What the best toaster has
- Wide slots. Wide slots allow you to
cook a variety of breads—bagels, English muffins and artisan breads -- as
well as frozen waffles, pancakes and French toast. If the slots aren't wide
enough, you'll wind up forcing thick-cut bagels and breads down into the
toaster, and then trying to tear them out.
- Bagel setting. A bagel
setting is designed to toast the cut side of the bagel and simply warm the
- Defrost setting. This functionality
adds extra cook time so the item thaws before toasting. It is useful for things
like frozen waffles.
- Reheat or warm settings. These setting
reheat setting or keep your toast warm, which is handy when the rest of your
meal is not ready at the same time as the toast, or if you've gotten distracted
and had to let it sit.
- Separate cancel setting. Some toasters
don't allow you to lift the lever to stop the toasting cycle, so you need this
if you want to cut the process short.
- Shade-setting dial. This
function, usually on a dial, controls the lightness and darkness of the toast. Some
toasters have electronic touchpads. The best toasters boast a wide browning
selection and consistent browning: even after multiple batches, their toast
comes out the same shade of brown.
- High-carriage bread lifter. This
feature lets you lift the bread up so smaller toasted items rise above the top
of the toaster for easier removal, thus avoiding burned fingers. English
muffins are generally the trickiest item to remove from toasters.
- Removable crumb tray. A crumb tray
that slides out from the front is the best option because it can be emptied and
cleaned while the toaster is hot. If the tray is located in the back, you will
need to move or lift the toaster to access the tray, after it cools down.
- Cord storage. For safety's
sake, it is best to have the cord stored on the toaster so it does not hang off
the kitchen counter. Some toasters have storage cleats on their underside
around which the cord is wrapped. Others have retractable cords.
Know before you go
How much toast do you cook? If you've got toast popping out of a two-slot toaster non-stop for a
half hour every morning, you might want to consider switching to a four-slot
toaster. On the flip side, if you have a four-slot toaster and only use one or
two slots at a time, consider downsizing.
How much room do you have to display or store the
toaster? If your space is limited, the two-slot
toaster is obviously the smaller option. The four-slot toaster might be the
most convenient, but consider first if you have room for it in your kitchen. If
you don't want to keep it on the counter, be sure it fits in the available
Do you want a toaster that does more than cook
breads? Some toasters cook eggs and heat pre-cooked
meats as well as toasting breads, which can make for a quick breakfast of more
than toast. Again, consider if you have enough space in your kitchen for this
expectations: The dollars and cents of it.
Buying a toaster does not need to break the bank.
Some models cost under $20, while others' prices soar into the hundreds of
dollars. Most are less than $100. Generally there are no extras to buy, except
for a replacement crumb tray. There are exceptions, though, including our pick
for the best breakfast sandwich maker, the West Bend 4-Slice Egg and Muffin
Toaster TEM4500W, which includes replacement parts for its egg cooker, and the
Dualit NewGen, which allows you to replace virtually all parts.