The 3 best cool-touch toaster ovens

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by Vanessa Spilios

Increasing how often you cook has many positive health benefits, and there are few appliances as useful as a toaster oven. That said, many toaster ovens can get very hot to the touch, and hands and fingers are especially prone to burning if they come into contact with oven doors, or even the user controls. The best cool-touch toaster ovens are made of materials to keep hands protected from burns, and designed with settings to match your toasting needs. What else do you need to know?

Firstly, the term “cool-touch” refers to a surface that doesn't get as hot as other materials commonly found on countertop appliances, such as metal or glass. In some cases, cool-touch toaster ovens resemble plastic or can look like they have a coating around them. Be wary, even amongst models that appear to be made of plastic, there are very few fully cool-touch toaster ovens. The only truly cool-touch toaster oven I could find in my research is Calphalon’s cool-touch model, which is a pricey investment but definitely worth the money if you’re looking for the safest option, temperature wise.

If you’re not looking to spend around $300, consider searching for a toaster oven that has cool-touch surfaces on the handle, which is a common burn spot for knuckles when pulling down the toaster oven door. You’ll also have a lot more luck finding an affordable appliance if you opt for a toaster as opposed to a toaster oven, which lacks the glass door and the oven design that makes the latter get so hot on the sides and top. I’ve included one of those, as well.

Since some toaster ovens can reach up to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, for the most safety, use oven mitts to protect your hands as well when handling hot food. There’s a pair on this list that would make a good purchase for any safety conscious.

The best cool-touch toaster ovens below will give you peace of mind, without sacrificing the performance you’d expect from this handy appliance.

1. The overall best cool-touch toaster oven

  • Dimensions: 21.6 by 20.3 by 15.8 inches (length by width by height)

It’s pricey, but this option from Calphalon has the most cool-touch features you’re likely to encounter in a countertop toaster oven. Not only is the cool-touch handle placed away from the oven’s door, but the entire exterior is coated in material that stays up to 75% cooler during operation than other toaster ovens (Calphalon makes this comparison to one of their other models). Note: This does add to the overall size of the oven, making it best for kitchens with ample countertop space.

Beyond the modern, matte black exterior, there’s a lot this oven can do. Digital controls offer 12 preset functions for common recipes like pizza, bake, toast, reheat, and defrost. And since the Calphalon has a wide temperature range that allows it to heat on very low temperatures, it can even dehydrate and proof bread. The LCD display and touch screen offer easy controls no matter what you’re preparing, and the Calphalon comes equipped with a baking pan, 12-inch pizza pan, dehydrating basket, wire rack, and crumb tray.

According to one reviewer: "I needed a pizza oven for my shop as sometimes I work out there late at night and want to throw in a pizza. Little did I realize there is so much more to this oven, I can dehydrate, broil, bake, toast, and many more. I have only made a few different foods in there so far and it really is a well put together unit. Solid construction, easy to use, and no assembly was really required. It's cool-touch too which is great so if the kids touch they won't burn themselves as some older toaster ovens had that problem. A great product!"

2. The runner-up

  • Dimensions: 20.87 by 16.93 by 11.42 inches (length by width by height)

According to reviewers, the handle on Cusinart’s convection toaster oven stays cool and is easy to grip. Another feature that helps protect hands from hot surfaces? When the door is pulled open, the rack automatically slides out several inches so it’s easier to grab with an oven mitt or pot holder, eliminating the need to reach into the oven itself to retrieve food. Despite the Cuisinart’s slightly lower profile, the cooking area can fit a 13-inch pizza, a standard 9-by-13-inch baking pan, or even a 5-pound chicken.

This toaster comes programmed with 15 cooking functions including broil, toast, bagel, pizza, waffle, and bake. Using the turn dial controls, you can choose between regular bake or roast functions, or use the speed convection setting for faster cooking. The LED readout is backlit with blue light so it’s easy to see. Included with the oven are two oven racks for multi-level cooking, a baking or drip pan, a broiling pan, a removable crumb tray, a 13-inch pizza stone, and a recipe book.

According to one reviewer: "The handle stays nice and cool. I know a friend with an Oster, and she says the handle BURNS her hands, so she leaves an oven mitt draped over the handle all the time to remind her. Luckily, no such problem with this unit!”

3. The best value

  • Dimensions: 16.86 by 11.63 by 9.07 inches (length by width by height)

If you have limited space or budget, this affordable and compact toaster oven from Black+Decker is a great pick. This one features a cool-touch handle that’s set out about 2 inches from the door to help protect knuckles and fingers when opening and closing the door. Four straightforward cooking functions — convection bake, broil, toast, and keep warm — combine the most common features of a standard toaster and convection wall oven, with a smaller footprint and cavity that heats up quickly. The cooking temperature can be manually set from 200 to 450 degrees Fahrenheit, as can the timer, which can run as long as 30 minutes or be set to “stay-on” for longer cooking recipes. Though smaller than the other toaster ovens featured here, the Black+Decker can cook a 9-inch pizza, four pieces of bread for toast, and frozen snacks and meals. A standard rack and bake pan are included.

According to one reviewer: "This is a great buy. Much, much cheaper than more high-dollar brands. However, it gets hot on all six sides. The handle, however, does not. The handle stays nice and cool.”

Also great: this 4-slice toaster with cool-touch sides

  • Dimensions: 10.5 by 6 b y 7.5 inches (length by width by height)

If you’re flexible on what you’re looking for, this toaster from Cuisinart has plenty to offer with even more cool-touch features than the two toaster ovens directly above. The exterior of the toaster is made of plastic that keeps the body cool while in operation (the metal parts that surround the slots on the top will still get hot, but they are easy to avoid). Linked here is the four-slice toaster, but this model also comes in a two-slice option and in white and black colors to match your kitchen.

As far as functionality, this Cuisinart has a special bagel function that only toasts on the cut side of the bagel, as well as a defrost setting for frozen items. The reheat function warms already-toasted items without browning them further. Since everyone has a preference for how they like their toast, you can use Cuisinart’s shade dial to control the level of browning. The toaster’s slots are 1.5 inches in width, great for making items like thick Texas toast. And, for added safety, the “high-lift” lever elevates items away from the toaster for easy removal.

According to one reviewer: "I love this toaster. It has the defrost button which I was looking for. Have had frozen waffles and bagels in it for a long time now. It has a cool touch exterior. My old one did, but it quit working for me. Very happy with this Cuisinart toaster. The plus is that I did not have to pay a fortune for a toaster that has a defrost and cancel button. Would highly recommend this toaster for anybody looking for these features."

Also great: a pair of silicone oven mitts

Having a great pair of oven mitts that can withstand high temperatures is always a smart idea. These oven mitts will protect your hands from temperatures as high as 450 degrees Fahrenheit, and come in a bunch of different colors and two lengths so you can find the perfect pair for your needs. Made of washable silicone, these oven mitts couldn’t be easier to clean. They also are designed with a textured grip design so that you can easily grab any hot pan or dish without worrying about it slipping out of your hands. These mitts have earned more than 16,000 Amazon reviews and a glowing, 4.8-star overall rating.

According to one reviewer: “I can lift a hot casserole right out of the over, to a tray of TaterTots right out of a 450 degree toaster oven without any program. My large hands fit comfortably in these gloves. They are surprising flexible and grip very well. Highly recommended just as the many 5 star reviews suggest!”

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