A toaster's outward appearance could have an impact or your purchasing decision. If a manufacturer has put a lot of thought into a toaster's design, chances are this effort is reflected in its functionality and durability as well.
Some people like their toast lightly browned. Others like it crispy, almost to the point of being burnt. Flexibility and speed (no one wants to wait all day for a piece of toast) are two important performance features in a toaster.
We'll tell you about toaster features that make your life easier, such as cord storage, removable crumb trays, and defrost/reheat settings.
You could get a cheap toaster for around ten bucks, but we don't recommend it. You could get a commercial toaster for three or four hundred dollars, but do you really need eight slices at once? Our top five fall somewhere in between these extremes.
Black and chrome have long been a fashionable stylistic pairing. Judging by the T-fals' popularity, people like the looks of the T-fal 8746002 Classic Avante 2-Slice Toaster. The chrome highlights give it a slightly retro look and work well with the angled front, resulting in a smart, solid appearance. Controls are clear and uncluttered, and there's a clever little feature that is hidden from the front but revealed when you turn it around -- a carrying handle that has been molded into the body.
When we looked at the Oster TSSTTRJBP1 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.
The Krups KH734 Breakfast Set 4-Slice Toaster is quite different from the T-fal and Oster, and not just because it's considerably larger. This model has the kind of styling you'd expect to see in a commercial kitchen. The combination of brushed and chromed stainless steel suggests solidity. We really like the fact that the outer body isn't colored plastic, as is often the case, but real metal. Controls are equally purposeful-looking. Krups has an excellent reputation for kitchen equipment, and the quality of this machine quite literally shines.
The Cuisinart CPT-435 Countdown 4-Slice Stainless Steel Toaster boasts a classy, stainless steel exterior that is interspersed with blue LEDs to indicate heat setting and cooking time. It possesses a sharp, modern look, and there's certainly no denying the quality of Cuisinart's products. As with the Krups, however, we suspect that the outer design of this toaster will appeal to some consumers more than others.
If you like the look of a sleek appliance, you'll love the Breville BTA830XL Die-Cast 4-Slice Long Slot 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 a LED indicator lets you know how your toast is progressing. This large-slotted machine can accommodate both ordinary slices and specialty breads.
We like the fact that the T-fal 8746002 Classic Avante Toaster offers a choice of six browning settings. We also appreciate the cancel function, which is useful because sometimes you want to stop your toast from getting too dark. Like several other models on our shortlist, the T-fal includes a bagel function which is intended to crisp the outside and warm the inside. While the sloping front of this machine might suggest that the top corner of your bread wouldn't receive enough heat, that's not actually the case. However, one or two owners did find the bread slots to be a bit short from front to back.
The Oster TSSTTRJBP1 Jelly Bean Toaster offers seven browning settings and, like the T-fal, it also sports a bagel option. It's a slightly larger model than the T-fal, so it doesn't get the same complaints about length of slice that the T-fal does. Instead, owners told us that sometimes their bread was too tall to fit this machine. If you really want an Oster Jelly Bean Toaster, however, we think the solution is simple enough (albeit a bit of a nuisance): simply toast your bread halfway, then turn it upside-down to finish .
On busy mornings, large families can really take advantage of a 4-slice model like the KRUPS KH734 Breakfast Set Toaster. The Krups has six browning settings and a separate bagel function, as well as a helpful cancel button to prevent burning. We particularly like the fact that you can program the left and right slot pairs of the Krups independently. For example, you could toast bagels on the right and bread on the left at the same time. Our research didn't uncover any consumer complaints about slot size, but with a depth of about 4 1/2 inches, larger slices of bread could potentially cause a problem. While many owners rate the Krups an excellent machine with "even" browning, several complained that it takes too long to toast denser breads, especially English muffins.
The Cuisinart CPT-435 Countdown Toaster offers seven browning options, a separate bagel setting, and two independent heat zones for added flexibility. Where some toasters are criticized for their unaccommodating slot size, the Cuisinart, with its 5+ inches of slot space, is frequently complimented. A few owners told us that this model does not toast "evenly" enough for their tastes. Specifically, they said it would toast one side more than the other.
Although the Breville BTA830XL Smart Toaster is called a four-slice toaster, it actually offers just two slots -- but these slots are extra-long. This unique feature has advantages and disadvantages. On the negative side, you don't get the two heat zones (and therefore, the toasting flexibility) that machines like the Krups and Cuisinart provide. On the plus side, you'd be hard-pressed to find a piece of bread that won't fit in this toaster. Other key features include a cancel button, a bagel setting, and five browning levels. While this feature set is smaller than others on offer here, few Breville owners consider it to be a drawback. The only criticism we encountered of this machine was that a few people think it toasts too dark, even on the lightest setting.
Nina is a longtime gourmet chef, interior designer/decorator, and events planner. She has accomplished all of this in addition to maintaining a stellar career as a healthcare executive, where she helps alter the course of people’s lives via preventive care and healthy living. Nina’s hobbies include learning new recipes, planning and executing amazing dinners to impress local chefs, and hiking around the world.
The T-fal 8746002 Classic Avante Toaster may be an entry-level machine, but it's certainly not short on useful features. A handy, slide-out crumb drawer in the base makes cleaning this appliance, and your counter tops, much easier. Along with under-body cord storage, this model comes with a built-in carrying handle that makes it easy to stash the T-fal out of sight if you're low on counter space. A handy reheat function allows you to warm whatever you've toasted without actually cooking it further. The interior mechanism is designed to prevent jamming, and there's also a high-lift lever so you won't burn your fingers on the machine -- although that's unlikely anyway, thanks to the T-fal's cool-touch exterior.
In addition to the typical warm/reheat function that is common to these machines, the Oster TSSTTRJBP1 Jelly Bean Toaster features a setting for frozen bread. Like the T-fal, 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.
Like the Oster, the Krups KH734 Breakfast Set Toaster has a frozen function, although in this case it's called "defrost." This machine features a high-lift lever for toast removal, a reheat function, built-in cord storage, and two crumb trays (because it's a four-slice toaster). Unlike some of its competitors, the Krups does not have a stay-cool exterior. In fact, several owners told us the Krups can get unacceptably hot on the outside.
The Cuisinart CPT-435 Countdown Toaster sports many of the same features that we've seen in other models on our shortlist: reheat/defrost function, neat cord storage, useful crumb tray, high-lift mechanism. However, the Cuisinart also supplies a visual countdown LED so you know exactly when your toast is going to be ready. A few owners told us that the exterior of this toaster gets uncomfortably hot, but our research didn't turn up enough complaints for us to tell whether this is a widespread problem or just a fault in one or two machines.
The Breville BTA830XL 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.
There are plenty of reasons why the T-fal 8746002 Classic Avante Toaster is popular, including its price, which is only $139. You can't find a toaster much cheaper than this, and certainly not one with such terrific functionality and design. As with any top-selling machine, there are some owners who are less than satisfied with the T-fal. Complaints relate mainly to the size of bread it will take, although we also uncovered a few incidents of faulty or non-working machinery upon delivery. That's frustrating, but the one-year warranty should cover the problem if you're one of the unlucky ones.
At $30, the Oster TSSTTRJBP1 Jelly Bean Toaster is another machine that delivers great value for the money. The purple color may not suit your taste, but there is a gray alternative. However, plenty of owners told us they love their "little purple friend," as one owner calls it. As with all budget toasters, the Oster is not without the occasional manufacturing defect. However, complaints are remarkably few and overall, it's rated a very good toaster by users.
The Krups KH734 Breakfast Set Toaster costs $56. Those who know and love the brand will consider that something of a steal. The two-tone, stainless exterior is attractive and professional-looking. The two zones/four slots give you all the toasting control you need. Owners' main criticism is that, although this product toasts evenly, it takes a long time to do so. For example, an English muffin can take five minutes or more to prepare.
Right now, the Cuisinart CPT-435 Countdown Toaster costs $49. For this price, you get a high-quality machine from a well-known and trusted manufacturer. When the machines on our shortlist share so many common features, small discrepancies can make a big difference. With the Cuisinart, one of the most compelling reasons we found to endorse this machine is the number of owners who said they would recommend it to a friend. Some concerns have been raised about how hot the exterior of the Cuisinart can get, but reports of this problem are few and far between. The consumers who think this is a marvelous toaster for the price far outweigh the owners who are worried about the hot exterior.
The Breville BTA830XL Smart Toaster, at a cost of $166, is not cheap. Nevertheless, many owners tell us they are delighted to have made the investment. This toaster is almost universally praised for its sleek and shiny appearance. As far as performance is concerned, owner comments like "Very impressive!" and "Pricey, but worth it!" are the norm. One or two buyers experienced problems with the Breville's electronics, but these instances were rare. In general, this is a reliable toaster of supremely high quality.