Bake, Broil, Roast, Toast, Keep Warm – What Do They Mean?

Depending on the model of your toaster oven, you will have several settings on the dial or display. People are often confused about what they mean, so I try to clear up some confusion here.

Cupcakes in a toaster oven


Similar to a wall oven, most of the heat is coming from the bottom elements (up to 375F), with top elements on lower power and convection fan on. This is the most widely used setting.

Several things you need to know about baking in a toaster ovens vs. wall ovens:

  • Your toaster oven will preheat quicker. Depending on the size, it will preheat 30% to 50% faster than a traditional oven.
  • Your toaster oven will usually bake faster. Until you get used to baking with your toaster oven, begin checking on your dishes about 5 to 10 minutes earlier than the shortest cook time listed on your recipe.

On my Breville, here is what I do when I “bake” something:

  1. Select the Bake setting
  2. Set the temperature from my recipe
  3. Set the time from my recipe
  4. Press start to begin preheating
  5. Once the toaster oven indicates it’s preheated, I put the pan inside and close the door

If your toaster oven is not digital, preheat it for at least 5 minutes before putting in your pan.


Roast is the same as Bake, except it’s hotter – 400F and above. Use it to create a crispy crust on the outside while keeping the insides tender. For example, my Breville roasts a whole chicken in 30 minutes.

Whole chicken roasted in a toaster oven


Broil is the hottest setting (up to 500F), and the heat only comes from the top heating elements with the bottom ones turned off.

Broiling is great for steak and seafood, melting cheese, roasting red peppers, or quickly cooking thinner slices of vegetables like eggplant or zucchini.

Several things to know when broiling:

  • There is no preheating.
  • Generally, you’ll want to use the top rack placement.
  • Always use a broiler-safe pan, if you’re not sure just use the pan that came with your toaster oven.
  • The heat is only from one direction, so if you want to cook or brown both sides of a dish, don’t forget to flip it.
  • Use caution when grabbing pans that have been broiled, they will be extremely hot.


When using Toast, the toaster oven applies an equal amount of heat from the top and the bottom, and it’s pretty hot. The Light, Medium, and Dark settings control the amount of time the food is toasted.

Things to note when toasting:

  • Some people prefer to use Broil for sourdough. If you decide to do that, keep an eye on it – if you’re not careful, it will burn quickly.
  • If you’re using a Breville, there’s an additional setting that adds an additional 15 seconds per slice for defrosting frozen bread.

Keep Warm

The Keep Warm setting is used to keep food warm enough to serve for 20-30 minutes after it’s done. Depending on the model, this will mean that the temperature is 130F to 180F, the top heating elements will be at 1/2 power, and the bottom elements will be off.


When using the Pizza setting, the top elements melt the cheese and toppings, while the bottom elements create a crust. If you’re using a pizza stone, make sure to heat the stone up before your “pizza” your pizza.

Bagel toasted in a toaster oven


When using Bagel, only the top of the bagel is exposed to high heat and therefore only the top browns and toasts. The bottoms are exposed to a lower gentle heat so that the undersides of the bagel are warmed (not toasted) leaving the bagel’s crust chewy. Here’s how you “bagel” a bagel:

  1. Slice your bagel in half
  2. Place it on in the toaster oven with the insides facing up
  3. Toast the halves at the Bagel setting

Things to note when toasting using the Bagel function:

  • Like with the Toast setting, you can use the Light, Medium, and Dark settings control the amount of time the food is toasted.
  • This setting is available only for Breville and Cuisinart toaster ovens.
  • If you’re using a Breville, there’s the additional defrosting setting as well.

You should now have a good idea of what the different settings mean. Other than that, just go and experiment!

Hope I was helpful.



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