Using a four-slice toaster is a timesaver for a big family trying to get breakfast on the table, or even for two people if you both eat at the same time. The biggest downside to owning a four-slice toaster is that it will take up more space on your counter. If your kitchen is a bit cramped, you might be better off with a two-slice toaster, which we cover elsewhere in this report.
We named the Breville BTA840XL (Est. $180) as our top pick for this category. With its sleek housing of brushed, die-cast metal, the Breville looks great in contemporary kitchens, and it's a real treat for tech lovers. There's no manual lever on this toaster -- instead, it has an internal smart chip that automatically lowers and lifts bread. Like the Breville The Bit More BTA720XL (Est. $80) two-slice toaster model we discuss in our two-slice toaster section, the Breville Smart Toaster comes with a "Lift and Look" feature that allows you to take a look at your toast without interrupting the toasting cycle, and it also has the "Bit More" button if you decide you want a touch more browning. Its LED panel illuminates to show toasting progress according to the setting you've selected on the variable browning control. Rather than the single control for all four slices, the Breville has independent controls, both offer five browning choices.
One professional consumer testing site put the Breville BTA840XL through its paces and found that it browns toast evenly with each successive batch. Owners also praise the toaster's consistency, and several users remark upon its sturdy, solid construction. This toaster is on the heavier side, so you may want to find another option if you want something you can easily move on and off the counter.
The Dualit NewGen 4-Slot Toaster (Est. $340) is another oft-praised product, but its biggest selling point seems to be its appearance: it has a retro, mid-century chrome look and comes in a range of different colors, including red, blue and pink, among others, and owners love that they can buy a toaster with a bright pop of color.
As for performance, it lags somewhat behind its appearance. In testing at the Good Housekeeping Research Institute, it toasted bread quickly, with a good range of browning options, but it earns poor marks for consistency and evenness of browning. Owner reviews are mostly favorable, with users saying the Dualit is a sturdy, durable choice, and they love that the parts are replaceable. The manual even instructs you on how to replace elements if they burn out. In a time when most consumers just throw out their small appliances when they break, this adds to the Dualit NewGen's overall throwback vibe -- and to its branding as an industrial, commercial-grade option. There are unhappy campers of course, some users are displeased with the toasting performance, especially on thinner slices of bread, while others feel as if it should have more features for the price.
If all you need is a basic four-slice toaster, thousands of owners say the Hamilton Beach 4 Slice Cool Touch Toaster (Est. $30) is a great choice. Its dual controls have a bagel function as well as frozen bagel and frozen toast. The slots are plenty wide enough for even big bagels or all but the thickets slices of bread, and it gets kudos for even browning. The toast boost, to make it easier to get the bread out of the slots, is a popular feature as well.
IF you can imagine a four-slot toaster that will cook that entire meal for you, then you're thinking of the West Bend TEM4500W (Est. $70). Owners are pleasantly surprised that this toaster does exactly what it is supposed to do -- toast bread, cook eggs and warm pre-cooked meat. In addition to toasting up to four slices of bread, it can poach or scramble two eggs or hard/soft boil eight eggs at a time. The TEM4500W has bagel, defrost, egg and egg/toast settings. Its wide slots enable the toaster to cook a variety of breads. When cooking toast and eggs, the TEM4500W keeps the toast warm until the eggs are done. It has a high-carriage bread lifter, which makes it easy to remove smaller breads, and dual independent controls for the slots on the left and right sides.
We found only two consistent complaints about the West Bend TEM4500W. Owners say it's very large and takes up a lot of real estate on the counter. It also gets mixed reviews for ease of cleaning. Some say it's a breeze because the steaming, poaching and warming trays and lid can be washed in a dishwasher's top rack. Others say when the fat from the meat drips on the heating element, or when the poached eggs stick, it becomes more problematic. However, even those customers say they would buy this toaster again anyway simply because it's such a great appliance.