Do You Need to Preheat a Toaster Oven?

Is preheating a toaster oven useful, or simply a waste of time and electricity? With inflation causing the prices to rise on a lot of stuff, we want to save everywhere we can. This article will look into preheating and whether it provides any value.

Is Preheating a Toaster Oven Required?

Preheating is not required, but it is recommended. When you preheat, you’re allowing your oven to get to the proper cooking temperature before you start the cooking process of your food. Food cooked in a toaster oven will cook more quickly than in a traditional oven, so preheating will help ensure that your food is properly cooked without burning.

Foods Containing Raw Meat

When cooking raw foods such as beef, pork, chicken, or fish, preheating your toaster oven is highly recommended. Your toaster oven will be able to achieve a safe cooking temperature for these foods faster. You want to get out of the temperature danger zone (40 to 140 F) as quickly as possible. “Bacteria grow most rapidly in the range of temperatures between 40 °F and 140 °F, doubling in number in as little as 20 minutes ” (USDA). Cooking with a preheated oven will get you out of there much faster than preheating the oven while you are cooking.

Frozen Foods

Although not required, I highly recommend preheating your oven before cooking frozen foods. If you skip preheating your toaster oven, your food may cook unevenly, and your food may burn before it gets hot enough to cook all the way through.

Room-temperature/Ready-to-Eat Foods

If you’re cooking bread or vegetables, preheating is optional. In some cases, such as when making toast, you may find the food quality is actually increased if you don’t preheat.

How Do You Preheat a Toaster Oven?

You should check the manual on your specific model for instructions concerning your preheating process. If you don’t have the manual, set the temperature dial (or use the temperature buttons if you have a digital toaster oven) to the desired temperature, and leave it running for around 5 minutes before inserting your food.

Closing Thoughts

Preheating your toaster oven is quick and easy to do. In most cases, it will help your oven cook your food more evenly and help prevent burning. I highly recommend preheating it before cooking raw meat as it’s safer; however, when you preheat before making toast, you may end up with some burnt bread.

One last point you should keep in mind is this. Your oven may not be cooking at the temperature you set it to. If you’re regularly producing undercooked or burnt food, you should consider purchasing an oven thermometer to ensure that you are actually cooking foods at their recommended temperatures. Check out our recommended option below.