Hamilton Beach 31401 Countertop Toaster Oven Review

Alan Nguyen
Reviewer
Tuyet Pham
Culinary Consultant
Lap Vo
Test Lead
Nguyen Ntk
Visual Specialist
Updated
Tested Methodology v1.0
Hamilton Beach 31401 Countertop
Power: 1200W

Overall Verdict

4.5
Overall Score
  • Performance (50%)
    4.9/10
  • Usability (25%)
    4.6/10
  • Design (25%)
    3.6/10

The stainless steel Hamilton Beach 31401 Countertop Toaster Oven & Pizza Maker has a basic, lightweight, and small-sized structure. It saves energy with a low power output and quartz heating elements.

However, this aspect partially led to inadequate results in our test dishes that require a long cooking time and/or a high temperature. You could improve this by cooking smaller amounts of food than we did in our test.

While a simple design means no additional convenience, the control panel and the cleaning are straightforward.

Things We Like

  • Lightweight and small size
  • Easy-to-clean stainless steel exterior
  • Cool-touch door handle
  • Simple control knobs
  • Stay-on feature
  • Quartz heating elements have safeguards
  • Energy-saving

Things We Don’t Like

  • No convection fan
  • No internal lighting
  • No safety mechanism for the door

The stainless steel Hamilton Beach 31401 Countertop Toaster Oven & Pizza Maker is a lightweight and small-sized unit. For $62.99 (at the time of writing), you’ve got quartz heating elements that save energy on top of a basic design. While the user control is simple, it has a stay-on feature.

Our goal through this comprehensive preview is to provide you with honest test results and helpful information which can aid in your toaster oven purchase decision. Moreover, we’ll share some do’s and don’ts to get the most out of this oven.

Hamilton Beach 31401 Countertop Toaster Oven In-depth Review

Performance

How We Tested
4.9
Performance Scores
  • Toast (40%)
    7.8/10
  • Pizza (25%)
    5.5/10
  • Whole Roasted Chicken (25%)
    0/10
  • Baked French Fries (10%)
    4.0/10

Our test results showed that the Hamilton Beach 31401 did a good job of making toast. However, it didn’t perform well in dishes that require a long cooking time and/or a high temperature including pizza, whole roasted chicken, and baked french fries.

Our resulting test dishes were also mostly lacking in color. This was possibly due to the oven’s low power output in addition to having only two heating elements. One solution could be to decrease the amount of food compared to our test amount.

7.8

Toast

Hamilton Beach 31401 Countertop Toast
On the left: 1/2 to Medium; In the middle: 3/4 to Medium; On the right: Medium
Hamilton Beach 31401 Countertop Toast 1
Best level: 3/4 to Medium
Hamilton Beach 31401 Countertop Toast 2
The first batch vs the second batch
Taste Test: 8
50% * 8 = 4.0
Even Surface Color: 8
20% * 8 = 1.6
Consecutive Usability: 7.3
30% * 7.3 = 2.2
  • Function: Toast
  • Number Of Slices: 4
  • Toast Level: Medium
  • Cooking Time: 4m 15s (adjustable)
  • Second Batch: 4m 15s (adjustable)
  • Convection: No

With our Toast test, we determined the best option was right at the position of the Toast icon on the timer, scoring a 7.8/10. Turning the knob halfway down would result in no color and turning it halfway up nearly burnt the toast.

Even Surface Color

With 4m 15s, the Hamilton Beach produced 4 pieces with a light golden brown color on the top and golden on the bottom. Although that was great, the top and the bottom were quite different and they were both only about 80% even throughout. Thus, we gave it an 8/10.

Taste

The first batch of toast had a nice balance of crispiness on the outside and softness on the inside, deserving an 8/10 for taste. Our head chef Tuyet Pham determined it would go well with pretty much everything including eggs benedict, omelet, and especially sandwiches. It wasn’t as suitable for soup but the second batch was.

Consecutive Usability

The second batch got crispier and more even in color. However, it also became browner so we gave it a 7.3/10 for consecutive usability. If you want the second batch to be the same as the first, remember to only turn the knob to ¾ to Medium.

5.5

Pizza

Hamilton Beach 31401 Countertop Pizza
Hamilton Beach 31401 Countertop Pizza 1
Hamilton Beach 31401 Countertop Pizza 2
Cooking Time: 0
20% * 0 = 0.0
Crust: 6
20% * 6 = 1.2
Toppings: 7.5
30% * 7.5 = 2.3
Taste Test: 7
30% * 7 = 2.1
  • Function: Bake
  • Temperature:  450°F
  • Cooking Time: 10m 30s
  • Convection:  No

The Hamilton didn’t perform well in baking a 9-inch thick-crust meat pizza scoring a 5.6/10.

Cooking Time

Compared to the recommended 10 minutes on the label, the oven took only a tad bit longer at 10m 30s. However, this meant that it failed the cooking time criterion with 10 minutes being the time limit for our Pizza test.

Crust

For the most part, the crust didn’t have a good toasted coloring and was soft so it got a 6/10.

Toppings

The toppings had pretty good caramelization but some darkened areas of the cheese lowered the score to a 7.5/10.

Taste

After tasting the pizza, our chef gave it a 7/10.

0

Whole Roasted Chicken

Hamilton Beach 31401 Countertop Whole Roasted Chicken
Hamilton Beach 31401 Countertop Whole Roasted Chicken 1
Hamilton Beach 31401 Countertop Whole Roasted Chicken 2
Hamilton Beach 31401 Countertop Whole Roasted Chicken 3
Cooking Time: 0
20% * 0 = 0.0
Skin: 0
20% * 0 = 0.0
Doneness: 0
20% * 0 = 0.0
Taste Test: 0
40% * 0 = 0.0
  • Function: Rotisserie
  • Temperature Range: 350°F
  • Cooking Time: 1h 30m
  • Convection: No

This was one of the rare occasions where an oven failed the entirety of our Whole Roasted Chicken test. Our speculations concerned the instability of the heating elements and the fact that the chicken grazed the upper safeguard during cooking.

Cooking Time

After 1h 30m — our time limit, the oven wasn’t able to roast the chicken to a desirable outcome and failed the first criterion.

Skin

After roasting, the skin had no noticeable caramelization so it was another unsuccessful aspect.

Doneness

The chicken reached an internal temperature of 176°F which was quite good. However, the meat itself was undercooked and still pink in a lot of areas. Thus, it was another failure.

Taste

Due to the meat being undercooked, our chef couldn’t taste it to give a score.

4.0

Baked French Fries

Hamilton Beach 31401 Countertop Baked French Fries
Hamilton Beach 31401 Countertop Baked French Fries 1
Hamilton Beach 31401 Countertop Baked French Fries 2
Cooking Time: 0
20% * 0 = 0.0
Color: 5
20% * 5 = 1.0
Texture: 5
20% * 5 = 1.0
Taste Test: 5
40% * 5 = 2.0
  • Function: Bake
  • Temperature: 400°F
  • Cooking Time: 30 m
  • Convection: No

The Hamilton Beach wasn’t suitable for baking 12 oz of french fries scoring only a 4/10.

Cooking Time

There were no noticeable changes to the fries after 30 minutes of baking in this oven. Due to our time limit of 25 minutes, this constituted a failure in the cooking time section of our Baked French Fries test.

Color

There was no change in the fries’ color so they received a 5/10.

Texture

The oven basically thawed and heated the fries so they were very soggy scoring another 5/10.

Taste

Our chef could only give the fries a minimal score of 5/10 for taste.

3.6
design Scores
  • Exterior (20%)
    4.0/10
  • Interior (30%)
    1.0/10
  • Build Quality (50%)
    5.0/10

With a basic design, the Hamilton Beach 31401 doesn’t have any exterior feature that stands out. It makes up a little for this with its interior having quartz heating elements with safeguards.

In the Box

Hamilton Beach 31401 Countertop In the Box
  • Model: 31401
  • Warranty: 1-year limited in the US and 5-year limited in Canada
  • User Manual
  • Baking Rack
  • Baking Pan
  • Removable Crumb Tray

Inside the packaging are the Hamilton Beach oven, a baking rack, a baking pan, a removable crumb tray, and a simple user manual.

4.0

Exterior

Hamilton Beach 31401 Countertop Exterior
Hamilton Beach 31401 Countertop Exterior 1
Hamilton Beach 31401 Countertop Exterior 2
Hamilton Beach 31401 Countertop Exterior 3
  • Weight:
    5.4 lbs (2.45 kg)
  • Length:
    14.96 inches (38 cm)
  • Width:
    12.2 inches (31 cm)
  • Height:
    8.5 inches (21.6 cm)
  • Material:
    Stainless steel
  • Color:
    Silver
  • Door Handle:
    cool-touch
  • Tray Level Indicators:
    No
  • Removable Bottom Tray:
    Removable

The Hamilton Beach has a stainless steel exterior, a back buffer to prevent the oven from being too close to the wall, and a cool-touch door handle. However, the back buffer isn’t designed to wrap the power cord around, unlike many other toaster ovens.

Control Panel

Hamilton Beach 31401 Countertop Control Panel
  • Type:
    3 control knobs
  • Temperature Setting:
    100°F - 450°F
  • Timer:
    1 minute - 30 minutes + stay-on
  • On Indicator Light:
    Yes
  • Cooking Status Bar:
    No
  • Light Toggle:
    No
  • Convection Toggle:
    No
  • Rotation Toggle:
    No
  • Automatic Oven Preheat:
    No
  • Audio Reminder To Turn Food:
    No

The Hamilton Beach has three simple control knobs for Temperature, Function, and Timer. Even though the timer is only from 1 minute to 30 minutes, it has a stay-on position. 1 minute to 30 minutes, it has a stay-on position.

Cooking Functions

Hamilton Beach 31401 Countertop Cooking Functions
  • Toast
  • Bake
  • Broil

If you know your way around the kitchen, the bake and broil functions will be all you need. The temperature knob has a Min setting which can act as Keep Warm and maintain the oven at around 100°F.

1.0

Interior

Hamilton Beach 31401 Countertop Interior
Hamilton Beach 31401 Countertop Interior 1
  • Number Of Heating Elements:
    2 quartz
  • Convection Fan:
    No
  • Lighting:
    No
  • Tray Levels:
    2
  • Rotisserie Socket And Bracket:
    No
  • Safety Hook:
    No

Capacity: 12 liters - 4 slices of toast - 9-inch pizza

The Hamilton Beach can accommodate 4 slices of toast, a 9-inch pizza, or barely a 3 lb chicken. It suffers from a lack of internal lighting and a convection system.

The oven has 2 quartz heating elements that cook food using infrared light. To avoid direct contact with baking pans and trays, each one has its own safety guard.

Compared to the more common nichrome heating elements, they produce more heat and cool down faster. In addition, they’re easier to clean and more energy-efficient but not as durable.

Power Cord

Hamilton Beach 31401 Countertop Power Cord
  • Length:
    29.92 inches (76 cm)
  • Type
    :
    2-prong plug
  • Power:
    1200 W
  • Rated Output:
    120 V ~ 60 Hz

The power cord is long enough for household use.

Accessories: Baking Rack

Hamilton Beach 31401 Countertop Accessories: Baking Rack
Hamilton Beach 31401 Countertop Accessories: Baking Rack 1
  • Length:
    10.94 inches (27.8 cm)
  • Width:
    8.77 inches (22.3 cm)
  • Height:
    0.9 inches (2.3 cm)
  • Material:
    Stainless steel
  • Dishwasher Safe:
    Yes

The rack fits perfectly with the guide, which helps prevent accidents when placing your food in the oven.

Accessories: Baking Pan

Hamilton Beach 31401 Countertop Accessories: Baking Pan
Hamilton Beach 31401 Countertop Accessories: Baking Pan 1
  • Length:
    9.25 inches (23.5 cm)
  • Width:
    8.07 inches (20.5 cm)
  • Height:
    0.7 inches (1.8 cm)
  • Material:
    Stainless steel
  • Dishwasher Safe:
    Yes

The baking pan rests on the supports of the baking rack to catch any drippings and meat juice, preventing any mess and the risk of fire from dirty heating elements. However, it doesn’t have a good coating and sustained permanent stains after our Baked French Fries and Whole Roasted Chicken test.

Accessories: Removable Crumb Tray

Hamilton Beach 31401 Countertop Accessories: Removable Crumb Tray
  • Length:
    10.94 inches (27.8 cm)
  • Width:
    8.07 inches (20.5 cm)
  • Height:
    0.78 inches (2 cm)
  • Material:
    Stainless steel
  • Dishwasher Safe:
    Not advisable

Without a tray, falling crumbs are quite a hassle to clean up. However, some can still fall to the bottom of the oven as you remove the tray.

5.0

Build Quality

Hamilton Beach 31401 Countertop Build Quality

The Hamilton uses durable material but its construction isn’t very sturdy. Even though the control knobs turned smoothly, they felt a bit loose.

Usability

How We Rated
4.6
usability Scores
  • User Control (30%)
    7.0/10
  • Ease of Use (50%)
    3.0/10
  • Cleanability (20%)
    5.0/10

While the Hamilton Beach 31401 doesn’t offer much in terms of usability, it also doesn’t cause any inconvenience. Although the analog control knobs can make it difficult to pinpoint an exact time and temperature, it wasn’t a big problem.

7.0

User Control

Play video
Hamilton Beach 31401 Countertop User Control Video

Even though the Hamilton Beach only has three simple control knobs, there are a few things to keep in mind. For the timer knob, when setting it to less than 10 minutes, always rotate past 10 minutes and then rotate back to the desired time.

It’s also tricky to precisely adjust time and temperature but we didn’t find this to be an issue. You can use an oven thermometer and an external timer to get familiar before eye-balling it.

3.0

Ease of Use

Play video
Hamilton Beach 31401 Countertop Ease of Use Video

With three control knobs, it’s very simple to readjust cooking settings. The cooking cycle finishes when the timer reaches Off. When this happens, the oven will ding once and shut off. As it has no digital display, you can freely leave this oven plugged in without worrying about power consumption.

It’s easy to keep the door partially open to let food cool down but be careful as the oven’s exterior gets hot to the touch quite quickly. However, opening the door doesn’t stop the oven, unlike some others.

5.0

Cleanability

Hamilton Beach 31401 Countertop Cleanability
Hamilton Beach 31401 Countertop Cleanability 1
Hamilton Beach 31401 Countertop Cleanability 2
Hamilton Beach 31401 Countertop Cleanability 3

The Hamilton Beach oven’s exterior and interior were easy to clean following the steps of our toaster oven cleaning guide. Due to the chicken touching the upper safeguard during cooking, there were some caramelized bits stuck to it. Nonetheless, they were easy to remove with just dish soap and a sponge.

We accidentally burnt a batch of toast during our test and it caught fire which led to some discoloration on the oven’s exterior. Luckily, we were able to remove most of it with an all-purpose cleaner.

What surprised us the most, however, were the permanent stains left on the baking pan. Even after we applied a paste of baking soda and water and then scrubbed it with diluted vinegar, the stains didn’t budge at all.

Prior to First Time Use

If you’re using the Hamilton Beach 31401 Countertop Toaster Oven & Pizza Maker for the first time, don’t forget to follow these few pieces of advice:

1. Place the oven on a flat surface with at least 5 inches of space above and around all sides.

2. Make sure your outlet is 120 V - 1200 W.

3. Do not operate the Hamilton Beach on the same circuit with another appliance to avoid electrical problems.

4. Make sure the interior of the oven is dry and clean before use.

5. Burn off the new ovens’ smell from the materials and protective layering. Do this by setting the temperature to max, convection on, and timer to 15 minutes. It’s normal to see smoke during this process for a new oven and it will not last longer than 15 minutes.

Hamilton Beach 31401 FAQs