21st Century Toasters

Toaster ovens have changed a lot since Consumer Reports first started testing them more than 50 years ago. Today's expanded menus include touchpad controls, pizza settings, and other options once limited to range ovens and microwaves.

But which features are worth paying for? Consumer Reports tests 26 toaster ovens to find out which ones are the best.

Dan Diclerico of Consumer Reports says, "Toaster ovens are rivaling microwaves now for second oven status, so they're touting things like specialized pizza settings and dedicated pans for better baking."

If pizza is your passion, make sure you get a toaster oven that can accommodate a 12-inch pizza-not all of the ones tested did, including the George Foreman, which proved a bit of a lightweight when it came to size.

DiClerico says, "You can put a 12-inch pizza in there and you can even close the door, but a portion of it will hang over the rack, so it might not cook evenly."

None of the toaster ovens browned nearly as well as a traditional oven. But testers found most crusts were crispier than you'd get from a typical microwave...and how about the most basic function, toasting?

DiClerico says, "If you want top toast, buy a toaster. Even the best toaster ovens took roughly twice as long as toasters and left tiger stripes on the break."

Testers recommend an $80 toaster oven from DeLonghi, which has a rotisserie feature, and a $70 dollar Black and Decker, which does a good job with a 12-inch pizza and is a Consumer Reports Best Buy.

Here are the model numbers:

DeLonghi #RO2050B

Black & Decker #CTO4500S

Both offer easy cleaning with nonstick interiors and pull-out crumb trays, which can help ensure you don't make a "crumby" decision.

With all the new features, many of today's toaster ovens are a bit bulkier than in the past-so before you head out to buy a new one, measure your countertop to be sure it'll fit.

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