If you’ve spent enough time in your life cooking, odds are very high that you’ve kept food warm by placing it in either the microwave, toaster oven, or conventional oven. When you did, you probably just put the food in a regular bowl or plate. I certainly have. Honestly, I’ve have done it without even thinking whether or not it should go in there.
Of course, there’s no problem if the oven is turned off. But if you really want to keep the food nice and warm, it’s best to keep it in the heat, which requires you to have the oven on. This may pose a problem for certain plates.
A toaster oven is incredibly convenient for keeping food warm. It heats up quickly and doesn’t use as much energy as a conventional oven does. Of course, that convenience isn’t worth it if it ruins your plate!
With that in mind, let’s see when you can and when you can’t put a plate in your toaster oven.
Can You Put a Plate in a Toaster Oven?
Yes! Well, generally you can.
Ultimately it depends on whether the plate is safe to put in a toaster oven. What determines this? The material that your plate is made from.
You know that Tupperware or other containers and plates are marked as microwave safe, whilst others aren’t? It’s the same with toaster ovens. Some materials just aren’t made to withstand such high temperatures. If you’re just putting plates in a toaster oven without turning the oven on, of course, it’s safe to put any plate in a toaster oven.
However, if you want to reheat something or keep it warm at a higher temperature, you’ll have to check to see if the plate is safe to put in a toaster oven. The material and the listing by the manufacturer will tell you if it’s in fact safe to use in a toaster oven.
What Types of Plate are Safe to Put in a Toaster Oven?
Some types of plates are completely safe to use in a toaster oven. Others should be avoided altogether. Let’s check out what’s what.
You may think, wait, ceramic? Of course, it can go in a toaster over, ceramic is made in an oven after all. But actually, the answer is not so simple.
Generally ceramic is safe to use in a toaster oven compared to non-toaster oven-safe plates I will discuss late on. However this isn’t always the case.
Whilst ceramic can withstand pretty high temperatures, it’s not invincible. It’s possible for ceramic plates to break at 439 degrees Fahrenheit due to what is called quartz inversion. Additionally, the glaze that covers the ceramic plate may not be able to take high temperatures.
If you’re planning to put a ceramic plate in a toaster oven, make sure it’s labeled as toaster oven safe. However, there can still be a small chance that the ceramic cracks due to extreme uneven heating at high temperatures. So, be careful if you have very strong hot spots in your toaster oven. You should also avoid putting the plate in the toaster oven at a high temperature. Additionally, aim to use the thickest plate possible to reduce the likelihood of cracking.
It’s probably no surprise to hear that most metal plates can go in the oven – given that they’re made of aluminum, steel, or iron – as the oven is made almost entirely of metal. The rack, baking sheets, baking pans, etc. are all made of metal.
Whilst metal plates can be almost universally used in a toaster oven, it’s still best to double-check that they’re oven-safe. Of course, while metal plates are useful and safe for putting in a toaster oven, metal plates aren’t exactly a common item to have.
Similar to ceramic, glass can plates can be put in a toaster oven as long as they’re labeled as toaster oven safe. Perhaps surpisingly, most glass plates aren’t.
This may also be a surprise to some people that have been putting their casserole dish or Pyrex dish in the oven or toaster oven without even thinking to double-check if it’s safe to do so.
Whilst they may not initially crack if they reach a certain temperature like certain ceramic plates might, over time small cracks may form and they can eventually reach a breaking point (literally) in which the glass plate or cooking dish shatters in the oven.
This depends on the overall heat that it can take. It may be labeled in a variety of ways from the maximum temperature that it can take to simply be labeled as oven safe. So, be safe and make sure that you are putting only oven-safe glass dishes in the toaster oven.
What Types of Plate Aren’t Safe to Put in a Toaster Oven?
Contrary to the previously mentioned types of plates, the following types of plates are almost never to be used in a toaster oven as they can pose a plethora of risks from a ruined toaster oven, toxic chemicals in the air, and even a house fire.
Paper is a great tool to start a campfire, isn’t it? This is a feature that you certainly don’t want of a material that you are putting in a toaster oven – which is a hot and confined space in close proximity to extremely hot heating elements. This is a perfect recipe to start a fire in your home.
Even if you put it at the lowest temperature, it’s still highly advised to never put a paper plate in a toaster oven, no matter how low the heat is.
While cardboard is a bit sturdier than regular paper, it still has the same highly flammable qualities as standard paper has and therefore shouldn’t be put in a toaster oven under any circumstances.
While it may be tempting just to quickly warm up some leftovers in a cardboard container at the lowest temperature, don’t do it. Paper of any kind, cardboard or otherwise is a big no-no when it comes to toaster ovens.
Plastic comes in many forms and strengths but generally heat and plastic don’t mix well together. This is particularly true when it comes to putting plastic in your toaster oven.
You shouldn’t put a plastic plate in a toaster oven.
The only type of plastic that is safe (and even then only up to 400 degrees Fahrenheit) is CPET, but it’s unlikely that a plastic plate you have will be made of this material.
Since styrofoam, or polystyrene, is just a type of plastic it will suffer a similar fate in the heat of a toaster oven.
While it can technically be safe up to 212 degrees Fahrenheit, at high temperatures the toxins from the material can leach into your food. So it’s best to avoid putting styrofoam plates in the oven as well.
How to Know if Cookware is Safe to Use in a Toaster Oven
It’s probably no surprise that the plates that are most likely to be toaster oven-safe are made from the same materials that baking cookware is made of – ceramic, metal, and glass.
All of these materials have very high heat thresholds that allow them to be more likely to be safe in a toaster oven than those that aren’t oven-safe. They’re also all hard, sturdy, and solid materials that prevent them from catching fire or melting like paper or plastics.
To find out if cookware is safe to use in a toaster oven you can first check the bottom of the plate or piece of cookware as it may have the labeling there. Or it may be on the original packaging.
If you don’t have the original packaging then you can check with the website of the manufacturer about the safe usage of their product.
Additionally, you can check the track record of how well it works and if other users have had any problems by reading personal accounts on Twitter, Facebook, or other forums where people answer questions and share their personal experiences about various products.
Can You Put Aluminum Foil in a Toaster Oven?
Aluminum foil falls in the “maybe” category. This is because it can depend on the manufacturer of the toaster oven itself. There may be specific instructions that say how you should use aluminum foil with their toaster oven. Or conversely, they may warn or advise you not to use aluminum foil in the toaster oven.
Most toaster oven manuals will state that if you use aluminum it shouldn’t be close to nor touch the heating elements. This is because it could possibly catch fire or melt onto certain surfaces. They will also likely advise to not put aluminum in the crumb tray of the toaster oven as well.
If you have any doubts, it’s always best to check with the manufacturer about whether or not you can use aluminum foil in your toaster oven.
Can You Put Parchment Paper in a Toaster Oven?
Like aluminum, this is also a “maybe”. If you use parchment paper in a toaster oven you should take proper precautions as some manufacturers state that you shouldn’t use it in toaster ovens. This is for the same reasons as when I talked about putting paper plates in the oven. If the paper comes too close to the heating element, it may catch fire.
If you do decide to use parchment paper in a toaster oven you should make sure that no part of the paper is sticking out beyond the food. The paper should not be able to touch the walls of the toaster oven nor any other part of the toaster oven.
You also shouldn’t use it in a halogen toaster oven. Lastly, you can use a silicone baking mat instead of parchment paper that is much safer and can provide you with more peace of mind.