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Shopping Guide for Best Toasters

Toast. It’s delicious in so many ways, whether accompanying a hearty breakfast of scrambled eggs and bacon or holding together a delicious BLT sandwich.

How you like your toast is a very individual preference. Some like it barely golden; others like it dark and nearly burnt. The secret to achieving just the right level of toasted goodness begins with a quality toaster.

Compared to many other kitchen appliances, a toaster is a fairly simple purchase. Nevertheless, you have a few features and options to consider when shopping for a new toaster. That’s where we come in.

At BestReviews, we never accept free products or manufacturer perks in exchange for a good review. We do our own research, check with experts in the field, and gather feedback from actual owners of the product in question. Our process allows us to provide you with unbiased buying recommendations and guidelines.

So if you’re ready to buy a toaster, please check out our five favorite pop-up models in the matrix above.

If you’d like to learn more about buying and using a pop-up toaster, read on.

According to food scientists, the perfect slice of toast is 12 times crunchier on the outside than it is in the middle.

Toaster Science

The toasters covered in this shopping guide are pop-up toasters. They differ from toaster ovens in that they’re simple appliances with just one function.

Pop-up toaster boxes contain a metal heating element commonly made of a nickel-chromium alloy. This heating element radiates intense heat on one or both sides of the bread slice. When the temperature of the bread reaches approximately 310°F, a chemical reaction (called the Maillard reaction) takes place, caramelizing the sugars and starches in the bread and creating a golden color and that characteristic taste.

If the heat rises too far, however, carbonization takes place, leaving you with the strong smell and blackened waste of burnt toast.

Product in Depth

Product in Depth

Breville Die-Cast

Functionality

The Breville Smart Toaster gives you all the perks you would expect from a high-quality toaster. In addition to the cancel and defrost functions, cord storage, and crumb tray, you also get a "lift and look" feature that lets you inspect your toast while it's still cooking and an audible alert when your toast is ready. This audible alert can be set to high or low volume and can be turned off completely if you don't want to hear it.

Key Toaster Features

The following features will allow you to enjoy the bounty of your toaster to the fullest.

Features

Automatic Shutoff

Standard in most toasters today, automatic shutoff is a safety feature that turns off the heating element if toast gets stuck inside or the appliance overheats.

Features

Bagel Setting

A bagel setting applies heat to only one side of the bread. This is good if you want a bagel or English muffin to be toasted on the cut side and just warmed on top.

DID YOU KNOW?

In a study carried out in England, researchers found that bread that is 14mm thick and toasted at 309°F for 216 seconds produced the best toast.

Features

Bread Lifter

This common feature lets you lift the finished toast a little higher than regular pop-up toasters do, making it easy to grab the toast without burning your fingers.

Features

Browning Control

Browning control usually comes in the form of a dial or knob on the toaster. This control allows you to select your desired level of toasting, from very light to very dark. Some toasters use a range of colors to indicate browning level; others use LED lights to indicate the toasting level. You may (or may not) prefer a numbered control system, which is more precise.

EXPERT TIP

Do you have a tiny kitchen or limited counter space? A two-slot toaster is the best choice for toast lovers with little room.


Staff  | BestReviews
Features

Cancel

The cancel button allows you to end the toasting cycle prematurely.

Features

Cool-Touch Housing

The exterior of some toasters does not grow hot to the touch, even when in use. The outer wall is insulated to prevent heat-related accidents and injuries. A toaster with a cool-touch housing is especially valuable if you have children in your home.

Product in Depth

Product in Depth

Oster Jelly Bean 2-Slice

Looks

When we looked at the Oster Jelly Bean 2-Slice Toaster, the first word that came to mind was "funky." The purple color might not suit everyone's taste, but there's also a gray version available, and the smooth curves give it a friendly look that is reminiscent of the Volkswagen Beetle. The main body has a nice metallic sheen that hints at quality, and easy-to-read controls fall easily into the hand.

Features

Countdown Timer

Is the toast ready yet? This handy features lets you know exactly how much longer you’ll have to wait for your toast to finish.

Features

Crumb Tray

Toasters tend to fill with breadcrumbs. To avoid fire danger, these crumbs should be frequently cleaned away. A slide-out crumb tray makes it easy to clean your toaster. Hinged trays require you to hold the entire toaster over the sink during cleaning, which is much less convenient.

DID YOU KNOW?

The ancient Romans loved toast. In fact, the very word “toast” comes from the Latin “tostum,” which means, “to scorch.”

Features

Frozen Button

This feature adds a bit of heating time to your toasting session, which may be appropriate if you’re starting out with frozen bread. While convenient, you can accomplish the same thing by simply leaving your toast in longer.

Features

Long or Deep Slots

If you eat a lot of bread that comes in a round or wide loaf (like sourdough), a toaster with extra-long or deep slots will eliminate the common yet belabored practice of toasting the bread halfway, then flipping it over to toast the other half.

DID YOU KNOW?

Using the “bagel” setting? With the majority of toasters, the cut side of the bagel or English muffin should face the center of the toaster.

Features

Number of Slots

The most common toaster configuration includes two slots for bread. If you have a large family, however, you might appreciate a four-slot toaster. A four-slot toaster cuts down the morning competition and wait time for breakfast.

Gourmet toast is in style now, but why spend $7 a slice when you make hundreds of varieties right in your own home.
Features

Reheat Button

This is a setting for rewarming toast that might have cooled off. It’s best to eat toast right away, but even if your toaster doesn’t have a reheat button, you can set the toaster to the lightest setting for several seconds to achieve the same reheated result.

Product in Depth

Product in Depth

Oster Jelly Bean 2-Slice

Performance

In addition to the typical warm/reheat function that is common to these machines, the Oster Jelly Bean Toaster features a setting for frozen bread. Users enjoy a mechanism for lifting the toast clear of the slots, a cool-touch outer body, a removable crumb tray, and an anti-jam feature that automatically shuts the machine off if it fails to eject at the end of a cooking sequence.

Features

Retractable or Wrap-Around Cords

Like all appliances with heating elements, it’s best to unplug your toaster when not in use. A retractable or wrap-around cord makes it easy to keep your toaster out of the way and unobtrusive on the counter.

Features

Wide Slots

If you like toasting bagels or if you make your own bread, a wide-slot toaster will easily accommodate the thicker slices you may wish to prepare.

EXPERT TIP

If you’re making multiple batches of toast, remember to turn the browning setting down after the first batch, as an already-hot toaster cooks faster.


Staff  | BestReviews

Toaster Styles

Toasters aren’t just plain, unadorned boxes anymore – at least some of them aren’t. Today, you can find toasters that add style and verve to your countertop.

For example, stainless steel toasters exude a sleek, contemporary look on your countertop. Vintage designs (often with a 1940s look) can lend a bit of character to any kitchen. And you’re not limited to metallic-looking toasters anymore, either. During the course of our research, we found toaster options in a number of different colors, including red and purple.

Toaster style is a matter of preference, but be prepared to spend more for a high-fashion toaster. Whatever finish you choose, your toaster should be easy to wipe clean.

If you are a toast purist, you’d probably be happier with a toaster than a toaster oven. A toaster oven does not toast bread as quickly or as evenly as a traditional pop-up toaster.

Staff
BestReviews

Toaster Prices

How much does a good toaster cost? You can find a quality toaster at a wide range of price points.

A reliable, no-frills toaster would probably cost you $30 or so, whereas a toaster with all the bells and whistles – including a stylish appearance – may cost upwards of $100.

Buying a toaster from a reputable manufacturer might cost you more, too. But the money you spend upfront may grant you some peace of mind down the road. After all, most people don’t feel like shopping for a new toaster every year.

Some of our favorite toaster manufacturers include BLACK + DECKER, Breville, Cuisinart, Hamilton Beach, KRUPS, Oster, T-fal, and Vremi.

Product in Depth

Product in Depth

Breville Die-Cast

Design

If you like the look of a sleek appliance, you'll love the Breville Smart Toaster. The Breville's gently curved sides and die-cast, brushed metal body exemplify the manufacturer's high standards of construction. Its main controls are smart chrome buttons that sit neatly on the upper surface, while an LED indicator lets you know how your toast is progressing. This large-slotted machine can accommodate both ordinary slices and specialty breads.

Tips for Perfect Toast

There are so many delicious types of bread just waiting to be toasted: rye, sourdough, white, whole grain, even gluten-free bread. And don’t forget the English muffins, bagels, Pop Tarts, and artisan breads.

No matter what you’re toasting, you undoubtedly want to achieve just the right level of golden goodness with your toaster.

These tips will help you reach that goal:

  • Start with room-temperature bread for the best results.

  • If you want quality toast, use quality bread.

  • The denser the bread, the higher heat it can withstand before burning.

  • Slather on butter first, followed by any other desired toppings.

While people have been toasting bread over open fires since ancient times, Scotsman Alan MacMasters invented the first electric toaster in 1893. In 1919, American Charles Strite took it further with the first timed pop-up toaster.
  • Quality counts when it comes to your spread, as well. Nothing beats real butter for the best-tasting toast.

  • Eat your toast right away. It quickly becomes damp and soggy if allowed to sit uneaten.

  • Contrary to common misconception, it’s better to toast fresh bread, not stale bread.

  • If you like to store your bread in the freezer, make sure to freeze it while it’s as fresh as possible.

  • Clean your toaster’s crumb tray and wipe down the outside surfaces weekly if you use it frequently. Do so at least once per month if you only use the toaster occasionally.

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