Ovens have existed for centuries. Beginning with simple brick or earth ovens, humans created a concentration of heat in a small space for cooking and baking. The oven has had many evolutions since its beginning, the most recent being toaster ovens. While toaster ovens and today's modern oven share many similarities, they also have important differences that affect how food is prepared.
Capacity and Portability
A conventional oven is set within the cabinetry and underneath the counter top of your kitchen or within your kitchen's walls. The oven is not portable in any way and if it is a gas oven, is connected to a gas line that runs through your wall. While ovens are available in different sizes they are big enough to allow for large roasts and pieces of meat to be cooked, or for multiple sheets of baked goods to be cooked at one time. The capacity of the conventional oven typically allows for two baking racks to be inserted for use.
A toaster oven is much smaller. Toaster ovens also come in a variety of sizes, allowing for different quantities of food to be prepared. The average toaster oven can fit only two pieces of bread side-by-side on its one rack. Toaster ovens are also somewhat portable. They are light enough that one adult can lift it up and move it to another location with ease. The toaster oven attaches to any standard electrical outlet with a cord and plug. Most toaster ovens are stored on a kitchen counter top.
Features and Uses
There are many differences in the features and uses of toaster ovens and conventional ovens. About the only thing that is the same is a toaster oven's thermostat, which can be controlled, and tops out at hundreds of degrees, just as a conventional oven. All toaster ovens are heated with electric energy, while many conventional ovens are still heated with gas. Conventional ovens also can have attached stove tops that allow for boiling and sauteing food; toaster ovens do not have this option. Most conventional ovens have a separate compartment for broiling food and a storage drawer. Only a few toaster ovens also have a broiler, but none has a storage drawer. One feature that some toaster ovens have that many conventional ovens do not is a rotisserie. The rotisserie allows for meat to be cooked evenly while it slowly rotates inside the oven. Because of the different features and capacities, a toaster oven is mostly used to re-heat food and make toast, while a conventional oven is used to cook and bake raw food for meals and desserts.
Both conventional and toaster ovens are priced based on their size and quality, which allows for a broad range. Every brand name manufacturer of conventional ovens also sells a line of toaster ovens. In general, a conventional oven is priced at the low end at a few hundred dollars and can go up to thousands of dollars for a top-of-the-line professional unit. Toaster ovens have a more affordable price range. Inexpensive toaster ovens can be purchased for as little as $30. Toaster ovens that are larger and have more features can cost up to approximately $300.
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