We Tried the TikTok-Famous Balmuda Toaster Oven
We tested 10 different dishes (including toast!) to see how the oven measures up.
By Amanda Neal for Food Network Kitchen
Whether it’s sandwiching deli meat and cheese or smeared with jam for breakfast, it’s easy to overlook the significance of a humble piece of toast. With so many toasters and toaster ovens on the market, understanding the small intricacies that make each different is more important than you might think. Most recently, Balmuda is pushing the envelope of toast-perfection with their new product, The Toaster. While the name might not sound revolutionary, the claims — toasting bread with precision thanks to innovative steam technology and the ability to retain various levels of heat — are. After extensive testing and toasting many slices of bread, here’s what we found out about the new toaster oven from Balmuda.
What Is the Balmuda Toaster Oven?
Balmuda’s toaster oven is an electric, countertop appliance that’s meant for toasting a variety of breads and pastries and cooking small food items. It includes five modes: Sandwich Bread, Artisan Bread, Pizza, Pastry and Oven (offering three settings of 350, 400 and 450 degrees F). The modes are easily selected by turning a plastic dial on the front of the toaster oven, and the timing is set by turning another dial, which causes the oven to begin toasting automatically. You may recognize this toaster oven from Emily Mariko’s popular TikTok account where she is known for cooking beautiful food and toasting decadent pastries and artisanal loaves of bread.
What makes this product stand out from other toaster ovens on the market is the unique steam technology and precision temperature control that claims to lock in flavor and moisture. Before toasting, you add about 1 teaspoon (5cc) of water to the inlet, causing the air to heat more rapidly while creating a thin layer of steam to envelop the bread. This is meant to toast the surface while keeping the bread’s inner moisture and flavor intact.
The sleek, compact design makes this toaster ideal for small kitchens with limited counter space and storage. It is roughly 14 inches wide, 13 inches deep and 8 inches high, weighting about 10 pounds. The toaster oven also comes with an instructional manual, guidebook with two recipes, a sturdy metal rack, crumb tray, aluminum baking tray and plastic 5cc cup for adding water to the inlet.
How Does the Balmuda Toaster Oven Cook?
Generally speaking, the toaster oven from Balmuda is user-friendly and similar in design to other toaster ovens on the market. Set up is a breeze: you simply insert the toasting rack, plug into an outlet and start cooking. The Instruction Manual was helpful for first time users, so they have an idea of how long certain modes will take to cook as well as what types of breads should be used for each mode. We sought out to test all the modes as well as the two recipes included in the Guidebook. Here’s what we found.
Sandwich Bread Mode
For sliced, white sandwich bread, we used the sandwich bread mode. This mode promises to deliver a delicious contrast between a crisp exterior and a moist interior on everyday thin sliced bread and supermarket English muffins. The manual suggests two and a halt to three minutes for bread and three to five minutes for English muffins
We found that the bread toasted nicely and had an even golden-brown top at two and a half minutes. The bottom of the bread was toasted but did not brown as evenly. The inside was moist and chewy, which was a pleasant surprise for plain white bread. Finally, toasting both one slice and two slices (the most you can fit at one time) both worked equally well.
Artisan Bread Mode
We tested the artisan bread mode with sourdough boule. The mode uses a higher temperature, promising to retain the bread’s interior elasticity while toasting the surface to a crisp, golden-brown texture. It also claims to be similar to “dry-fried” bread in a heavy pan. The manual suggests three to four minutes for sourdough and rye.
For testing, we sliced a loaf of sourdough bread crosswise into 1-inch slices, and it toasted very well on the artisan bread mode. The inside was chewy and fresh tasting, while the outside browned well all over. I found that three minutes was the perfect amount of time for both one and two slices, which is the most you can fit at one time.
Pastry mode is meant for toasting croissants, scones, baguettes and other freshly baked pastries. When testing this mode, we toasted two plain croissants — one fresh and one that was three days old. The manual suggests three to five minutes for most pastries, which we found to work very well on both the fresh croissant and three-day-old croissant. The outside toasted nicely without any additional browning, and the inside became chewy, flakey and perfectly moist. I also found that toasting on pastry mode for three and a half minutes was the most successful and waiting 30 seconds after the reheating was complete provided even more crispiness.
We tested the pizza mode with frozen pizza. This mode promises to make yesterday’s take-out pizza and frozen pizzas hot, crisp and delicious by keeping the dough light and springy while melting the cheese and preserving other toppings. It also suggests that the pizza mode is great for sliced bagels because of their chewy texture. The manual suggests three to five minutes for reheating pizza and for sliced bagels.
When testing a frozen French bread pepperoni pizza on pizza mode, we set the timer to 15 minutes (as the box had suggested). We also used the baking tray as it was suggested that anything potentially melty or gooey should go on the tray. The bottom crust was golden brown and super crisp. The pepperoni rendered and cooked nicely, and most of the cheese was melted and gooey. The edges of the pizza got a little dark in color, but it wasn’t unappealing or burnt. Overall, the pizza mode was successful. However, the size of the oven could become an issue with cooking anything larger than a French bread pizza. (Even a round, 8-inch personal pizza would have trouble fitting.)
For testing bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs, we used the oven mode set to 400 degrees F. When testing chicken thighs on other toaster ovens, we’ve cooked at 425 degrees F. Since that wasn’t an option on this toaster, we opted for 400 degrees F. It took about 45 minutes to cook through, and the meat stayed juicy and was evenly cooked through. However, the skin did not get very browned and was only slightly crispy in spots. Also, the chicken was pretty greasy and caused a big mess on the inside of the toaster, so cleaning the inside was not very fun and hard to do thoroughly. Overall, we would have loved more temperature settings for the oven mode and for the inside to be a little bigger for easier cleaning.
For slice and bake cookies, we used the oven mode set to 350 degrees F and used store-bought chocolate chip cookie dough. We could only fit about three cookies on the baking tray. The cookies stayed moist on the inside but got quite dark on the outside. They did not burn but were quite dark and not visually appealing. Ideally, we could have baked these at 325 degrees F, but that’s not an option in the Oven Mode. Overall, we would not suggest baking cookies in this toaster oven unless necessary because it will take a very long time to bake a dozen cookies, and ours were over-brown. It’s important to note that the manual says to not use parchment paper in the toaster oven because it could cause a fire, which we followed and thankfully we didn’t have any sticking.
We also wanted to make a homemade yeasted bread from scratch and bake it in the toaster oven. We initially thought we could utilize the steam technology to bake a homemade baguette or small boule (which typically involves the use of steam during baking), but the steam function can only be used on the toasted modes, not the oven mode. This was disappointing to discover but not a deal breaker, so we ultimately decided to make a basic yeasted bread dough into pull apart rolls and bake those on the aluminum baking tray provided. We used the oven mode at 350 degrees for 18 minutes. Since the timer only goes to 15 minutes, I baked it for one full cycle then added three minutes. The rolls baked nicely and stayed moist and fluffy. However, the top did not brown evenly. Once the rolls puffed up, they were close to 2.5 inches tall, so they were very close to the heat source. This made the center of the rolls over brown and the sides not brown at all. Overall, we would not recommend this toaster oven for baking homemade yeasted bread.
Finally, we tested both recipes provided in the guidebook: a grilled cheese sandwich and an apple and cream cheese toast. The grilled cheese was quite delicious! I loved that the cheese was melted through to the center and the outside was nicely toasted and crunchy. The Apple and Cream Cheese Toast was also great. The bread didn’t toast up as nicely because of all the wet ingredients on top, but the apples were soft and nicely seasoned, and the walnuts toasted well under the heating element. I would recommend making both recipes if you purchase this toaster oven.
How to Clean the Balmuda Toaster Oven?
It was a breeze to clean the Balmuda toaster oven, including the main unit and the accessories. We first removed the crumb catcher that slides in and out from the bottom of the main unit, brushed off the larger crumbs with a soft dish towel, then wiped the crumb tray clean with a damp sponge. The aluminum tray is not dishwasher safe, so we washed that with warm soapy water and dried thoroughly before storing. Besides a serious mess like the chicken grease, the interior of the toaster oven was easy to clean; we wiped the inside walls and glass door with a damp sponge, then wiped the inside dry with a clean towel. As discussed early, the only downside is that because this specific toaster oven is small, the back wall was more challenging to reach, but all in all, cleaning this toaster oven was straightforward.
Who Should Buy the Balmuda Toaster?
The Balmuda toaster retails at $299, so it might not be the best choice for everyone. However, its sleek, compact design serves small spaces well and is great for apartment living. All in all, we would recommend this product for someone who toasts regularly, whether it be plain sliced sandwich bread or artisanal loaves and pastries, because the steam technology and precision temperature control proved to be effective. However, we would not recommend this toaster oven for someone who’s looking for it to pull double duty as a standard oven. The toaster itself is small, limiting what can fit and cook properly without burning. Plus, the oven mode just didn’t stack up to other well reviewed toaster ovens on the market. Bottom line: the Balmuda toaster oven may be the perfect product for toast aficionados, but with the high price tag and limited capacity, it may put off other buyers.