TUCSON, Ariz. - Mercy Rodriguez uses her toaster oven for everything and her grandkids especially like the chicken nuggets she makes.
"We're a small family so I just use it more than I would use a large oven, so it's just a convenience," says Rodriguez.
When it comes to testing toaster ovens, Consumer Reports takes a similar approach.
"Toaster ovens are a very versatile appliance," says Consumer Reports Home Editor, Haniya Rae. "You can bake cookies, broil burgers, you can reheat leftovers."
To see how well a toaster oven can reheat foods, testers heat up frozen lasagnas.
"You don't want cold spots in a meal that's supposed to be warm," says Rae.
Testers use thermocouples to take the temperature at different points in the lasagna. To check how well a toaster oven can bake, testers whip up batches of sugar cookies and corn muffins.
So which toaster oven handles all of those tasks? This $170 Breville is top-rated, plus it's one of the least expensive models C-R tested. It turns out perfectly browned toast, is very good at baking and reheating and it's easy to use. Even better - it's compact so it won't take up as much precious counter space.
Consumer Reports says some additional features to look for when shopping for a toaster oven: An interior light so you can check in on your food without opening the door and a countdown timer to see how much more cooking time remains. And if you do plan on cooking a lot of frozen pizzas, a toaster oven with a rack that's at least 12 inches deep comes in handy.