The best ways to use your toaster

Now, we don't want to do down toast, here, not by a long shot. We love the stuff. It's cheap, convenient and even constitutes part of a healthy breakfast. That said, however, it does seem a bit strange how something that exists as such a small portion of your diet requires its own special appliance all to itself. Think about it: kitchen appliances like ovens, cookers and microwaves can be used to make pretty much anything. The toaster, however, exists simply to create toast. Honestly, it doesn't seem like the most efficient thing you can find in your kitchen. Isn't there anything else you can do with an idle toaster? Aren't there any dishes you could rustle up in a few minutes, without ever having to turn on the stove; something other than, you know — toast? Well, as it happens, there is.

But be warned, you should always use caution when using your toaster for anything other than it's intended use, bread. Some foods may be considered a fire hazard, depending on your toaster and ingredients, so use your own discretion.

Grilled cheeses

Perhaps one of the more famous toaster-based culinary inventions is the grilled cheese sandwich. Some might insist that, to make the perfect grilled cheese, you'll need to invest in an actual sandwich maker, or make it in a pan, but who has time for that? Your own toaster should do just as well. Simply slap your ingredients, turn the toaster on its side, and place one half of the grilled cheese — the first slice, topped with the cheese — inside the bottom slot, and the top half — the remaining piece of bread — in the top slot. Toast, then combine.

If you're dead set on using your toaster for grilled cheese, but still want the option of making regular toast, you could always invest in a grilled cheese toaster like this one.

Sweet potato toast

Sweet potato toast is a new food trend that cropped up at the end of 2016, that was propelled into the limelight by (what else?) social media and food blogs. The big plus behind them is that they're obviously bread-free, meaning that, not only can those who are gluten intolerant enjoy them, but they also replace carbs with vitamins and fiber. Most recipes will suggest you use a microwave to make them, but a toaster will do just fine.

Slice up your sweet potato, turn the toaster to high and toast them for as long as it takes to turn soft and slightly charred. After that, it's simply a case of choosing your toppings. Anything from tuna to avocado to pesto will do the trick. The perfect option if you're on a health kick, but still need to rush in the mornings.

Pizza

Reheating pizza in the microwave rarely does justice to it, and the soggy mess of a pseudo-pizza that comes out is often more than a little disappointing. It is, however, possible to resurrect your pizza via toaster, and the nature of the appliance means that it ought to stay crispy. All you need to do is stick a slice in a toaster bag, throw that in the toaster and let it do its thing for a couple of minutes. Zero marks for efficiency, obviously — you'll only be able to reheat as many slices as you have slots in your toaster at a time — but top marks for taste. You'll never go back to microwaving ever again.

Pizza made specially for toasters does also exist, but is unlikely to be much better than anything you could make yourself in the toaster with a bit of legwork, and certainly won't be better than a baked pizza. Stick to reheating, we say.

Veggie burgers

Because they don't contain much fat or oil, which can seriously damage your toaster, veggie burgers are far safer to cook in a toaster than meat burgers. Vegetarian patties, be they store-bought or homemade (though we'd always recommend the latter, of course) should be simply placed into your toaster and cooked for five minutes or so if frozen, or a two or three if not. Use the other slot to toast the bun for maximum efficiency.

Once you're done, do whatever you like to spruce up the burger itself and serve, smug in the knowledge that you've successfully made burgers without having even gone near a grill. It's the ultimate vegetarian victory.

Garlic bread

This might technically be defined as garlic toast rather than garlic bread, but that's not the bit that makes it so good anyway, is it? The recipe is simple: slice your bread (and it can be basically anything, including baguettes, as long as you cut it longways), spread on your garlic butter, which you should be able to make with a bowl or mortar and pestle, add on any other seasoning you might want, then toast.

Want to go one step further? Make a grilled cheese sandwich at the same time and you'll up with a garlic bread grilled cheese. At the very least, you'll never want to go back to regular toast. And, frankly, why would you?

Tortilla chips

Your toaster can also provide you with a slightly quicker way of making tortilla chips from scratch, if you're looking to impress people with Mexican food in a hurry. Simply cut a flour tortilla into wedges, place them in a toaster bag (you really don't want to be digging through your toaster for lost chips after this, especially if they're still hot) and heat them on a medium setting.

If you've got a blender on-hand, you can also make some homemade salsa or guacamole to go with them. It's probably not best to cook actual tortillas in the toaster, though — use the oven or a specially-made tortilla toaster (yes, they exist and yes, you should get one) instead.

Pastries

Certain pastries, such as the croissant or the pain au chocolat, are often eaten cold, but there's something to be said for the warming embrace of a good, heated pastry. Luckily, your toaster can sort this for you. If you're lucky, your toaster should have a specific warming rack that's used just for situations like this, which will warm up your pastries without turning them too crispy — or, worse, outright burning them. If you really can't use the warming rack, make sure to heat it on a very low setting.

Oh, and don't even think about using the microwave. You'll completely lose that flakiness that is so important to the presentation of the perfect pastry. Nobody wants a damp croissant.

Waffles

Okay, so we're not exactly suggesting you go pouring homemade batter into your toaster. That way lies madness. It's entirely possible, however, to make yourself some waffles without the use of a waffle iron by getting hold of either some frozen waffles or some toasting waffles (you should be able to find them at literally any supermarket) and using them instead. You shouldn't need any help on the method, here — it's all pretty self-explanatory.

As is the nature of ready-made food, these waffles aren't going to taste quite as good as ones you could make yourself, and they certainly won't be as healthy, but if you're after waffles in a flash and don't have time to make them from scratch, using your toaster is as easy and convenient as it gets.

Pancakes

Like waffles, pancakes can either be made from scratch or pre-made. Naturally, making them homemade is always going to be tastier and healthier, but if you're in a rush it's always possible to throw some store-bought ones into the toaster for a couple of minutes.

If that's not so much your thing, however, it's also possible to reheat old pancakes in your toaster on a low setting. This is the perfect option if you've got time the night before to pre-make them yourself, or if you ever end up with too many after a day spent baking. Waste not!

Toast recipes

We've already mentioned that, despite this list, we've got nothing against toast whatsoever. Okay, got that? Good. But it can be quite bland, can't it? Even if you're adding something like butter or jam, an endless diet of toast can, quite quickly, become more than a little dull. It's always worth remembering, then, that pretty much anything can go on toast, and very little won't taste good. Recipes can range from the simple yet ingenious, such as almond butter, Nutella or salsa, to the complex, such as chicken masala or prawn and sesame.

There's honestly no limit, and the best thing is that many of the things you might choose to eat with your toast could, with the help of a toaster bag, well be cooked in the other slot of your toaster, too, like bacon or vegetables. Go raid the fridge and start experimenting.