Our recommendations are made independently through Research & Testing. We may receive commissions from purchases made via our links.
Hamilton Beach Easy Reach 4 Slices Toaster Oven In-depth Review
Hamilton Beach Easy Reach 4 Slices Specifications
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 tests, 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 as other small toaster ovens, which is a low power draw. This affected its ability to perform well in our Baked French Fries test and its ranking on our list.
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 with 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.
Hamilton Beach Easy-Reach Performance: Adequate but With a Weakness
The Hamilton Beach 31344DA delivered an adequate cooking performance for a small toaster oven—not as high as the Breville BOV450XL. 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 good golden-brown color in areas that were closest to the center of the oven, but was only lightly toasted in areas furthest away from the center of the oven. 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 almost became brown before the rest could turn 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, giving the oven another 6/10. While the cheese was only slightly melty and most of the meat was not caramelized, some pieces of meat had some burnt ends.
With that said, our chef gave the pizza a 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 directly 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 for a total score. 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 minutes longer than the standard cooking time, so we gave it a 6/10.
Looking at the skin, the side that 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 the chicken to burn and led to the oven smoking during roasting as well as burnt bits on the guards afterward.
The silver lining in this was that 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 and 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 that 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.
Hamilton Beach Roll-Top Toaster Oven Design Review: Some Shortcomings
It’s understandable that an oven designed to be this simple would not have additional features. However, the Hamilton Beach 31344DA has some shortcomings in terms of capacity and cleaning.
In the Box of the Hamilton Beach 31344DA Easy-Reach
- 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, came in a basic cardboard box. The oven is secured with two foam pads and the accessories are duct-taped to it.
Although simple, the Hamilton has all the basic exterior features 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 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.
Cooking Functions of the Hamilton Beach 4-Slice Easy-Reach Toaster Oven
- Not available
Not having multiple functions doesn’t affect a toaster oven’s mechanism, which is to heat air up to a certain temperature to cook food. However, it does mean that the user won’t have any way to operate only the upper or lower heating elements individually.
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 like most other small toaster ovens, including the Mueller MT-175.
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.
While we couldn’t find the manufacturer’s capacity, we measured the cooking chamber’s volume to be around 13.28 liters. The 31344DA can accommodate four slices of toast or a 9-inch pizza, but not a 3-pound chicken due to insufficient height.
Power Cord of the Hamilton Beach Roll-Top Toaster Oven
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 lead to some inconvenient bends, though.
Accessories: Baking Rack
The baking rack has two supports below to slide the baking pan in. It fits perfectly with the guide to prevent accidents when placing your food in the oven. The supports narrow at the back to prevent the pan from sliding out, but the entire thing doesn’t conform perfectly.
Accessories: Baking Pan
The baking pan fits nicely below the rack to catch any meat juice and drippings, which helps prevent any mess and the risk of fire from dirty heating elements. Keep in mind that it 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 issues.
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 have a contoured design for better grip.
Hamilton Beach 4-Slice Easy-Reach Toaster Oven Usability: Not Much To Offer
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 with 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 the maximum, indicated by the Toast icon. This is consistent 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 partially open 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 anticipated. 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.
Hamilton Beach Easy Reach 4 Slices FAQs
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.
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.