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Consider the humble toaster. Though it’s fashionable to avoid single-use appliances these days, toasters still feel indispensable. You can, of course, toast bread in the oven or on the stovetop, if you’d prefer. But there’s something so comforting about being able to pop a few slices of bread to toast for your fluffy scrambled eggs, a bowl of brothy beans, or split pea soup.
The best toasters deliver consistent, even results, whether you’re toasting bagels, rye bread, white bread, or whatever else. And, because you’ll likely be making your toast pre-coffee, the toaster should be easy to use and to make sense of. For instance, if you set the toaster to medium, you should be getting a proper brown, rather than a faint gold hue.
Your toaster should be a manageable size for your counter, whatever that means for you. We included a compact option in this lineup, but always check the dimensions before committing. It should be easy to pull your toast slice out without your fingers getting burnt, and there should be features that make your life easier. Depending on the size of your household, you may be interested in a four-slot toaster over a two-slot toaster.
Another important point: toasters should be easy to clean. If you’re a first-time toaster buyer, please understand that toasters can be a fire hazard if not properly maintained—all have to do is check the ratings of just about any toaster and you’ll find a horror story about a fire. In other words, clean your toaster!
Here are the best toasters that will serve you well every time.
Best Overall: Breville Bit More Toaster, 2 Slice
If you’re a toast every morning kind of person, this toaster is the one for you. The Breville Bit More 2-Slice Toaster offers useful functions, such as the “A Bit More” button for when your toast could just use a tad more browning, a “Lift and Look” feature, and a bagel setting that only toasts the inside.
Its front pull-out crumb tray makes for easy cleaning, and a sleek stainless steel finish and concealed cord storage means it’ll look great on your counter and store nicely. There’s also variable browning control, a sound alert when your toast is ready, and a LED progress indicator.
Best Budget: Black+Decker 2-Slice Extra Wide Slot Toaster
The Black+Decker 2-Slice Extra Wide Slot Toaster is perfect for a college student, first home, or really anyone looking for a reliable appliance without dropping a lot of cash.
It’s easy, when shopping for budget options, to find the least expensive model out there and nab it. But it’s also important to consider how long it will last and how much of a headache it will cause in the meantime. Though this is not the least expensive option out there, its utility and lack of future headache make it our budget pick.
There’s a frozen button, a bagel button, and a cancel button, and it offers extra-wide slots for toasting miscellaneous treats (think banana bread, brioche, and beyond). The crumb tray is easy to access and pull out, and it offers six potential browning shades.
Best Four-Slice: Black+Decker TR4900SSD 4-Slice Toaster
For an ultra-reliable four-slot option, we love the Black+Decker 4-Slice Toaster, in practical stainless steel. It offers seven browning settings (something for everyone!), extra lift for non-painful toast retrieval, and dual crumb trays for easy cleaning.
We also appreciate the wider slots for things like bagels, thick-sliced bread to go with your bean soup, and more. There are three useful functions—one to cancel, one for bagels, and one if you’re toasting something frozen. It may not offer the same precision as some of the other toasters, but especially if you’re looking for a reliable four-slice model on a budget, this will do perfectly.
Related: The 7 Best Toaster Ovens in 2021
Best Compact: Cuisinart CPT-122 2-Slice Compact Plastic Toaster
Some toasters may offer a “compact design,” but you won’t be able to toast anything thicker than Wonder Bread. And maybe that’s fine for your household!
But this Cuisinart 2-Slice Compact Plastic Toaster offers a compact design without sacrificing space if you can’t give up those thick slices of cinnamon raisin toast or toasted everything bagel with cream cheese. If you’re storing the toaster on your counter, it’s easy to place sideways or forward to fit however much space you’ve got.
It has the same functionality as many of the other models: seven settings, the reheat, defrost, and bagel presets, and 1.5-inch wide toasting slots. And, of course, a slide-out crumb tray!
Best Smart: Breville BTA820XL Die-Cast 2-Slice Smart Toaster
Some of us run extra-cranky pre-coffee and need our morning appliances to work seamlessly every time, without question. If you’re willing to shell out a bit more for a premium toasting experience, the Breville Die-Cast 2-Slice Smart Toaster may just be your toaster holy grail.
This option offers buttons for toasting, the “A Bit More” function, bagel, defrost, and a “Lift and Look” option. It offers extra-wide slots, an LED panel that corresponds with the browning setting, and 900 watts of power for efficient toasting. There’s also a one-touch auto-lowering function and an end-of-cycle beep.
The crumb tray is in the front for easy access, and the brushed die-cast metal housing looks great on your counter. Occasional toast-makers may not find the upgrades worth the extra spend, but if you’re a frequent toast eater, you’ll love this model.
Best Splurge: Revolution InstaGLO R180 Toaster in Stainless Steel
We want to say upfront that a great toaster does not need to cost a ton of money. But, if you have some extra cash and are looking for a souped-up toaster for the tech age, the Revolution Cooking 2-Slice R180 Smart toaster is quite impressive.
There’s a digital touchscreen display, with five different food settings (bread, bagels, English muffins, waffles, and toaster pastries), three toasting modes (fresh, frozen, and reheat), seven browning levels, adjustable screen brightness and alert signals, a countdown timer, auto lower and lift, a removable crumb tray, an analog or digital clock with the date, plus a whopping 1500 watts of toasting power.
Does your toaster need a microchip to make great toast? No. But, is it fun to have a tech-equipped toaster? Absolutely.
Best for the Design Lover: Smeg 2-Slice Toaster
Maybe you’re looking to spend a bit more on aesthetics. Meet the Smeg 2-Slice Toaster, whose vintage-inspired design will look stunning on your counter.
While it takes its design inspiration from the mid-20th century, it offers modern functionality like a backlit knob with six browning settings, modes for reheating, defrosting, and bagels, and extra-wide slots for whichever kind of bread you feel like toasting. It comes in several gorgeous finishes (we love the copper!) and will most certainly spark joy as it’s toasting your daily bread.
The best toaster for you will depend on the size of your space, how many bells and whistles you want to spring for, and how much you’re willing to spend. We love the Breville Bit More 2-Slice Toaster (view at Wayfair) for its functionality and ease of use—the genius “A Bit More” function is incredibly useful. If you love a retro feel, the Smeg 2-Slice Toaster (view at Food52) is a great machine that also will look snazzy on your counter.
Why Trust Simply Recipes?
Christine Clark is a big fan of her fluffy scrambled eggs and brothy beans, meaning she is also a big toaster fan. She writes about food, wine, and all the kitchen tools that make our lives easier. She has a cheese podcast and way too many jars of honey.
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