There are many toaster ovens available for less than $50. So why on Earth would anyone pay $200 or $300 for a high-end toaster oven? Have these consumers lost their minds or is there really that big of a difference between cheap toaster ovens and expensive toaster ovens?
There are three main differences between expensive and cheap toaster ovens: the heating elements, insulation and materials used during construction.
First, the heating elements. On a cheap toaster oven, you have multiple exposed rods that produce heat. Inevitably, the food closest to these rods will cook more quickly than the rest. This is what is referred to as "hot spots."
The higher end toaster ovens utilize a more evenly dispersed method of heating, usually through the use of quartz heating elements. This allows your food to be cooked more quickly and evenly.
Insulation is important in a toaster oven for two reasons. It stops the outside of the toaster oven from becoming excessively hot and it contributes to energy efficiency by trapping the heat. More expensive toaster ovens tend to offer the highest levels of insulation. A cheaper model will become quite hot while in use, which may lead to burn injuries. It will also lead to a loss of energy as heat literally seaps out of the under-insulated toaster oven.
Overall, the more expensive models are constructed of better materials and will last longer as a result. It may seem impractical to pay $200 for something that can be had for $30, but in the end you get what you pay for. That $30 toaster oven isn't such a good deal when it ruins your food or needs to be replaced after a couple of months.