This Hamilton Beach Toaster Is All About Low-and-Slow Toasting
Item: Hamilton Beach Classic Chrome 2-Slice Toaster
Overall Impression: If you want a nice-looking toaster at a low price, and you’re willing to wait an extra minute or two for a perfectly cooked piece of toast or bagel, this one is for you.
It’s been a long time since I bought a toaster. And while I can’t say for sure exactly when that was, I can say that the toasters back then certainly didn’t look like this. I like that this toaster looks sleek, is light, and only takes up a minimal amount of space. But the real question is — does it make a good piece of toast?
The Quick Facts
Characteristics and specs
- Dimensions: 7.6″ high x 6.9″ wide X 11.1″ deep
- Weight: 3.6 pounds
- Capacity: 2-slot
- Slot width: “Extra-wide slots”
- Construction: Stainless steel
- Settings: 9 settings
- Special features: Bagel, defrost, reheat, cancel
- Cleaning: Rear slide-out crumb tray
- Warranty: One-year warranty
Favorite details: I love the extra “ledge” next to the bread lifter. When pushing the lifter up to raise smaller items out of the toaster, the ledge offers a cool, safe place to put your fingers. The alternative would be to put them against the potentially hot top of the toaster.
Potential problems: With nine shade settings, it could take a little trial and error to determine which setting is right for you. The toasting cycles can take a long time, which may not be ideal when you’re in a rush or trying to toast a lot of items.
Who would love this? Anyone looking for small, sleek, and shiny — yet basic — low-priced toaster, and believes time is nothing when it comes to a perfect piece of toast.
I put the Hamilton Beach toaster through four different tests, and here’s how it did:
1. Toasting a single slice of bread
- The test: I toasted a single piece of white bread in the right slot of the toaster over rounds of testing — once on the lightest setting, once on the middle setting, and once on the darkest setting.
- Result: The cycle at the lightest shade setting took 1:15, and while the bread started to dry out, it didn’t obtain any color. The cycle at the medium shade setting lasted 2:23, and the toast was evenly toasted and medium-brown on both sides. The cycle at the darkest shade setting lasted 3:07; the toast had an even dark brown color on both sides, but wasn’t burnt.
2. Toasting two slices of bread
- The test: I toasted two pieces of white bread, one in each slot of the toaster, over three rounds of testing — once on the lightest setting, once on the middle setting, and once on the darkest setting.
- Result: Results from both the left and right slot were the same — the side of each slice facing the outside heating element got a lot more color than the side facing the inner heating element.
3. Defrosting and toasting a frozen bagel
- The test: I followed the instructions in the product manual for toasting frozen bagels. I set the shade control to the darkest setting, lowered the bagel halves into the toaster, and pressed the “defrost” and “bagel” buttons.
- Result: It took over four minutes, and even though toasting wasn’t totally even around the edges (is it ever?), this was one perfectly toasted bagel. Golden-brown in color, lightly crisp, and toasty, but not so much so that the inside lost its softness.
4. Toasting an English muffin
- The test: A split English muffin toasted at the darkest setting. Can it reach medium, golden-brown in one setting? If not, how long will it take?
- Result: One toasting cycle on the darkest setting finished at 3:25. The English muffin was very lightly toasted, and definitely need more time. I started a second cycle, and let it continue until the English muffin had a medium-brown color. Total toasting time for that was 5:50.
Design and Functions
The toaster offers nine shade settings to achieve a toast color from light to dark, with extra features to accommodate bagels by adding extra time to the toasting cycle. There’s also a defrost function which first defrosts, then toasts frozen items, and a reheat function which reheats food without browning or toasting. Functions like “bagel” and “defrost” can be used at the same time.
The control lever (used to push items into the toaster), can also be pushed upwards, which makes it easier to remove smaller items. There’s also an extra ledge next to the lever that makes it easier to raise the smaller items without having to touch the hot top of the machine.
The slots are labeled as “extra wide,” and even though there’s not an exact measurement, they look to be a similar width to other models I tested. They also proved wide enough for all of the items I cooked. The length of the bread I used was a tight squeeze, however.
While in use, the sides of the toaster got very warm, but it was still manageable to handle it without getting burned; although, the top of the toaster got very hot
This toaster is all about low-and-slow cooking, but once you find the setting that’s best for you, it makes a beautiful piece of toast.
This toaster did a good job of evenly toasting a single piece of bread, but the results were inconsistent when toasting two slices of bread at the same time, with the outside of the bread getting more color than the inside of the bread, in both slots. The manual also notes that when toasting a single slice of bread, there may be variation in color from side to side.
I was especially impressed with how this did with toasting bagels. The toasting cycle was long (just under six minutes), so I felt sure it would come out burnt. Instead, I was surprised to see a perfectly golden-brown bagel with crisp edges.
I was curious to see if one toasting cycle at the darkest shade setting would be enough to cook an English muffin to golden-brown perfection; it wasn’t. While the English muffin was lightly toasted, it was in need of a partial second cycle.
Overall, this toaster looks nice, doesn’t take up too much space, and is easy to use and clean.
The instruction manual suggests cleaning out the crumb tray, located at the rear of the toaster, once a week, assuming everyday use. It’s easy to slide out the crumb tray, dump the crumbs, wipe the tray clean, and replace it in the toaster.
A hurdle with any stainless steel appliance is fingerprints, and this one is no exception. This toaster looks sleek, but it does pick up fingerprints easily and quickly. The outside of the toaster can be easily cleaned with a damp cloth, and if necessary a non-abrasive cleaner.
Apartment Therapy Media makes every effort to test and review products fairly and transparently. The views expressed in this review are the personal views of the reviewer and this particular product review was not sponsored or paid for in any way by the manufacturer or an agent working on their behalf. However, the manufacturer did give us the product for testing and review purposes.