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Best Overall: Breville Die-Cast 4-Slice Smart Toaster
Breville has a reputation for quality products, like this smart toaster that uses a smart chip to control the lowering of the bread as well as the toasting time. Have you ever checked your finished toast and thought that it’s almost perfect, but it’s not quite there? This toaster takes care of that situation with the “a bit more” setting that lowers the bread again to brown it slightly more, so you don’t have to hover over the toaster or risk burning instead of browning.
Another innovative feature is the “lift and look” that raises the bread so you can check it without canceling the current toasting session, which is great when you’re toasting a new type of bread and you’re not sure how long the toasting will take. The LED display lets you monitor the toasting progress, and the toaster beeps to let you know when the bread is done. Each side of the toaster operates on its own, so you can put your thin toast on one side and a bagel on the other using the bagel feature. A defrost feature lets you thaw and toast bread perfectly.
All of these features are wrapped up in a brushed die-cast metal exterior that easily wipes clean and looks modern and attractive.
Best Budget: Proctor Silex Toaster with Wide Slots & Toast Boost, 4-Slice
Great for a new kitchen, dorm room, vacation cottage, or for people who aren’t quite so serious about their toast, this budget-friendly toaster has all the features you need, including wide slots for thick bread, a slide-out crumb tray, and a cool-touch exterior. When you’re cooking small pieces of bread, this toaster will lift them higher so you can retrieve them without burning your fingers, while the cancel button stops the process whenever you like.
Best Toaster Oven: Cuisinart Exact Heat Toaster Oven Broiler
Take your toasting one step further with this toaster oven. Not only can you make perfect toast, but you can also use it for cooking, baking, and broiling. No need to heat your large oven for a personal pizza or to reheat leftover slices–just fire up the toaster oven.
An internal heat sensor maintains the temperature you choose, so your toast will be perfect and your bagels won’t burn.
This has a touchpad for easy control, a clock, and a timer for oven cooking. The large handle makes it easy to open the door, even when you’re wearing a mitt, while it gives it a professional look.
Best Design: Smeg 50's Retro Style Aesthetic 4 Slice Toaster
Smeg, an Italian company, has been making inroads in the American market and gaining a following thanks to the retro look of their appliances and unique color options that will make a statement in any kitchen. The exterior of this toaster is powder-coated steel with polished chrome accents.
It has two slots that are both long and wide, so you can toast four slices of regular toast, two extra long slices, or two split bagels. When you’re toasting bagels or English muffins, the bagel setting will let you toast on one side only. This also has reheat and defrost settings. Anti-slip feet keep this steady on the counter, and the removable crumb tray makes it easy to clean.
Best Long Slot: Kenmore 4-Slice Auto-Lift Long Slot Toaster
Perfect for toasting sausage buns, the long slots on this toaster will also let you toast long sections of French bread or slices from artisan loaves that won’t fit neatly into toasters with standard slots. You can also toast standard bread side-by-side, so the two slots can toast four slices at a time. Those long slots are also extra-wide, so you can fit your Texas toast or other thick slices of bread, while the self-centering feature makes sure thin slices will toast evenly. This has settings for warming, defrosting, and a bagel setting that toasts on one side, along with nine shade settings for your perfect toast.
The stainless steel exterior and LED display make this toaster look modern, and the self-lowering feature makes it even more fun to use. The display shows a count-down timer so you know at a glance how much time is left before the toast pops.
Best High End: KitchenAid 4-Slice Pro Line Toaster
You might know KitchenAid because of their iconic stand mixers, and this toaster includes some of the design features from their 1937 mixer, giving it a modern but retro look. The candy apple red color will make a statement in your kitchen, while the toaster’s features will impress you. Watching the toast lower and raise automatically can be fun, while the ability to raise the bread to check the process without canceling the process will help avoid over-browned waffles.
The keep warm setting will automatically activate after 45 seconds to make sure your toast will be butter-ready if you step out of the kitchen. It continues to activate for three minutes, giving you plenty of time to get back to the kitchen.
The four slots are wide enough for bagels and other thick pieces of bread, while the self-centering feature ensures that thin bread will toast evenly. When you’re toasting a new type of bread, you might not know exactly how long it needs, so the “a little longer” setting lets you keep toasting without changing your favorite setting for your usual bread.
Best for Bagels: Cuisinart Touch to Toast Leverless Toaster
Built with an enhanced bagel setting, along with defrost, reheat, and cancel buttons, this is the ideal toaster for bagel lovers. An LED countdown display will let you monitor the process, so you’ll know exactly when the toast will be ready, and an icon on the toaster lets you know how to arrange the bagels for flawless toasting on the correct side.
The stainless steel exterior with its simple buttons is timeless, while the LED displays make it a bit more modern. A motorized lift raises and lowers the bread for you at the touch of a button, so there’s no need for levers. Each side of the toaster operates independently, so you can toast lightly on one side while the other side produces a mahogany color. When it’s done, the toaster will beep to let you know it’s time to find the butter.
If you store the toaster rather than displaying it on the counter, the cord wrap on the bottom will keep it neat and tidy.