The Hamilton Beach 31344DA can save a lot of space on your kitchen counter thanks to its small size and roll-top door. It’s also lightweight and easy to move around which makes it suitable for people who are constantly on the go and not staying in one place for long.
It did an acceptable job in cooking the foods in our performance test including roasting a whole chicken despite its small capacity. However, the design of the cooking chamber did make it tricky to clean.
The oven also has the common limitation of small toaster ovens which is a low power draw. This affected its ability to perform well in our Baked French Fries test.
Having a simple control panel, the oven didn’t have much to offer in terms of usability.
Things We Like
- Lightweight and small size
- Durable alloy steel casing
- 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 Nov 4, 2022:
The silver alloy steel Hamilton Beach 31344DA Small Countertop Roll-Top Toaster Oven is designed to save space on your kitchen counter. This inexpensive toaster oven does the job of cooking for two people and is as simple to use as possible. In addition, it’s made of durable material but still light in weight.
We hope that our comprehensive review will enable you to make an informed choice regarding purchasing your next toaster oven. We'll also give you some pointers on what you should and shouldn't do to get the most out of this oven.
Hamilton Beach Easy Reach 4 Slices Toaster Oven In-depth Review
PerformanceHow We Tested
The Hamilton Beach 31344DA delivered an adequate cooking performance for a small toaster oven. It was able to do the job of roasting a whole chicken even though the cooking chamber didn’t have enough space. However, our Baked French Fries test exposed the oven’s weakness of low power output.
To start off our Toast test, we placed four pieces of bread on the lower tray level and turned the time knob to the point just before the toast icon which was around 4 minutes 5 seconds on the timer. The bread came out only lightly toasted on top.
Thus, we tried increasing the timer to 5 minutes and had a pretty good result. We then tried increasing the timer again to 7 minutes and 20 seconds just for good measure but that almost burnt the toast.
With everything in mind, we decided 5 minutes of toasting would yield the best possible result and the final score was 6.7/10. It was quite tricky to get the exact toasting time due to the analog control knob so we used an external timer.
The top of the four pieces of toast had a good golden brown color around the center of the oven but was only lightly toasted in the rear ends. On the bottom, the lightly toasted areas were even larger so we gave the toast a 7/10 for even surface color.
The toast was a bit too crispy in the golden brown areas and a little dry in the lighter areas so we could only give it a 6.8/10 for taste. Our head chef, Tuyet Pham, determined it would go well with omelets and eggs benedict but not sandwiches and soups.
The second batch came out brown on both the top and the bottom and crispy throughout which could be more suitable for soup than the first batch. However, there were still lighter areas on both sides and the bottom even had some burnt ends.
Thus, we could only give the oven a 6.3/10 for consecutive usability. If you want the second batch to be the same as the first, around four minutes on the timer should be enough.
We used the Hamilton to bake a 9-inch thick-crust meat pizza at 450°F for our Pizza test and the final score was 6.6/10. To our surprise, the oven took 6 minutes to bake the pizza which was very fast and worthy of a 9/10 for cooking time.
Unfortunately, the crust showed the oven’s uneven heat distribution. The bottom right quarter of the crust was almost brown before the rest could become an ideal golden brown color. The crust was also mostly soft so we could only give it a 6/10.
The same problem also showed in the toppings, getting the oven another 6/10. While the cheese was only slightly melty and the meat was mostly not caramelized, some pieces of meat had some burnt ends.
With that said, our chef gave the pizza one final 6/10 after tasting it.
6.6Whole Roasted Chicken
The cooking chamber of the Hamilton technically didn’t have enough space for a 3 lb whole chicken as required in our Whole Roasted Chicken test. Thus, we had to place the chicken in front of the upper heating element which led to a number of problems.
On the bright side, the result wasn’t too bad at 6.6/10 in total. If you choose to roast a whole chicken in this oven, we recommend flattening the chicken out, cutting it open, or cutting it into pieces.
The oven took 1 hour 20 minutes to roast the chicken which was 20-minute longer than the standard, so we gave it a 6/10.
Looking at the skin, the side which faced the door lacked color due to the lower temperature. In addition, the chicken grazed the upper heating element’s guard a number of times which caused parts of it to burn and led to some smoke during roasting and burnt bits on the guards afterward.
The silver lining in this was that around the burnt areas actually had a nice golden brown color. However, due to a lower power draw, the skin on the sides basically had no color. With everything in mind, we could only give the skin a 5/10.
Interestingly, the chicken had near-perfect doneness at 9.8/10. The meat had no pink spots with an internal temperature of 174°F-183°F which was really close to the USDA recommendation.
The ideal doneness helped maintain the tenderness and juiciness of the meat. However, the skin was really unappetizing, so our chef could only give the chicken a 6/10 for taste.
3.6Baked French Fries
The Hamilton was at its weakest baking 12 oz of frozen fries for our Baked French Fries test, scoring a 3.6/10.
At 26 minutes, which was over our time limit, the fries still had no significant change in color. Thus, we stopped the baking process and gave the oven a 0/10 for cooking time.
Color-wise, the fries didn’t look much different before and after baking. The only saving grace was that the fries were actually cooked, so we could still give it a 4.5/10 for color.
Similarly, the fries had a texture like they were air dried which was still better than boiled french fries which are simply soft and soggy. Thus, it got another 4.5/10.
After tasting this batch of french fries that lacked both color and texture, our chef couldn’t give a higher score than 4.5/10.
DesignHow We Rated
It’s understandable that an oven designed to be this simple to not have additional features. However, the Hamilton Beach 31344DA has some shortcomings in terms of capacity and cleaning.
In the Box
- Model: 31344DA
- Warranty: US - 1 year; Canada - 5 years
- User Manual
- Baking Rack
- Baking Pan
- Removable Crumb Tray
The Hamilton toaster oven along with its accessories and a simple user manual come in a basic carton box. The oven is positioned with two foam pads and the accessories are duct-taped to it.
Although simple, the Hamilton has all the basic exterior feature of a toaster oven and also something more. The roll-top door is a neat feature that can make it easier to move food in and out of the oven and save some space on the kitchen counter.
To make it easy to carry the oven, the two sides of the casing have two shallow arches. The oven has a cool-touch door handle and two back buffers to prevent it from being too close to the walls.
Our measurements of 15.75" x 11.93" x 8.39" for the oven coincided almost completely with the manufacturer’s 16.12" x 11.93" x 8.97", with marginal differences being less than an inch.
The Hamilton has two simple control knobs: one for temperature and one for time. The timer has a stay-on setting to help with its short range, similar to many other small toaster ovens.
The temperature knob indicates the lowest temperature setting to be 200°F which is quite limited. Interestingly, however, we could actually set the temperature as low as 120°F by only turning the knob until we heard a small clank before the 200°F mark.
- Not available
Not having multiple functions doesn’t affect a toaster oven’s mechanism which is to heat air up to certain temperature to cook food. However, it does mean that user won’t have any way to operate only the upper or lower heating element.
Capacity: 13.28 liters - 4 slices of toast - 9-inch pizza
The Hamilton shares the same lack of interior features including a convection system and an interior light similar to many other units of the same size. The design didn’t allow for maximum use of the space inside the cooking chamber even though it had two tray levels, similar to most other small toaster ovens.
While we measured the capacity to be around 13.28 liters, we couldn’t fit a 3-pound chicken due to insufficient height. It also only has two quartz heating elements which can usually lead to uneven heat distribution compared to four or more heating elements.
Nonetheless, they use infrared light to cook which makes the process faster and more energy-efficient than the more common nichrome heating elements. They also cool down faster and are easier to clean but not as durable. However, if grease splashes onto the heating elements while cooking, it’ll leave permanent stains.
The power cord has enough length for household use and an oven this size— roughly 34.65". The fact that it protrudes from the bottom of the oven may leads to some inconvenient bends though.
Accessories: Baking Rack
The baking rack has two supports below to slide the baking pan in. The supports narrows at the back to prevent the pan from sliding out but the entire thing doesn’t conform pecfectly.
Accessories: Baking Pan
The baking pan isn’t 100% non-stick so it may be prone to stubborn stains after a hefty roast. During our performance tests, the pan bends when heated, but luckily didn’t cause any issue.
Accessories: Removable Crumb Tray
The removable crumb tray is useful for cleaning up crumbs and bits which can be quite a hassle. However, some of the mess may still fall to the bottom of the oven upon taking out the tray.
The Hamilton’s exterior shell is made from alloy steel which has a higher tensile strength than stainless. We speculated the reason for this choice was to have the roll-top door—which can be easily removed for cleaning—more durable.
The casing also seems to have good heat insulation and only got hot to the touch after a long cooking time at a high temperature (>400°F). The knobs turn smoothly and has a contoured design for better grip.
UsabilityHow We Rated
The Hamilton Beach 31344DA is intended to be simple and therefore doesn’t offer much when it comes to user control, ease of use, and cleanability. However, cleaning was quite an issue due to the design limitations.
The user control of the Hamilton cannot be any easier which just two knobs. Nonetheless, 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.
To select the Toast function, you’ll need to turn the temperature knob to maximum, indicated by the Toast icon. This is concise with the fact that for all toaster ovens, their toast function has an endpoint temperature of 450°F.
Similar to other manual toaster ovens, it can be tricky to precisely set time and temperature. This can be easily dealt with, however, by using an external timer and an oven thermometer for more accurate measurements.
5.0Ease of Use
To remove the door, you simply need to fully open it, then pull straight up. The door can’t be kept open partially to let food cool inside the oven. With two control knobs, it’s easier than ever to readjust cooking settings.
The cooking cycle finishes when the timer reaches O (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.
Due to its design, the Hamilton was more tricky to clean than intended. Because the chicken grazed the upper heating element’s guard during our test, it left some permanent stains there. Luckily, the heating element itself was intact.
As the oven doesn’t have a non-stick interior coating, there were also permanent grease stains on the cooking chamber’s ceiling. Some discoloration even made it to the top of the casing due to it not being stainless steel and the shape of the door.
In addition, the grease splashed into some tricky spots on the door, but it can be thoroughly wiped off after removing the door. The baking pan sustained some stubborn stains as well but we were able to brush them off with a paste of baking soda and water.
The Hamilton Beach Easy Reach 4 Slices Compared to Other Toaster Ovens
As small toaster ovens of the same brand, the Hamilton Beach 31344DA had a higher overall score than the Hamilton Beach 31401. At a slightly higher price, the Hamilton Beach 31344DA had better performance, design, and usability. Nonetheless, it has a lot of limitations compared to our picks of best toaster ovens.
You can pay roughly the same price to get the Hamilton Beach 31127D—a medium-sized toaster oven of the same brand. While the difference in score wasn’t much, the 31344DA had a smaller cooking chamber which was more difficult to clean.
The Hamilton Beach 31344DA was significantly cheaper than the Breville BOV450XL—our best small toaster oven. However, the former didn’t have the design and usability features that made the latter easier to use and clean. In addition, the Hamilton didn’t have as strong a power draw to compete in cooking foods for our performance tests.
Hamilton Beach Easy Reach 4 Slices FAQs
Length: 11 inches
Width: 9.84 inches
Height: 7.48 inches
No, the Hamilton Beach 31344DA doesn’t have internal lighting. Yes, it has a stay-on function.
The Hamilton Beach 31344DA uses 1200 Watts of power. The oven only got hot to the touch after a long cooking time at a high temperature (>400°F).
The cooking cycle finishes when the timer reaches O (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. No, the Hamilton Beach 31344DA doesn’t have a turn-on timer.