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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.
Our experts narrowed down the best overall picks for both two- and four-slice toasters, naming the Hamilton Beach Keep Warm 2-Slice Toaster the top pick for the former because of its speed, quality, consistency, and ease of use, and the Cuisinart CPT-T40 4-Slice Touchscreen Toaster with a high-lift lever and +30 second feature winner of the latter.
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 a 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.
To determine which toasters are truly the best, we tested the most popular models side-by-side at home and in our Lab. We toasted bread, bagels, and waffles, and then rated each model on design, performance, features, ease of cleaning, and overall value.
Here, we've come up with a list of the best toasters, according to our tests.
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 three 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-T40 4-Slice Touchscreen Toaster
High-lift lever and +30 second feature
Single piece feature
Bagels are a tight fit
The CPT-T40 4-Slice Touchscreen Toaster exceeded expectations in our Lab tests, especially when you consider its price. Touchscreen controls on the front of the toaster and six shade settings give precise control of toasting whether you’re using sandwich bread or English muffins. As far as features go, you can expect the following options: bagel, defrost, and single-slice toasting. There is also a +30 second button to take advantage of when the toast needs just a little more time and a cancel button that stops the toasting right away.
Two levers each control a pair of toast slots, and each pair can operate separately, so you can simultaneously toast bagels lightly while toasting bread to a dark shade. This toaster’s display rests in standby mode when it’s not being used and wakes up at the touch of an icon.
The convenience of this toaster's different features, as well as how flawlessly it toasts bagels, earned it high marks from our Lab testers. Bread toasted to a nice golden brown on medium and high settings, with the highest coming out evenly dark without being burned. The testers did have to manually help thick bagels into the slots, but they came out with a golden brown cut-side and a soft crust—even on the highest setting. The crumb tray is removable when it comes time for cleaning, though our testers observed the easy-to-wipe exterior easily captured fingerprints.
Number of Slots: 4 | High-Lift Lever: Yes | Removable Crumb Tray: Yes | Dimensions: 11 x 10.35 x 7.2 inches | Weight: 8.0 pounds | Warranty: 3 years
"It looks so, so sleek. This is a toaster you would be proud to leave on your counter."
Best Toaster Oven: Breville BOV800XL Smart Oven
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 tech-savvy toaster oven, 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.
The Element IQ® transfers heat across five quartz elements. 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. She even broiled a steak, which turned out fine but produced a lot of smoke.
Whether you tend to bake in small batches or don’t want to heat up your kitchen in the summer with your regular oven, 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: 1,800
"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. You simply 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. 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. She 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 for being especially handy. While our tester appreciated the extra features, she warned that the "smart" designation might be a bit misleading.
Dimensions: 14.9 x 7.7 x 7.5 inches | Capacity: 4 extra-long slices | Wattage: 1,600
"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: Smeg 50s Retro-Style 4-Slice Long-Slot Toaster
Includes bagel and defrost features
Toast sometimes pops out of toaster
Smeg is coveted for its retro-style appliances and trendy color options that add pizazz to any kitchen. The exterior of this toaster is powder-coated steel with polished chrome accents, but not only is it one of the most attractive designs on the market—it's highly functional, too.
Our testers praised it for its consistent performance whether they toasted four slices of regular toast, two extra-long slices, or two split bagels. The brownness corresponded to the toaster's setting every time. The testers did note that when you’re using the bagel setting, it toasts slightly lighter, but does get a great golden brown color on the cut-side if you crank it up to high. This also has reheat and defrost settings.
One qualm from the testers was that although they enjoyed the toast popping all the way out of the toaster, the pieces could easily end up on the floor. Anti-slip feet keep this firm on the counter, and the removable crumb tray makes it simple to clean.
Number of Slots: 2 | High-Lift Lever: Yes | Removable Crumb Tray: Yes | Dimensions: 15.9 x 8.1 x 8.4 inches | Weight: 7.5 pounds | Warranty: 1 year
"It performed the slice-bread test very well, but you're really buying this for the design."
Best for Bagels: KitchenAid KMT4115 4-Slice Toaster
Dings when done
Classic color options
Hard to keep clean
Forcing half a bagel into a too-narrow toaster slot isn't a pleasant experience. Fans of the beloved breakfast food would be wise to invest in a wide-slot toaster, which is ideal for bagels and other thick breads. Our Lab testers had nothing but nice things to say about the KitchenAid 4-Slice Toaster, which is available in three colors, features five shade settings, a manual high-lift lever, and 1.5-inch-wide slots perfect for fluffy bagels.
In our Lab, this model repeatedly toasted beautiful bagels on all the settings. Just put the bagel in, press the bagel function, and when it dings, you'll have a bagel with soft crust and an even, golden brown crispiness on the inside. Just know that our testers found that this toaster skews a bit darker on the regular settings. It also appeared to show fingerprints, but it was very easy to bring back the shine.
Number of Slots: 4 | High-Lift Lever: Yes | Removable Crumb Tray: Yes | Dimensions: 11.5 x 12.5 x 8.3 inches | Weight: 7.2 pounds | Warranty: 1 year
"When it comes to bagels, the coloring is almost perfect."
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. This ensures 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. 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). It's an extremely affordable addition to your countertop.
Dimensions: 8.58 x 9.09 x 12.32 inches | Capacity: 4 slices/9-inch pizza | Wattage: 1,100
"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
For the best two-slice toaster, we chose the Hamilton Beach 2-Slice Toaster because it's easy to use and performed well in our tests. If you're looking to toast more at once, go with the Cuisinart 4-Slice Classic Metal ToasterCuisinart CPT-T40 4-Slice Touchscreen Toaster, which features a high-lift lever and +30 second feature.
How We Tested
We sent toasters to our home testers and also tested them in our Lab using various types of breads, including bagels, waffles, and more. Each toaster was rated on design, performance, features, ease of cleaning, and overall value. Our testers then offered additional insights on each toaster's strengths and weaknesses.
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. When choosing what you need, 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. This 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. This varies as some brands will offer a one-year warranty, some three years, and some not 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, even though these models 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. 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 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 anywhere from $20 to $300. But since a higher price tag does not guarantee a better piece of toast, make sure that there's a specific feature or design aspect that is justifying the extra money. For example, glass toasters are typically more expensive because you’re mostly paying for aesthetics and the benefit of seeing your toast as it cooks.
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 bread and bagels, roasting vegetables, heating up pizza, and warming up sandwiches.
While these typically occupy much more counter space than a slot toaster, 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 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.
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.
What do the numbers on a toaster mean?
The answer to this depends on the type of toaster. If you purchased a timer style of toaster, the numbers refer to the number of minutes it will toast. These tend to be the more expensive brands, like Smeg.
If your model runs on a capacitor, like a toaster most people own, the numbers refer to a rate of resistance. This correlates to the amount of time it takes the capacitor to charge and pop your toasted item out. Older models operate on a bimetallic strip that bends as they heat up. The numbers on these types of toasters refer to how much electricity goes through the switch. Lower numbers equate to higher current, which heats up quicker and leaves your toast less toasty.
What does the bagel setting on a toaster do?
Toasters are constructed with two heating elements to toast both sides simultaneously. A bagel setting powers down the outer heating element to ensure a crusty inside and just warmed outside of your bagel.
How does a toaster work?
In the most basic sense, toasters turn electricity into heat. Until you push the switch on a toaster, the electricity flowing from the wall to the appliance lies in wait. Once the switch is depressed, the connection forms and the electricity powers the infrared heating elements in the toaster. That glowy red light you see as your toast is crisping.
The super-hot elements generate over 1000 degrees Fahrenheit of heat inside those little slots, which heats the air around your food item up to temperatures around 350 degrees Fahrenheit—the default temperature on a full-size oven. Once the timer or thermostat reaches the programmed level of doneness, your toast pops up and the connection between the electricity and the element cuts off until the next time you push the switch.
What can you cook in a toaster oven?
As toaster ovens have become bigger, sturdier, and stronger, the world of what you can cook in them has expanded. They really are just more compact versions of your regular oven, and some even come with pans specifically designed for toaster oven-size portions.
They are great for reheating foods like leftover pizza and can also bake up a batch of roasted veggies, toasty sandwiches, and even brownies. If you have ramekins, baked eggs are a quick toaster oven breakfast. Basically, anything you would cook in a larger oven can be scaled down for a toaster oven.
That said, some items that can be cooked in a toaster oven require special attention, like bacon for example. The grease it creates while cooking may need to be drained if it accumulates too much. You don’t want a grease fire. If you are hoping to bake some small-batch items in the toaster oven, be sure to select the bake function and watch your goodies as the heat is quite intense in such a small area.
Is a toaster oven a convection oven?
The short answer is no. There are a few differences between the two. Convection ovens tend to be larger and more expensive than toaster ovens, taking up more precious counter space and budget. Convection ovens cook foods quicker than toaster ovens, and though both can cook foods, toaster ovens shine for reheating and toasting. Meanwhile, convection ovens are known to produce high-quality baked goods and crispy skins on meats.
The main difference is how they heat. A convection oven has a fan that distributes the hot air evenly over food while a toaster oven radiates heat from the top and bottom elements, much like a traditional full-size oven.
Is a toaster oven the same as an air fryer?
The easiest way to understand the differences between these two appliances is to think of the air fryer as similar to the convection oven. Toaster ovens utilize heating elements, usually on the top and bottom, to cook or reheat food. Air fryers use coiled heating elements, but the main source of cooking is the powerful fan that circulates the hot air continuously over food, cooking it evenly and crisply in the case of chicken. Air fryers also add in the capabilities of dehydrating and high speed hot cooking required for “frying.”
How do you clean the inside of a toaster?
Follow these steps:
- Unplug and cool the toaster
- Shake crumbs loose
- Make a cleaning solution
- Brush away crumbs from the interior
- Clean the exterior
How do you clean a toaster oven?
Follow these steps:
- Unplug the oven
- Remove and clean components
- Shake to remove crumbs
- Mix a cleaning solution
- Clean the interior
- Clean the glass door
- Clean the exterior
- Reassemble the toaster oven
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.
Carrie Honaker is a food writer who has owned her share of small kitchen appliances. As a restaurateur and avid home cook, she knows the importance of finding the right tool for the right job. She loves her toaster oven for crusty bagels, yummy reheated pizza, and small batches of Mexican hot chocolate brownies. Carrie's work has appeared in many publications including Bon Appetit, Allrecipes, and Wine Enthusiast.