4 Surprising Things that You Can Cook in a Toaster Oven
You can use a toaster oven to prepare regular food, and even go further and use some of those favorite recipes meant for a convection oven.
A toaster oven can be used to prepare French loaves, sourdough and anything that has a hefty crust. Toaster ovens are the perfect kitchen appliances for people living in hot climate, college students living in dorms or someone who lives in a house whose kitchen doesn’t come inclusive of a convection oven.
Since toaster ovens are compact and don’t take up a lot of kitchen space, they are perfect for such situations. You will now be able to toast bread, heat up frozen pizza, even bake some bread and even prepare a 4-course meal. The following are some strategies you can apply when using your toaster oven.
- Some of the toaster ovens available in the market are heavy-duty and quite large, and they also come with great features such as the convection setting. When using one of these kind of toaster ovens, you can follow the recipe as expected. However, when it comes to a smaller model that has fewer features, you might have to increase the temperature by 25 to 50 degrees more that what the recipe suggests.
- Before you begin using the toaster oven, check for any gaps that are noticeable along the edges that air can escape from. There are toaster ovens which come with a removable crumb tray, and there are normally gaps around those areas. If there are any gaps, you’ll have to increase the baking temperature so as to compensate for all the hot air that will be escaping causing the temperature inside the oven to reduce.
- Toaster ovens need to be preheated before you can begin using them, just like conventional ovens.
- If the toaster oven is operated using a timer dial, all you’ll have to do is to keep monitoring it. For instance, if you’re recipe requires you to cook something for 60 minutes but your timer can only go for 30 minutes at a time, you’ll need to go back halfway through the baking processes to turn the dial back to the 30-minute mark again. If you don’t do so, the toaster oven will shut down before the cake is completely cooked.
- Although this is an obvious one, the size of the oven does matter. Toaster ovens are available in all sizes and shapes. However, there are those that are smaller than a convection oven, you should therefore be ready to get creative inn terms of adjusting recipes to suite different portioned food than expected, or even just reducing the recipe scale in general.
- If you intend to prepare multicourse meals in a small oven, you will have to strategically think about the baking order, timing and what dishes you can serve pipping hot verses those that can be served at room temperature. Toaster ovens limit you on the amount of food you can prepare, for example, you won’t be able to cook two different trays or meals, meaning you’ll have to plan before hand.
What Can I Cook in a Toaster Oven?
If you have a toater oven, you can bake bread, roast chicken, bake lasagna, make dessert, and more. Continue reading to learn how to cook these dishes.
#1. How to Make Bread In a Toaster Oven
What can I cook in a toaster oven? Most of us ask ourselves this question when we first buy the appliance because we aren’t sure whether a loaf of bread can rise in a toaster oven or if the crust will be thick enough and brown on all the sides. Convectional toaster ovens are meant to heat only at the top and bottom and not to circulate the hot air at the sides.
If you’d like for heat to be circulated more evenly, use a ceramic casserole dish instead of a flat tray, and also make sure that you preheat the oven when the casserole dish is in it. By the time you place the dough in the casserole dish it will be ready to conduct heat directly inside the dough.
The other thing to consider when baking bread using a toaster oven is how the circumference and height of the bread will fit in to it. If things go as expected, the bread will rise while it cooks and it might unexpectedly hit the top part of the oven. Therefore, be sure to use a bread recipe that you’re familiar with, so that you’re able to anticipate before hand the level at which the loaf of bread will rise, or even be able to bake bread that will maintain it shape throughout the entire process like a Danish rugbrod. Incase you notice that the top part of the bread is browning before the inside part is completely cooked, you can cover it with foil so as to slow the process down. Just make sure that it is not tightly covered to prevent it from steaming more instead of baking.
#2. How to Roast a Whole Chicken In a Toaster Oven
The most important thing is to understand “whole” liberally. Using the exact dimensions of the toaster oven, a whole chicken can get to the top part; a spatchcocked whole chicken may even spread out further; or all the divided parts of the chicken (skin-on breasts, 2 bone-in, wings and legs) may not fit properly in any of the baking dishes you use in the toaster oven. However, any of these might be the right way of cooking a full chicken, and you should choose the one that is best suited for your toaster oven. Don’t be afraid or ashamed of cutting a full chicken using creative methods so that it can fit into the toaster oven. In the long run, you’ll end up carving it when serving it anyway.
On the other hand, if you happen to have a narrow but tall toaster oven, cooking your chicken when still whole and intact will be the better approach. If you’re wondering whether it “worked” or not, you will definitely have chicken with golden brown and shattering crispy skin. Although this might seem difficult to achieve in a small oven, you’ll be happy with how butter and delicious the end result will be. This is not only a delicious way of roasting a chicken, it’s particularly the best way when using a toaster oven since the heat never seems to be high enough to be able to allow the rendered chicken fat work its magic. The only challenge you may come across is when the inside part of the chicken takes more time to cook compared to when you use the recipe in a conventional oven. Just as with bread, where if the skin appears nice and brown, and the inside is still raw, you can loosely tent the chicken using foil to stop browning on the outside, letting the meat cook well.
#3. How to Bake Lasagna In a Toaster Oven
This is another dish that will help you stop wondering what can I cook in a toaster oven? You can successfully cook a lasagna as it was born for this moment. The dish cools in exact amount of time as required, the cheese will melt perfectly and the top part will brown properly. The only small consideration or adjustment you may have to make is on the portion size. Most lasagna recipes are suited for a large number of people, and majority of toaster ovens can’t fit large casserole dishes.
You’ll have to divide your recipe into two and use a square casserole dish that fits well in the toaster oven. However, you may notice that the long pasta sheets don’t work well with the reduced portions and you’ll have to cut them to more manageable shapes and sizes. Other than that, cook your lasagna like you would in a conventional oven.
#4. How to Make Dessert In a Toaster Oven
This is yet another dish that will help you stop wondering what I can cook in a toaster oven. You can prepare excellent brownies using a toaster (a lot of people have successfully done it), and you will even be able to try making something a lot complex. A pie will be perfect for this. However, when you look at the toaster oven, you’ll realize that a toaster oven is too small to comfortably accommodate a pie plate. You can use a humble galette.
A galette, if you’re not familiar with it, is just a free-spirited cousin. Pie dough is easy to shape and roll out as you please (a circle, a rectangle or a square of any diameter), and you can fill it with almost any filling – sweet or savory – before you can proceed to roughly shape it by pulling it over the filling, letting the top remain open. In short, you’ll be able to make the galette to fit the exact dimensions of your toaster oven. This will be a great way for you to become creative in the small confines of a restricting kitchen.
With the right recipe you’ll no longer have to ask yourself, “what can I cook in a toaster oven”? Also, using the right portions and temperature, you’ll be able to cook different dishes in a toaster oven that can also be prepared in a conventional oven. Since most toaster ovens available in the market come with a limited time setting, you’ll have to reset the time before it runs out so that whatever you’re cooking will be well done.