The Panasonic FlashXpress is a ringer that shakes up an otherwise homogenous field of toaster ovens. Its small capacity and seemingly rocket fuel-injected heating elements don't bode well for baking performance, but they can make quick work of frozen meals and toast bread in a flash (Xpress toast, if you will). It is the only model we tested that uses both quartz and ceramic heating elements. These heating elements are able to heat up almost instantaneously, no preheating required, and blast the inside and outside of food with heat. In many ways, it performs as if it were a microwave that can also make toast, earning it recognition for its convenience.Editor's Note: The Panasonic review, updated on January 28, 2022, now provides additional details on which ovens are our favorites.
Panasonic FlashXpress Review
Pros: Fast and convenient, great toasting quality, great for frozen foods
Cons: Smaller capacity, odd controls
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|Check Price at Amazon|
|Pros||Fast and convenient, great toasting quality, great for frozen foods||Great baking performance, great temperature accuracy, can also air fry and dehydrate, flips on its end when not in use to save space||Easy to use, accurate temperatures, well-built, very versatile||Compact, great all-around cooking performance, great temperature accuracy||Inexpensive, easy to clean, small footprint, consistent performance|
|Cons||Smaller capacity, odd controls||Somewhat expensive||Pricey, somewhat large, heavy, tendency to slightly overcook||Smaller capacity||Small size limits portions, cooks on the cool side|
|Bottom Line||A small capacity, amazingly fast oven that can replace 90% of microwave functions||One of the best multi-function cooking devices on the market||This multipurpose oven is sleek, easy to use, and performs well across the board, but definitely takes a bite out of the wallet and your counter space||A perfect oven for those that want high performance but don't have much counter space||Compact, consistent, and budget-friendly are the defining characteristics of this easy-to-use oven|
|Rating Categories||Panasonic FlashXpress||Ninja Foodi Digital...||Cuisinart TOA-60||Breville Mini Smart...||Hamilton Beach Easy...|
|Ease of Use (25%)|
|Temperature Accuracy (20%)|
|Frozen Food (15%)|
|Specs||Panasonic FlashXpress||Ninja Foodi Digital...||Cuisinart TOA-60||Breville Mini Smart...||Hamilton Beach Easy...|
|Outer Dimensions||13" x 12" x 10.2"||19.7" x 7.6" x 15"||15.5" x 16" x 14"||15.5" x 14" x 8.8"||11.9" x 16.1" x 9"|
|Maximum Pizza Diameter||9"||13"||12"||11"||9"|
|Accessories||Baking pan||Wire rack, air fry basket, sheet pan||Oven rack, baking pan, air fryer basket||Baking pan||Bake pan, oven rack, slide-out crumb tray|
|Power Consumption (W)||1300||1800||1800||1800||1200|
Our Analysis and Test Results
If you want a toaster oven for baking, you probably don't want the FlashXpress. Baking is not its forte, nor was it designed with baking in mind. In fact, its timer maxes out at 25 minutes, far short of the cooking time required by many baking applications. It scored relatively poorly in our baking test, putting it well behind the top-performing models.
Its super-powered heating elements tended to leave most things over crunchy on the outside. Cookies were very crispy, cakes came out with blackened edges, and drumsticks were somewhat burnt. Everything was cooked all the way through, but the FlashXpress failed to achieve the pleasant textures and consistencies that the more standard ovens could produce. One big plus: if you like crispy cookies, the FlashXpress can zap out a small, personal-sized batch in a flash, as it requires no preheating time.
Ease of Use
As we mentioned before, the FlashXpress has a bit of an eccentric design compared to other toaster ovens. This continues to be true in its user interface, which earned it one of the lowest scores on our ease of use testing.
The FlashXpress's controls are all buttons, no knobs or dials, and they aren't the most comfortable to press. All information is displayed on a bright red, retro-looking LCD display. It has a dedicated button for each one of its six cooking modes: toast, frozen waffle, bread reheat, frozen pizza, quick reheat, and, oddly enough, frozen hash brown. The toasting shade is selected with a pair of dedicated up and down arrows. If you don't want to use one of the six preset functions, you can select a temperature using another set of up/down arrows and then set the time with a third set of arrows.
The Fahrenheit temperature settings are clearly converted from celsius round numbers, making them seem a bit odd at first glance; for instance, you can't dial 400˚, but you can dial 390˚. You can't dial in 450˚, but you can dial in 460˚, and so on and so forth. Also, it does not have a start/stop button; it only has an on/off button. So when you turn the oven on, you have about 10 seconds to dial in the settings you want, and then the oven will start cooking. If you make a mistake in those sets, you have to turn the whole oven off and start over, with no adjusting settings on the fly. Also, if you hesitate too much in punching in your setting, the oven will start up partway, and you'll have to shut it off and try again. Additionally, the crumb tray was the flimsiest that we tested, and there is a small lip right inside the door that tends to accumulate crumbs. While none of these things are deal-breakers, they can occasionally cause some frustration, especially if you're in a hurry and hit the wrong button a few times (it happens to all of us).
Not surprisingly, the FlashXpress ran hot in our temperature accuracy testing and shared the bottom score in this metric.
It heated up instantaneously but was consistently above the desired temperature. When we set it to 350, it jumped to 370 and stayed there. When set to 425, it was 20 degrees warm at the 7-minute mark and a full 50 degrees warm at the 15 and 30-minute marks.
The FlashXpress was the best performer in our frozen meal performance test. There wasn't a huge spread in scores in this metric, but the FlashXpress was the clear frontrunner.
It cooked the surface of frozen pizzas well, lending just a bit of crispiness to the crust and fully melting and just starting to brown the cheese. Its quick heating style did leave the interior of the pizza a bit underdone compared to the outside. While most of our testers enjoyed this texture, others felt it was less than ideal. Also, we used 6-inch pizzas in our testing for the FlashXpress as it couldn't accommodate the 12-inch pizzas we used for the other models.
It can accommodate a 9-inch frozen pizza, but those are somewhat hard to come by. It also got the outside of tater tots nice and crispy while leaving the insides with a pleasant, fluffy texture. Again, it could do all of these things much faster than any of the other ovens, lending to its lack of a required preheating stage. If you're looking for fast-frozen meals, the FlashXpress lives up to its name.
Toasting is where the FlashXpress comes into its own. It shared the top score in our toasting test.
It made the best toast in our test, toasting the top-facing sides of slices quite evenly and leaving minimal striations on the bottom-facing sides. Its toasting sweet spot can accommodate four slices of bread. It has just a small cold spot next to the door, so if you're making toast in this model, we suggest you push the bread all the way to the back of the oven. The only model we tested didn't have a bagel function. It toasted the faces of bagels very evenly, but it also toasted the backsides, which lost a few points.
The FlashXpress makes toast exceptionally fast. When placed on the medium shade setting, it produces toast in two minutes. This is about the same amount of time as a traditional slot toaster and about a third of the time of most toaster ovens. This is even more impressive when you consider that traditional slot toasters have the advantage of heating elements that are right next to the bread.
Should You Buy the FlashXpress?
If you're looking to bake, then the FlashXpress isn't for you. However, if you're looking to combine your traditional slot toaster and microwave into one compact device, then this is what you're looking for. This is a mid-range priced toaster. If you're looking for something that can bake, this is not a great value, as other affordable models produce better baking performance. However, its cost is in the same ballpark as buying a traditional slot toaster and a microwave. So if you're pressed for counter space and want something that can serve in the place of both of those appliances, the FlashXpress is a reasonable value.
Just one note of caution: the FlashXpress's heating elements throw off infrared radiation, which can damage your eyes with prolonged exposure. The user manual warns not to stare at the elements for a long time. While we didn't find this particularly troubling, it may dissuade someone looking to ditch their microwave due to concerns about microwave radiation.
What Other Toaster Oven Should You Consider?
The Ninja Foodi Digital Oven earned a much higher overall score and better cooking results in most of our tests. This oven will cost about $60 more than the Panasonic, but we think most people will find it easier to use with better temperature accuracy, making the price bump worthwhile. It also offers more functionality than the Panasonic with the ability to air fry or dehydrate.
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata
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