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Hamilton Beach 31401 Countertop Toaster Oven & Pizza Maker Review
Hamilton Beach 31401 Specifications
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. The oven’s weaknesses become more apparent when compared to the top choices we tested.
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
Things We Don’t Like
- No convection fan
- No internal lighting
- No safety mechanism for the door
- Updated Jul 25, 2022:
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. The user control is simple and it has a stay-on feature.
Hamilton Beach 4-Slice Toaster Oven Performance: Good for Toast Only
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, except for the toast. This was possibly due to the oven’s low power output in addition to having only two heating elements, unlike the Breville BOV450XL. One solution could be to decrease the amount of food compared to our test amount.
With our Toast test, we determined the best option was right at the position of the Toast icon—around 4 minutes 15 seconds on the timer, scoring a 7.7/10. Turning the knob halfway down would result in no color and turning it halfway up nearly burnt the toast.
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 a 7.5/10.
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.
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—around 3 minutes 40 seconds.
The Hamilton didn’t perform well in baking a 9-inch thick-crust meat pizza scoring a 5.6/10.
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.
For the most part, the crust didn’t have a good toasted coloring and was soft so it got a 6/10. The toppings had pretty good caramelization but some darkened areas of the cheese lowered the score to 7.5/10. After tasting the pizza, our chef gave it a 7/10.
1.0Whole Roasted Chicken
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.
After 1h 30m—our time limit, the oven wasn’t able to roast the chicken to a desirable outcome and failed the first criterion. After roasting, the skin had no noticeable caramelization and barely enough for a 5/10.
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. Due to the meat being undercooked, our chef couldn’t taste it to give a score.
4.0Baked French Fries
The Hamilton Beach wasn’t suitable for baking 12 oz of french fries scoring only a 4/10.
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.
There was no change in the fries’ color so they received a 5/10. The oven basically thawed and heated the fries so they were very soggy scoring another 5/10. Our chef could only give the fries a minimal score of 5/10 for taste.
Hamilton Beach Stainless Steel Toaster Oven Design: No Stand-Out Features
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 Hamilton Beach Countertop Toaster Oven 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.
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.
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 of the Hamilton Beach 31401 Toaster Oven
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.
The 31401 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. However, if grease splashes onto the heating elements while cooking, it’ll leave permanent stains.
Nonetheless, the oven suffers from a lack of internal lighting and a convection system, similar to most small units like the Mueller MT-175. Moreover, having only two heating elements may not distribute heat evenly as having four.
The Hamilton Beach, with only two tray levels, can accommodate 4 slices of toast, a 9-inch pizza, or barely a 3 lb chicken. We measured the cooking chamber’s volume to be roughly 12 liters which coincided with the manufacturer’s stated capacity.
Power Cord of the Hamilton Beach 31401 Countertop Toaster Oven
The power cord is long enough for household use.
Accessories: Baking Rack
The rack fits perfectly with the guide, which helps prevent accidents when placing your food in the oven. Unfortunately, by burning a batch of toast, we left some extremely stubborn burnt bits on some rods.
Accessories: Baking Pan
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
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.
The Hamilton uses durable material but its construction isn’t very sturdy. Even though the control knobs turned smoothly, they felt a bit loose.
Hamilton Beach 31401 4-Slice Toaster Oven Usability Review: Not Much Offered
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.
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.
3.0Ease of Use
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.
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.
Hamilton Beach 31401 FAQs
No, the Hamilton Beach doesn’t have internal lighting. Yes, it has a stay-on function.
The Hamilton Beach uses 1200 Watts of power. The oven’s exterior gets hot to the touch quite quickly.
This oven doesn’t have a non-stick coating so it’s free of PFOA. Nonetheless, it’s still easy to clean.
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.
About your guide
Alan Nguyen is a writer and product reviewer at Healthy Kitchen 101. His major in English language teaching taught him to present concise information. In addition to his cooking hobby, he values the practical aspects of household appliances.
Lap Vo is head of the Research, Testing, and Review Team (the RTR) at Healthy Kitchen 101. He is responsible for designing and overseeing the testing of kitchen tools and appliances.
Tuyet Pham is an award-winning Saigonese chef who believes that joy is the secret ingredient to delicious food. At Healthy Recipes 101, Tuyet personally tests and simplifies every recipe, ensuring maximum flavor with minimal effort. With a background at prestigious French restaurants P’TI Saigon and Le Corto, Tuyet knows how to make every dish exceptional.