Your Guide to Using a Toaster Oven (4 Basic Settings)

Woman using a toaster oven

This simple guide will give you a new insight into using а toaster oven in ways you have never thought of before, with just its four basic settings.

While it might seem complicated and you might want to switch back to your regular oven, the toaster oven will definitely make your life easier, once you learn how to properly apply what it offers.

Most modern toaster ovens are able to provide the necessary heat and functions for you to be able to cook everyday dishes without issues. In this post, I hope to provide you with an insight into how you can use the toaster oven’s basic functions to your advantage.

Basic Toaster Oven Settings

Like most kitchen appliances, toaster ovens can be extremely confusing for beginners. However, I’m here to make your life a little less complicated and explain the basic settings, their use, and their functionality.

Most toaster ovens have 4 basic settings you can use. They are:

SettingApplicationHow to Use
RoastLets you prepare your favorite roasted dishes with ease.Roasting guide
BakeUsed to bake a wide range of dishes. Baking guide
ToastMainly used toasting bread, though other dishes can be toasted as well.Toasting guide
BroilSimilar to grilling, it heats up the food from one direction. Broiling guide
Basic toaster oven functions and their most common usages.

How to Use a Toaster Oven?

The advantage of a toaster oven over a regular oven is its size. With toaster ovens, you can easily cook smaller portions, preventing food wastage. 

The first and most important thing is to know which setting does what. With toaster ovens, their chosen setting regulates the heating elements of the appliance. Depending on what you wish to make, you need to select the correct setting.


The Roasting setting on a toaster oven is excellent for cooking smaller portions for your meals. This setting allows you to prepare your favorite roasted dishes without any problems.

Whether you want to roast bacon for your sandwich or you intend to cook an entire roasted chicken, most toaster ovens will help you on your way.

Roasting Step-by-Step

  • Set the toaster oven to the “Roast” setting.
  • Using the Roasting setting will greatly depend on the recipe you are following. You will need to prepare the meat, vegetable, or whatever you wish to roast before placing it into the toaster oven.
  • When placing the dish into the toaster oven, make sure it does not reach the top of the toaster. You can adjust the rack placement if needed.
  • Preheat the toaster oven for about 15 minutes at a higher heat setting (than the recipe requires) and lower the heat setting for the remainder of the cooking time.
  • If you are cooking meat, a meat thermometer will help you check how cooked the dish is.
  • Once the dish is cooked enough, allow it to cool down a bit before serving.

Roasting in a toaster oven and in a regular oven is similar in theory. The main difference is the side of the dish. However, if your toaster oven is big enough, you will be able to use it to cook most everyday dishes.


The baking setting on a toaster oven resembles a regular oven the most. This setting is generally the most used setting on a toaster oven, as it can be used to bake a wide range of dishes.

When the baking setting is chosen, the toaster oven will utilize the bottom elements to heat the oven. The top elements are also used but at a reduced wattage.

Some toaster ovens can also regulate the heat distribution by cycling the bottom and top elements and their heating intensity. This helps the toaster oven to optimize the temperature at an even level.

Baking Step-by-Step

  • Select the “Bake” setting on your toaster oven
  • Check what temperature the recipe calls for and set it
  • Set the time of baking the recipe mentions
  • Press the start button for the toaster oven to begin the preheating
  • When the toaster oven is preheated, you can add the pan inside
  • Close the oven’s door, double-check and adjust the baking timer

If you use a non-digital toaster oven, be sure to let it preheat for at least 5 minutes. When you place the pan inside the toaster oven, you will need to reset the cooking timer – as it has counted the preheating as part of the cooking process.


The toasting setting is usually used for toasting bread mainly, but other dishes can be toasted as well. 

In order for the bread to be toasted, the oven needs to be set on the correct temperature setting. Toasters with dial controls use temperature dials to set the heat intensity, while digital ones tend to have a preprogrammed temperature that cannot be changed. 

It is important that the toaster oven’s rack is placed in the correct position. It is safest to refer to the appliance’s manual when deciding because different ovens will have varying recommendations.

In order to make the perfect toast – to your liking – you will need to set the intensity of the toasting process. The difference between light, medium and dark toasts is time. If you set the toasting levels of your liking, the toaster oven should adjust the toasting time as well.

Toasting Step-by-Step

  • Put the bread slices onto the rack and place the rack into the toaster oven after checking the manual for its placement
  • Set the toaster oven’s function to “Toast”
  • If you have a toaster oven with dial controls, you will need to select the heat intensity. You will be able to adjust the heat, even is the oven recommends a certain one before the toasting begins
  • Check your timer. The time needed for the toast to be made depends on different things, including the type of bread used, your toast preferences, the number of slices in the oven, and the toaster oven itself. 

You can play around with the settings, you do not need to strictly stick with the recommended ones. A neat trick to get perfectly toasted bread is to grab a timer the first time you use the oven. Note the time it takes for the bread to be as crispy as you like it and save the information for the next time you wish to make toast. 


Generally speaking, the Broiling setting on a toaster oven is similar to grilling. The heat is not circulated inside the toaster, instead it comes from one direction, usually provided by the top elements. 

This setting is excellent if you wish to speed up the cooking process of some dishes. Thinner vegetable slices can be quickly cooked in the toaster oven on the Broiling setting. It is also great for melting cheese.

Broiling Step-by-Step

  • To use the Broiling setting, most toaster ovens do not need to be preheated.
  • Usually, the top rack placement is recommended, and be sure to use a broiling-safe pan, which will not be harmed by the heat.
  • Wear protective cooking gloves, as broiling will make pans and dishes exceptionally hot.
  • If you notice that the food is burnt under this setting, try a lower rack placement. If your toaster has adjustable broiling settings, you can also adjust it to prevent burning.

Remember, with broiling the heat comes from one direction. For this reason, if you need both sides of a dish broiled, you will need to flip it around.

As Simple as Using a Toaster Oven

Using new kitchen appliances can be tricky if you don’t know what you are doing. But it should not deter you from trying out different recipes.

Now that you know how to handle the toaster oven and its different settings, it is time to put the theory to use. Try to make your favorite dishes at home and enjoy the comfort your toaster oven will bring to your life. 

However, don’t forget: all appliances need to be cleaned after use. If you are interested to know how you can efficiently clean your toaster oven, be sure to check out my in-depth guide.

How Do You Use a Toaster Oven For The First Time?

Before you use a toaster oven for the first time it is important to prepare it. Turn the appliance on at its highest setting and let it work for about 10 minutes. After this make sure to wash the baking pan and the oven rack, place them back into the toaster and it is ready for use.

Can You Use a Toaster Oven Like a Regular Oven?

Yes, if you have the correct toaster oven it can be used like a regular oven. Unfortunately, not all toaster ovens are cut out for the task, but some appliances can function like a small oven. However, keep in mind that toaster ovens are not as insulated as regular ovens, so the cooking time may take longer.

Can You Bake a Cake in a Toaster Oven?

Yes, you can bake a cake in a toaster oven. As long as the cake is sized down to fit into the toaster oven, you can bake the layers separately in this appliance without issues. Just be sure, the cake is not too big for the oven, as that will lead to a lengthy clean-up.

Larry Flynn

Hi everyone! My name is Larry Flynn and I've been working in the kitchen appliance industry for decades. From manufacturing to retail and everything in between. My latest hobby is running this website, where I share all the knowledge I gathered throughout the years in the industry. I also run a small toaster repair shop in downtown NY, and collect vintage toasters.

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