Convection Oven vs. Toaster Oven – What’s the Difference?
It is easy to get confused when it comes to shopping for a countertop oven because, besides the myriad of models options from different brands out there, you also need to choose between several types.
One of the most confusing choices that many people will have to make at some point is whether to buy the convection or toaster ovens. Both cook well enough and are ideal for pretty much the same cooking methods which should explain the confusion.
However, as much as these ovens are similar they also differ in various other aspects. Here we explain these differences to ensure that potential buyers have an easy time deciding what to go for.
Convection Oven Overview
Convection ovens are the newer technology of the two, and although they have not been in use very long, they are now one of the most popular cooking appliances in many homes.
These ovens still use conventional heating methods to cook whereby the heat required is generated by heating elements at the top and bottom of the oven's interior. However, they will provide an extra feature which is a fan that helps to spread the heated air around the food for faster and more even cooking.
When compared to the toaster oven, these ovens will also heat up much faster which allows you to cook food within a shorter time, and they will not have any hot or cold spots.
Also, since these ovens will have more spacious cooking areas and are more efficient at heat distribution, you can use them to cook large batches at a go. And better yet, you get more fuel source options to ensure you buy something that works for your particular situation.
Unlike the toaster oven and full-size conventional oven that restrict you to where you can place the food to be cooked, these ovens allow you to have the food anywhere you want thanks to their even heat distribution.
But, these ovens still come with some drawbacks when compared to toaster ovens with key among them being that they are larger which means they will take up more counter space. Also, convection ovens are relatively pricier when compared to toaster ovens
Toaster Oven Overview
Toaster ovens are just smaller models or versions of the conventional oven as they will cook using the same principle and are hence ideal for similar kinds of cooking.
These ovens will come with heating elements at the top and bottom and will typically have anywhere between 1 and 6 heating elements depending on the size and model.
They are also cheaper to buy than the convection ovens and will also not cost much to operate which makes them highly convenient kitchen appliances. And unlike other popular oven types like the microwaves, these will not restrict you to use specific cookware because they can work with any cookware or bakeware that you would use on the full-size ovens.
Given the smaller size of the toaster oven, it will not take up a lot of kitchen counter space. And this small size also allows you to control the temperature more precisely since there is no large area to be heated.
What many users might not like about the toaster ovens is that they take longer to heat up when compared to a convection oven and hence food also takes more time to cook. This also makes them less energy efficient, and so if you use one often, it can increase your energy bills.
How it Works
Uses powerful fans to spread hot air that is heated by conventional heating elements around food
Cooks by heating the interior with top and bottom heating elements
Electricity or gas
Roasting meats and vegetables, making pastries and pies
Toasting, browning, crisping and baking small cakes
Cleaning and Maintenance
A little hectic
Size and Portability
Larger and less portable
Small, space-saving and more portable
$100 to over $1,000
$60 to around $400
Convection vs. Toaster Oven
Convection and toaster ovens allow you to enjoy the benefits of the full-size conventional ovens without the cost that comes with these larger appliances. But, these ovens are not the same and to help you choose the right one for you, here are some of the key differences you need to know.
1. How it Works
Like with any other appliances, you need to know how these ovens work as this will make sure that you know what you are getting into regardless of what you choose. And while the working mechanism is quite similar, there are a few key differences that set these two apart.
The convection oven, despite what the name suggests, works more like the regular conventional ovens which means it will rely on heating elements to provide the heat required to cook food.
This heat is then passed on to the food from the heating element directly and using conduction from the pan or racks to the food. But, there is also a third element in the cooking process which is the fans that help to circulate warm air around the food to speed up the cooking process.
Like the convection ovens, the toaster ovens will also use heating elements to supply the heat. And they will also supply heat to the food in three ways which are through the heating elements, conduction through the cooking pans and the heated air around the food.
But, here there are no fans to supercharge the warm air, and so cooking will not be as fast as in the convection ovens.
2. Power Source
Power source matters a lot because depending on your situation, some kinds of power sources might not work very well for you.
While both the convection and toaster ovens will mostly come in electric-powered models, the former also has gas-powered models just like the full-size conventional ovens. With the gas-powered convection ovens, you can cook food from almost anywhere provided you have a gas can.
Although theoretically, it is possible for the toaster oven to be gas-powered, you will hardly find any gas model because electric ones tend to be more convenient given their smaller size and intended uses.
3. Cooking Speed
Cooking speed will be highly dependent on what you are cooking, the size of the food and also the oven model you are using.
But with that said, the convection ovens will cook relatively faster than the toaster ovens. These ovens will heat up within a shorter time as they will typically have more efficient heating elements, and with the help of the fans, they will spread the heat around the food to ensure quicker and more even cooking.
Toaster ovens, on the other hand, take more time to attain the desired heat, and because they do not have fans, they will mostly rely on conduction and direct heat from the elements to cook which makes the process slower.
4. Best Uses
While the toaster and convection ovens can be used for pretty much the same foods, like any other appliance, each will excel at cooking certain foods or for a particular type of cooking.
If you are looking for something that you can use to roast or grill vegetables and meats, the convection oven will be perfect as it allows you to get a nice crust on the foods while keeping the interior moist enough.
Also, if the foods that you will be cooking generate a lot of steam as they cook, the fan on the convection oven will be very useful. When making pastries and pies, these ovens will also be perfect as the fan will give them an extra lift.
Overall, the toaster ovens seem to excel when it comes to browning, crusting and toasting foods, and this is what many people will use these ovens for at home.
However, if you are cooking delicate foods like soufflés, cakes and other foods that will start as a batter, the toaster oven is also a better choice than the convection oven because the fans on the latter can ruin these foods. Better yet, these ovens will also be great for making every day snacks like peanut butter cookies and mini apple pies.
5. Cleaning and Maintenance
Hate it or love it, cleaning and maintenance will always be part of owning any kitchen appliance, and so you need to make sure that everything you buy including your oven gives you an easy time.
Given the smaller size of the toaster oven, it will be much easier to clean than the convection oven, and it will also take up less time. And because most models will have several removable parts, you can give them a thorough clean up on the sink.
Convection ovens will give you a harder time when it comes to cleaning as there is more area to cover. Also, the inclusion of the fans means there will be more delicate parts that require extra precaution and also more places for food particles to hide.
6. Size and Portability
When it comes to the size and portability, the convection ovens also take the day here as they will typically come in smaller and lightweight designs that makes them highly portable.
A toaster oven takes up little space on your kitchen counter, and so for those that live in smaller houses with smaller kitchens, these space-saving ovens will be an excellent buy.
Convection ovens can be quite large as some will even come in the same size as conventional ovens which means they take up a lot of room and will be hard to carry. However, the extra size also comes with its merits as it means you get more cooking area.
How much you pay for your oven will be highly dependent on your budget as both the convection and toaster ovens are available in several models that come in different price ranges.
Overall, the convection ovens will be more expensive than then toaster ovens given the more advanced and efficient design. They also come in a larger size which further drives their prices up.
While you can get a simple and more basic convection oven for as little as $100, prices for the mid-tier and high tier models will easily go up to $1,000 and some models also cost as much as $2,000 and even more.
Toaster ovens are more affordable and will hence be perfect for anyone on the lookout for a budget oven model. You can get a good model for as little as $60 or even slightly less than this while the top-quality ones will hardly retail for more than $400.
When it comes to choosing between the convection and toaster oven, the food types and volume that you cook, your budget and preferences should help you decide.
But the decision should even be easier now because in this piece we make the differences between the two clear enough even for first-time users.
Using our guide above, the convection oven will be a perfect choice for those that cook larger batches of food and those that are looking for an oven that cooks relatively faster.
Toaster ovens, on the other hand, are great for anyone looking for a more affordable oven for cooking smaller food batches and simple cooking tasks like browning, crisping, and toasting.