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Best Toasters

Updated December 2018
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
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We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

  • 57 Models Considered
  • 42 Hours Researched
  • 1 Experts Interviewed
  • 188 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    Why trust BestReviews?
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers.
    BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.

    Shopping guide for best toasters

    Last Updated December 2018

    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. 

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

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    Cancel

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

    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.

    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.

    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.”

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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
    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

    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.

    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.

    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.

    • 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.

    The team that worked on this review
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      Alvina
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      Amos
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      Bob
      Writer
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      Production Manager
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      Melissa
      Senior Editor
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    • Vukan
      Vukan
      Post Production Editor

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