The Best Toasters You Can Buy Right Now
Sandwich bread, frozen waffles, and sesame-studded bagels all have one key thing in common: They’re all made infinitely better after a quick stint in the toaster. It’s true. If you’re a carb-lover, you need a toaster. Which one should you get, though? There are lots of options. (In 2018, more than 17 million toasters were sold in the United States.) And so I set out to see which ones are worth your, um, dough.
I rounded up the most popular models on the market — including compact, long-slot, and four-slot models — and got to making toast. (Like, copious amounts of toast.) Some popped out perfectly brown slices, some made slices with a less-desirable ombré design, and some set off my smoke detector! Let’s take a look at the winners.
The Best Toasters
- Toast two pieces of white sandwich bread on light, medium, and dark settings, timing how long it takes the toasters to do each and evaluating how accurately and evenly toasted the bread is.
- Toast two pieces of white sandwich bread on the medium setting. Repeat this five times in a row, timing how long it takes the toaster to toast the bread and evaluating how evenly toasted the slices come out. Use this to gauge average toast time and assess the toaster’s consistency.
- Toast two slices of whole-wheat sandwich bread on the medium setting, looking at how evenly and accurately the bread is toasted.
- Toast two slices of artisan sourdough on the medium setting, evaluating how well the bread fits and how accurately and evenly it’s toasted.
- Toast a halved bagel, using the toaster’s bagel setting (if it has one) or the medium setting if it doesn’t, looking at how well the bagel fits and how evenly it’s toasted.
Why You Should Trust Us
I’m the Tools Editor at The Kitchn and a professional kitchen equipment tester. I previously worked at America’s Test Kitchen and my reviews on topics like stand mixers, induction burners, toaster ovens, and multicookers have been published in Cook’s Illustrated, Cook’s Country, and on the America’s Test Kitchen website. My work has also been featured on America’s Test Kitchen’s and Cook’s Country’s television programs. I also happen to love toast.
What to Consider When Buying a Toaster
How Well Does it Toast?
The best toasters make evenly toasted bread — no matter the setting — and consecutively. To find out how each of the toasters toasted, I toasted two slices of standard white sandwich bread on the light, medium, and dark settings. I also toasted whole-wheat sandwich bread, oblong-shaped sourdough slices, and bagels on the medium or bagel setting (which is essentially a medium setting).
For the light slices, I wanted bread that was lightly toasted, but not browned. For the medium setting, golden, caramel-colored brown was the name of the game. And for the dark slices, the bread needed to be a very burnished, dark brown (but not burnt).
Most of the toasters I tested are able to make nice, light toast, but medium and dark toast proved to be more divisive. A lot of the medium settings resulted in toast that was too blonde, patchily toasted, or more evenly toasted on one side and less on the other. And the dark setting, with a couple of the models, incinerated the bread, literally setting off my smoke detector!
Speed also doesn’t necessarily translate to a better toaster. When I made five slices of toast, back to back and on the same medium setting, some of the toasters produced good toast the first time, but got progressively faster as they “warmed up,” churning out lighter and lighter slices. The best toasters were consistent in their toasting times, making evenly toasted toast in about two minutes (on the medium setting). Anything faster than that, and the toast was too light.
How Easy Is It to Use?
Some of the toasters had features that, overall, just made them more pleasurable to use. Here’s what I was looking for.
- A simple, intuitive, clearly labeled interface.
- A lever that’s easy to press down.
- An exterior that stays cool to the touch when toasting.
- A button that lets you add a little more toasting time and the ability to lift and check the toast mid-toast (both not necessary, but appreciated).
- Some sort of indicator that shows or tells you when the toaster is on.
The Size of the Toaster
Toaster size is a big consideration when deciding which one to get. There are two-slot toasters, which have room for two pieces of bread at once. Four-slot toasters, of course, have room for four pieces. And long-slot toasters allow for multiple slices of bread or longer slices. Here are the pros and cons of each kind.
- Pros: These toasters tend to be pretty compact; if you live alone or don’t make a ton of toast, this is a good size.
- Cons: Can’t often fit artisan bread slices; takes more time to toast more than two slices of bread.
- Pros: Can make four slices of bread at once; can toast two slices of bread on one setting and two slices on another at the same time.
- Cons: Wider, so it takes up more counter space; it’s still not a long-slot toaster, so, again, artisan bread slices might not fit.
- Pros: Can fit four slices (two in each slot) of sandwich bread or two large slices of artisan bread.
- Cons: Longer, so it takes up more countertop space.
What We Look for in a Toaster
I judged all of the toasters on the following criteria, on a scale of 1 to 5 (1 being the worst and 5 being the best):
- Toasting ability: How accurately and evenly does the toaster toast bread?
- Speed: How fast is the toaster?
- Ease of use: How easy is the toaster to use and how well does it fit a variety of breads?
Best Overall: Breville A-Bit-More Toaster
This is one of the most consistent toasters I’ve ever tested, producing just-toasted light toast, beautifully golden-brown medium toast, and burnished (but not burnt!) dark toast. It has a “bit more” button that allows you to add a little more time to your toasting cycle, an LED light that indicates the toasting progress, and a “lift and look” feature that allows you to pop the toast up mid-toast to check its progress. The outside of this stainless steel toaster stays cool while it’s working and it has wide, long slots that easily accommodate large slices of artisan bread. It does feel a bit snug for four slices of sandwich bread, but still works. Overall, this is a fantastic toaster. I also love the Zwilling Efinigy 2-Slice Long Toaster, which is another fantastic long-slot option. It costs about $50 more than the Breville and I did think its front knob felt harder to press down, but, overall, I highly recommend it.
- Average toast time: 2 minutes 20 seconds
- Slot dimensions: 10-in l x 1.6-in w
- Settings: Toast setting 1-5; Bagel; Defrost
- Toasting ability: 5
- Speed: 5
- Ease of use: 4.5
Who it’s best for: If you want a top-notch, long-slot toaster or if you bake or buy a lot of artisanal breads, this is up for the toasting task.
Good to know: It comes with a one-year warranty.
Best Splurge Option: Smeg 2-Slice Toaster
You’d be hard-pressed to find a better-looking toaster than the Smeg. However, it’s not form over function. This two-slice, compact toaster toasts bread as evenly and as well as the Breville. It has an LED light on the front knob that indicates the toaster is running and a reheating function. I also like the large “stop” button in the center of the toaster’s control knob that easily allows you to cancel toasting, if needed. While it does lack a bagel function, its wide slots easily fit a bagel. Sadly it was a touch short for the sourdough slices. That said, if you want a toaster that works well and looks beautiful on your counter, the Smeg is worth the investment.
- Average toast time: 2 minutes 20 seconds
- Slot dimensions: 5.9-in l x 1.5-in w
- Settings: Toast settings 1-6; Reheat; Defrost
- Toasting ability: 5
- Speed: 5
- Ease of use: 4
Who it’s best for: Those who want a compact, two-slice toaster and are willing to spend up for a good-looking machine.
Good to know: This toaster comes in 12 fun colors. Smeg makes a four-slot and long-slot toaster, too, although I wasn’t able to test either of these. This toaster also has a two-year warranty.
Best Budget Option: Hamilton Beach Extra Wide Slot Toaster
There are lots of $20 toasters out there, but I’ve found that you really need to spend closer to $40 to get a good budget-friendly option. This model from Hamilton Beach takes the crown in this category. It makes fairly even light, medium, and dark toast, even with back-to-back slices. It beeps at the beginning and end of toasting, too, and I think the latter is definitely helpful. (Do you need it to beep at the beginning of toasting? Probably not.) Its bagel setting is a tad too light (just set the manual dial instead!) and its slots are too short for two slices of sandwich bread to fit in each, but the slots are wide and perfectly capable of accommodating artisan bread.
- Average toast time: 2 minutes 18 seconds
- Slot Dimensions: 10-in l x 1.5-in w
- Settings: Toast settings 1-7; Bagel; Keep Warm; Defrost
- Toasting ability: 3.5
- Speed: 5
- Ease of use: 3.5
Who it’s best for: If you want a budget-friendly long-slot toaster that’ll easily accommodate most bread.
Good to know: Its “Keep Warm” setting will keep toast toasty for an extra 3 minutes.
Best Four-Slice Toaster: Black + Decker 4-Slice Toaster
If a four-slice toaster is what you’re interested in, you’ll be very happy with this model from Black + Decker. (What’d I tell you about that $40 sweet spot?) It makes nice, evenly toasted light, medium, and dark toast. It can toast two slices of bread on one setting and two on another — which is a huge boon if you’re making toast for one person who prefers light toast and another who prefers medium). I will say it’s not super consistent if you’re making a lot of toast back to back, but it does make four at a time and it was more consistent than the others in this category. The slots are also too short for sourdough bread. However, it does have a bagel setting and, again, excels at making four slices. Plus, it’s priced exceptionally well.
- Average toast time: 2 minutes 30 seconds
- Slot dimensions: 5.55-in l x 1.45-in w
- Settings: Toast settings 1-7; Bagel; Defrost
- Toasting ability: 4
- Speed: 5
- Ease of use: 4
Who it’s best for: Those who often make breakfast for a family of four or sandwiches for two.
Good to know: It comes with a two-year limited warranty.
Best Smart Toaster: Revolution Toaster
Love a smart gadget? This toaster might be for you. I’ve written about the Revolution Toaster before, and here’s a quick refresher: It claims to have “smart technology” that, according to the product’s listing, “toasts bread in a fraction of the time, locking in flavor and producing your preferred browning and level of crispness.” It is absolutely the fastest toaster I’ve ever tried, with an average toast time of about 40 seconds quicker than other models. That said, its darkest setting only makes, what I consider, darker medium toast. It’s also too short for artisan bread slices and I wish the toaster would connect to WiFi, so that its date and time would update automatically. However, I love its large, intuitive touchscreen, variety of settings, and countdown timer that tracks the bread as it finishes crisping.
- Average toast time: 1 minute 43 seconds
- Slot dimensions: 5.5-in l x 1.5-in w
- Settings: Bread, Bagel, Waffle, English Muffin or Toaster Pastry; Reheat; Defrost
- Toasting ability: 3
- Speed: 5
- Ease of use: 5
Who it’s best for: Anyone who loves technology and wants the iPhone of toasters.
Good to know: The toaster comes with a 1-year limited warranty
Kitchn’s Best List Promise
We will do our homework, going wildly in depth with our testing. But we’ll condense the info into easy, breezy summaries, so that you can see what we picked and why, and then move on with your life. Because we know you’re busy!
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