Can a Toaster Oven Go in an Open Wood Cabinet?


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My wife and I love our toaster oven. While we currently have ours sitting on the counter, it would be nice to have more counter space. So we have wondered can a toaster oven go in an open wood cabinet?

Here’s what we learned:

While some toaster ovens are appropriate for storing and using in a confined space such as an open wood cabinet, many radiate too much heat to do that safely. It is recommended to purchase a cool touch toaster oven and possibly even use a toaster shield on the wood behind and above the toaster oven for maximum safety.

But there’s a lot more to know about toaster oven safety, how hot they get when you might want to use a heat shield, and more.

So let’s explore further!

If you’re looking to buy any small kitchen appliance, don’t forget to check out my Recommended Products Page (click to see my page) which breaks down all my best picks by category.

I always hand select items that I either own, have used, or have researched well to ensure they are great items. I also give not only top of the line as well as inexpensive alternatives so my choices work for any budget.

How hot does a toaster oven get?

This is really the question we want to know, right?

After all, if a toaster oven heats up to 500° and gives off a ton of heat, we might not want it confined to a wood cabinet, right? As a kid I once caught my Mom’s kitchen on fire, and let me tell you, that was not fun.

Toaster ovens are just like a miniature version of your big oven.

But while they do typically go up to 500° like a big oven, one cool feature is that they can often go as low as 80°, which most big ovens can’t do.

But even still, the real question we want to know is not how hot a toaster oven gets, but how hot it gets on the outside.

While there are some newer models of toaster ovens that stay cool on the outside (more on that below), the average toaster oven is poorly insulated and gets very hot on the outside everywhere except the handle to the door.

Toaster ovens have rubber feet to protect countertops, but they always recommend not placing things on top of the toaster oven when in use, or touching on the back or sides.

For example, if the power cord to a nearby small kitchen appliance was touching your toaster oven when in use, the cord could easily melt and cause sparks and trip the breaker.

To be specific, the exterior of most toaster ovens will get about 85% as hot as the temperature you have it set to.

How much ventilation does a toaster oven need?

Ultimately, a toaster oven is just like your stand-alone range oven.

It has racks, heating coils, a door that opens, and heats to fairly high temperatures. It’s just smaller. But like your oven, it doesn’t really need ventilation.

While most kitchens have some sort of vent hood, often installed as part of an above-stove microwave, those really don’t do a lot. Many don’t even actually vent outside.

Unlike your oven, however, most toaster oven’s walls are pretty thin and aren’t nearly as well insulated as your big oven.

So while they don’t really need ventilation, they do usually get much hotter to the touch on the outside. The insulation in a big stove is the reason that they often are nestled in-between wooden kitchen cabinets without the fear of catching the kitchen on fire.

Ventilation is really only needed due to excess smoke created by accidentally burning something, or when searing meats at a high temperature.

Since dripping cheese off a pizza onto the coils in a toaster oven is common, you will sometimes get smoke coming from your toaster oven. But the ventilation system you already have in your kitchen will usually be just fine.

For a really big smokey mess, just grab your oven mitts, unplug the toaster oven, and set it outside to cool off.

Do you need an under cabinet toaster oven heat guard?

An under-cabinet heat guard, as it sounds, is for mounting a toaster oven underneath a kitchen cabinet just like you might a microwave.

The heat guard protects the underside of the cabinet from the immense heat that comes off the top of the toaster oven since many (but not all) toaster ovens release their heat off the top.

For simply placing a toaster oven inside a wooden cabinet, unless the shelf above the toaster oven was extremely close to the top of the toaster oven you don’t need a heat shield.

In fact, adding a heat shield, which effectively prevents a toaster oven from venting the heat properly, can shorten the lifespan of your toaster oven.

What I would do instead is get a Toaster Shield (click to check current price on Amazon). It has decent reviews, is currently under 20 bucks and comes with free shipping.

Rather than being something you attach to the toaster oven, this is a discrete, self-adhesive insulated panel you attach to the back and/or top of your cabinets to protect the wood from the heat of the toaster oven. And you can easily cut it to size.

Do toaster ovens cause fires?

The short answer is while I have never had one catch fire in my few decades on the planet, they do sometimes cause fires.

In fact, according to the legal firm of Edgar Synder and Associates, between the years 2007 to 2011, toasters and toaster ovens caused almost 3,000 fires and resulted in over $27 million damage to those kitchens and houses.

The problem, of course, is not only how hot the toaster oven gets on the outside and people sometimes doing things like keeping it close to a wall, electrical cords, or other flammable objects, but also food droppings on the inside.

Fatty meats, cheeses, or oily foods can all drip down onto the bottom of a toaster oven creating a potential fire hazard.

The best way to use a toaster oven safely is to monitor the use, never leaving it unattended for more than a minute or 2 and especially monitoring your kids using it.

Then just be sensible about the placement of the toaster oven and the surrounding items.

One thing that’s inevitable with toaster ovens is mess.

After all, they are heating to high temps in a small space and eventually, the inside is caked with baked on cheeses, excess burnt crumbs and and grime on the racks and glass door.

While you might be tempted to reach for nuclear-powered cleaners, since this residue could affect future meals, you might be surprised to learn how easy it is to Clean a Toaster Oven with Baking Soda (click to read my article).

It’s really an outstanding way to keep your clean with no toxic fumes!

Are there toaster ovens that stay cool on the outside?

Yes, is the short answer!

In fact, if my wife and I do end up placing our toaster oven in an open wood cabinet, this is the kind of toaster oven I would buy; just to be safe.

Generally these are referred to as cool touch exterior toaster ovens.

As the name implies, these do indeed remain relatively cool on the outside while still heating up just fine on the inside.

There are a few different brands that make these.

But be warned; if you just Google “cool touch exterior toaster ovens” on Google or Amazon MANY of the search results aren’t actually ones that are cool on the outside.

I know. It’s shocking to think there might be inaccurate info on the web, but it’s true.

Here is my pick for the best toaster oven that stays relatively cool on the outside:

KitchenAid KCO275SS (click to check current price on Amazon Prime)

Admittedly, it doesn’t have quite as many fantastic reviews as I normally like for products I recommend, but it still comes in with 4 stars on most sites and on Amazon is an Amazon’s Choice product.

It also comes with free Prime shipping too.

Did I cover all you wanted to know about whether a toaster oven can go in an open wood cabinet?

In this article, we took a quick look at the world of toaster ovens.

Perhaps not the most glamorous of small kitchen appliances, but nonetheless something that is essential for most of us. They are great for warming up a slice of pizza, and if you don’t have a toaster, it’s a great way to make toast as well.

But sometimes we don’t want a bunch of appliances hogging up our counter space.

So today, we explored how hot toaster ovens get, when you might want some sort of heat shield and whether some toaster ovens stay cool on the outside. Ultimately, we answered the question of whether a toaster oven can go in an open wood cabinet.

What’s your favorite small kitchen appliance or gadget?

If you’re looking to buy any small kitchen appliance, don’t forget to check out my Recommended Products Page (click to see my page) which breaks down all my best picks by category.

I always hand select items that I either own, have used, or have researched well to ensure they are great items. I also give not only top of the line as well as inexpensive alternatives so my choices work for any budget.


Photo credits:

Black + Decker stainless toaster oven on white counter with reflection by Your Best Digs  is licensed under CC2.0


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Jeff Campbell

Jeff was a leader for Whole Foods Market for over 2 decades and is now a recovering foodie. When he's not spending time with his wife & 3 daughters, he can usually be found practicing martial arts, making music, blogging on his main blog over at newmiddleclassdad.com or, of course, in the kitchen.

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