Our Toaster Oven performance TestFrench Fries
French fries are one of the most common side dishes not to mention a yummy snack on their own. And with the public’s growing health consciousness, more and more people have started to bake or air fry french fries instead of frying them in oil. So, the test for baking french fries takes up 10% of our performance score for a toaster oven.
Our test is to decide if each toaster oven can bake perfectly golden and crispy french fries. We then compare the results to help you determine an oven for your next batch of baked french fries.
Prior to the Actual Test
First, we had to come up with a set of standards for our test of baking french fries in a toaster oven. This was to ensure that the steps and results of our tests would be consistent and could be replicated reliably.
We decided to use 12 oz of frozen straight-cut 2.76” x 0.276” (7cm x 7mm) french fries. Such a serving of fries can be spread evenly in one layer in the air fryer or the baking ban.
Our choice of fries comes already coated in vegetable oil so we decided there would be no need to add any. We also decided to bake them frozen, straight from the freezer.
Following the air fryer french fries recipe from Healthy Recipe 101, we decided our initial cooking time and temperature would be 15 minutes at 400°F (flipped after 10 minutes). If the finished fries could be improved by adjusting the time and temperature, we would do so to find the best settings.
We determined the 4 scoring factors to be cooking time, color, texture, and taste, which we explain below. Frozen french fries are already cooked so we didn’t need to consider doneness. If the oven comes with an air fryer basket, the resulting fries are usually better and would thus garner a higher score.
Smartphone timer: Timing is key in cooking so we measure the time for baking french fries with a smartphone timer. If the toaster oven has a fries function, we check if it matches the preset timer.
Oven thermometer: Because temperature is another essential factor, we use a thermometer to keep track of the oven’s internal temperature. Similar to cooking time, we also check if it matches the preset temperature of the fries function if available.
Camera: We record all the testing procedures on camera.
- We place a thermometer inside the toaster oven and preheat for 10 minutes or until it reaches 400°F. We also use a phone timer when not provided by the oven.
- We place 12 oz of frozen straight-cut 2.76” x 0.276” (7cm x 7mm) french fries on the baking pan or air fryer basket if available.
- After baking, we first check the color and take photos.
- We break up some of the fries to check the texture.
- We have a taste test with a group of four people including 2 cooks and finalize the score.
- If the outcome can be improved with a different time and temperature, we repeat the process to find the best settings.
How We Score
We mentioned earlier that the baked french fries test takes up 10% of the performance score. Scoring factors are cooking time (20%), color (20%), texture (20%), and taste (40%). Each factor and the overall score of the fries are shown on a scale of 0 to 10.
As mentioned above, we based our initial cooking time on the air fryer french fries recipe from Healthy Recipe 101 which was a fruit of labor from our head chef Tuyet Pham. After further consultation, we deem 25 minutes should be the time limit for baking 12 oz of french fries.
Performance-wise, since the portion size is the same, the cooking time shouldn’t be too different. When taking into account the 10 minutes of preheating the toaster oven to 400°F, another 30 minutes to bake a batch this size would be too long a time to wait to enjoy some fries.
We keep track of the amount of time suitable for baking french fries in each toaster oven. Then we compare them all together to devise a scoreboard with the fastest time among all ovens to be the benchmark for 10 points.
- 10/10: ≤ 12 minutes
- 9/10: 15 minutes
- 8/10: 18 minutes
- 7/10: 21 minutes
- 6/10: 24 minutes
- 5/10: 25 minutes
- 0/10: > 25 minutes
We check if the color is even for the entire batch of fries and if it’s perfectly golden.
- 10/10: Evenly golden color
- 8-9/10: Some areas are a bit light or too brown
- 6-7/10: Unevenly light and dark areas
- 0-5/10: Undercooked; No color; Burnt
For the texture, we check if the outside is crispy and the inside is still moist.
- 10/10: Perfectly crispy outside and moist inside
- 8-9/10: A bit crispy; A bit too moist or dry
- 6-7/10: Chewy and/or soft; Too moist or too dry
- 0-5/10: Undercooked; No color; Burnt
For all food including fries, taste is a largely subjective but crucial criterion. For a variety of viewpoints, our team of judges comprises one professional chef, one home cook, and two foodies. With years of experience and many professional awards under her belt, Tuyet Pham, our head chef, decides our scoring table.
The following factors summarize our assessment.
- Baking fries for longer than necessary can burn and dry them. Meanwhile, baking them for a shorter time can result in uneven color and a lack of crispiness.
- Baking fries at a higher cooking temperature than necessary can result in burnt but soggy fries. Meanwhile, a lower temperature can cause the fries to lack color and crispiness.
- If the fries are too burnt, they will most likely have an unappetizing bitter taste.