The best toaster gives you that perfect slice of toast everytime, evenly toasted to your favorite shade. But as most of us have experienced, not many toasters seem able to make good toast!
Toaster prices, styles and features vary considerably, from cheap and cheerful 2 slot versions to eye watering expensive, larger models packed full of features you will never use. But do they make good toast, do you have to break the bank to eat good toast for breakfast?
To an extent you do “get what you pay for”, if you buy a bargain basement toaster you are more likely to be disappointed in it’s performance. Where as with a good quality mid range toaster and a bit of research you have a better chance of a happy breakfast. If you dream of a big designer toaster, gracing your kitchen worktops, go for it and enjoy!
When looking for a new toaster, think about how often you will use your toaster, how many people will want toast at any one time. Also consider how much room do you have to store your toaster when it’s not in use.
Best Toaster – Two slices or four?
The size of the toaster you buy will really depend on how many people want toast in the morning. However, if you have the room I would always recommend buying a four slice toaster, covers all eventuality and toast emergencies. There are some six slice toasters available as well, but they are usually found in catering.
2 Slice Toaster
A two slice toaster will only allow you to make two slices at a time. While a nice compact choice for a small kitchen, many people find this size toaster limiting. Nothing worse than the first two slices going cold while you wait for the next rounds.
In many cases a two slice toaster has less features than a larger model, so consider which features you will actually use.
4 Slice Toaster
A four slice toaster makes a lot more sense for a family or busy household. Some models have independent controls for each pair of slice slots, so one of you can eat pale toast (that would be me) and the other person can have their toast charcoal.
Best Toaster – Can cook homemade and specialty bread
If you enjoy toasting homemade or specialty breads, such as bagels or buns, it is best to look for a toaster that can accommodate different shapes and sizes of breads.
The best toaster for you should have a slot long enough and wide enough to fit chunky slices of homemade bread, and the cage should center the bread for a perfect brown. A problem you encounter with many toasters is the height of the bread, you can end up with a couple of inches stuck out of the top of the toaster. I have found myself turning the bread upside down half way through the toasting, which usually results in the middle being darker or burnt.
Some models of toaster have an option to toast only one side, which is useful if toasting buns (particularly with a glaze) or bagels. This means that only the dough side is toasted, but the top is not burnt.
Also for smaller items, such as teacakes, a good toaster should have a lever to lift the toasted product high, avoiding the need to fish about with a knife!
There are a range of toaster features, going by different names on different brands, some are really useful others you will never use and some simply don’t work. Think about how you will use your toaster, what features are a must for you and what features are gimmicks?
This option is standard on many models to toaster, and allows you to take the bread straight from the freezer, to the toaster. Simply select defrost and then the toaster changes into your selected toasting cycle, producing toast from frozen bread without any hassle.
How the defrost setting works varies on every model, some need you to select defrost before you lower the cage and start the process, others require you to select defrost once the cage drops. So read your instruction manual closely.
Most models of toaster have a reheat option, which helps if your toast is ready before the rest of your breakfast in the morning.
However, this feature is far from perfect. some models reheat for too long and continues to toast the bread. In my experiences the reheat features tend to dry out the bread making it more like cardboard.
The cancel option allows you to stop the toasting part the way through the toasting cycle, saving your toast from burning.
You may see a pause setting described as “lift & look” or “peek & pop” or some other cute description depending on the brand. But basically they all do the same thing, they allow you to pause the toasting cycle and check the progress of the toast.
A timer tells you how long before your toast is ready. Is this really useful? depends how you use your toaster, you could time your breakfast to perfection.
makes toast quicker, so useful if in a rush. Let’s be honest, if this function works as well as the normal toasting functions why would you ever wait for longer to eat your toast? Or why don’t the manufacturers make all of their toast settings this fast?
The bagel setting allows you to brown just one side of the product. Some deluxe toasters now have settings such as crumpet setting or fruit loaf setting.
A bun warmer is a rack that sits on top of the toaster, they may be integrated or a click on attachment. This feature is ineffectual in most modals and probably not worth paying extra for.
Usually a wider slot with a special sandwich cage, unfortunately these sandwich racks, even on top models, don’t produce a toasted sandwich but more a half toasted bread with some warm (ish) filling.
The aim of a crumb tray is to make your toaster easier to clean. So instead of you having to tip your toaster upside down and shake the crumbs out, you slide the crumb tray out of the bottom of the toaster. Then simply tip the crumbs in the bin.
Best Toaster – Safety Features
A essential safety feature, keeps your toaster stable.
I think this function is a must if you toast smaller loaves, crumpets,buns etc. It lifts the carriage extra high, so your toast is easier and safer to retrieve.
Cool walls keep the outside of the toaster cold, especially important if you have small children in the house.
Consider the length of the electric cable, or with some models storage of excess cable. Dangling wires are always a risk in kitchens with small children and even pets.
The Best Toaster For You
When looking for the best toaster for you and your family take some time to decide what features you need, how much toast your family actually eat, and then do a bit of research on your favorite products. Obviously you will also take into account the price and the looks of your new appliance. The ideal toaster should make perfect toast and look beautiful on your kitchen counter tops.