Can GE's new toaster oven stack up against the competition?
We tested out the brand's latest countertop appliance.
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You’re probably familiar with GE products in the large appliance category—washing machines, dryers, refrigerators, and the like. But this kitchen appliance giant actually used to dominate the countertop electronics category, too, up until about 30 years ago.
The brand has returned to small appliances with coffee makers, two-slice toasters, and a convection toaster oven we couldn’t wait to get our hands on. We tested the GE Calrod Convection Toaster Oven and here’s what happened.
How does the GE Calrod Convection Toaster Oven look and feel?
The GE Calrod Convection Toaster Oven has the upscale look of models that cost up to twice as much. With its brushed stainless-steel housing and rounded corners, it would be right at home in even the fanciest of kitchens. Although it’s taller and boxier than many toaster ovens, it will fit under a countertop and is big enough to accommodate a whole chicken.
It has a large and easy to grasp handle and a digital display that’s controlled with two dials and three buttons. Along with the oven, you get a rack, a baking tray, a handle to remove these items, and a drip pan.
What are the features of the GE Calrod Convection Toaster Oven?
The GE has the functions you'd expect from a toaster oven: toasting, baking, and broiling as well as a convection mode. You can select from seven settings—toast, bagel, pizza, roast, bake, broil, and keep warm—that are preprogrammed with temperatures and times, but can be easily customized.
What we like
- Reasonable price
- Beautiful design
- Excels at toasting
What we don’t like
- No interior light
- Long preheat times
- Doesn’t brown quick-baking items well
How does it perform?
For starters, the GE did a beautiful job at toasting both bread and bagels. In addition to browning evenly and producing a good range of shades, it toasted considerably faster than most toaster ovens. However, while GE dubs it a 6-slice toaster, you have to squish your bead together to get 6 slices to fit.
Using convection, it baked up frozen pizza with a nice crispy crust. On the roast setting, it produced a juicy, medium rare roast beef in about an hour including the preheat time. As recommended by GE, this mode was also used to cook frozen chicken nuggets which came out crispy; in fact, they tasted like they were cooked in an air fryer.
The Bake setting produced inconsistent results. A yellow cake with has a relatively long baking time came out lovely: evenly browned, nicely risen, and rounded on top without any cracks. However, foods that required a shorter cooking time were burnt on the bottom by the time they browned on top. This was especially problematic with biscuits, which ideally you'd want to see golden brown on both sides.
Sugar cookies, which only require light coloring on top, were not as badly burnt. In the manual it says quite clearly that only the bottom element heats up for this setting which explains the problem. When we contacted GE about the issue, they suggested baking on the roast setting to get top browning and while that give better results, it does seem counterintuitive.
While the broil feature works quickly, it doesn’t produce much browning. Chicken breasts broiled up very lightly colored while strip steaks emerged gray. These results are not unusual for a toaster oven and in fact, many full-size ovens don’t do well at browning.
We were able to keep macaroni and cheese at an acceptable serving temperature for a full hour on the keep warm setting without drying it out.
Is the GE Calrod Convection Toaster Oven easy to use and clean?
With this toaster oven, you get an impressive manual. It’s exceptionally large, easy to read and extremely thorough. Each of the settings is explained in detail and there’s a cooking guide with recommendations for various foods that include quantities, which accessory and rack position to use as well as time and temps.
Programming the digital control panel is completely intuitive. The dials rotate smoothly and the buttons are clearly marked. You use one dial to toggle through the settings and the other to select time and temperature.
For bake, roast, and broil, the oven automatically begins preheating, but you can press start a second time to begin cooking immediately if you prefer. The preheat times are relatively long for a toaster oven, ranging from about 4 to 6 minutes without convection and as much as 25 minutes in convection mode.
As there’s no interior light, it’s not easy to see what’s cooking inside without stopping the oven and pulling out the rack. At the end of the cooking cycle, the oven dings to let you know cooking is complete. If you wish, you can deactivate the sound.
The baking tray and drip tray require hand washing to prevent discoloration. I found the baking pan needed a bit of scrubbing to get clean. A child lock feature allows you to lock the oven so it can’t be accidentally started. As the exterior does get quite hot to the touch, this is a good thing.
GE offers a one-year limited warranty on the GE Calrod Convection Toaster Oven. If you make your purchase at geappliances.com, you get an additional one-year warranty.
What owners say
On Amazon, the GE Calrod Convection Toaster Oven has 5 stars from one reviewer and on geappliances.com, a 4.6 rating and 25 reviewers.
Users comments pretty much jive with our findings. People love the product’s design, calling it “elegant” and a “showstopper." They also praise its versatility and quite a few reviewers mention that they appreciate that it can accommodate a 12-inch pizza. The biggest negative for owners seems to be the long preheat time in convection mode.
Is the GE Calrod Convection Toaster Oven worth it?
While the GE Calrod Convection Toaster Oven isn’t inexpensive, it costs considerably less than some of the other toaster ovens we've tested, yet competes favorably with them when it comes to good looks and functionality. Unlike many toaster ovens, it excels at toasting, browning bread and bagels evenly and as quickly as a pop-up toaster.
It both crisps up convenience foods like pizza and chicken nuggets, as well as roasting beautifully. However, if you’re looking for a second oven to bake up biscuits or crescent rolls, this is not the one for you as it doesn’t brown quick baking items on top.
The only thing that’s missing when it comes to features is an interior light, an inconvenience that’s worth putting up with for a great toaster oven with digital controls at such a reasonable price.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.