Compact, efficient, cheap and easy to use. These are just a few of the reason from the top of my head why homes today still buy and use toaster ovens. In the past the huge full-size ovens had an advantage but today's technology have made countertop ovens capable of baking, toasting and broiling just as good as their big brother counterparts. New toaster ovens today are equipped with convection technology which allows better and faster cooking time.
Among the advantages of a convection toaster oven is its ability to cook more evenly, cook using lower temperature settings and finish over a shorter period of time. With these new toaster ovens you get better results more consistently. However, since a convection toaster oven is a relatively new technology than the over toasters of old, you will need to learn some new cooking techniques. But let's start off with just three.
One of the first and most important tip for cooking in a convection toaster oven is to: READ the MANUAL. This is one of the most common mistakes people do when they buy a new appliance or gadget. They take the manual out of the box and return it without a second look. They feel they can operate everything on the fly. However, with toast ovens equipped with convection technology it would be wise to read the manual so you can get the specific settings for your favorite recipes. Since the features of the oven can be used differently for each recipe, it would be best to familiarize yourself with your toaster's features, controls, capabilities, limitations etc.
The second cooking tip is using your toaster oven for roasting. Make sure that you roast the meat using the same temperature but cooking it only half the time indicated in the recipe. The reason behind the halved time is that the toaster oven is smaller and the convection process actually reduces the overall cooking time. It is best that when roasting, you use a meat thermometer to double check if the meat is done. As you might already know, the heat generated from the convection process is ideal for roasting potatoes and other vegetables.
The third tip is for baking. Yes you can bake with a convection toaster oven but it would be best to lower the temperature indicated in your recipes by about 25 ° F. Don't reduce the cooking time, only the temperature. As for baking tools, bright aluminum or steel pans will be great for cakes and cookies. The shiny surface of the pans will reflect the heat allowing the oven to produce better looking pastries. However, breads and pies will require dull, steel pans so the heat is absorbed more for better tasting crusts.
These are the top three tips but I would like to add a couple of safety tips when using a convection toaster oven as well. When buying one look for a model that have an automatic shut-off feature for added safety. Be sure to always unplug the oven after each use. It would be best to avoid using metal utensils inside of a toaster oven and finally keep the oven clean and make sure crumbs, food bits and drippings don't collect on the bottom.