Roasters ovens and compact ovens are kitchen appliances designed to partially take on the functions of traditional ovens. In fact, the roaster is a miniature electric oven designed for cooking and heating food.
The pros and cons of such a solution are obvious: roaster oven is easy to install where there was no place for a stationary full-sized oven and is just as easy to remove if the appliance is not needed at the moment (or if you just needed a place for other tasks). It is clear that the roaster, due to its size, will not allow you to cook large portions of food, but in most cases, it will turn out to be an adequate solution for an apartment where 1-2 people live, for a studio apartment, a summer house or for a hotel room with a kitchenette.
In addition to size, the advantage of roasters is the ability to quickly dial the desired temperature inside the working chamber. The fact is that the tenes, which is used in roaster ovens, can be of rather high power, and the volume of air that they have to heat is significantly less than in standard ovens. Thanks to this, most dishes can be cooked faster without risking to burn them.
The word “roaster” in English means “roasting pan“, which means that with the help of a roaster we can fry and bake, cook meat and vegetables, pies and pizza, and, of course, bake chicken and make boiled pork. How to choose a roaster for the kitchen and what characteristics should I pay attention to? Let’s figure it out.
The standard roaster is made in the form of a metal case with a glass door. Opening the door, you can see one or more electric heating elements, which can be switched on simultaneously or independently. To install a pallet or a heat-resistant form, a mesh stand is used (exactly the same as in a conventional oven). In general, visually the roaster looks almost the same as a conventional electric oven, except that its dimensions will be significantly smaller: on the market, you can find models with a camera volume of only 3 liters. However, the most popular (judging by the number of offers) are models with a chamber volume of 30 to 40 liters, which will make it possible to cook, for example, a whole chicken.
As we just mentioned, the volume of the working chamber is one of the key characteristics of the roster. When choosing roaster oven, the user is faced with a non-standard choice: on the one hand, the main task is to save space in the kitchen (that is, to purchase the most compact device), on the other hand, not to “overdo it” and not to buy a too miniature device that doesn’t really work out nothing to cook.
In our subjective opinion, the optimal size of a roaster oven is determined by the ability to bake the whole chicken in standard sizes, which roughly corresponds to a volume of 30-38 liters (or more). It makes sense to look at more compact models only if you are sure that you want to save a little more space and know for sure that the selected volume will be enough to fulfill your tasks.
Number of Tenes
The vast majority of modern roaster oven is equipped with two heating elements located above and below the camera, respectively. They can work both simultaneously and independently. This format is a kind of standard, so it’s better not to consider other options.
Power and temperature range
The performance of a roaster oven is largely determined by the power of the heating elements. The instructions usually indicate the total power of both tens, which allows you to get a completely adequate idea of what this or that model is capable of.
An additional indication of the capabilities of the oven can be the range of permissible temperatures indicated in the instructions. Typically, it ranges from 30 to 250 ° C. Note that if the lower temperature limit is around 90 ° C, then in practice this means that it is unlikely that it will be possible to defrost food in such an oven. The upper range does not play such a big role: 230 or 250 ° C do not represent a big difference, and meeting an oven in a store that is not able to heat the air to 230 ° C is not an easy task. However, if you are going to cook on a roaster regularly, for example, real Italian pizza, it might be worth looking for models that can do even more: for example, 300 ° C (the mini-pizza oven we tested was able to do 370 ° C, and the pizza cooking temperature in a wood oven – about 450 ° C).
The presence of convection (a fan that provides uniform mixing of air) can significantly affect the quality of ready meals.
The convection mode allows you to more effectively bake large pieces of meat, bake ruddy pies and large pies, and even just dry herbs, citrus zest or crackers. Low heat with convection allows you to quickly defrost meat or vegetables from the freezer. Finally, the convection mode allows you to use the entire volume of the oven as efficiently as possible, without fear that the products located in the corners of the baking sheet will not bake well enough. As a rule, convection is used in dishes where you need to achieve a crisp, dry a large amount of juice, or bake a large pie or a whole bird well.
As with full-size, roaster ovens may have a built-in motor to rotate the skewer. With this device, you can evenly bake a whole chicken or a large piece of meat.
We would say that the utility of a skewer is directly dependent on the volume of the camera: the more it is, the more relevant the skewer, the less – the less. However, manufacturers of roasters, it seems, know this rule no worse than us: as a rule, there are spit in large ovens, but in small ones it can easily not be.
Number of grid installation levels
Like conventional ovens, roaster ovens allow the grid or pan to be installed at different heights. The presence of 3-4 different levels for the installation of the grill will allow you to adjust the distance between the products and the heating element, and therefore – provide the best temperature for cooking this or that dish.
Inner chamber material
The inner chamber of the roaster can be made of stainless steel, which is very durable, although not the easiest option to take care of (burning burnt drops of fat or juice will not be easy to wipe). You can also find enameled chambers that are much easier to wash (but more susceptible to mechanical damage). More expensive devices have a bioceramic surface, which is very well wiped from burning.
Backlit is better than without. Perhaps this is all you need to know about lighting in roaster ovens. Despite the fact that for most models, the presence of a built-in light is a prerequisite, sometimes models come across without it. Therefore, it is better to make sure that there is a camera backlight in advance.
Control features and automatic cooking programs
roaster ovens are controlled by a mechanical or electronic system, which can be either relatively simple or quite complex.
A simple mechanical system allows you to enable/disable the heating of the heating elements, mechanically adjust the heating temperature (more / less), as well as use a mechanical timer-bell. More serious systems include precise control overheating (the ability to set the heating temperature of the heating elements with an accuracy of 5-10 degrees), an electronic timer, etc.
And the most advanced ones will allow you to launch built-in programs in just a couple of button presses, so you don’t have to worry about setting the most suitable mode for the same chicken on a spit, for defrosting minced meat from the freezer, or for cooking steamed dishes.
Finally, some developers integrate modules into their ovens that allow you to control the oven remotely – using a smartphone and the corresponding application for mobile phones. Everyone can evaluate the feasibility of such decisions on their own, but we could not mention such an opportunity.
As standard, a roaster oven comes with a grate with a metal grip, a baking sheet, a drip tray and a spit with clamps (also with a metal grip). Such a set can be found in most models. In our opinion, this is a necessary (and sufficient) minimum: if something from this set is not included in the kit, then this is not very good, but if you find something in excess of this list in the boxes, you can consider this a pleasant bonus.
Unusual engineering solutions
Some manufacturers are trying to find unusual combinations from various household appliances. As for roaster ovens, we happened to see ovens with built-in cooking surfaces (on top of the oven there are one or two electric heating “pancakes” that can be used in conjunction with a ladle, pan or pan).
Such a device clearly claims to be the “center for cooking everything” in a small cottage, or, for example, in a rented studio that is not equipped with cooking appliances.
Somewhat more exotic is the open surface for the grill, also located above the working chamber of the oven. We investigated one such model and came to the conclusion that, subject to quality execution, this hybrid is quite viable and has a right to exist.
In general, you can integrate anything with anything. For example, a roaster with a coffee maker. We can’t take such decisions seriously, however, if someone wants to get such a hybrid device, we won’t dissuade them. Unless we will warn that in such cases it is very great to get a very average result in all respects.
Our experience shows that the modern market of roaster ovens is very homogeneous: many models have a complete set of all traditional functions, thereby making it pointless to acquire simpler options. Moreover, the average price for ovens “with full functionality” (with two heating elements, convection, grill, and electronic control) today is not much higher than the price of simpler models (on average 5-6 thousand against 7-8 thousand for models with a chamber volume of 30 liters or more).
More compact models predictably turn out to be slightly cheaper (from 3 thousand, and sometimes even cheaper).
Given the relatively low price of such devices, additional functions come first: for example, we strongly recommend that you pay attention to the available temperature range (well, if the oven can confidently keep both low and high temperatures), the possibility of independent level control heating of the upper and lower heating elements, as well as the presence of built-in programs.
Finally, it will not be superfluous to look at the design features of the oven: we noticed that some models heat up the case and even the door handle too much during operation (which makes it easy to get burned on such an oven). For others, the system of fixing the door in the half-open position is not very well implemented. Others sin not very convenient control. In principle, you can close your eyes to all these problems (especially if you recall the low price of such devices), but if you can avoid such difficulties, then it is better to avoid them. And this means that before buying the best roaster oven it is better to look at it “live” in the store or, at a minimum, to get acquainted with user reviews on the Internet. This will significantly reduce the risk of a collision with the masterpieces of Chinese mountain designers.