5 Best Toasters of 2023, Tested by Food Network Kitchen
We found the best toasters for bread, bagels, toaster pastries and more.
Our Top Toaster Picks
- Best Overall: Cuisinart 2-Slice Digital Toaster with MemorySet
- Best Value: Hamilton Beach 2-Slice Toaster
- Best 4-Slice Toaster: KRUPS Breakfast Set 4-Slice Toaster
- Best Smart Toaster: Breville Die-Cast Smart Toaster
- Best Retro Toaster: SMEG 2-Slice Toaster
Tested by Regina Ragone and Layla Khoury-Hanold for Food Network Kitchen
Quite a few toasters can produce a golden-brown slice, but finding the perfect toaster to fit your needs takes work — more than 200 pieces of toast, to be exact! But just toasting bread really isn’t enough to measure the quality of a toaster. Bagels, frozen waffles and toaster pastries also need consideration. That's why we toasted all of them to find out which toasters are the best on the market.
Looking to toast, bake and even air fry? Check out our top picks for toaster ovens.
This article has been reviewed since its original publish date for accuracy, pricing and availability. We stand by our list of top toaster picks.
What to Look For In a Toaster
Material: Toasters are made from either metal (often stainless-steel) or plastic. Plastic toasters might not look as expensive as their metal toaster counterparts, but the body stays cool. If you’re purchasing a metal toaster, look for product descriptions that include “insulated,” which signals that the toaster’s exterior won’t overheat (particularly if you’re making back-to-back batches of toast).
Style: When choosing between 2-slice and 4-slice, consider how much toast you make, the number of people in your household and your budget (2-slice toasters tend to be less expensive). If you often toast specialty bakery loaves which may have different shapes and lengths than standard supermarket loaves, look for long-slot models.
Size: If countertop space is at a premium, opting for a 2-slice toaster is a good bet, or look for models with “compact” in the name.
Interface: There are manual toasters, in which users turn a dial or press buttons to select desired doneness or to select specialty settings such as bagel or frozen. There are also smart toasters, which have a touch screen for selecting settings; they also tend to be more expensive than conventional toasters.
Settings: Because different types of bread and baked goods toast differently, it’s important that the toaster offers a variety of settings. Look for specialty settings such as defrost/frozen, reheat, bagel, and options for range of doneness, usually on a scale from 1 (lightly toasted) to 6 or 7 (well-toasted). If purchasing a 4-slice model, look for dual control panels so that you can toast to different states of doneness simultaneously.
Features: Other notable features to look for include extra-wide slots, lift levers, cancel button, cord storage, and removable crumb trays (if a 4-slice toaster has separate control panels, it’d ideally have two crumb trays).
Before first use: Be sure to read the toaster’s instruction manual for first-use guidelines. Remove all stickers, wipe the body of the toaster clean with a damp cloth, and complete a few toasting cycles on high without bread to burn off any dust that might have accumulated on the heating elements and prevent unpleasant smells when toasting.
How We Tested
After careful research from reputable consumer buying guides, we purchased 13 two-slice toasters, from economical to upscale. We evaluated each model by toasting two slices of store-bought white bread at a time at each browning setting to determine evenness of browning and toasting range. We also tested frozen bread, supermarket bagels, frozen waffles and toaster pastries to assess special features.
Here’s a toaster that can handle a wide variety of bread styles — white, grain, bagel, sweet, waffles, English muffins and gluten-free — with a memory button to remember just how you like it toasted. We liked the LCD display, which provides a countdown so you know just how long you need to wait by the toaster before it pops. The defrost function is a longer cycle so it not only defrosts your bread but toasts it to your desired doneness. The one-slice function insures the temperature gauge adjust to toast one slice just long enough for perfect browning.
Everything about this toaster is no-nonsense, from its lack of excess packaging to the way it works. This model toasts consistently and evenly across settings, and it can easily handle bagels and waffles. For the manual averse, the instruction leaflet, as opposed to booklet, is the ideal reading material, and the plain and simple look fits any style countertop. It’s also easy to clean and one of the best values on the market.
This brushed and chrome stainless steel 4-slice toaster scored top points for its top-notch performance and clean, contemporary design. The manual interface is intuitive to use, which includes two separate control panels with 6 browning settings and bagel, defrost (for frozen bread or waffles), reheat, and cancel functions. We found that it toasted bread consistently and the settings yielded ideal states of doneness for toast: 1 for a very light toast with no browning, 4 for a medium-golden toast, and 6 for darker, well-done toast. It evenly toasted toaster pastries on both sides and along the edges, and the defrost setting worked well for frozen waffles. The exterior body of the toaster also stayed cool throughout back-to-back toasting sessions.
You can feel the quality of this toaster as soon as you lift it out of the box. Its solid weight and sleek design signal you can count on this machine. Pushing a button instead of pressing down a lever to start toasting feels more intuitive and the browning control slide with its range of 12 settings lets you fine tune your toast (because, why not?).
Toast shade increased proportionally through each setting with the last one being slightly burnt around the edges. The "Lift & Look" button is great for impatient people, as is the "A Bit More" button for when you want to add some extra heat.
SMEG is an Italian company known for their retro kitchen appliances, and we were smitten the minute we laid eyes on this sports car of toasters — even the box design was sleek. But this toaster delivers on more than just looks. The buttons had a nice, quality feel and it toasted evenly across all the settings. It features reheat, defrost and bagel settings and was easy to clean. The toaster line comes in a variety of colors and is ideal for anyone who put careful thought into their kitchen design and color scheme.