individual molten chocolate lava cakes recipe
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Are you thinking about kicking your toaster oven to the curb? Does it seem like it’s taking up way too much counter space and getting used way too infrequently? You can fix that—just read up on the best things to make in a toaster oven. It’s capable of a lot more than you ever gave it credit for.

Related Reading: Enter to Win a Countertop Smart Oven Plus $100 Worth of Meals to Make in It!

Yes, you can toast your bagel or reheat takeout without needing to turn on the actual oven. But since the toaster oven on your countertop is just a tiny version of the full-size one, there’s really almost nothing you can’t cook in there, as long as you scale the servings down: a single chicken leg or breast, or (depending on your oven’s capacity) even a whole half chicken? Check. Broiled salmon for two? Absolutely. A small batch of roasted veggies, kale chips, nachos, or granola? Yes, yes, yes, and yes. A miniature lasagna? Sure, as long as you have a small enough pan! Don’t forget mini sheet pan dinners either.

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Some things are better suited to this smaller appliance—like toasted and roasted and melted things. Or one-to-two-serving amounts of food to be reheated (those meatballs you made ahead and stashed in the freezer, for instance). But it can also still surprise you—so see how to make the most of your toaster oven with these 15 recipes and delicious ideas:

1. Lazy Grilled Cheese (Or Tuna Melts)

Chipotle Tuna Melt recipe

Chowhound

True, you won’t get the perfectly golden-brown, crisp outer layer you do from mayo-kissed bread meeting a hot pan, but this is a solid way to make a no-fuss melted cheese sandwich of your choosing, and the bread will still have crunch. Lay a piece of foil down to make clean-up easy. And see our rules for the best tuna melt.

Related Reading: The 7 Commandments of Perfect Grilled Cheese

2. Potato Skins

baked potato skins with sour cream, cheese, and bacon

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If you’ve got a potato, you’ve got dinner. You can bake one or two potatoes in your toaster oven, then top them with whatever you like (making this a great meal for using leftover meat, veggies, or even pantry staples). But for a snackier option, you can’t beat baked potato skins, which get crisp and melty in the mini oven. See our guide to perfect potato skins with recipes.

3. Basic Baked Eggs

Individual Eggs Baked with Irish Bangers and Cheddar recipe

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Ramekins are a great investment—they serve as prep bowls when you’re setting up your mise en place, work as small condiment containers, and act as cooking vessels for molten chocolate cakes, among other things. Crack an egg into one, add some butter and cheese—and whatever else you please, from spices to a splash of milk for extra creaminess—and pop it in your toaster oven for an easy, quick breakfast or lunch. Serve with bacon or sausage for breakfast, or add a salad and a piece of toast later in the day. Get our Baked Eggs recipe.

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4. Toaster Oven Bacon

how to cook the best bacon so it's crispy (this method of cooking bacon is also the easiest and cleanest way)

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The best way to make bacon is in an oven. Ergo, the best way to make a small batch of bacon is in the toaster oven. Just keep a close eye on it in case it renders a large amount of grease—and maybe have a fire extinguisher close at hand. If the pan is pooling with too much fat, take it out and (carefully) drain it partway through the cooking process.

5. Mac and Cheese Bites

prosciutto wrapped mac and cheese cups recipe

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When you buy a mini muffin pan for your toaster oven, don’t relegate it to sweet duty—use it for all sorts of individually portioned treats. Leftover mac and cheese, for instance, gets new life baked in crisp prosciutto cups. You can make mini frittatas, quiches, meatloaf, and more. Basically, anything you can make in a muffin pan, you can scale down to make in a toaster oven muffin pan!

6. Pita Pizzas

Gorgonzola Blue Cheese Tomato Pizza recipe with heriloom tomatoes

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Store-bought Bagel Bites are great and all, but you can make lots of other types of small-scale pizza in your toaster oven too. One especially easy way is to pile your toppings on a pita (or naan, or other flatbread) and bake until they’re done to your liking. See some unconventional topping ideas, and lightened-up pizza topping combos perfect for summer, just for starters.

7. Toaster Oven Cookies

chewy chocolate chip cookie recipe

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The joy of using the toaster oven to make cookies is that you can bake one or two at a time without any fuss (and without feeling guilty about leaving a huge oven mostly empty). Slice-and-bake cookie dough logs can be stored in the freezer so you can just cut off as much as you’d like to chew. Other cookie doughs (like chocolate chip) can be pre-portioned, frozen on a baking sheet, then stored in zip-top freezer bags.

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You’ll want to use the bake function, preheat the toaster oven, and keep an eye on your cookies as the bake time may fluctuate from your regular oven (especially if you’re baking the dough straight from the freezer, which you totally can). No frozen dough at the ready? No worries. You can find lots of small batch cookie recipes online—ditto other dessert recipes for two that are small enough to fit perfectly in a little oven.

8. English Muffins with Bruléed Bananas

English muffin with peanut butter and banana

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For a more early a.m.-appropriate treat that’s still, well, sweet, try topping your English muffins with caramelized bananas. It’s as simple as sprinkling a bit of sugar on top and popping them back in the toaster oven for a few minutes (just keep an eye on them, of course). Get our English Muffins with Bruléed Bananas recipe.

9. Toaster Oven Hardboiled Eggs

perfect hard boiled eggs

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Eggs in the oven? It’s unusual, but a great way to make do if you’re without a stovetop or can’t boil water…and don’t have an Instant Pot, of course (that’s still the best “alternative” way to go). Using a toaster oven takes a little bit longer (about 30 minutes) but if you’re making a big batch of egg salad you can easily scale up and put the whole dozen in the toaster at the same time. Here’s how to make hard “boiled” eggs in the oven—and see more pointers here.

10. Spinach Artichoke Dip

Baked Artichoke Spinach Dip

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This rich and creamy dip is definitely not low-cal, so if you’re just one or two for snack time, you might want to halve our Baked Spinach Artichoke Dip recipe—and a small amount is perfect for the toaster oven. Just be sure you have an oven-safe dish of the right size.

11. Small-Batch Jalapeño Poppers

basic jalapeno popper recipe

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Another nibble that’s easy to downsize: jalapeño poppers. Just prep as many peppers as you want to eat and broil them in the toaster oven for a quick snack. These are also a great way to use up leftover cream cheese.

12. Portobello Burgers

grilled portobello burger recipe

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You can, if you choose, make a regular hamburger in your toaster oven, but we honestly think those do better in a searing-hot cast iron skillet or on a grill. A meaty portobello mushroom cap, however, takes well to roasting (and you can still add a smoky flavor with spices if you like). It’s juicy and flavorful even without the cheese, but obviously that melts like a dream in the toasting machine. Toast your buns or bread too, then assemble and slather it with whatever condiments you like—chimichurri, pesto, or homemade mayo are all fine options. (Use our Portobello Burger recipe as a guide but tweak it for the toaster oven.)

13.Tomato Confit

easy confit tomatoes

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Pro-tip: Your toaster oven is the perfect size for roasting a few heads of garlic to use throughout the next week or two (hello, compound butter)—but it can also be used for a small batch of confit tomatoes, which are also good on everything. Get our Tomato Confit recipe.

14. Molten Chocolate Lava Cakes

individual molten chocolate lava cakes recipe

Chowhound

Told you those ramekins would come in handy! This Molten Chocolate Lava Cake recipe only makes four desserts, and you could fairly easily cut the ingredient amounts in half for two servings total. (Otherwise, make the full batch and simply store the batter in the fridge for two or three days, baking one cake at a time. You’re welcome.)

15. 3-Ingredient Crème Brûlée

3 ingredient creme brulee single serving

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One more way to make those ramekins really pay off: Make a single-serve crème brûlée with just three ingredients! This brilliant 3-Ingredient Crème Brûlée recipe recently took TikTok by storm, and it’s plain to see why. You will have to plan ahead for this one, and you’ll need a mini casserole dish for your toaster oven in order to set up the bain marie (i.e., water bath), but it will be SO worth it.

Related Reading: More 3-Ingredient Recipes You’ll Love

Learn Even More New Tricks

50 Kitchen and Food Hacks That Will Change Your Life

Caitlin M. O’Shaughnessy wrote the original version of this story in 2015; update by Jen Wheeler.

Caitlin M. O'Shaughnessy is a New York City–based food writer and editor at Penguin who has worked on and recipe-tested several cookbooks. She is currently in search of NYC’s best ramen, and is one of the few people who admit to disliking brunch.
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