How to Use a Toaster Oven to Reheat Food

So you haven’t cleaned your microwave for several months and there is a layer of gunk in it that is straight out of a horror show. How are you going to reheat that pizza that has been in the refrigerator since you ordered it a week ago? If you have a toaster oven, you are in luck!

Reheating food in a toaster oven takes more time than a microwave, but it will taste better. You could also use your conventional oven, but you will use a lot more energy. Using a toaster oven correctly takes a little practice, but the rewards will be well worth it.

To properly reheat food in the toaster oven, you must distinguish between breads, vegetables, and meats. Cook bread at a higher temperature, 350-400 degrees, depending on how crispy you want the bread.  Meats and vegetables need to cook at lower heat because they are more dense and take more time to absorb the heat.  

The Anatomy of a Toaster

Toaster ovens are not all the same. It is important to distinguish between a toaster and a toaster oven. A regular toaster will not be adequate for reheating food.

A toaster has slots to put slices of bread in. You press a button to lower the bread into a chamber where heating elements toast the bread. You cannot put anything except sliced bread into a regular toaster without making a gigantic mess.  

A toaster oven is usually bigger than a toaster. It has a door that opens downward and a metal rack where you can put the food. A toaster oven is large enough to reheat leftovers for one to two people.

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The Advantages of a Toaster Oven

If you want to reheat food for more than two people, it is necessary to use a regular oven. There will not be enough room in a toaster. The amount of heat generated by the toaster will not heat the food all the way through.

A toaster oven has two heating elements, one on the top and one on the bottom. Some toasters have settings that allow you to use only the top element or the bottom element. There are advantages to both, depending on what you want to reheat.

Most of the time, you will want to use both of the heating elements to reheat your food. The food will heat faster. The food will also reheat evenly on the top and the bottom.

The Difference Between Toasting and Reheating

A toaster oven serves as a simple toaster or as a miniature oven. If you try to toast food that you are reheating, you will have poor results. The food will probably get burned on the outside and be cold in the middle.

The toaster setting on the oven turns both the bottom and top heating elements at maximum power. The heat generated is intense, hot enough to toast the top of bread. Bread is not very dense, so it will cook and be hot and crispy all the way through.  

Which Setting is Best to Reheat your Food?

If you want to reheat bread, using the toaster function of the oven may work. It depends on the thickness and density of the bread. Sometimes you can reheat a thin slice of pizza using the toaster setting and you get a hot and crispy piece of pizza.

However, if your pizza has a thick crust, the results will not be the same. Thick crust pizza takes longer to cook because it has more moisture, it is thicker, and it is denser than thin crust pizza. The same is true for a piece of pie, which is too thick to be toasted. 

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In these cases, the best setting to use on your toaster oven is the “bake” setting. This setting allows you to control the temperature. It also uses the top and the bottom heating elements to most efficiently and evenly reheat the food.  

How to Cook Foods that are Thicker and More Dense than Bread

Vegetables vary in size and consistency. Smaller, cut up vegetables will reheat quicker than a large, dense vegetable. A baked potato, for instance, could take up to fifteen minutes to reheat in a toaster oven.  

A piece of meat can vary in density and thickness. Sandwich meat is thin enough to be heated on the toaster setting.  However, a thick piece of steak will require you to use the oven function of the toaster oven.

How to Reheat Vegetables in the Toaster Oven

  1. Set the temperature on the oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Preheat the oven for several minutes.
  3. While preheating the oven, wrap the vegetables in a piece of aluminum foil.
  4. Put the vegetables in the toaster oven.
  5. Cook for 5-8 minutes depending on how finely cut the vegetables are.  

How to Reheat Meat in the Toaster Oven

  1. Set the temperature to 400 degrees.
  2. Preheat the oven for several minutes.
  3. Wrap the meat in aluminum foil.  (Lean meat requires a layer of oil.)
  4. Put the meat in the toaster oven.
  5. Cook the meat for 6-10 minutes.

How to Cook Foods that Have a Crust

There is nothing worse than reheating foods and getting a crust layer that is soggy. For example, if you don’t reheat fried chicken correctly, it will come out soggy. Use the top only heater to broil items that should be crispy.

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How to Reheat Fried or Crispy Foods

  1. Set the temperature to 350.
  2. Preheat the oven.
  3. Put the food on a lightly oiled piece of aluminum foil.
  4. Put the food in the oven.
  5. Cook for 5-8 minutes, or until hot.
  6. Set the toaster oven to top heat only and broil the food for two minutes.
  7. Turn the food over and repeat.

Hazards to be Aware Of

The clearance between the food and the top burner is limited. It is easy for a piece of food to get stuck in a heating element and ignite into flames. Keep a close watch on your food to make sure this does not happen.

Never try to cook a greasy piece of food without using aluminum foil to cover it. The grease will splash up onto the electric burner and ignite. At a bare minimum, the burning grease will cause a lot of smoke that can set off your fire alarm.  

Toaster ovens have a glass front so you can see your food cook. Use the window to your advantage and watch the progress of the reheating. Clean the glass on the front of the toaster frequently or it will get covered with grease.

Clean the toaster oven frequently to prevent flare-ups. If a lot of old food has fallen through the grate, it can ignite and burn. Toaster ovens are a frequent cause of house fires, so be careful.  

Conclusion

Toaster ovens are wonderful household tools to use for reheating food. Foods as varied as breads, vegetables, and meats can be reheated safely in a toaster oven. Compared to other methods of reheating food, toaster ovens are simple to use and create a delicious and nutritious leftover meal.