How to Choose a Toaster
The top performers in our review are the Breville Smart Toaster, the Gold Award winner; the Frigidaire Professional, the Silver Award winner; and the Cuisinart Touch to Toast, the Bronze Award winner. Here's more on choosing a system to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of 10 toasters.
Nothing starts the morning better than a golden slice of toast smothered in butter or marmalade. Add in a cup of coffee and you're ready to tackle the day. A toaster is essential for quick and delicious toast. Just drop in a slice of your favorite bread, then wait for it pop up. The machine does everything for you. Toasters range in price and quality. You can buy a cheap one for ten dollars at a big-box store, or you can spend over $300 for a specialty model. It’s easy to assume that cheap and expensive toasters are the same – after all, they both toast bread. However, the superior performance, design and features of a premium toaster make all the difference. You can also read more articles about toasters here.
Why Use a Premium Toaster?
A premium toaster is for anyone who loves toast. Although they are more expensive than basic toasters, the quality of a premium toaster is worth the price. High-end machines are better at toasting bread. Although low-end toasters are cheap in price, they tend to unevenly toast or burn bread. Premium toasters also have nifty features. These can include a bagel setting designed to only toast one side of the bread, and a frozen setting which defrosts the bread before toasting it. Some deluxe toasters even have an automatic lift that lowers and raises your bread as if it were in a smooth elevator. Beyond functionality, premium toasters simply look better than cheap toasters. They exude quality and impress anyone in view. A few premium toasters are even available in attractive colors to match perfectly with your kitchen decor. Keeping these factors in mind, we sought to find the best among all premium toasters. We chose the ten of the best toasters available on the market and tested them extensively. The results were surprising.
Toasters: How We Tested, What We Found
Although the toasters mostly all have very similar features, they performed differently. We uncovered these differences in a battery of tests. We designed four separate tests that measured various aspects of performance. These tests evaluated quality of evenness, consistency, frozen and bagel. We ran these tests several times on each toaster to ensure accurate results. The results were then tabulated and expressed as a percentage score, with 100 percent being the highest.
This was our most important test. If a toaster can't do its primary job, then what's the point of the other features? We performed this test several times on each toaster to determine how evenly each machine toasts bread. We set the toaster on its medium setting and toasted a slice of plain white bread. The completed toast was then evaluated on the evenness of the burn shade, the visibility of burn marks and the similarity of both sides. Our tests showed that 4-slice toasters generally did better on this test using the outer slots opposed to the inner ones.
Some toasters overheat after repeated used. The toaster may do fine on the first round, but end up burning the second or third round because it has difficulty regulating heat. To test consistency, we put each bread toaster on its medium setting and toasted several slices of bread back-to-back in the same slot. We then evaluated those slices of toast on the evenness of burn, the visibility of bar marks and how similar the toast slices were to each other. Even though the Dash Clear View did not score in our top three, it was one of the best performers in this test.
It’s common for people to freeze their bread for long-term storage, so the ability of a toaster to effectively toast frozen bread is essential. We tested this by toasting frozen white bread with each toaster on its medium toast level. If the toaster had a defrost setting, we used it for the tests. We then evaluated the test toast on evenness of the burn shade, the visibility of burn marks and the similarity of both sides. We found that toasters with the special defrost function did much better than ones without it.
Everyone loves a good, warm bagel with cream cheese. A burnt bagel, not so much. We tested how well each unit could toast bagels. In our test toasted bagels slices on each machine’s medium setting. We then evaluated the toasted bagels on evenness of burn and visibility of bar marks. We also considered whether the toaster had a bagel setting which only toasts one side of the bread. When toasting bagels, remember to place the cut half of the bagel facing inwards to get the best results.
Our hands-on testing is designed to simulate typical, real-world experiences. For our tests on premium toasters, we purchased most of the models we reviewed, while some were provided to us by the manufacturers. The manufacturers have no input on our testing methodology, and our rankings are not shared with them prior to publication.
What Else is Important in Selecting a Toaster?
While toasting performance is significant, there are a few other features to consider before purchasing a premium toaster. If you want a toaster that easy to clean, look for a front-facing crumb tray. This placement makes the tray easy to reach and you won’t need to move the toaster to pull out the tray. A back-facing crumb tray is much more inconvenient. Another design feature to look for is an automatic lift. Rather than pulling down a lever to lower your bread, all you need to do is press a button. The toaster then smoothly lowers the bread for you. Although this feature doesn’t affect the functionality of the toaster, it gives it a luxurious and impressive feel.
Toasters: Our Verdict & Recommendations
Our best-rated toasters are the Breville Smart Toaster, the Frigidaire Professional and the Cuisinart Classic. Each of these toasters either have high-end features or excellent toasting performance, or both. Their quality design and attractive aesthetics impressed us as we tested them in person.
For a top performing toaster that costs less than 100 dollars, the Breville Lift and Look is a great option. Although the surface of this toaster can get hot, it did well in all of our performance tests. Moreover, this toaster has extra-long slots, an automatic lift and the same interface as the best toaster on our list.
Toasters are an essential appliance to a kitchen. With the touch of a button or lever, you can have delicious toasted bread in minutes. If you're in the market for a premium toaster, check out our toaster reviews to help you choose the best one for you.