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Panasonic FlashXpress Toaster Oven review: The little toaster oven that could

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Cookies

We did find a more obvious front-to-back temperature disparity on the cookie test than with the toast. While the Panasonic's cookies consistently won the taste test in our office, they didn't cook incredibly evenly. In fact, the cookies in the back came out well cooked and the ones closer to the front were gooey underneath. That's great if you have a group of hungry cookie-lovers with different cookie-eating preferences, but that's not really what you hope for when you're baking. Cookies don't strike me as a very common thing to make in a toaster oven anyway, since the Panasonic can only reasonably bake five at once. I guess that's a vote for portion control.

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Frozen pizza

The frozen pizza setting did all the work here. The cheese was melty, the crust wasn't too hard or too chewy, and the whole thing baked very evenly. The preset worked flawlessly and consistently for all three tests. If you're planning to make a lot of frozen pizza for a family, though, I'd recommend the larger Cuisinart or Breville, if not a regular oven.

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Chicken drumsticks

I had to do a bit of trial and error with the timer on the chicken tests. Since the Panasonic cooks more quickly than its competitors, the first and second attempts were overcooked, but by the third try I strayed from the time requirement for the weight of five chicken drumsticks and it was by far the most successful chicken roasting run for the Panasonic. The Breville and the Cusinart performed the best here, but I think that's more a case of getting the time setting just right for the infrared heating system. Remember, too, that there's a temperature disparity in play between the Celsius/Fahrenheit dial, so the closest I could get to the desired 350 degrees was 355 degrees.

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Hamburgers

Despite all of our efforts to adjust temperature and cooking time, not one of the four toaster ovens cooked a decent burger. We concluded that toaster ovens are generally too small to broil something successfully at high temperatures. I suggest avoiding toaster ovens for your burger-broiling needs.

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Frozen waffle

The Panasonic's frozen waffle setting worked beautifully. It made truly perfect-looking waffles quickly and simply thanks to the preset.

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Overall, the Panasonic held its own throughout the testing process. It may require a bit more tweaking than the Cuisinart and Breville, but it's so much less expensive that it might just be worth a bit more effort up front. And it's easy to remove the crumb tray, cooking rack, and cooking pan for seamless cleanup.

Conclusion

Unless you have a particular need for a toaster oven that can steam cook, like the Cuisinart, want a larger toaster oven to fit a 9-inch pizza, or are really serious about sophisticated design, I'd buy the Panasonic before any of the other ovens we tested. Not one of them performed so much better that the huge price disparity seems worth it, and there's a great deal on Amazon that's offering this toaster for $89.99 instead of the $149.95 sticker price, at the time of this writing.

Not only is it worth the price, but it's a great space-saver if you have limited real estate on your counter. You're going to get consistently well-cooked food using the settings, and if you're a little more hands-on with this toaster in the beginning, your nonpreset meals will turn out great, too. The double infrared heating system is a wonder; it really does get the job done faster than the other models we tested. Overall, the Panasonic FlashXpress Toaster Oven is a delightful little kitchen appliance that holds up incredibly well in comparison to the $299 Cuisinart CSO-300 and the $249 Breville Smart Oven.

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