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How Does a Toaster Work?

Collage of toaster ovens.

A toaster oven works like a regular oven. It has heating elements located at the top or bottom of the inner cavity that are heated after electricity passes through them.

The heating elements vary according to the model of the toaster and radiate heat to cook the food from the outside, giving a brown color and a crispy crust to the food.

Related: Types of OvensOven vs. Stove | How Many Watts Does a Toaster Use?

What Exactly Is a Toaster Oven?

A heated toaster oven on kitchen.

A toaster oven is like a miniature standard oven and cooks all the food that can be cooked in conventional ovens. It beats the microwave when it comes to crunching, roasting and browning food. But it takes longer to cook and reheat the food.

If a microwave reheats the food in 2 minutes, it can take between 15 and 20 minutes. Bread, toast and pizza dough are cooked well in the toaster oven.

Bread toasters

Elite Gourmet ECT-1027 Cool Touch Toaster, 7 Toast Settings Cancel Functions, Slide Out Crumb Tray, Extra Wide 1.5" Slots for Bagels Waffles Specialty Breads, Puff Pastry, Snacks, White

Because electricity does its job, when lowering the lever, the two electrical terminals make contact and a flow of current is created, which, in addition to doing an impressive job, activates an electromagnet placed at the bottom of the toaster, which holds the lever that activates the spring so that it does not shoot upwards.

In this way, whenever it finds a current, it will not jump the bread, a rather ingenious system.

How Does a Toaster Generate Heat?

The roasting process for the toaster is done by resistors, a process that seems quite simple but actually contains a little more crumb. How do the resistors of an electric toaster work?

They work just like any type of resistance found in the rest of the appliances in our house, whether it is a fryer, an electric oven, etc. The process is very simple. It consists of passing a lot of electricity through narrow or curved ducts so that they act as “resistance” against electrons.

This process is not very efficient, but the best way to generate high temperatures by electric current. However, the resistors of a toaster are different. In a toaster, you can generate almost the same temperature as a conventional kitchen oven, but in much less space and in less time, the magic is found in the cable.

The materials

A man's hand holding a toaster oven.

What material are the resistors of a toaster composed of? The cable that acts as a resistance in toasters is wonderful. It is composed of an alloy of chromium and nickel capable of withstanding volcanic lava. Incredible, right?

Design and operation

The toaster oven is a very versatile device, as it has numerous functions. From thawing to heating, cooking, roasting, and keeping our dishes warm. The toaster oven allows us to prepare incredible meals, which, if we had to prepare them in the kitchen oven after a long day of work, we would surely give up doing so.

The Power

Hamilton Beach Air Fryer Countertop Toaster Oven with Large Capacity, Fits 6 Slices or 12” Pizza, 4 Cooking Functions for Convection, Bake, Broil, Easy Reach Roll-Top Door, Stainless Steel (31523)

As mentioned before, the toaster oven works with resistors that convert energy into heat. The power of this type of furnace is measured in kW, which represents the energy it absorbs from the electrical network. This will determine its potency.

In addition, thanks to its temperature regulating thermostat and its timer, it offers us great possibilities for saving energy and electricity.

Currently, these ovens come very well equipped with very different and useful functions:

  • Defrost
  • Timer
  • Temperature
  • Top or bottom cooking

The Comparison

Compared to microwaves, toaster ovens need thorough cleaning and regular maintenance to prevent food buildup. Metal grids need time to clean, and the inner walls of the cavity are greased with splashes of food that can char at high temperatures. Heating elements should also be cleaned periodically.

The inside of the toaster ovens is heated up to 500 degrees. Most toaster ovens have thin walls that do not have good insulating properties, so the outside gets too hot to the touch. It requires proper ventilation and is not safe to put in any enclosed space or closets.

Roasting ovens are not so worrying for health, as they simulate the principle of operation of the conventional oven. But you have to be careful, as the toaster oven can get too hot to the touch and can cause blisters if accidentally touched with your bare hands.

Faster Cooking

COSORI Air Fryer Toaster Oven, 12-in-1 Convection Oven Countertop with Rotisserie, Stainless Steel 32QT/32L, 6-Slice Toast, 13-inch Pizza,100 Recipes, Basket, Tray(6 Accessories)Included, CO130-AO

Does a toaster oven cook faster than a microwave or conventional oven? As we have just understood, the mechanism of operation of a toaster. You need heating elements to heat the toaster oven itself and then the air around it. Some toaster ovens have a fan to circulate hot air.

The hot air then reaches the food and heats the surface of the food. Next, the heat is gradually transferred to the center of the food to cook it. Now you know why a toaster oven takes a long time to heat food.

In contrast, microwaves travel at the speed of light and penetrate food, heating the water content. As the cooking process starts on the outside and inside of the food simultaneously, the cooking process is much faster than in roasting ovens.


If you want more versatility and good texture in food, then the best option is a toaster oven. A toaster oven cooks a smaller amount of food compared to the traditional oven. Therefore, you would have to cook in several batches or use the traditional oven instead.