Cuisinart TOB-40 Toaster Oven Review by Ellyn Hennessey
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I might have finally found my favorite small toaster oven for this year: the Cuisinart TOB-40.
Dial controls, ample power, and many convenience features only begin to say why. There are a couple of caveats to that praise, however…
Basic Design & Features
The size and weight of the Cuisinart TOB-40 is definitely in Goldilocks territory. It measures 16″ W x 8.9″ H x 13″ D (without the handle, which adds 1.75″ to the depth).
That’s small enough to fit many places in my kitchen, yet large enough to accommodate a wide range of dishes. It weighs 12.9 lbs. Heavy enough to be stable when inserting a dish but still light enough to easily move around the counter.
You can fit an 11″ inch pizza in this model without trying. It only accommodates four big slices of toast, so if you have a large family you may want to move up to a larger toaster oven model. But for my needs, it’s plenty. I suspect the same is true for many buyers.
There’s one feature many models lack that the TOB-40 has sure to please a lot of buyers. The oven rack slides out automatically. That feature’s absence elsewhere might just be the biggest complaint in toaster oven reviews. This one works smoothly, considerably reducing the odds of burning yourself while swapping food or containers.
There’s also a broiling rack that fits nicely into a drip pan when you need to broil. The pan doubles as a bake pan or roasting pan when you don’t want to use a separate dish for that.
And, the crumb tray is removable from the front. That’s another common complaint among those who selected a rear-removal model. If I had one like that, I’d complain, too! Who wants to pull the toaster oven away from the wall for cleanup? I can just picture crumbs piling up inside until the thing is overflowing…
All that praise aside, the Cuisinart TOB-40 gets my “favorite” designation because of the controls. You could put it down to a personal prejudice, but I really favor dials over buttons. The ones on this model are especially helpful.
To begin with, these dials also fit in Goldilocks’ neighborhood. They’re large but not very large. They’re also very clearly labeled. They move firmly but not stiffly. You wouldn’t generally think about all that – I certainly wouldn’t – but when you go to use the appliance it really does make a difference.
The settings dial would get a lot of use at my house. It lets you select a number of popular options: Toast, Bagel, Bake, and Broil. Not as many choices as some of the more expensive models but, for a unit as inexpensive as this one, a nice variety.
Better still, even the Shade selection for toast is on a dial. There are three settings – the usual Light, Medium, and Dark – that are uber-easy to choose. Clever Cuisinart, they designed the labels to mirror the settings. I.e. Light is a hollow circle; Dark is a filled-in black dot; Medium is half-filled. Sometimes, small touches mean a lot.
Best of all, the temperature can be set with the same kind of dial. Hallelujah! I can’t tell you how much I dislike holding down one of those “under the plastic” buttons until the temperature finally reaches the needed setting. And this one covers the full range from a “keep warm” of 150 degrees Fahrenheit all the way past 450 degrees Fahrenheit to Broil. That wide range is uncommon for such a modest-sized toaster oven.
There is one button: Start / Stop. But it’s the raised sort that gives you a positive touch feedback when you press it. You don’t have to wonder whether it’s been pressed or not. It helps, too, that the light showing “on” is right next to it and plenty bright.
Naturally, what counts in the end is how well the toaster oven does at preparing food. There, I’ve been equally pleased. Toast turns out even every time. Dishes that are sometimes hard to prepare in a toaster oven – chicken casserole, for example – get done to perfection.
At 1800 watts, the unit offers ample power to get things done in short order. Despite that considerable heating power, though, it doesn’t heat the exterior absurdly high, as some toaster ovens do. True, the handle can get warm over time with some of the higher settings. But a cool-touch handle keeps it in comfort territory almost all the time.
That said, the rear can get pretty hot. In an enclosed space it could melt the insulation on the cord. Always keep plenty of space back there and ensure there’s some possibility of air flow. Problem solved before it occurs.
The more important weakness of this inexpensive model is that it lacks the “smart” features of some of the Breville toaster ovens that offer their Element IQ technology. There are dual heating elements here – one top and one bottom – but the unit doesn’t regulate them quite as intelligently as those on the Breville BOV450XL, for example.
Still, the interior itself is well-designed enough to provide pretty even heat all around. The Always Even feature continually monitors toast, for example. That provides consistent results at the desired shade. And, at this price, you couldn’t really expect more. That smallest Breville smart model, for example, costs twice as much.
Also, there is one other possible caveat. Many buyers have reported that their unit burnt out a heating element after two years. I haven’t had the TOB-40 long enough to report my personal experience, but that is a potential concern.
The Cuisinart TOB-40 is a fine little toaster oven. It lacks some of the bells and whistles of other higher-end models, but it also lacks their high price. For its size, it offers a lot of features and represents a great buy.