Our Guide to the Best Toasters
We went through a lot of bread so you don’t have to.
Which Toaster Is Right for You?
Quite a few toasters can produce a golden-brown slice, but finding the perfect toaster to fit your needs takes work — more than 120 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.
Best Overall: Hamilton Beach 2-Slice Toaster, Stainless Steel
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.
Buy It: Amazon, $19.99
For the Perfectionist: Breville Diecast Smart Toaster
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 finetune 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.
Finally, it’s no secret that many people barely skim instruction manuals, but this one is a pleasure to read: You don’t have to squint to see the print, and useful information such as what setting to use for specific types of bread is included throughout.
Buy It: Amazon, $124.00
Most Fun: Cuisinart View Pro Toaster Oven
This toaster is bound to make you smile, especially if you loved your Easy-Bake Oven as a kid. No one really needs to see their bread browning, but we liked watching it while we waited anyway. The easy-to-read instruction booklet was full of useful browning information for all types of bread, and the reheat function is useful because it reheats the bread without toasting. There is also a single-slice button, which doesn’t seem to add much benefit, unless you prefer to eat one slice of toast per sitting. Removable glass windows, which are dishwasher safe, and a removable crumb tray made cleaning a cinch.
Buy It: Amazon, $59.95
Best Newcomer: AmazonBasics 2-Slice Toaster
Amazon may not be known for its appliances, but this toaster works as well as any of the simpler toasters we tested without all the bells and whistles. Perfect for a college dorm or first apartment, this toaster has both a defrost and bagel setting. The instruction booklet had a "Time Control Browning Level" chart that illustrated exactly how your toast would look at a specific setting. You usually need to run a toaster once to get rid of any odors or smoke, but this one will require several uses.
Buy It: Amazon, $22.99
How We Tested
After careful research from reputable consumer buying guides, we purchased nine 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.