Nothing can beat a tender beef steak or a bowl of fresh chickpea salad to end your day. Yet sometimes, especially after a long and tiresome day when you have no energy left for cooking, TV dinners save the day. But when you see a lot of them labeled as “microwave only”, it makes you wonder, can you cook them in your toaster oven?
The quick answer is, yes you can, but the ones that are labeled as safe for toaster ovens. Nonetheless, due to certain characteristics of such ovens, you will have to follow some methods to do it properly.
Can You Cook TV Dinners in a Toaster Oven: Not All TV Dinners for a Toaster Oven
Even though it is very much possible to cook TV dinners in a toaster oven, some aspects make the process a little bit different than traditional ovens.
Here are the reasons some TV dinners are not designed to cook in toaster ovens:
Size of the Oven
The main concern while cooking tv dinners in toaster ovens is the widely varying size of the ovens. They are usually smaller than the conventional ones which make them more vulnerable and have more hot spots. Especially around the sides, bottom and top, the air is hotter than in the center.
Besides, the heating element of the oven is much closer to the food which increases the chance of making contact with the container. This expands the possibility of the container catching fire or your food getting burnt.
Sudden Temperature Change
With smaller sizes and hotspots, toaster ovens tend to heat the food inside it aggressively. As tv dinners are frozen, putting them at a high temperature can cause the food to get dried out in the edges, yet remain frozen in the center.
The containers that are usually used in the packaging of tv diners are recommended for temperatures of 350 degrees or less. Even though toaster ovens can be operated at 350 degrees, the high inside temperature due to their smaller size can compromise the stability of the containers.
Tips for Cooking TV Dinners in a Toaster Oven
Despite the difficulties, cooking tv dinners in a toaster oven still turns out better than a sloppy and bland microwave dish. To get the best outcome, here are some tips for cooking tv diners in a toaster oven.
Read the Labels Before Buying
There are a lot of companies who allow their tv dinners product only for cooking in the microwave. If you want to use a toaster oven, check out the labels of the product before buying. Purchase a product that has instructions for use in toaster ovens labeled on it, or does not forbid using a toaster oven.
Remove the Packaging
Whether the product has indications to remove the packaging or not, it is better to always remove the packaging if you are using a toaster oven. Because a lot of tv dinners are packed using plastic and paper products which are unsafe for a toaster oven.
Use a Proper Baking Dish
Transfer your food to a proper baking dish that can be used in the oven. Read the manual that came with the toaster oven to know which products you are allowed to put inside the particular model of the oven and which not.
Furthermore, try to use a tray that is nearly the same size and shape as the meal you are cooking. Using a tray that is larger than the food item will still do the job. However, the fillings and sauce can spread throughout the tray and can dry out a little bit.
Oil the Baking Dish
Lightly oil the baking dish before putting the food in. Although it is not mandatory, it helps to prevent the food from sticking to the pan. Thus, it is easier to clean up afterward, especially if you are using a metal pan.
Thaw Before Cooking
Usually, tv dinners are not required to defrost before you put them in the oven. But when you are using a toaster oven, thawing before cooking helps a bit, considering the aggressive heating characteristics of ovens.
Another thing you can do is put the meal inside the toaster oven and then start preheating. In this case, the meal, baking dish, and oven will warm up together which will eliminate the possibility of a sudden temperature change inside the meal.
Lower the Temperature
Lower the temperature a little bit while you are cooking your tv dinner in a toaster oven. Reducing the temperature by 25 degrees will allow the meal to warm up thoroughly. This will rule out the problem of dried-out edges while the center is still frozen.
Early Check Your Meal
Due to the nature of toaster ovens, tv dinners are most likely to be ready before the fastest cooking time indicated in the package. So, it is better to check on your meal before the cooking time is completed. If your meal is not ready, put it back in the oven again and give it some more time.
What Dishes Are Toaster Oven-Safe?
Ceramic dishes, ceramic crockeries, and silicone containers are safe to use in a toaster oven. However, in the case of ceramic products, you should check in the back to ensure whether it is toaster oven-safe or not. Because not all ceramics can or their glaze can withstand high temperatures.
Among metal dishes, foil pans are the ideal choice for use in a toaster oven. Pans made from cast iron, aluminum, and stainless steel are safe to use in toaster ovens as well.
Frequently Asked Questions
Can I put aluminum foil in a toaster oven?
Can frozen lasagna be cooked in a toaster oven?
You can cook frozen lasagna in a toaster oven if it is labeled as toaster oven-safe. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and cook the meal for about 45 minutes.
What Cannot Be Cooked in Toaster Oven?
TV dinners that are designed for microwave cooking only are advised not to cook in a toaster oven. If the label states that the food is to be only cooked in a microwave, or forbids cooking in a toaster oven, then avoid using a toaster oven.
Can I Put a TV Dinner in the Oven?
To cook a TV dinner in the oven, remove the packaging and transfer the food to an oven-safe pan. Use reduced heat so that the food doesn’t get burnt. Also, cover your food with aluminum foil to prevent it from getting dried out.
Can I Cook Frozen Dinners in a Convection Oven?
While cooking frozen dinners in a convection oven, the temperature and cooking time should be reduced by a little bit.
Preheat the oven. Check the labels on the packaging and set up the temperature at 25 degrees less than the recommended number. Also, set the timer to 5-10 minutes less than the minimum cooking time indicated on the package.
If you live alone, it may seem impractical to heat an oven on a big stove just to prepare yourself a TV dinner. In that case, a toaster oven may come handy. By following the tips, you can make yourself a quick and convenient meal to end the day.