Chimes when finished toasting
Toast boost easily removes food
Bagel and defrost settings work well
Easy to clean
Unpleasant smell on first use
Awkward power cord
Stainless steel gets smudged easily
We purchased the Hamilton Beach 2-Slice Toaster so our reviewer could put it to the test in her kitchen. Keep reading for our full product review.
If you regularly eat bagels, frozen waffles, or just plain toast, a quality toaster is a must-have appliance for your kitchen. The Hamilton Beach 2-Slice Toaster is a fairly classic option—it has two slots and standard settings, and it’s available at a reasonable price. To see if this appliance is a worthwhile purchase, I put it to the test over the course of several weeks. Here’s what I found.
The Hamilton Beach 2-Slice Toaster is a textbook toaster. It has two slots to hold your bread, a push-down lever to start the appliance, and a dial to select a brownness level. The whole appliance is fairly compact, measuring roughly 11 x 7.5 x 7.5 inches. It’s compact enough to store in a cupboard if desired, but I simply opted to leave it on the counter for a few weeks during testing, as it doesn’t take up too much space.
The Hamilton Beach Toaster has a stainless steel body with gray plastic trim around the edges. The design is plain, but I did notice that the metal picks up fingerprint smudges quite easily—there were marks on the shiny metal just from me taking it out of the box. If you like your stainless steel appliances to look pristine and spotless, this toaster might prove to be a bit burdensome.
The other notable feature of this toaster is its power cord, which is located in a strange place. If you look at the underside of the appliance, you’ll see that the cord actually starts at the front of the toaster. Because I wanted the cord to stick out the back of the appliance, I had to run it down the entire length of the unit, which left me with around 20 inches of cord to reach the plug. It’s a strange design choice if you ask me, and it forces you to keep the toaster fairly close to an outlet.
Performance: Gets the job done
I regularly use a toaster to make breakfast foods, including bagels, frozen waffles, and toaster pastries, so I was able to put the Hamilton Beach Toaster through its paces. The appliance offers seven doneness settings, and after the first two or three uses, I quickly found that setting 5 was the best option for me—it crisps and browns the bread nicely without burning. I usually turned it down to setting 3 for Pop-Tarts, though, as I don’t like them to be too browned—just warmed through.
I will say that if you like your bread extra brown and on the verge of burning (is that something people actually like?), this toaster doesn’t offer the same level of heat as other appliances, even on its highest setting. I tested all seven of its browning options on standard white bread, and settings 6 and 7 performed nearly the same, leaving the bread crisp and brown but not charred or burnt.
The toaster also allows you to push its lever up to raise the slots, which makes it significantly easier to grab smaller items without the risk of burning your fingers.
One thing I really liked about this toaster is that it plays a little chime both when you start it and just before it “pops.” As someone who’s regularly startled by toast popping up next to me, I definitely appreciated the gentle warning, and it also let me know my food was done if I was in another room. The toaster also allows you to push its lever up to raise the slots, which made it significantly easier to grab smaller items without the risk of burning your fingers.
A few other things to note: First, this toaster smelled like burning plastic the first time I turned it on. I actually thought I might have forgotten to remove a piece of packaging, but I couldn’t find anything. It must have just been manufacturing residue burning off, but it smelled awful! The instructions didn’t mention anything about running the toaster empty on first use, but I’d definitely recommend doing so.
Second, the brand claims that the slots on this toaster are extra-wide, but they don’t look noticeably different from a standard toaster, in my opinion. To test this claim, I put an extra puffy bagel into the toaster, and the thicker side still needed a gentle push to make it completely into the slot, as well as a bit of wiggling to get it back out again. To that end, I wouldn’t buy this toaster based on that claim alone.
Features: Bagel, defrost, and keep warm
There are four buttons on the front of this toaster, alongside its lever, and they are the Keep Warm, Bagel, Defrost, and Cancel settings. The Keep Warm option is the most unique, and it holds your food inside the toaster for 3 extra minutes after cooking (without over-browning it). I personally didn’t find much use for this setting, as I’m typically in the kitchen while my food is toasting, but it might be handy if you tend to get ready as you cook breakfast.
I tested all seven of its browning options on standard white bread, all leaving the bread crisp and brown but not charred or burnt.
The other two settings—bagel and defrost—worked as expected. The bagel setting cooks just the inside of the bread, leaving the exterior warm but not overly crisp. The defrost setting helps to crisp up frozen foods, and I found that it was particularly useful when cooking frozen waffles.
Finally, there’s the cancel button, which just cancels the cycle—something usually achieved by lifting the toaster’s lever. It was straightforward and works as described.
Cleaning: Easy-to-use crumb tray
The Hamilton Beach 2-Slice Toaster has a crumb tray in the back that simply pulls out for easy cleaning. My old toaster simply had a flap that opened, forcing you to shake the whole appliance out over the trash can, so this was a welcome change. I did find that it helped to bang the Hamilton Beach Toaster a few times to ensure everything had fallen down into the tray, but once that was done, it was merely a matter of pulling the tray out, emptying it, and sliding it back into place. Easy.
The Hamilton Beach 2-Slice Toaster retails for around $35, which is standard for a two-slice toaster with basic settings. Given its reliable performance, I think it’s worth the price—you could probably find one for cheaper, but it might not have bagel and defrost settings.
Hamilton Beach 2-Slice Toaster vs. Cuisinart 4-Slice Metal Classic Toaster
If your family ends up jockeying for use of the toaster in the morning, you might want to upgrade to something like the Cuisinart 4-Slice Metal Classic Toaster (view at Amazon), which retails for around $70. As its name suggests, this toaster has two sets of two slots, and you can operate each side independently. In my testing, the results weren’t totally consistent between the two sides, but it still worked well once I figured out my preferred settings, and its stainless steel design was an attractive addition to the kitchen counter.
A solid basic toaster at a very fair price.
There’s nothing overly special about the Hamilton Beach 2-Slice Toaster—it’s just your average toaster—but it performs reliably and has several settings, making it a worthwhile investment for any home.
- Product Name 2-Slice Toaster
- Product Brand Hamilton Beach
- Price $34.99
- Product Dimensions 7.8 x 11.3 x 11.3 in.
- Color Black, gray, silver
- Material Stainless steel and plastic
- Warranty 1 year