If you’re not best friends with your toaster (yes, your toaster), then it’s time to reconsider your squad goals. Believe it or not, there are tons of things you can make in a toaster that you never would have guessed, and it’s just about as easy as it gets. This is what cooking should be about. Kitchen appliances can either be a lazy chef’s best friend (hello, microwave), or their worst enemy (I’m looking at you, hot dog toaster). They can either simplify your life by helping you cook your meals faster and easier, or they can make things more complicated than they have to be. On top of that, there are plenty of appliances that serve a single purpose — ice cream makers, rice cookers, margarita machines — that take up space in your already cramped kitchen without contributing a whole lot to your culinary arsenal. But your toaster? Your toaster is here to make meal prep a breeze.
While you might think of your toaster as one of those appliances that don’t do more than one thing, think again. Toasters, though not as versatile as their cooler older brother, the toaster oven, can do more than just brown your bread and burn your bagel. With the help of toaster bags, which are exactly what they sound like — bags you can use safely in the toaster — you can conquer much more than just Pop-Tarts (which are delicious, by the way). Toaster bags are a no-mess way of cooking things with cheese, vegetables, and even meats in your toaster without dripping food everywhere, and, maybe more importantly, without catching your kitchen on fire. If you’re not one to buy into those “as-seen-on-TV” gimmicks, you can try and make your own with a bit of parchment paper and some help from this tutorial by The Kitchn. With a little bit of prep work, your toaster can become a mecca for grilled sandwiches, and so much more. Even without toaster bags, you’d be surprised to find out what can be prepared in your toaster. Who needs an oven anyway, right?
With or without toaster bags, it’s time you start putting your appliance to good use. Here are seven things you probably didn’t know you could make in a toaster:
1. Grilled Cheese Sandwich
American, cheddar, mozzarella — pick your favorite cheese, and grab your toaster, because your choices are seriously endless. If you’re feeling fancy, you can even add a slice of tomato or some deli meat. Just assemble your preferred grilled cheese, slide it in a toaster bag, pop it in the toaster, and a few minutes later, you’ve got a gooey, hot sandwich, no clean up required. If your office has a toaster, work lunches just got a whole lot better.
2. Veggie Burgers
For a crispy veggie burger, forget the microwave, because the toaster is the way to go. Unlike beef or other meat patties, veggie burgers don’t run the risk of dripping fat into your toaster and setting your whole place on fire. They cook quickly and evenly and leave little mess behind. Just make sure to clean out your toaster’s tray after cooking, as you should with anything you make in the toaster.
3. Garlic Bread
OK, so this is a kind of toast, but did you know you can make crispy, crunchy garlic bread in the toaster? Take a slice of Italian bread, smother it with olive oil or butter, sprinkle it with garlic powder or spread it with minced garlic, and add a little cheese on top for a single serving of hot, fresh garlic bread. Just don’t try this without parchment paper or a toaster bag to help keep it from dripping into your toaster.
You say panini, I say fancy grilled cheese, and since we have already conquered the toaster grilled cheese, why stop there? With your bread of choice, vegetables, meats, sauces, and cheeses, you can have a full-blown artisan sandwich even if you don’t have a panini press. Just throw it all together, pop it in the toaster bag, push the toaster down, and try not to drool over the smell of your lunch cooking.
5. Reheated Pizza
Cold pizza is amazing — no argument there. But, when you want your leftovers to be as gooey and cheesy as they were when you first ordered them, avoid the microwave at all costs. Instead, turn your toaster (and a toaster bag) into a brick oven. I promise it’s better than the soggy, chewy slice you’ll get from the microwave.
6. Leftover French Fries & Onion Rings
On the off chance you have leftover fries or onion rings — and on what planet would that ever happen? — you can bring them back to their original glory by reheating them in the toaster. They won’t be the mushy mess you’re used to, and they’ll reclaim their crispness and make your tastebuds just as happy as they did the first time around.
7. DIY Tortilla Chips
No tortilla chips, but plenty of corn or flour tortillas? Toast up a few pieces on high, and voila! Your soft shells have become crisp chips, and you never had to go to the store. Now you can stop eating your guacamole with a spoon.