This post involved a lot of research! In the end, I have a solid list of non-toxic toaster ovens, which includes convection oven types and air fryer toaster ovens. I have messaged and talked to every company on the list so you don’t have to.
I will also explain the main chemicals of concern found in toaster ovens.
My list of favorite non-toxic toaster ovens meets the following criteria (which is based on my opinion):
- Are free of per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS).
- Are made with stainless steel bodies.
- Food contact areas are stainless steel or chrome plated steel (or could be replaced with stainless steel items easily).
- If a food contact area is made with uncoated aluminum or a non-stick surface it will be noted (as you might choose to avoid that model or replace that part).
- I will note if it carries a Prop 65 warning (though this is not a great indicator of real life exposure to harmful chemicals in many cases).
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Chemicals of Concern in Toaster Ovens
Toaster ovens oftentimes contain non-stick coatings on the inside which are made from per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFAS). These chemicals are referred to as “forever chemicals” because they don’t break down inside your body or in the environment (source).
But is there a risk of exposure in toaster ovens?
When PFAS like PTFE coatings overheat, “they can produce fumes that are deadly to small birds and may be harmful to humans as well”. This is a real life “canary in the kitchen,” says Graham Peaslee, PhD, a professor of physics, chemistry, and biochemistry at the University of Notre Dame who studies PFAS.
So what is overheating? Dr. Peaslee explained in an email that “Teflon/PTFE starts to decompose at about 500℉ (260°C). It releases gases at these temperatures that will kill small birds and cause something call “Teflon flu”. These gases include a fluorinated version of phosgene – the WWI mustard gas component.”
“Other PFAS behave differently than PTFE (Teflon), but many will evolve as gases and become inhalation hazards,” says Dr. Peaslee.
Some toaster ovens do reach 500℉, though most only reach 450℉, so depending on what PFAS was used, this might not be a risk to the person using the oven.
I prefer to avoid this chemical in toaster ovens, which is based on my opinion of the risks to humans and the environment. All models listed will be free of PFAS (according to manufacturer’s information).
2. Flame Retardants
According to the Prop 65 website, flame retardants can be added to the plastic components of appliances. (Source) My list of toaster ovens focuses on stainless steel models.
3. Non-Stick Ceramic Coatings
“Ceramic coatings” can be made of a sol–gel ceramic, which has a Si–O–Si (siloxane) polymeric structure (source).
Based on the testing that we have so far, it also seems that ceramic non-stick coatings contain various metals. For example, Tamara Rubin’s XRF testing of a ceramic-coated frying pan tested positive for the following metals: Lead: 34 +/- 6 ppm (safe according to all standards — but not negative, she explains), Chromium: 7,837 +/- 284 ppm, Tin: 23 +/- 6 ppm, Platinum: 206 +/- 26 ppm, Zinc: 1,789 +/- 45 ppm, Copper: 4,965 +/- 87 ppm, Nickel: 615 +/- 41 ppm, Iron: 7,795 +/- 196 ppm, Manganese: 480 +/- 148 ppm, Vanadium: 1,039 +/- 230 ppm, and Titanium: 37,700 +/- 900 ppm. (Source).
Another brand of frying pan with a ceramic coating tested positive for Barium: 1,220 +/- 200 ppm, Chromium: 126 +/- 59 ppm, Antimony: 66 +/- 40 ppm, Iron: 2,361 +/- 177 ppm, and Titanium: 51,900 +/- 900 ppm. (Source) (And here is one more “ceramic” coated pan that tested positive for similar metals).
None of these metals would become a gas at 500℉.
However, not all brands with a ceramic non-stick coating are the same. One brand, GreatJones for example, is not free of all PFAS. So I would make sure, if you are avoiding PFAS, that you check that your ceramic coatings are free of PFAS.
If the ceramic coating is in contact with food, it is possible that metals could leach out, though we don’t have full disclosure on what metals each ceramic coating contains and leaching tests to see how much they leach.
Some trays and pans in toaster ovens can be made of aluminum. “Cooking wet, acidic foods in uncoated aluminum is particularly to be avoided since they cause more of the metal to leach into the food than dry, non-acidic items.” (source)
“Aluminum cookware that has been anodized … or clad in a non-reactive metal such as stainless steel or a non-stick coating, does not leach into or react with foods.” (source)
I will note if the toaster oven has any uncoated aluminum parts that are in contact with the food.
5. Prop 65 Chemicals of Concern
What is Prop 65?
Proposition 65 is a warning label for Californians about significant exposures to chemicals that cause cancer, birth defects, or other reproductive harm. Any product that is sold in California will have this label even at retailers outside of California.
The list contains naturally occurring and synthetic chemicals. It is updated yearly and there are currently 900 chemicals on the list in 2023.
All toaster ovens will have at least one Prop 65 chemical. I would not avoid brands due to this label myself, due to the fact that the exposure limit is often not assessed.
Technically this label is for “significant exposures” and the chemicals need not be listed if “the exposure is low enough to pose no significant risk of cancer or is significantly below levels observed to cause birth defects or other reproductive harm.”
However, in reality, the exposure risk is not usually calculated and you will still see the label if the product contains only trace levels of the Prop 65 chemicals or even when the chemicals are enclosed within the product and there is no reasonable way to gain exposure to them.
Are Companies Adding This to Everything?
It does seem like there are companies that add this to all their products even though they might not contain a chemical on the list, if the exposure is extremely minimal, or exposure is not expected with regular use.
There is no penalty for providing an unnecessary warning.
Toaster ovens will contain one or more of these Prop 65 chemicals, but mostly in their internal parts. I will note if the appliance carries a Prop 65 warning. I will not be making a judgment on whether it’s a significant exposure.
Which Prop 65 Chemicals Can Be Found in Appliances:
1. Phthalates may be present in plastic components of appliances (specifically in flexible vinyl) according to the Prop 65 website. Electrical wiring is often coated in vinyl, and there may be other PVC parts in appliances.
2. BPA could be found in plastic (PVC or polycarbonate) components of a toaster oven.
5. Antimony: Tamara Rubin has found that most appliance electrical cords will test positive for Antimony (as a component of added flame retardants). When she tests electrical cords of appliances, she normally finds the level in the range of 5,000 to 15,000 parts per million (ppm).
6. Arsenic: Tamara says she often finds trace Arsenic in black plastic handles of kitchen tools and appliances. She believes it is likely a contaminant of the black pigmentation. In one test she found extremely low levels of Arsenic in the black plastic handle of a kettle (3 +/- 1 ppm). This is safe, by any standard she explains, though it’s still a Prop 65 Chemical.
7. Lead: is almost always a component of brass parts, and it can be found in plastic, solder, electrical cords, nuts, painted parts, and more in appliances.
8. Nickel: is part of stainless steel.
9. Some PFAS: three PFAS were added to Prop 65: PFOA, PFOS, and PFNA. PFOS and PFOA had been mostly phased out of use in the United States by the time they were listed, but were still used in products manufactured internationally and imported for sale. PTFE (Teflon) is not on the list, but is often contaminated with PFOA (source).
10. Other Proposition 65 chemicals may also be present in enclosed components of the appliance (such as printed circuit boards). During normal use, consumer exposure to these chemicals is expected to be negligible according to the Prop 65 website.
Non-Toxic Toaster Ovens
This is the top pick because it is the only option on the list that is ALL stainless steel/galvanized steel on ALL interior parts and accessories.
Functions: HYSapientia Air Fryer Convection Oven has the following functions: air fry, grill/broil, bake, dehydrate, thaw, rotisserie, toast, fish, pizza, and steak.
HYSapientia air fryer oven is made of stainless steel on the outside and galvanized steel on the inside.
All the accessories that are in direct contact with the food, such as grill racks, frying baskets, grill racks for chicken are stainless steel.
Prop 65 warning: No
Price point: They have two sizes, both under or around $150 on Amazon
This is the top pick in the low-cost category, but to meet all of my criteria I would replace the baking pan with a stainless steel version.
Functions: The BLACK+DECKER Extra Wide Convection Toaster Oven (8 slice) has the following functions: Bake, broil, toast, and keep warm. You can bake lasagna, brownies, and even 12″ pizzas in this larger true convection model.
The exterior of the body of Black+Decker toaster ovens is stainless steel.
All the interior sides of the Black+Decker toaster ovens are made of stainless steel with a zinc coating. The rack is stainless steel (though it might be chrome coated which is also safe, they were not that clear). The baking pan definitely does not have a non-stick coating and is aluminum they said on the phone (but they weren’t 100% sure about that part). If you want to buy your own 12″ stainless steel baking pan, this one looks good (though you might want to measure the one that comes with it first for the best match).
See all the Black+Decker toaster & convection toaster ovens here.
Prop 65 warning : Yes, the company confirmed that their toaster ovens have a Prop 65 warning for styrene and BPA in the cord. The rep advised washing your hands after handling the cord.
Price point: Under $100 on Amazon
3. Oster Digital Air Fryer Oven
This is also a top pick though if you want to avoid raw aluminum in food contact areas, you would have to replace the pans and trays.
Functions: The Oster Digital Air Fryer Oven air fryer, convection oven, broiler, toaster oven, dehydrator, and more. The large interior fits a 12” pizza.
It goes up to 450℉.
Materials: A rep for the company says its interior design is made up of galvanized steel or aluminized steel which makes it easy to clean and is safe (this might be why the Amazon listing says non-stick).
The baking pan, broiling pan, and tray are made of just aluminum without a non-stick coating. You may choose to replace these pans/trays with stainless steel options since aluminum can leach into certain foods with enough contact time. The oven’s interior dimensions are 12 1/4 inch wide and 12 1/2 inches deep.
The air fryer basket and wire rack are chrome plated steel which is safe.
Prop 65 warning: No.
Price point: Between $150-$200 on Amazon
4. Hamilton Beach Countertop Toaster Oven
A relatively small and inexpensive choice. Like with some of the others, my preference would be to replace the aluminum baking pan.
Functions: The Hamilton Beach Toaster Oven Air Fryer Combo with Large Capacity has bake, toast, broil and air fry functions. As a toaster oven, it fits 6 slices of toast, a 12″ pizza, or a 9″ x 11″ baking pan.
They also have a toaster oven with bake, toast, broil and convection settings.
It goes up to 450℉.
Materials: The interior cavity is made of galvanized steel. The oven rack is made of chrome-plated steel. The mesh basket is made of chrome-plated steel. The baking pan is made of aluminized steel. This appliance does not feature any non-stick coatings.
Prop 65 warning: I don’t see one listed on sellers’ sites.
Price point: Under $100 on Amazon
Other options that were on other bloggers’ lists:
The Emeril Lagasse Air Fryer Toaster Oven might contain PFAS coatings, specifically they sent this document about PTFE in one email. In other emails, they said it has no coating. It wasn’t clear, after many emails with the company, if it has non-stick coatings and where they are.
Regarding KitchenAid KCO211BM I could not get passed the canned responses. They said “the material is not DuPont Teflon, PFTE, or PFOE, and is not harmful to birds.” They did not say it’s free of all PFAS.
The Galanz Air Fryer Toaster Oven has a non-stick coating which is Teflon, a rep said on the phone.
Corinne Segura is a Building Biologist Practitioner with 8 years of experience helping others create healthy homes.
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