting nuts or breadcrumbs, doubly so when the weather is hot. (Of course, you can use a microwave for nuts too.)

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Content dated before 6/26/2020 9:53 AM