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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 great thing about toast is that almost any bread will profit from being toasted,” says Linda Hampsten Fox, chef, and owner at The Bindery in Denver. "It is a little more digestible and definitely highlights the nuances of any bread, whether it’s the buttery-ness of brioche, the sourness of sourdough, or the nuttiness of whole wheat. I never met bread I didn't want to toast!"
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. It should be a manageable size for your counter. 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.
“Toast is like bacon: do you prefer it crispy or chewy? The same applies to toast: do you like yours toasted to a light honey amber, a golden brown, a deep brown, or black and crunchy?" says April Franqueza, pastry chef at High Hampton in Cashiers, North Carolina. "Although it might feel odd to ask a friend, spouse, or child ‘how do you prefer your toast?’, it completely changes their breakfast experience when you have toast prepared to their precise liking.” The ideal toaster can handle everyone’s morning toast order with zero headaches!
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 you 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 BTA720XL A Bit More 2 Slice Toaster
What We Love: Helpful functions like "A Bit More," sleek look, LED indicator
What We Don't Love: Pricey
If you’re a toast every morning kind of person, this toaster is the one for you. The Breville A 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 attractive on your counter and store easily. There’s also variable browning control, a sound alert when your toast is ready, and a LED progress indicator.
Dimensions (LxWxH): 11.3 x 8.2 x 7.3 inches | Weight: 9 pounds | Wattage: 1000 W
Best Budget: Black+Decker T2569B 2-Slice Extra Wide Slot Toaster
What We Love: Extra-wide slots, helpful functions
What We Don't Love: Very basic design
The Black+Decker 2-Slice Extra Wide Slot Toaster is ideal 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.
Dimensions (LxWxH): 13 x 8 x 9 inches | Weight: 3.4 pounds | Wattage: 850 W
Best Compact: Cuisinart CPT-122 2-Slice Compact Plastic Toaster
What We Love: Wide slots, on the lighter side
What We Don't Love: Not as sleek looking
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!
Dimensions (LxWxH): 11 x 6.5 x 7 inches | Weight: 2.6 pounds | Wattage: 900 W
Related: The Best Bread Machines
Best Smart: Breville BTA820XL Die-Cast 2-Slice Smart Toaster
What We Love: Unique Breville-only functions, sleek look
What We Don't Love: Pricey
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 best bet.
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 attractive 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.
Dimensions (LxWxH): 11.6 x 8.6 x 7.5 inches | Weight: 12.75 pounds | Wattage: 900 W
Related: The Best Toaster Ovens
Best Splurge: Revolution InstaGLO R180 Toaster in Stainless Steel
What We Love: Faster, more customized toast, touch screen
What We Don't Love: Pricey
We want to say upfront that an excellent 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 1,500 watts of toasting power.
Does your toaster need a microchip to make the best toast? No. But is it fun to have a tech-equipped toaster? Absolutely.
Dimensions (LxWxH): 11.5 x 6 x 8.3 inches | Weight: 6.4 pounds | Wattage: 1500 W
Related: The Best Bread Knives
Best for the Design Lover: Smeg 2-Slice Toaster
What We Love: Beautiful design, extra-wide slots
What We Don't Love: Pricey
Maybe you’re looking to spend a bit more on aesthetics. If so, 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.
Dimensions (LxWxH): 12 x 8 x 8 inches | Weight: 5.4 pounds | Wattage: 950 W
Related: The Best 4-Slice Toasters
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 A Bit More 2-Slice Toaster (view at Sur La Table) 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 commendable machine that also will look snazzy on your counter.
What to Look for in a Toaster
If you have large, uncluttered countertops, you may not have to think about this. But for those with small kitchens, it’s worth checking the dimensions to ensure that the toaster will fit on your counter. If you’re not planning on storing it on your counter, you’ll also want to make sure it will fit in its intended storage space and that it’s not too heavy to move back and forth.
At the very least, your toaster should have a range of browning options. Some like their toast barely tinged with color, and some like theirs almost burnt. Everyone should be able to get their toast to their taste. As you look at more high-end toasters, there are significantly more settings to make the best slice of toast. Determine which you'll need pre-coffee.
If your home consumes a lot of bagels or thickly sliced bread, you’ll probably want an extra-wide slot. Features like “a bit more” or a “keep warm option” are helpful, but you’ll generally pay more for them. There are also “thaw” and “bagel” buttons on most of these models.
How often should you clean a toaster?
Chloe Chambers, pastry chef at Ranch 45 Local Provisions in Solano Beach, California, recommends cleaning it each time you use it. "Cleanliness is important in a professional kitchen and in my home kitchen as well," she says. "The kitchen rule is always clean as you go. After use and after unplugging, I wipe down the outside of the toaster with soapy water and a kitchen cloth. Remove any debris that may be stuck inside. Every other week, I take out the tray and give it a good wash."
Can you toast frozen bread?
Yes, you can, with a caveat. "Only toast frozen bread if you are going to eat it immediately or the result will be unappealing and soggy," says Chambers. "Waste is never an option, so take deliberate steps to proactively extend the life of your bread. I suggest wrapping slices individually and placing them in the freezer instead of tossing once it starts to dry."
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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