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Toasters are no longer just for making the perfect piece of toast. Today's toasters can now accommodate many of your favorite on-the-go breakfasts, from bagels and frozen waffles to Pop-Tarts and English muffins.
These kitchen appliances come in all shapes and sizes: from the traditional two-slot toaster to a long-slot toaster to the larger, versatile toaster oven. (There are even long-slot toasters that can handle a slice from your favorite artisanal loaf.) Plus, most toasters now feature a variety of settings depending on your needs. Want your bagel with a warmed outside and toasty inside? Extra time to defrost the waffle that came directly from the freezer? Or do you just want to see how much more browning your toast needs? There's likely a setting for that.
But how is one to choose from this wide variety of options? Here, we've come up with a list of the best toasters from several categories.
Best Overall, Two-Slice: Hamilton Beach Keep Warm 2 Slice Toaster (22811)
Chimes when finished toasting
Toast boost easily removes food
Bagel and defrost settings work well
Easy to clean
Cord is on the shorter side
Unpleasant smell on first use
Stainless steel gets smudged easily
For two-slice toasters, nothing beats the speed, quality, consistency, and ease of use of this Hamilton Beach model. This appliance is the standard for smaller households that only need to make two pieces of toast at a time, and it performed consistently in our testing. The easy-to-operate, illuminated buttons let you choose between regular toasting, a bagel setting, and defrosting, and a numbered dial allows you to choose just how crispy you want your toast to turn out.
You’ll also see a “Keep Warm” button. If you need a little extra time to finish making your coffee or frying some eggs, simply press the button, and the toaster will maintain the perfect temperature for your toast for up to 3 minutes. (It shuts off automatically after that.) Our tester was happy with how well the appliance toasts both sides of a regular piece of bread, leaving no area untoasted. She also liked that the bagel setting cooks the inside of the bread without making the outside overly crispy. The toaster also has a lift feature called “Toast Boost” that allows you to raise your slices out of the toaster, making them easier to remove without burning your fingertips.
Finally, the exterior of the toaster remains cool to the touch even after making breakfast for the whole family, so you can scoot it across the counter or store it away in the cabinet without having to wait for it to cool down.
Dimensions: 11.3 x 7.48 x 7.48 inches | Capacity: 2 slices | Wattage: 800
"It performs reliably and has several settings, making it a worthwhile investment for any home." — Camryn Rabideau, Product Tester
Best Overall, Four-Slice: Cuisinart CPT-180P1 4-Slice Classic Metal Toaster
Good range of brownness settings
Sides can be operated independently
Easy to clean
Cuisinart's four-slice toaster is basically two toasters in one: Its dual control panels allow you to customize two toast settings at the same time—handy if you prefer your toast more well-done than your roommate, for example. It boasts a modern design with hints of retro, thanks to its brushed stainless steel, and our tester was surprised at how "pretty" it is for a kitchen appliance. You can choose from a variety of colors, such as metallic red and black stainless steel.
The toaster slots are 1.5-inches wide, meaning they can accommodate thick bagels and other pastries. There are six browning settings, plus options for reheating, defrosting, and toasting bagels. There's also an extra-lift lever to help you retrieve your toast safely.
While our tester didn't find the bagel setting to be very helpful, she loved the defrost setting for frozen waffles or even frozen bagels and appreciated that the manual comes with suggested settings for several menu items. Overall, she found a bit of inconsistency between the two sides of the toaster but not enough to change its functionality in day-to-day use. It takes a bit of trial and error to find your perfect shade of doneness on the scale from 1 to 7, but for families especially, it's nice to have so many options.
Dimensions: 11.15 x 10.65 x 7.5 inches | Capacity: 4 slices | Wattage: 1800
"I did like that this toaster delivers a wide range of brownness options, ranging from barely crisped on setting 1 to practically burnt on setting 7. There were noticeable differences between each of its settings—and you can set the dial between numbers if needed—allowing you to find the one that perfectly suits your tastes." — Camryn Rabideau, Product Tester
Best Toaster Oven: Breville Smart Oven BOV800XL
Temperature calibration is near perfect
Nine preset functions
Comes with broil rack, baking pan, and pizza pan
Needs circulation space on both sides
"Smart” functionality is limited
If you’ve been thinking about upgrading to a toaster oven, now is a great time to do so thanks to the improved technology in the last few years, and the Breville Smart Oven is a perfect pick. The large capacity countertop oven not only toasts six pieces of bread at one time, but it can also bake cakes and cookies as well as your regular oven and fit a 12-inch pizza.
Something Breville calls Element IQ® transfers heat across five quartz elements, and our tester was impressed with the oven's temperature calibration in particular. "After using the oven to bake a variety of premade products (using the manufacturer’s suggested time and temperature), every one of them was done on time," she reported. She tried out the oven to make cookies, dinner rolls, and store-bought and homemade pizza, and she even broiled a steak (which turned out fine but produced a lot of smoke)—all with great results.
If you tend to bake in small batches, or don’t want to heat up your kitchen in the summer with your regular oven (and you have the counter space), this is the ideal model for you.
Dimensions: 15.7 x 18.5 x 11 inches | Capacity: 6 slices of bread / 12-inch pizza | Wattage: 1800
"Breville’s Smart Oven may be compact, but it can do nearly everything a full-size oven can." – Donna Currie, Product Tester
Best High-End: Breville Die-Cast Smart Toaster
Fits artisanal slices with ease
Easy to increase toasting time
Sleek and beautiful
"Four slot" claim only applies to regular-sized sandwich bread
Smart features aren't that impressive
Maybe you’ve been burned (pun intended) by cheap toasters in the past. Or maybe you’re just looking for something a little more advanced—something that toasts with the graceful efficiency of an appliance from the future. In that case, look to the super-sleek Breville Die-Cast, a streamlined appliance with simple controls and some highly intuitive features that you probably haven't seen on a toaster before.
Fitted with extra-long slots for all kinds of bread (or four slices of sandwich bread), this Breville smart toaster is a surprisingly unobtrusive addition to your countertop. Set your shade level on the slider, put in your bread, and allow the motorized lift to quietly lower it into the toaster. The LED lights indicate your toasting progress, and when it’s done, the toaster quietly raises your bread (no sudden “popping up”) and dings to let you know it’s done. If you don’t like noise in the morning, there’s an option to lower or entirely mute the sound.
Our tester used the toaster with white bread, frozen bagels, and thick artisanal bread and found that everything came out evenly toasted and had that crusted outside but still-a-little-soft inside. She did warn that the four-slot claim truly only applies to standard sandwich bread.
As for those intuitive controls, the Breville Die-Cast has some unique button options. Besides the expected bagel and defrost settings, there are also “Lift and Look” buttons that raise the motorized carriage so you can check your toasting progress without starting over. Lastly, there is an “A Bit More” button, a feature our reviewer praised as being especially handy. While our tester appreciated the extra features, she warned the "smart" designation might be a bit misleading.
Dimensions: 14.9 x 7.7 x 7.5 inches | Capacity: 4 extra long slices | Wattage: 1600
"You can check on your bread as it toasts without stopping and having to start over—something that I think sets this model apart from others." — Lindsay Boyers, Product Tester
Best Design: KitchenAid KMT4116CU 4-Slice Long Slot Toaster with High-Lift Lever
Extra-long and wide slots
Cord stores underneath
"Keep Warm" setting
Very loud beep when toast is finished
If you bake your own bread or buy a variety of artisan bread, you’ll love the versatility of this toaster, as many reviewers do. This is due in large part to the size of the toasting slots: They are extra long, so each holds two slices of standard sandwich bread or long slices of bread. Furthermore, the slots are 1.5 inches wide, so reviewers say they are able to toast everything from bagels and English muffins to artisan boules and folded-up flour tortillas with ease.
The toaster has seven different settings for toast color as well as settings for bagels, defrosting frozen bread products, reheating toast, or keeping the toast warm. The lever is designed to make it easy to lift small bread slices high enough to easily remove them from the toaster.
A crumb tray makes it easy to clean the toaster, and if you need to store it, the cord stores neatly under the base.
Dimensions: 7.7 x 16.5 x 8 inches | Capacity: 4 slices | Wattage: 1800
"A good toaster is a must-have appliance because, as I learned when I worked in restaurants, it is really hard to make toast well without one." — Heather Ramsdell, Editorial Director, The Spruce Eats
Best for Bagels: Cuisinart Touch to Toast Leverless Toaster, 4-Slice
"Enhanced Bagel Toasting" feature
No "Keep Warm" feature
Takes a while to toast
If you like to start your mornings with a toasted bagel and cream cheese, then you’ll want a toaster that can handle more than just sliced sandwich bread. The Cuisinart CPT-440 is your best bet. Sliced bagels won’t get stuck in the extra-wide slots, and reviewers love that the “Enhanced Bagel Toasting” feature delivers a perfectly toasted sliced side and a lightly warmed outside, ready for all your favorite spreads. Not to mention the CPT-440 comes with a host of other high-tech features that make this little appliance a true asset to your kitchen.
The CPT-440’s four-slice design is perfect for busy households and caters to everyone’s toasting preferences with independent controls on each side. Just select your shade setting on the easy-to-read digital displays, which also act as a countdown timer once toasting starts. You can also choose from the buttons to enable specialized settings, including “Bagel,” “Defrost,” and “Reheat.” The CPT-440 is also lever-less and designed with a motorized bread lift, so it doesn’t pop up like a traditional toaster—instead, it quietly raises up your perfectly-toasted bagel and beeps to let you know it’s done. If you’re tired of being startled by your toaster first thing in the morning, this feature can be a blessing.
Dimensions: 11.42 x 10.08 x 7.75 inches | Capacity: 4 slices | Wattage: 900
Best Budget: BLACK+DECKER TR1278B 2-Slice Extra Wide Slot Toaster
Easy to use
No indicator that bagel or frozen toasting features are on
Top gets very hot
You don’t have to spend a lot to get a quality toaster. This Black+Decker model is very affordable and delivers reliable results every day. The simple black and brushed silver design is also universal enough to fit in most modern kitchens.
While the controls on this appliance aren’t as high-tech as some of the others on this list, you do still have the option to select whether you’re toasting plain bread, a bagel, or a frozen item to ensure you get the best results possible. Simply press either the bagel or defrost button before pushing down on the toasting lever to choose between the settings. The shade selecting dial offers seven different toasting levels, ensuring that there’s a right setting for everyone.
The toaster has an integrated, easy-to-empty crumb tray to keep things tidy. And the cord can be wrapped around the base for easy storage when you’re done making breakfast.
Dimensions: 8.58 x 9.09 x 12.32 inches | Capacity: 2 slices | Wattage: 850
Best Small Toaster Oven: Hamilton Beach Toaster Oven (31148)
Controls aren't very intuitive
If you have limited counter space but still want the versatility of a toaster oven, this Hamilton Beach model is a great compact option that packs all the same functionality in a smaller package. Broil, warm, bake, and toast all your favorite foods in this compact little appliance.
The Hamilton Beach has a four-slice capacity and can fit up to a 9-inch pizza. The single rack and smaller size limit how much you can cook at once, but it’s a great fit for a dorm kitchen or small apartment and an extremely affordable addition to your countertop. There are three knob controls for cook setting, temperature, and timer, as well as an included oven rack and baking pan. It even has a designated bagel toasting feature, so you really do get the full functionality of a regular slice toaster in addition to the baking and broiling capabilities.
Some reviewers complain that the controls aren’t very intuitive to use, but most users are extremely pleased with this toaster oven’s performance (especially at this price point).
Dimensions: 8.58 x 9.09 x 12.32 inches | Capacity: 4 slices / 9-inch pizza | Wattage: 1100
"I love a small toaster oven because it is only a little bit bigger than a toaster and you can lean on it to help roast things, like a few chicken wings, toasted nuts, or a small pizza." — Heather Ramsdell, Editorial Director, The Spruce Eats
What to Look for When Buying a Toaster
By Sara Tane
Number of Slots
Most toasters offer two, three, or four slots for toasting bread. Consider how much and how frequently you make toast; if you’re consistently cooking breakfast for four and only have a toaster that can accommodate two slices of bread, the process will be time-consuming. That said, the more slots you opt for, the more counter space the appliance will take up. If kitchen space is limited, a smaller two-slot toaster may be a better option, despite its smaller capacity.
Size of Slots
Once you’ve decided how many slots you want out of your toaster, the next characteristic to consider is the size of those slots. If you’re just planning to toast up thin pieces of bread, then a basic-sized slot will suffice for your needs. If you’ll be toasting bigger items, like bagels, heartier slices of bread, croissants, or waffles, a wider slot is probably your better option. Typically, the wider and larger the slot, the more likely it is to have settings for toasting on just one side, which is optimal for bagels. Toasters with long slots can toast longer slices of artisan bread or long pieces of French bread for sandwiches.
If you’re just looking for an appliance to crisp up a simple slice of bread, then it may not be worth your money, counter space, and mental clarity to have a field of extra buttons to squint at in the morning. If you’re planning to use your toaster for more than just bread, however, you may appreciate those with special functions for defrosting frozen items, toasting on one side (ideal for bagels), keeping toast warm after it’s done, or gently reheating the toast you forgot about (happens to the best of us). If you want your toast just a tad darker, another common feature that some toasters boast is “a little bit more,” which will toast your bread for just a little bit longer.
Some toasters offer a “high lift” function to ensure that you don’t have to fish out your bread with a pair of tongs or use your hands and risk burning yourself. There are toasters that are equipped with motorized levers that can sense when you drop bread into the slot and will lower the lever automatically. While this feature can be nice, most users find that using a manual lever is just as easy. Removable crumb trays also make for a much easier cleaning process. Clearly, there are plenty of additional bells and whistles that toasters can have besides just a basic toast. If you’re very particular about the process of toasting your bread and ultimately how toasted your bread is, then some of these added features may be a nice addition for you. There are still a wide variety of toasters that are available at affordable prices that still offer these additional settings.
The most common flaw with an appliance like a toaster is that it is inevitably going to break down at some point. These are not lifetime investments. That said, you still want a toaster that is durable and going to last you as long as possible. Glass toasters have a bit of a reputation for kicking out earlier than most; plus, they’re much harder to keep clean. It’s also worth considering if the toaster you’re buying comes with a warranty. Some brands will offer as long as a three-year warranty, while some are one-year, and some come with no warranty at all. A toaster that is easy to clean is going to last you a long time, so features like a removable crumb tray will make maintenance easier, and thus the lifetime of the appliance longer.
The material that your toaster is made of will be a good indicator of how hot it will get while it’s being used. Plastic toasters can tend to feel like they're on the cheaper side, though these models can still offer the bells and whistles of higher-end versions. Plastic is generally less durable than metal, and when the control buttons and levers are made of plastic, they’re more likely to break. Metal toasters are the most common because this material is sturdier. It’s important to look for a toaster that will remain cool to the touch during use, especially if you have small children in the house; it’s important to have a toaster that’s not going to hurt you if you accidentally touch it while it’s hot. The final and least common material is glass. This material is cool because it allows you to see your food as it’s toasting, but glass toasters very often leave a white rim and vertical lines across the bread. So, even though they allow you to see what’s going on in the toaster, glass toasters don’t necessarily toast a better slice of bread.
You can snag a toaster for anywhere from $20 to $300, so you’ll want to make sure that if you’re going to splurge a bit, there’s a worthwhile reason for the extra money. Truth be told, because this is an appliance that can only do so much, sometimes you’re not getting much extra when you’re paying for these splurge models. That said, the pricier options typically boast a sleeker design and some more features than a basic, budget option. Glass toasters are typically more expensive, but you’re mostly paying for aesthetics and the benefit of seeing your toast as it cooks. A higher price tag does not guarantee a better piece of toast, so make sure that if you are going to splurge a bit, there is a specific feature or design aspect that is justifying the extra money.
Types of Toasters
While the focus of this buying guide is pop-up toasters, it’s worth noting what differentiates a toaster oven. Toaster ovens (which, as the name implies, are small countertop ovens) do not have the slots of a classic toaster. Instead, there is a door and a small oven that can handle not only bread and bagels, but roasting vegetables, heating up pizza, or warming up sandwiches. These typically occupy much more counter space than a slot toaster, although with that extra space comes many more heating capabilities. This appliance may be worth it to you if you can see yourself relying on the appliance for more than just toast. Remember, your oven can do everything that a toaster oven can, if not more, so you really need to consider if this is an appliance that you’d use. If not, your best bet is to stick with a pop-up toaster.
Two- and Four-Slot
The most common types of slot toasters are two- and four-slot toasters. Obviously, two-slot toasters are more compact, which is ideal for a kitchen that’s short on space. Four-slot toasters are bigger and allow larger families to crank out fresh toast at the same time. The number of slots should not affect the evenness or consistency of the bread that you’re toasting; the quality of toast from a two-slice toaster is just the same as a four-slice toaster. Two-slice toasters are also ideal because they’re lighter and easier to maintain and clean.
If you’re looking for a motorized lift, Breville makes a slot toaster with this feature. While it comes at a pretty penny, this is definitely a nice splurge option. It’s sturdy, sleek, and produces consistent slices of toast. These toasters often come with a “lift and look” feature as well as a “little bit more.”
If you’re looking for a toaster option with wide slots, KitchenAid makes some great options in both two- and four-slice capacities. Its toasters are compact, stylish, and consistent. While they’re not the cheapest versions available on the market, they have enough features to justify the heftier price tag.
Another great splurge option is a Cuisinart. Though the brand offers a wide variety of toasters, some of the most notable include a motorized lift toaster with wide slots for bagels galore. On the other end of the spectrum, it makes manual-level, plastic toasters that are just as efficient at churning out even, perfectly toasted slices of bread.
If you find yourself with a toaster that doesn’t have a high-lift function, you can always supplement this with a pair of bamboo tongs. This way, you don’t have to worry about burning your fingers when it’s time to take your toast out.
If your toaster has wide enough slots to fit a sandwich, a fun accessory for your toaster is a sandwich cage. This tool helps keep your sandwich together as you lower it down into the toaster slot and let it cook. Lift it up and your sandwich slides out easily in one piece.
If you have a toaster that doesn’t have a removable crumb tray, it might be worth your while to get a brush that can help you dust off any hard-to-reach places in the toaster. The last thing that you want is a large pile-up of stale crumbs burning at the bottom of your toaster after repeated use.
Cleaning your toaster is important if you want your appliance to last for as long as possible. The most important thing when it comes to cleaning a toaster is to make sure that it is completely cooled down and unplugged when you begin cleaning. Never put it in a dishwasher or under running water. The frequency that you’ll need to clean your toaster depends on how often you use it. If you use it on most days, it’s good to get in the habit of clearing out the crumbs every one or two weeks.
Most toasters are designed with a removable crumb tray, which you’ll find near the base. When it’s time to clean your toaster out, begin by removing and discarding the contents in the crumb tray. This tray is positioned to catch all of the particles that fall as you toast your bread.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Anthony Irizarry is a freelancer who writes roundups for The Spruce Eats. Having previously worked as an appliance reviews editor, he's no stranger to kitchen appliances. In addition to toasters, Anthony has also rounded up our picks of the best ice cream makers and best waffle makers.