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Toasters are probably the best thing since sliced bread, right? While toasters have been available for home use for generations, today’s models offer features that were innovative at one time, like timed toasting, crumb trays, and the ability to choose different toasting levels.
Toasters continue to innovate, with some of them making crumb trays more efficient, offering one-sided toasting for bagels, and including special features for defrosting or for keeping bread warm.
Basic toasters are still available, for those whose toast needs are simple, while high-end toasters offer attractive designs, multiple cooking options, and even some new features that you might not know that you need.
Best Overall: Smeg Retro Style Aesthetic 2-Slice Toaster
Precise toasting settings
Easy to clean
No lift feature to raise the toast higher
Smeg, an Italian company founded in the 1940s, has brought its unique designs and quality workmanship to the US market, including this attractive toaster that will stand out on your counter. Its retro look and unique color aren’t all you’ll love, though. Users praised the solid build, ease of use, and even toasting while they also loved the look.
This has six toasting levels and you can choose a setting halfway between each to tweak the toasting to match your bread type, and it has reheat, defrost, and one-sided toasting for bagels and English muffins. The wide slots fit bagels easily and thin bread self-centers for easy toasting. The crumb tray is sturdy stainless steel, and the non-slip-feet keep it steady on the counter. While this does pop the toast up automatically, there’s no lift feature to raise the toast higher, so you may need wooden tongs to retrieve particularly short bread.
Dimensions: 12 1/4 x 7 3/4 x 7 3/4 | Number of toasting levels: 6 | One-sided toasting option: Yes
Most important feature in a toaster?
“Even high heat. I like the option of a bigger opening for thicker slices.” - Jesse Ziff Cool, author of Toast: 60 Ways to Butter Your Bread and Then Some
Runner Up, Best Overall: Krups 2 Slice Stainless Steel Toaster KH732D50
LED light-up buttons
Extra large slots big enough for bagels
High-lift lever for smaller piece of bread
Some reviewers say toasting takes longer than expected
Exterior gets hot when in use
This toaster combines aesthetics with quality performance. With an exterior of both brushed and chrome stainless steel, this toaster is sleek and eye-catching and will fit right in beside other stainless steel appliances. It has extra-wide slots that can fit bagels, English muffins, waffles, and even thick buns. The lever has a high-lift to help you lift smaller pieces of bread out of the toaster without burning your fingers.
Operation is simple with a dial to choose from 6 levels of browning, plus push buttons for defrost, reheat, bagel, and cancel functions. The push buttons light up with blue LED lights so you won't accidentally select the wrong function. Owners of this toaster praise its modern design and consistent, even browning.
Dimensions: 13.20 x 8.50 x 8.60 | Number of toasting levels: 6 | One-sided toasting option: yes
Best Budget: Hamilton Beach 2 Slice Extra Wide Slot Toaster with Shade Selector
Automatically shuts off after use
Designed with cord storage
This toaster can make the toast wait for you with its unique keep-warm setting. It holds the toast in the slots when toasting is done for an extra three minutes, so you’ll have extra time to finish cooking the bacon and eggs and still have warm toast waiting for you.
This has seven levels of doneness for perfect toast no matter how you prefer it. The slots are extra wide to accommodate bagels and thick artisan breads, while it’s still great for typical sandwich bread. The defrost setting is handy for frozen toaster pastries and the toast boost lifts toast higher out of the slots making it easy to grab the toast safely so you can ditch the toast tongs.
Dimensions: 11.2 x 6.3 x 7.1 | Number of toasting levels: 7 | One-sided toasting option: yes
Best Toaster Oven: Breville Mini Smart Oven with Element IQ
Preheats quickly with 1800 Watts
Easy-to-read LCD display
A Bit More button easily adds additional cooking time
More of an investment
The top gets hot during use
Takes up more counter space than a traditional toaster
This toaster oven does more than toast, so it’s worth the extra cost. Four quartz heating elements make sure the oven is heating evenly, no matter which setting you choose. When you’re in a hurry, it heats quickly, thanks to the 1800 watt preheat mode.
A clearly labeled dial lets you choose bagels, toast, bake, broil, pizza, roast, cookies, and reheat, and you can adjust those settings for the perfect result. The “a bit more” button lets you continue cooking for just a little longer when the food isn’t quite as done as you like.
This is a compact toaster but can fit a pizza up to 11 inches in diameter, so you won’t need to heat up your large oven when your needs are small. The backlit LCD makes it easy to monitor the cooking process since it’s orange when the oven is preheating or cooking, and it turns blue when cooking is done.
For easy cleaning, the interior of the oven has a nonstick surface. The top of this toaster oven gets hot during use, so you should avoid using it directly under cabinets.
Dimensions: 17 3/4 x 13 x 10 ½ | Number of toasting levels: Calculated | One-sided toasting option: yes
Best Design: Cuisinart Touch-to-Toast Leverless 2-Slice Toaster
Sleek and modern design
Lifts toast automatically
Designed with countdown timer
One-sided toasting function
A bit higher price point
No half settings
Small bread slots
This is the future of toasters, with a lever-free design that lowers and lifts the toast automatically, and an audible alert lets you know when the toast is done. The LCD screen includes a countdown, so you can see at a glance how soon you’ll have toast to butter.
With no lever, this has a clean, attractive front. Buttons let you choose one-sided toasting for bagels and English muffins, a defrost setting that first thaws your baked good before toasting, and a reheat option that warms the bread without further toasting. There are seven different shade settings, so your toast will always be perfect, whether you like a light golden brown or a darker brown. If your new style of bread browns too quickly, the cancel button saves your toast.
Dimensions: 6.5 x 10.5 x 7 inches | Number of toasting levels: 7 | One-sided toasting option: yes
Ideal slice of toast?
"Crispy on the outside…moist on the inside. Maybe even a few charred edges (got that from my mom!)" - Jesse Ziff Cool, author of Toast: 60 Ways to Butter Your Bread and Then Some
Best Splurge: KitchenAid Pro Line Series 2-Slice Automatic Toaster
Function that keeps toast warm without further browning
Lowers bread automatically
Takes up a lot of counter space
Heavy at 10 pounds
The design is unmistakable, looking much like the nose section of a classic KitchenAid stand mixer, and the frosted pearl color is elegant and attractive. But it’s not all about looks. This toaster includes features that set it apart from the usual, including the ability to automatically keep your toast warm without further browning if you don’t retrieve it immediately. It can hold the toast for up to three minutes, so you’ve got plenty of time to finish the eggs.
The bread lowers the bread automatically when bread is sensed, and it lifts automatically when the toast is done. Without a lever, the front controls look cleaner and more attractive. There are seven toasting shades and options for one-sided toasting for bagels as well as settings for frozen bread and the ability to toast for a little longer when the toast isn’t quite done.
Users have noted that this is a little slower at making toast, but it toasts much more evenly, so they don’t mind the slight wait.
Dimensions: 13-7/10 x 7-1/10 x 8-9/10 | Number of toasting levels: 7 | One-sided toasting option: yes
Best with Warming Rack: Multifun Stainless Steel 2-Slice Toaster
Includes cleaning brush
Removable rack for warming
Not a well-known brand
Exterior hot to the touch when in use
Longer bread slices won't fit in slots
This budget-friendly toaster has features you’d expect to find in more expensive models, like the seven levels of toasting brownness, the reheat, cancel, and defrost functions, and extra-wide slots that can accommodate bagels and thick slices of bread. The removable crumb tray and the included brush make cleaning easy when toast is particularly crumby.
One extra feature is the removable rack that sits above the toaster to keep the toast warm for serving or to warm pastries at the same time the toast is in process. Controls are simple, with a dial to control toast settings, buttons for the features, and a lever to lower the toast. This comes in red or black.
Dimensions: 9.5 x 5.5 x 7 | Number of toasting levels: 7 | One-sided toasting option: no
The Smeg Retro Style Aesthetic 2-Slice Toaster is well-built and produces evenly browned breads and baked goods. The retro design is unique and available in nine color choices so you can match it to your kitchen decor. If you prefer stainless steel kitchen appliances, we recommend the Krups 2 Slice Stainless Steel Toaster. It has extra-wide slots to fit bagels, buns, and thick-sliced bread and users praise its consistent performance.
What to Look for When Buying a 2-Slot Toaster
Bells and whistles: What are some features you wish your past toasters had? You can find high-tech options at affordable price points these days, many with useful functions like countdown timers, bread warmers, and automatic raising and lowering. Make a list of features you are willing to pay more for—because they are definitely worth it if you'll put it to regular use.
Slot size: Are you more of a Wonder bread eater, or do you prefer bread that produces wider and thicker slices, such as certain artisan types and bagels? Take into consideration the types of bread you will be toasting, as some toaster slots may be too small for the latter.
Heating functions: If you will be sharing this toaster with others in the household, consider a toaster with more heating functions, so those who like their breads lightly toasted will be just as happy as those who love it almost burnt. Check for options that include half settings or precise dials so each can find their perfect match.
How do you clean a toaster?
Most toasters are designed to be easy to clean, with a crumb tray on the bottom that can be pulled out and emptied. It’s important to clean it regularly to avoid having too many crumbs collect to the point where they could spill over into less accessible places, or where they could make contact with heating elements. The exterior can usually be cleaned with a damp cloth.
How hot do toasters get?
Toasters get surprisingly hot, if we’re talking about the wires that provide the heat. When they’re glowing red, they’re over 1100 degrees. Of course, the heat dissipates a bit before it reached the bread, but it’s still pretty hot in that small enclosed space. That’s why it’s not wise to stick fingers into a toaster to retrieve toast when it’s done.
Do toasters toast on both sides?
Toasters are designed to toast on both sides, but many have an option to toast on one side for bagels or other breads where single-sided toasting is desired.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Donna Currie is a cookbook author, as well as a writer and product tester for The Spruce Eats, specializing in all the latest kitchen gadgets. She's tested over 90 products for the brand.
This roundup was updated by Sharon Lehman, a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist who happily makes space for any gadget that makes cooking faster and easier. She specializes in small kitchen appliance testing and reviews for The Spruce Eats.