I recently tried out the Hamilton Beach 31197 Countertop Toaster Oven with convection and rotisserie for a period of four weeks. I did this so I could provide an in-depth review to consumers considering purchasing this model. To be able to provide an accurate and thourough review, I banished my usual toaster oven to storage for the duration of the review period. I used this Hamilton Beach toaster oven for all of my daily needs. Here is my review, plus you'll find my ratings for this toaster oven at the bottom of the page.
This Hamilton Beach toaster oven costs just under $100. That is low to mid range as far as price goes. Keep this in mind so that you have realistic expectations for this toaster oven. I removed my new countertop toaster oven from the box and was struck by just how large it is. Much of its size comes from the height of this model; this is a good thing since it means the footprint needed on your countertop is not excessively large. This Hamilton Beach toaster oven has a somewhat modern appearance due to its boxy shape and black and stainless steel finishes. The materials and construction do feel a bit flimsy; this is to be expected considering the low cost. I will say that you definitely get a lot of cooking space for the price. This model has old-fashioned dials rather than digital controls. Included are two baking pans (one for each rack,) a broiling pan and a rotisserie spit.
I like to start out a toaster oven review period by making toast, since this is an area where many toaster ovens fail to impress. I was unsure whether I should use the top or the bottom rack; both seemed to leave one side of the bread too far away from the heating elements. My suspicions were confirmed. One side of the toast was burnt while the other side was barely toasted. I decided to flip the bread halfway through the toasting cycle for the duration of the review period. This made the toast decent, but not spectacular. I found it was too dried out by the time it was toasted. I wish Hamilton Beach had made it possible to position one of the racks in the center rather than being made to choose between the top or bottom position.
I love rotisserie roasted chicken, so that was what I made for dinner that night. My four pound bird fit in the toaster oven easily, with room to spare. The results were quite delicious; beautifully crispy skin with tender and moist meat beneath it. Throughout the review period I also used the rotisserie for Cornish hens (two at once) and a lamb gyro loaf. Both fit easily and turned out quite well.
This Hamilton Beach toaster oven gets very hot during use; this is a common problem with inexpensive toaster ovens. They just don't offer the same level of insulation you find on high-end models. I'm sure this also detracts from the energy efficiency of this toaster oven; I noticed the heating elements rarely shut off while in use.
The convection feature on this toaster oven is much quieter than those found on other inexpensive models. The convection also works well, providing even cooking without the hot spots found on some toaster ovens. I found that this toaster oven was large enough for all of my baking needs. I never needed to use my full-sized oven during the review period. I checked the actual interior temperature several times and found it to be within 10 degrees of what it was set for.
Overall, I would say this is a good toaster oven and a decent value for the money. There are better options out there, but not at this price.
All ratings are on a scale of 1 to 10, with 10 being the highest possible rating
Appearance rating: 7
True to set temperature rating: 8
Even heating/cooking rating: 8
Overall rating: 8