The Heat Is On: How to Choose the Best Countertop Oven

Countertop oven: A woman takes food out of the Tovala Steam Oven

Along with a refrigerator (and let's face it, your coffee maker), an oven is probably the one kitchen appliance you can't live without. Even if you're not an avid cook, you certainly need to eat. But what if you live in a place where space is limited? (Tiny house, perhaps?) Or maybe you simply don't want to deal with preheating your full-size oven just to cook a few chicken tenders? Whatever your situation, it's hard to go wrong with a countertop oven.

No, we're not talking about the rinky-dink toaster ovens or—gasp!—hot plate of your college days. Today's countertop ovens do just about everything a regular oven can do but with much less space, fuss, and mess. From toasting bread to roasting meat, and broiling veggies to bringing leftovers back to life, a countertop oven offers plenty of versatility for everyday cooking.

But not all countertop ovens are created equal. Read on for some helpful tips on how to choose a countertop, the similarities and differences among various oven types, and why one countertop oven in particular could be the answer to your daily culinary quandaries.

What to Look for in a Countertop Oven

Countertop oven: a marble counter in a modern kitchen

Sure, it's not rocket science, but choosing the right countertop oven is very important business because, you know, food. Below are some of the main features and functions you'll want to consider to pick a countertop oven that suits your needs.


To begin, determine how much counter space you have so you'll know which oven dimensions are best. (For this, you'll probably want to break out the measuring tape.) Be sure to allow enough clearance between the oven and your overhead cabinets, back wall, side areas, and other kitchen appliances.

Size also matters when it comes to how much food you'll be cooking. If you're a household of one or two, chances are a smaller countertop will do. However, if you have a family or plan on cooking bigger items like 12-inch pizzas or whole rotisserie chickens, look for a large-capacity oven with adjustable wire racks so you can move rack positions as needed.

Cooking Functions

Most countertop ovens offer all the functionality of a regular oven, just in a more compact form. Do you plan on broiling, toasting, baking, and roasting? Or do you just want your leftovers to keep warm? Think about how you'll be using your appliance to help guide your choice. (By the way, if you're not sure what some of these terms mean, check out our guide to baking vs. roasting to instantly feel like a culinary maestro à la Gordon Ramsay—minus the rage, of course.)

Heating Type

An oven’s heating method goes hand-in-hand with its cooking functions. A countertop convection oven will use dry, hot air to cook food while a steam oven uses wet air. (More on this in a bit.)


Are you a stainless steel kind of person or do you prefer a splash of color? More than just a functional piece of equipment, a countertop oven can be a reflection of your personality and accentuate your kitchen's decor.

Special Features

Things like oven racks, a removable crumb tray, sheet pans, broiler pans, automatic shut-off, a digital control panel, a nonstick interior, or even a built-in air-fryer are components to think about when choosing a countertop oven. Ask yourself: Are these deal-breakers or just nice-to-haves?

What's Your Countertop Oven Type?

Countertop oven: stuffed portabella mushrooms

While there are many types of ovens on the market, there are three you'll want to focus on when shopping for a countertop oven: Convection, steam, and steam convection.


Like their full-size counterparts, convection countertop ovens cook food by surrounding it with dry hot air. This allows for faster, more even results than a conventional oven's heating elements. The circulated heat also allows food to get crispy.


Although cooking with steam is nothing new, steam countertop ovens are having a moment, especially with the health-conscious set. Using steam to cook food is an excellent way to retain moisture and nutrients. That said, steam ovens don’t brown food the way convection ovens do.

Steam Convection

Using both wet heat and dry heat, a steam convection oven offers the best of both worlds. Far superior to a basic convection toaster oven, a steam convection oven cooks and crisps food evenly while retaining moisture and nutrients. For a more thorough breakdown of all this culinary sorcery, don't miss our guide to understanding conventional, convection, and steam convection ovens.

Here are a few other benefits of a steam convection oven:

  • Healthier meals: Reduced cooking time means more nutrients stay in the food.
  • Energy efficiency: Most countertops use less wattage than larger ovens and offer shorter cooking times.
  • Evenly cooked food: Balanced heating from the convection ensures no cold or hot spots.
  • Versatility: Crispy, browned veggies and meats are possible thanks to the dry heat while juicy, steam-baked meals are still an option.
  • Flavor and texture: Steam helps food retain its flavor and texture, and keeps it from drying out.

The Best Countertop Oven, Period

Countertop oven: The Tovala App connects with the Tovala Oven

Now that you've got the scoop on countertops, we know what you're thinking: Where can I find a steam convection oven stat?! Glad you asked.

You can find it right here, with the Tovala Oven.

More than just a countertop oven, Tovala is a smart oven. Thanks to Tovala IQ™ smart technology, you'll experience the power of the only app-enabled steam oven with a brain. And you can do it without any learning curve.

Whether you're making a Tovala Meal, a recipe from the Tovala App, or your own recipe, this technology enables your oven to get exactly the right cooking modes, times, and temperatures from the cloud.

What's more, the Tovala Oven offers five different cooking modes—steam, bake, broil, reheat, and toast—so whether you're toasting bagels and slices of bread or baking a casserole, you'll have food that's been made with the precision of a pro.

Want more? Here are a few other highlights:

  • Neither too big nor too small, the Tovala Oven can accommodate a 4-pound chicken, 10-inch pizza, or 4 Tovala Meal trays. Get all the Tovala Oven details and specs.
  • Every Tovala Oven comes with a sheet tray, crumb tray, hot pad, oven rack, drain tray, steamer cover, and measuring cup for filling the oven's water reservoir.
  • Built-in steam ovens can cost upwards of $2,000 but the Tovala Oven is just $349 and gives you all the benefits of a steam oven without the painful price tag.
  • Tovala is as low maintenance as it gets. To keep it clean, you simply use the Tovala App's built-in cleaning sequence.
  • If you opt for Tovala Meals, you'll get fresh, healthy, and flavorful meals delivered right to your door. Just place your chef-created meal in your Tovala Oven and 20 minutes later, dinner is served. Each meal comes in a fully recyclable container, which means no dirty dishes. Hello, Tovala. Good-bye dishwasher!

Lovin' Your Oven

Countertop oven: A smiling woman opens a Tovala Oven

Convenient, affordable, and a total rock star, Tovala is a smart choice in countertop ovens. Whether you're too tired to make dinner or want to cook on your own without all the fuss, give Tovala a try. If you don't love it, return it. But we think you’ll never want to let it go.