Fairly lightweight for its size
Plenty of space for cooking
Reasonably even baking
Large footprint needs plenty of space
No presets for time and temp
No internal light
The promise of rotisserie chicken made me excited about the Hamilton Beach Countertop Oven With Convection and Rotisserie (model 31104D), but one cannot live on poultry alone. I baked a frozen pizza, enjoyed cookies, and even created a casserole. After fiddling with all the settings, munching on toasted bagels, and ogling a spinning chicken, here are all the pros and cons of this popular roaster oven.
Setup Process: Simple
This oven required little setup. I washed the racks and other pieces that would contact food, and I let the empty oven heat up to burn off manufacturing residue.
Design: Big and basic
At 15 inches high, 23.4 inches wide, and 18 inches deep, this is a fairly large oven that eats quite a bit of countertop space. Fortunately, it’s not an unattractive piece, so it could sit out if it’s used every day.
While it fits under my kitchen cabinets, I wouldn’t recommend using it in that location because of the heat it produces. The oven door and the top of the oven get hot quickly, while it takes longer for the sides to get hot. Still, it’s an oven, so caution should be taken any time it’s in use. It might be best located on an island or a table for ample airflow all around. When you need to move it, it’s light enough to handle easily.
This is a fairly large oven that eats quite a bit of countertop space. Fortunately, it’s not an unattractive piece, so it could sit out if it’s used every day.
The oven’s door has a large, thick, wide handle that helps to keep hands away from the glass when the glass becomes hot from use, with enough space to wear an oven mitt when opening it. The door doesn’t close automatically until the door is a few inches from closing, and in fact, it can be left ajar when it’s about 2 inches from being closed. It can, however, free-fall downward when it’s open about 5 inches. If there’s counter space in front of it, the handle would hit the counter. If it’s placed close to the edge of a counter, the hinge would get jarred. Since most of the door is glass, I suggest not slamming it in either direction and making it a point to close it gently.
The large footprint translates to a generous capacity. It’s billed as being able to accommodate two 12-inch pizzas, two 9 x 13-inch casseroles, or two cake pans, and I found that to be true. Despite the lack of interior light, I was able to see through the glass to see my food cooking, although I would have appreciated a light for a better view.
Controls: Several cooking modes, temperatures, and times
The controls are easy to understand, with knobs to set the cooking method, temperature, and time. Depending on the lighting, sometimes it was difficult to read the settings since they are printed with silver ink on a shiny black surface. The arrow on the knobs was all but invisible (just a raised bit on the knob and not a different color), but the finger and thumb indents on the knobs made it a little easier to figure out where I was pointing.
While this model has settings for the various cooking modes (rotisserie, bake, convection, and broil), it is a manual oven with no presets. The timer, which can be set for up to 120 minutes, ticks as time goes by. At first, I noticed the ticking, but after using the oven regularly, it became background noise that was easy to ignore. When time is up, the notification is a single mechanical “Ding!” It was loud enough to hear in the kitchen or a nearby room, and since it was different than the more common electric tones in the kitchen, I knew which appliance was calling.
For longer cooking times, the timer knob can be turned in the opposite direction so the oven stays on until it’s turned off. It doesn’t tick in that position. There’s also an auto shut-off for time periods of more than two hours.
Performance: It works like an oven should
This oven performed well in all cooking modes, but I found that it cooked at a slightly lower temperature than it was set for. This meant my cookies were slightly underbaked, but I’ll admit that I don’t mind that. It was easy enough to cook for an extra minute or two when the food needed it, and it was simple to turn the temperature up once I noticed the slow cooking. Let’s face it—most regular ovens aren’t precise, either.
Of course, since rotisserie is in this product’s name, I had to test out that function—on birds up to 5 pounds, which is the oven’s limit. The most difficult thing about cooking a rotisserie chicken is tying it and getting it balanced on the spit so it can spin properly. Once I accomplished that, the rotisserie worked well, and the chicken cooked evenly. The finished rotisserie chicken was everything I hoped for.
When the time came to remove the chicken from the oven, I used the special tool provided. While I managed to get the chicken out, it was an awkward process. For my next attempt (I like chicken), I used heatproof, waterproof barbecue gloves for more secure chicken extraction.
While this wasn’t billed as a toaster, it is the “multi-use” recommendation in The Spruce Eats’ list of best toaster ovens, so I tested what it could do with pale bread and bagels. I cooked bagels on the broil setting and toasted the bread using convection. I got a reasonably even toast, although I had to watch the browning since I wasn’t sure how long it would take.
The finished rotisserie chicken was everything I hoped for.
The top elements are at the very front and back of the oven, so I was surprised at how evenly my open-faced grilled cheese sandwiches cooked when I set the oven to broil. I was also pleased when I used the broil setting to sauce and broil some ribs I had cooked the previous day. The broiler isn’t super-fast or powerful, though, so it’s not the perfect replacement for the broiler in a standard oven.
Included Accessories: Manual controls
This product comes with a rotisserie spit and forks that hold the food on the spit. The included rotisserie spit removal tool worked, but I felt it was a bit silly. In the end, I preferred to don my waterproof grill gloves and just reach in and grab the spit.
A black pan can be used for roasting, baking, or catching drippings when using the rotisserie. A smaller silver pan and a coordinating broiler rack can be used for roasting small foods as well as for baking.
Two cooking racks and a removable crumb tray that’s accessible from the front when the door is open complete the assembly. Since this is a large oven, you’ll be able to use much of your own cooking and baking gear, besides the pieces that came with the oven.
Cleaning: Easy peasy with a spongy
The process of cleaning this oven is pretty much the same as cleaning a regular oven, albeit a bit easier, since I had it on a countertop and could turn it as I needed. The worst mess I made was when a wily pizza eluded my grasp, bounced off the back wall, and spewed toppings onto the floor of the oven. The crumb tray caught most of the mess, and the walls wiped clean with no fuss, thanks to the nonstick coating inside the oven.
While wiping it clean was easy, I’d suggest being careful to not slop water or food into the convection fan’s vent holes in the oven. Since most of the crevices and protrusions are rounded, it’s easier to clean than sharp corners. The back corners are the hardest bits to clean, but they’re also the least likely places food would spatter.
The removable accessories were as easy to wash as most bakeware I have, which is good because hand washing is recommended to preserve the longevity of the items. At worst, when a bit of cheese crusted onto a rack, I let it soak for a minute or two before using a scrubbie sponge to finish the job.
Price: Reasonable for its functions
Considering its versatility and roomy interior, I found the price was very reasonable. This could be an oven replacement for pretty much everything except the Thanksgiving turkey or other massive meals.
Hamilton Beach Countertop Oven With Convection and Rotisserie 31104D vs. NutriChef Multi-Function Rotisserie Oven PKRT97
The price of these two rotisseries is similar, and the operation is similar as well. The major difference is that the Hamilton Beach model is wider and deeper, while the NutriChef Multi-Function Rotisserie Oven (view on Amazon), which I also reviewed, is tall and skinny. The Hamilton Beach can handle full-size frozen pizzas and many normal cooking pans, while the NutriChef only has space for personal pizzas and small pans. When it comes to rotisserie cooking, the NutriChef is a little easier to use, and it also includes a kebab rack and skewers. Which is better? It depends on how you’ll use the oven, but I wouldn’t say no to either.
- Product Name Countertop Oven With Convection and Rotisserie
- Product Brand Hamilton Beach
- MPN 31104D
- Price $129.99
- Material Metal exterior, nonstick interior
- Warranty 1 year in the US; 5 years in Canada
- What’s Included 2 baking racks, removable crumb tray, black roasting pan/drippings pan, small baking/broiling pan and rack, rotisserie spit with forks, rotisserie spit removal tool