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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.
Outside gets fairly hot while toasting
This four-slice toaster will have breakfast ready much faster. The extra-large, self-centering slots hold thin slices or thick bagels snugly for even toasting. Each pair of slots has its own toasting control, so Mom can have her favorite nearly burned toast while Dad opts for golden brown. Or you can toast bagels at the same time you’re making toast.
There are six levels of browning and five buttons for functions including toasting, defrosting, reheating, properly toasting bagels, and canceling the process. The bagel-toasting feature, in particular, is a big hit among reviewers: Many praise the toaster's ability to perfectly toast the sliced side of the bagel while warming (not burning) the outside. A high-lift lever brings short English muffins or other pastries high enough to grab them without burning your fingers.
This has an elegant brushed and chromed stainless steel finish and blue LED lights that indicate the cooking process.
"Keep Warm" button
Easy to use
Cord is on the shorter side
For two-slice toasters, nothing beats the speed, quality, consistency, and ease of use of this Hamilton Beach model. A top seller on Amazon, this appliance is the standard for smaller households that only need to make two pieces of toast at a time. 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 that's one of the best features of this model. 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.) Many reviewers are also happy with how well the appliance toasts both sides of a regular piece of bread, leaving no area untoasted (although some do warn that this requires playing around with which darkness setting works for you). 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.
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 breads, 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.
"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
Pleasant-sounding ding when toast is done
"Lift and Look" feature
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 BTA830XL, 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), the BTA830XL 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 BTA830XL 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.
As for those intuitive controls: the BTA830XL has some unique button options. Besides the expected bagel and defrost settings, there is also a “Lift and Look” buttons that raises the motorized carriage so you can check your toasting progress without starting over. Lastly, there is “A Bit More” button, a feature many reviewers praise as being especially handy when they're toasting frozen bread or when their finished toast needs a few more seconds of browning.
"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.)
Can toast six slices at once
Can bake pastries
Uses convection cooking
Top gets very hot
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.
It has two types of heating elements and 10 different preset cooking functions to make it easy to select the right cooking mode. Reviewers in particular love the convection cooking feature, which they find heats food quickly and evenly. The appliance comes with three baking pans specifically designed to fit inside, but it can also hold up to a 3.5-quart Dutch oven.
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.
Our top pick for the best four-slice toaster is the KRUPS 4-Slot appliance because of its extra-large slots, as well as the rave reviews it received on its bagel-toasting feature. For the best two-slice toaster, we chose the Hamilton Beach 22811 Keep Warm 2-Slice Toaster (find it on the Hamilton Beach website). It's easy to use and comes with a convenient "Keep Warm" feature.
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 of 2020.
Number of slots: It is important to consider how much toast you make at once on average; if you’re cooking breakfast for four and have a toaster that can only handle two slices of bread, the process will be time-consuming. But do keep in mind that toasters with more slots will be larger overall, taking up more counter space.
Size of slots: Are you mainly a basic toast person or do you sometimes like to crisp up other bread products that take up more space? Wider slots can accommodate bagels, croissants, and thick slices of bread, and the toasters are likely 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.
Custom features: If your needs are simple, you might not want a lot of extra buttons to squint at in the morning. If you use your toaster for more than just bread, however, you may appreciate those with special functions for defrosting frozen items, toasting on one side, keeping toast warm after it’s done, or gently reheating the toast you forgot about.