Apr 29, 2024

Breville the Smart Oven Air Fryer Toaster Oven Review: top toasting

The Breville the Smart Oven Air Fryer Toaster Oven can do it all.

A multifunctional toaster oven that excels at all the basics, and makes a perfect slice of toast. However, there's a few design quirks to bear in mind.

Easy to use

Great toast setting

Makes perfect pizza

Makes great fries

Multiple functions

Easy to use

Clear display screen

Frustrating instructions

Parts aren't dishwasher-safe

Magnetic autoeject rack can be tricky to use


Pay for longer warranty

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Toaster ovens save you from firing up your entire oven every time your want to warm up some leftovers or cook a quick pizza. Better still, they can replace a lot of common kitchen appliances like toasters, microwaves, air fryers and dehydrators.

Breville's the Smart Oven Air Fryer Toaster Oven claims to do it all. Air fry, convection bake, convection broil, bake, broil, warm, toast — you name it and this handy countertop oven could give it a go.

However, we can't let that claim go unchecked, so I took this oven to task in our test kitchen. I found that this contender for best toaster oven is great at the basics, and its easy to use, but there's a couple of issues that keep it from the top table.

Alex is our Head of eCommerce, and he tested this toaster oven over a day in our dedicated testing kitchen. He learnt how to review at the Good Housekeeping Institute and has since worked on a variety of other publications, assessing homewares, garden machinery, and especially kitchen appliances.

It was a little tricky to get this out of the box, but that’s usual for appliances of this size. It weighs in at 35lbs, so it’s definitely one to keep out on the countertop. You might need a hand to set it up if you have mobility issues. This packaging also isn't the most eco-friendly, because this toaster oven arrives in polystyrene packaging and plastic wrap, which isn’t the most eco-friendly.

There's an instruction manual and a few recipes to help you cook. Before the first use, you'll have to hand-wash all the grills and then run the pizza function to clean it. This only took 20 minutes, but might be a bit frustrating if you want to use the oven straight away.

A quick note on the images in this article - you might notice that the branding says ‘Sage’ rather than ‘Breville’. That’s because ‘Sage’ is the trade name of Breville in the UK, which is where we tested this appliance. The machine is almost identical in both countries — the only difference is the power plug, the brand name, and that in the US one function is a 'bagel' mode and in the UK it's a 'crumpet' mode.

It’s really simple to use - just use the dials on the side to choose your function. There’s grill, toast, crumpet, bake, roast, pizza, reheat, warm, air fry, and slow cook. You can control the temperature by 5 degrees, and choose between °C and °F.

There’s a handy, bright light to illuminate your food, and you can switch between convection, super convection, and standard grilling. There’s a button for defrosting too. This means that you can use all of the presets, but adjust them as needed, even while cooking.

However, I found my first drawback with the ‘magnetic auto-eject rack’. When it works, this is a really useful feature. Two magnets on the oven door pulls the wire racks out of the oven as you open it, so you don’t have to reach into a hot oven. This was mostly great, but if you’re not careful, the wire rack will get stuck to the bottom, which is not something you want when handling hot food.

It was handy to use the instructions as I cooked, but each setting needs to put the grill at a different height. It’s mostly common sense, but it might become a bit tedious to memorise ten different grill heights for different functions.

Making toast on test

It’s a toaster oven, so no there’s no prize for guessing what was first up on test. This machine can make up to six slices of toast at once, and do it from frozen. It’s a great option for large, busy families needing lots of slices every morning. My test used six slices of frozen granary bread to see how well it could defrost and toast in a single process.

I loved the precision of this machine. You can select the exact number of slices you’re cooking as well as the darkness of the toast. I aimed for a level 5 on the oven, which the instructions said would result in a ‘medium’ colour. After exactly 5 minutes and 30 seconds, I had six slices of near-perfect toast. The undersides had slight grill marks, which you might not like, but overall each piece was evenly golden brown. I found a little burning towards the back of the oven on the top of the bread crusts, and a little around the crusts, but it was otherwise successful.

The results of the toast test

It tasted great. I ate a couple slices with some raspberry jam and it was delicious, perfect for breakfast. My personal taste was that Level 5 was a little overdone, but toast is ultimately subjective. It's a great feature to be able to toast so precisely. The only big downside was that as it got to temperature there was some slight misting on the display screen. It was a little blurry, but still legible.

For time’s sake we used frozen cookie dough, rounds of salted caramel chocolate chunk blondie. The bake present starts at 160°C , but following the recipe on the packaging, I baked these for 12 minutes at 190°C/370°F. I sliced some of the cookies thin, some medium, and some thick to get a sense of how the toaster oven handled different thicknesses. It took a couple of minutes to heat up.

The big issue here is that the instruction manual was unclear. When baking, it said to use the wire rack, which I was rightly sceptical about . Some of the cookies slipped through the wire and fell down, burning on the heating element. I should’ve trusted my gut. However, the cookies I salvaged were delicious, baked almost perfectly. This is a great idea if you fancy some homemade cookies but don’t want the effort, but beware the instruction manual.

Cooking a decent midnight snack is the ultimate toaster oven test. We used a store-bought garlic, spinach & black olive fiorentina pizza. I tested the preset - the instructions on the box were for 220°C for 10-12, and the preset was 210°C for 15. I thought it would be fair to test is as I’d probably use this in my usual life - quickly sticking a pizza in after work on those days you don’t want to cook. Preheating takes about 5 minutes.

This was the worst example of the drawbacks with the magnetic auto-eject rack. If you’re not careful, the rack will stick to the the bottom, and the hot nonstick pizaa pan will live up to its name and slide all over the place. It's not something you want when handling hot food.

The pizza came out really well, but it didn’t need the full programme - it was done in 10 minutes, so you should definitely keep an eye on it as it cooks. To be fair, the pizza was relatively thin, so you might need the whole 15 mins for deep-dish pies. The pizza came out well, and all the ingredients were thoroughly cooked.

We used thick, English-style homestyle fries, and air fried them for 20-25 minutes at 410°F. The oven had to preheat for about 5 minutes before cooking. Our fries came out nearly perfect, cooked exactly as you’d expect, with crisp skins and fluffy insides. The timing was exactly right. This was surprising, because I purposely tested thicker-cut fries to see how the oven could handle them. Other than turning them over halfway though, I barely needed to think about these as I cooked. My only minor criticism is that the fries nearer the heating elements were a little overcooked, but not badly.

I also air fried some frozen vegetables to see how effectively this machine could handle thinner, wetter ingredients. It took 5 mins of preheating, then 20 minutes of cooking time. I fried them per the instructions on the packaging, 390°F for 20 minutes. I suspected that they wouldn't need this long, and I was right - they turned out thoroughly cooked. If anything, it was too thorough, as the eggplant was almost dehydrated. However, the zucchini was perfect, crispy on the outside and juicy and soft on the inside. Pepper was the same, although just edging towards burnt at the edges, right on the line of bitterness.

Bacon rashers ready to test

My final test was some bacon, and I cooked it with air fry at 390°F for 9 minutes to get it nice and crispy. Full disclosure here, I’m a vegetarian, so I had some omnivores on the team do the honours. Our expert Head of Reviews Millie Fender said ‘it did a good job of cooking it evenly, but it’s a bit chewy. It didn’t crisp it up as much as it could have’.

All the grills and accessories are easy to remove and simple easy to clean, but unsurprisingly they get greasy pretty quickly. It would be better if these were dishwasher safe, but this is rare with toaster ovens, so it's not a big deal.

The bigger headache is cleaning the heating elements. If food gets caught on them, they’ll incinerate it, and the resulting burnt-on mess is tricky to get off.

Toaster ovens are strange appliances to compare because they have such a wide range of functions and abilities. I think this a complete machine, because it can do everything you need, but it doesn’t have the smart capabilities of other toaster ovens. For example, the Café Couture Oven is controlled by an app, and incredibly easy to use. There’s also appliances like the Tovala Toaster Oven, which can cook preset whole meals.

But while this Breville doesn’t stand up to toaster ovens with smart capabilities, it’s not trying to. It still offers ten different preset functions, so it covers all the toaster oven basics. If you want something that can handle an entire meal and sides in one go, the Tovala is the move. If you just want something to quickly but effectively blast tater tots and pizza rolls or make a couple slices of toast, this is as good as it gets.

Yes, if you're in the market for an effective toaster oven that excels at all the basics. This is good for quick, unfussy roasting, toasting, baking and air frying. You can even replace a lot of the functions of an air fryer as well as toast, so it’s good for cutting down on the amount of appliances in your kitchen. If you’re in a small apartment with no oven, this would be an effective replacement, and it’s also a good investment if you live in dorms or if your kids have just gone to college for the first time.

However, this is a relatively pricey machine compared to what's on the market. There are far worse examples (a Wolf Gourmet Countertop Oven will run you $700) but $350 is still a significant cost. It depends on how often you'll use the oven. It's not worth $350 if you're just wanting to heat up some leftovers, but if you want to do most of your cooking in one appliance, this is a good choice.

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As Head of eCommerce, Alex makes sure our readers find the right information to help them make the best purchase. After graduating from Cambridge University, Alex got his start in reviewing at the iconic Good Housekeeping Institute, testing a wide range of household products and appliances. He then moved to BBC Gardeners’ World Magazine, assessing gardening tools, machinery, and wildlife products. Helping people find true quality and genuine value is a real passion.

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