Updated: June 8, 2015
Toaster ReviewsToast has been around for.. well, just about as long as bread has been around! Seems people have always like the taste and texture of warm, crisp bread. If you've been camping or seen old antique kitchens, you may know that toast used to be made by putting sliced bread into metal racks and letting them lean near the fire. But it took the invention of electricity to create the toast making machine, the toaster. Now you just pop in your bread, push the plunger, and wait for the toast to pop up - no hassle, no fires, just a minute wait. And while toasters have always been popular wedding gifts, truth is just about every kitchen has one, sometimes even an extra older one tucked into a cupboard or pantry. So when it comes time to replacing your old toaster, what's the best new toaster to buy these days? Who makes the best toasters? How much do good toasters cost, and what is the difference between a cheap toaster and an expensive one? We'll try to answer all those questions in this buying guide.
Buying Guide - The leading names in toasters are often the leading names in the kitchen appliance business - most of them make all kinds of products, not just toasters. Some of the leading toaster manufacturers are KitchenAid, Proctor-Silex, Krups, Oster, Cuisinart, DeLonghi, Hamilton Beach, Haier, Sunbeam, T-Fal, and Back to Basics. When buying a toaster, you need to first think about what you want - do you need 2 slots for toast or 4? Do you care about special settings for only cooking one side of the bagel? Do you carry about how easy the crumb tray is to clean? Do you want something fancy with electronic controls or just plain old mechanical design? Do you want a modern, high-tech design look or just a basic plastic model? How much do you want to spend - $20 or $120? How much do good toasters cost? Expect to pay $15-$25 for a real barebones 2 slice model, closer to $35-$50 for a nice model. Most 4 slice toasters start at $50-$60 and go up to $100 or more. Toaster Reviews - We found some great feedback online at Amazon.com with comments for almost every toaster they sell. Also, Consumer Reports did a recent article testing toasters based on color range, full batch, once slice, ease of use, ease of cleaning, and the ability to do a few batch one after another. They compared both 2 slice toasters and 4 slice toasters. We have put our results along with those from Amazon and CR down below.
Best ToastersLet's start with a toaster that is a little out of the ordinary - the Back to Basics TEM500 Egg-and-Muffin 2-Slice Toaster and Egg Poacher (say that 3 times fast!). This versatile little marvel will only set you back $25, but it toasts bread, bagels, or muffins, while heating up sausage patties or cooking an egg at the same time -- of course you don't dump the eggs into the toast opening, you use a special mini-pot that occupies its own cooking spot on the edge of the toaster. So if you are an Egg McMuffin fan, you could start making your own little breakfast sandwiches at home in the morning. It's one of the most popular toasters at Amazon, with more than 60% of users giving it 5 stars - and they're right. It's easy to clean, makes great toast, and all the egg stuff is just a bonus. Plus it has a sleek, good-looking, modern design, looks great on the kitchen counter. They also make a larger 4-slice toaster for $60. Another one we like is the KitchenAid KMTT2000 (2 slice) and KMTT400 (4 slice). They look a little like a metal lunch box - with a stainless steel center portion and bold colored edges (black, red, blue, or more stainless..). The 2 slice model is around $70, with an easy to clean crumb tray, a bagel setting (toasts only the open face side of the bagel, not the crust), and an easy lift lever for removing even smaller items from the toaster slots easily. The 4 slice model has the same features but sells for $99, and comes with the Even-Heat system in which the mica boards hold the heating elements flat for better all around, even browning. Both are great toasters, though a little on the expensive side. Another popular toaster are the Cuisinarts - the CPT-120 is a low-cost 2 slicer ($29) that works great (check out the bold red-colored CPT-120R!) while the CPT-70 has more of an old-school all-metal design ($50). The Cuisinart CPT-180 is the 4-slice model, which sells for around $90. I don't think you'll go wrong with any of these toasters. Now onto our personal experience.
We recently replaced an old toaster when the plunger intermittently decided to no longer stay down, which was required for the heating elements to engage. Our choice for a replacement toaster? The Krups FEM2B 2-slice toaster. The first thing about this Krups model that caught our eye was the design. Sure, you expect all toasters to be functional, but its a bonus when they also look great on your counter -- and this one does that. It was $50, and comes with some nice features. There is a bagel setting (described above) and an 8-position dial for setting brownness. We keep it around level 6. Instead of the standard plunger design, it has a dial you turn to raise and lower the toast, and a button at the bottom if you want to pop-up your toast immediately to check it or whatever. But the best part about this dial is its "negative" setting, meaning when you turn it to the left instead of the right, it raises your toast up higher than the initial level so you can easily remove smaller things like pop-tarts or english muffins that may not extend very high past the top of the toaster. It's pretty basic, but seems to do a really good job thus far. We have black granite countertops, and the stainless steel look fits right in. Krups also makes a 4 slice model, the Krups FEM4B for around $80.