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Shifting to a home office environment has revealed a few inadequacies in my small kitchen appliances. What used to be just fine for occasional use, I now find that they lack versatility, capability, and capacity as I’ve come to rely more on these devices for basically all of my meals.
The biggest culprit is my simple and tiny toaster oven that I purchased nearly a decade ago. And my quest for a better countertop baking/toasting solution has led me to the Cuisinart TOB-260N1 Chef’s Convection Toaster Oven because of its larger size and multi-tasking abilities.
Let’s take a closer look at how this Cuisinart convection oven is a great kitchen companion for small batch cooking and quick meals.
Product Snapshot: Cuisinart TOB-260N1 Chef’s Convection Toaster Oven
This spacious, 15-function countertop oven is quite the multi-tasker because of its convection functionality. Convection cooking was invented in 1945, and uses circulating air to speed up the baking process as well as more evenly distribute heat. But you probably know this technology by another name: “air frying.”
Thanks to modern marketing efforts, convection ovens have taken on a new form and identity as air fryers, but these appliances only allow for one style of use. On the other hand, the Cuisinart convection oven can toast, bake, broil as well as air fry, making it the smarter use of precious counter space, and eliminating the need for multiple appliances.
What I like:
- Large capacity that fits a 13-inch pizza, 5 pound chicken, or two 9×13 baking pans
- Automatic pre-heat function
- Dual cooking mode for two different temperatures
- Convection function reduces cooking time and makes food crispy
- Comes with lots of accessories including a pizza stone
- Precise temperature control
Things to keep in mind:
- Its larger dimensions will require more counter space
- The instructions don’t boast about “air frying” ability, so you’ll need to learn how to adjust temperatures and times for different foods.
- 0.95 cubic-feet of food capacity
- 15 preset cooking functions
- Two convection settings
- Two oven racks and four rack positions
- +30 seconds button
- Slide out crumb tray
- Oven light
Upping My Food Game
We all know how a toaster oven works, so let’s get down to the main thing you need to know: the Cuisinart TOB-260N1 Chef’s Convection Toaster Oven makes the crispiest frozen foods and pizzas that I have ever experienced from a countertop appliance!
With a small and inexpensive toaster oven, pulling out burnt and unevenly heated foods with soggy centers was a common occurrence. But when using this Cuisinart convection oven, what was once covered with freezer burn comes out golden brown, crispy, and not overly dry.
Because the convection function is so efficient, the key to not overcooking the food is to set the temperature 25 degrees lower than what it suggests on the box, and decrease cooking time by a few minutes. The larger interior space also contributes to the even heating of items because you can place things further away from the walls of the oven. With my previous toaster oven, then items in the back always came out burnt or overcooked, so only about half of the serving was pleasant to eat.
Check out the smooth and even edges of this brownie! Again, this is a result of the Cuisinart convection oven being able to properly manage the temperature without making the pan itself too hot, which usually causes burnt corners. It also baked a lot faster than when we used the full-sized kitchen oven, saving about 15 minutes of total baking time for perfectly soft brownies.
The pizza stone worked really well too, turning a freshly made pizza from Whole Foods into a crispy creation that seemed like it came out of a brick oven.
Cleaning up is really easy as well, using the slide out crumb tray that’s accessible from the outside. The included baking pan felt higher quality than the freebies that are usually offered with less expensive ovens, but since there’s enough room to fit true quarter sheet pans/trays, I ordered premium baking pans from my favorite brand Nordic Ware.
If I had to be nitpicky and highlight a shortcoming, it’d be the low volume of the beep notification for when preheating or cooking is complete. At its default setting, you’ll easily miss hearing the sound if a TV is on nearby. Even at its loudest volume (there’s only 3 settings), if you’re not paying attention, you might forget to take out the food from the oven because you think there’s still more time left.
It’s not a big deal, but if your food is delicate and requires exact timing, you may want to check on the food more frequently. For me, I simply ask Google Assistant to set a separate alarm using my Nest smart display that’s in the kitchen.
Should You Buy the Cuisinart TOB-260N1 Chef’s Convection Toaster Oven?
If you’re looking to consolidate a few kitchen appliances without sacrificing cooking results, the Cuisinart TOB-260N1 Chef’s Convection Toaster Oven can do the job of essentially three appliances – a toaster, an oven, and an air fryer.
It works so well that I’ve had little reason to use the big built-in oven in the kitchen. It takes forever to preheat the full-size oven, and it raises the temperature of the entire house. For single servings of frozen food or a midday snack, I’m definitely defaulting to the Cuisinart oven.
Just make sure you have enough counter space for its larger width and height, and you can say goodbye to mushy french fries or too-dry meals.