Cheap cookware usually comes with a small Dutch oven, so we sought out five larger, better options under $80, from enameled cast iron to a stainless stockpot.
Toaster Oven Reviews
We didn't find any amazing stars in the universe of budget toaster ovens. Based on the toaster ovens reviews we read, some models are better at toasting, some are better at baking, and some do both at least moderately well.
It's somewhat surprising that lower-cost toaster ovens struggle to fulfill one of their primary purposes: giving bread, bagels, and English muffins just the right amount of tender crispness. We came across plenty of griping in toaster ovens reviews about patchy, burnt, or underdone toast, although the models on our list fare better than most in this regard. Still, hardcore foodies stress that if excellent toast is your highest priority, a dedicated pop-up toaster is your best bet. Additionally, we noted some disappointment about uneven baking, noisy timers, hot exteriors, and limited capacity and longevity for all the budget toaster ovens we researched.
The Proctor Silex 31116Y (white) or 31118Y (black), both (starting at $25), is a good example of the mixed but mostly positive assessment of even the best bargain toaster ovens. One of our top two picks, this four-slice model is touted in a toaster ovens review by Good Housekeeping for fast toasting and good results when baking potatoes and cakes. That said, the experts ding the uneven toast, the difficulty of adjusting the toast setting, and the slow broiling. Some consumers also grumble about irregular toast and the need to monitor the goings-on, but the majority of toaster ovens reviews at sites such as Walmart talk up the fine output, especially given the price. Many of these users write about perfect toast and English muffins and efficient reheating/baking of small foodstuffs.
Another best cheap toaster oven, the four-slice Black & Decker TRO480 (starting at $30), garners applause for its toasting and baking prowess. Toaster ovens reviews at Bon-Ton, for example, say toast emerges evenly browned in rapid order, cupcakes bake up just right, and lunch for the office crowd warms to the proper temperature. Consumers who commented at Amazon offer small bites of praise for the toasting, baking, and warming functions while a large minority, particularly more recent reviewers, report uneven, overdone, and underdone toast; a few throw crumbs at the build quality, as well.
With its two pop-up slots and small electric oven, the Hamilton Beach Toastation 22708 (starting at $37) is something of a novelty in this product category. One of our runner-up picks, it appeals because of the combo design; toaster ovens reviews reveal that several consumers are serial buyers. But at Target some users report that bread and bagels stick in the slots and at Amazon some gripe that the slots are too shallow (i.e., the top of large bread slices don't toast) while others say the contents nearly fly out when the cycle ends. As for the baking, toaster ovens reviews contend the small interior works for a slice of pizza, a potato, or an eggroll but not much else, adding that the items must be centered for edible results.
The oven and toast functions on the six-slice Hamilton Beach 31508 (starting at $30) draw above-average ratings from consumers. Most are satisfied with the quick and effective toasting, although reviews at Walmart caution that the dials are imprecise and it's necessary to fiddle with the settings and then monitor the process to prevent burning. One post at Overstock.com asserts the Hamilton Beach 31508 is not true to temperature and experts at Good Housekeeping determined that broiling chicken breasts took a very long time. Still, plenty of toaster oven reviews report successfully baking pans of brownies, heating open-face sandwiches, and broiling fish or cut-up chicken.
Whether toasting, baking, or broiling, the Maxi Matic Elite EKA-9210 (starting at $24) inspires little confidence among users. Some report even and quick results, but many toaster ovens reviews at Amazon grumble about inexact controls and difficulty fixing the desired settings. Disappointed users say the position of the rack and the combination of lower and upper elements for toasting leaves bread burnt on one side; one reviewer suggests first turning on the bottom element and following up with the top element a short time later. Moreover, the absence of temperature gauges for the oven requires constant attention to timing, as does the supposedly simple process of toasting a bagel or piece of bread.
Another model that seems to be more trouble than it's worth is the Oster Vega TSSTTVVG01 (starting at $29). The toast might be good enough, say some toaster ovens reviews at Best Buy, but the extra effort required is particularly irksome. Users balk at having to adjust two dials -- one for the function and one for the shade -- just to make a piece of toast and also assert the settings on the function knob are difficult to see. A post at Yahoo Shopping says it's hard to know whether you've chosen the oven, toast, or broil function. About the oven, users report it runs a bit hot but manages small batches of cookies, reheating leftovers, and baking frozen items relatively quickly.Back to top »
You can pick up one of these four recommended cookware sets for yourself or for a gift on a budget of less than $80.
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