Operating an under-the-counter, heavy-duty oven might be risky business for the elderly – joint and back pains, receding dexterity and loss of stamina all make baking a batch of homemade bread or a quick pizza dinner more difficult. Add to this complicated controls and a plethora of unnecessary, touch-sensitive settings and modes, and even the best of us are sometimes left stumped by how exactly to operate our ovens for a simple baked lasagna.
Toaster ovens, thankfully, are an answer to this dilemma – space-saving units we can plonk atop our counters with just the basic, intuitive controls comprehensive for use by kids and adults alike are brilliantly convenient alternatives to firing up an electric or gas oven. User-friendly features aren’t just great for no-fuss operation for the whole family, but also for those of us experiencing loss of dexterity in our fingers and hands, failing eyesight and/or stiff joints that make bending and retrieving rugged trays and cleaning up ovens not just difficult but dangerous. And since not all toaster ovens are created equal, we’ve shortlisted our picks for the best toaster oven for seniors to make your search easier.
Breville BOV800XL Smart Oven
This is a brilliant toaster oven in many respects, and would probably find its way to the top of any list we’d review for best toaster ovens, but it has a handful of features making it a no-brainer for our top spot on this particular list. A backlit digital screen displays the nine available cooking modes, large, easy to distinguish digits presenting information like temperature and time you set using the intuitive, user-friendly dials so you can pick the appropriate settings. The oven features an automatic shut-off mechanism, a handy safety feature in case we forget we’ve left something in the oven, with a sound alert system letting us know when we’re done cooking. In fact, the smartly engineered oven handles all the difficult parts for us, five individual quartz heating elements built into the oven to distribute heat evenly and, depending on the cooking mode you select, at the degree and place where it is needed, so you won’t be bargaining away any of your culinary flexibility by switching out for a more compact oven.
Neither too big, nor too small, this oven is going to save you counterspace and a lot of bending while at the same time letting you cook anything as big as a 13 inch pizza or roast a whole chicken, boasting better capacity than a lot of smaller, more compact toaster ovens do. It also features a pull-out, auto eject wire rack – once the oven door is opened, magnets set to the side of the door pull the rack halfway out, so anyone with stiff or uncoordinated hands won’t have to worry about burns and accidents when retrieving their food. The front-accessed crumb tray is another great feature, since we don’t have to manually move the oven around to clean it up between usage sessions.
KEN’S BUDGET PICK
Hamilton Beach 31103A Countertop Oven
With three easy to operate dials denoting temperature, function and timer settings, this versatile oven won’t eat up too much space in the kitchen, but will cut down on the work and effort you have to put in there. Sufficient space lets you bake or cook two portions at the same time, dual wire racks big enough to hold two 12 inch pizzas, two 9 by 13 inch casserole dishes or two cake pans, at the same time. The oven also features large and small baking pans, a broil rack for roasting, along with rotisserie tools capable of holding a 5 pound hunk of meat. The four cooking mode functions also diversify the uses of this oven – the traditional ‘Bake’ mode works for cakes and pastries, while the ‘Convection’ mode heats up both upper and lower heating elements as an inbuilt fan evenly distributes the heat for crisp pizzas and cookies. ‘Rotisserie’ mode is perfect for skewering in a whole chicken and letting it self-baste, while ‘Broil’ mode lets you pull off dinner roasts with no sweat.
Other user-friendly features include a slide-out crumb tray easily accessible from the front, an automatic shut-off system to eliminate the risk of forgetting something in the oven, and a sound alert system to notify you when the timer runs out.
Breville BOV450XL Mini Smart Oven
A slightly smaller version of our top pick, this oven is nonetheless big enough to fit an 11 inch pizza, with three wire rack positions and 8 cooking modes you can flip through using an easy to operate and read dial. Up-down buttons let you set the adequate temperate and time, a backlit digital display making it easy on the eyes, while push-buttons to switch the oven on or off and switch modes between Celsius and Fahrenheit enhance the unit’s user-friendliness. The oven comes with the same smart technology as our top pick, except with four instead of five quartz elements to alternate where and how much heat is distributed depending on your cooking needs, making this a small unit that still packs a big punch.
The unit also comes with a slide-out crumb tray you can access from the front, and an automatic shut-off system to reduce the likelihood of accidentally burning your food or risking a fire. The sturdy, firm handle is easy to grasp and pull down even for fingers losing their deftness.
Cuisinart TOB-40N Custom Classic Toaster Oven Broiler
A versatile but compact machine, this unit is highly user-friendly – with rubberized dials to give you the best grip, you have three sets of easy to read dials letting you set the cooking function for four available modes (toast, bagel, bake and broil), adjust the temperature and choose the toast shade. Big enough to hold an 11 inch pizza, this toaster oven comes with automatic slide-out racks to allow you to safely remove your food or dish from the oven without having to reach into the hot interior, and an automatic shut-off system for safety. Apart from broiling and wire racks and a baking pan, this unit comes with a crumb tray of a slide-out, front-access design to make clean-up much easier. This unit doesn’t, however, feature a timer, so we recommend using a separate timer on your phone or a cooking timer to keep track of how long your food’s been in the oven.