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Best toasters 2020: Top rated two and four slice toasters

Best toasters 2020: Top rated two and four slice toasters
(Image credit: Cuisinart)

No kitchen is complete without one of the best toasters, and we’ve done the research to make sure you get just that. The right toaster for you and your home depends on your budget and family size. There are some low-cost two and four slice toasters out there, but you can also get more premium toasters with impressive warranties, clear view windows, digital displays, and much more. 

Getting one of the best toasters might be a bigger investment, but it will last longer and operate better. Some people just want a machine that will get the job done every morning as quickly as possible - after all, toast is a school-run essential - but you don’t want a cheap model that’ll burn out when you most need it. Others will want something to meet every brunching need, with options to toast bagels and lifting levers to retrieve english muffins. For families, it’s a good idea to invest in a four slice toaster. Some of these models allow you to toast various items at once on different settings, so if your family member likes their toast a certain way you won’t be caught off-guard by a changed setting. This is another advantage to clear view toaster models, which let you monitor your bread as it browns. Pretty cool. 

We put the top toasters to the test in our toaster reviews and considered how each fared after repeated use, as well as with bagels and frozen bread. Odds are, the best toaster for you is somewhere in our guide. 


1. Breville Smart Toaster: Best toaster overall

Best toasters 2020: Top rated two and four slice toasters

(Image credit: Amazon)

Breville Smart Toaster BTA840XL

This is the best toaster we reviewed.

Makes great toast
Stays at the same temperature after several uses
Has a bagel setting to toast one side of a bagel
Expensive

This is hands-down the best toaster we reviewed. To start, no device is better at toasting bread evenly. In our tests, every slice of bread came out nicely browned on both sides, with minimal visible bar marks and no burning. It also did a great job with defrosting and toasting frozen bread.

In one round of testing, we toasted multiple slices of bread back to back to see if the toaster would get hotter over time and begin to burn bread. This toaster maintained consistent heat and repeatedly made good toast.

It yielded similar results toasting frozen bread. And in our bagel test, it continued to excel. The toaster has a bagel feature that toasts just one side of the bagel so that it’s crunchy on the inner side and soft on the outside.

This toaster comes with some unique features, too. The Lift and Look feature lets you check on the toast mid-cycle. When you press a single button, the bread pops up for a few seconds and then lowers back into the toaster to finish. The A Bit More function works in tandem with the Lift and Look feature: If you think the bread needs a bit more time, this feature adds another 30 seconds to the toasting time without changing the main timing dial.


2. Cuisinart 4-Slice Countdown: Best digital toaster

Best toasters 2020: Top rated two and four slice toasters

(Image credit: Cuisinart)

Cuisinart CPT-435 4-Slice Countdown Toaster

A modern digital toaster with an LED display.

Countdown timer
Bagel, defrost, reheat, and cancel buttons
Split control option
Not the cheapest

The Cuisinart CPT-435 4-Slice Countdown Toaster is a digital 4-slice toaster that has the longest warranty of all the toasters we tested – three years.

It also has push-button digital controls, including an automatic lift so you can check on the progress of your toast. For a full featured digital toaster, the Cuisinart CPT-435 4-Slice Countdown Toaster is somewhat affordable, although it is much more than a $20 budget model.

There’s a lot of thoughtful touches in this digital toaster.The extra-lift carriage lever helps you retrieve smaller slices of toast and the separate controls for each two slice section of the toaster will allow you to defrost, reheat, and toast bagels or bread individually. A blue backlit LCD countdown feature and LED buttons give you a smart digital display which is designed to last. There’s also a three year warranty, which is great for a premium toaster like this. 


3. Magic Chef 2-Slice Toaster: Best budget toaster 

Best toasters 2020: Top rated two and four slice toasters

(Image credit: Amazon)

Magic Chef MCST2SS 2-Slice Toaster

This is the best toaster for those on a budget.

Defrost and Bagel buttons
Crumb tray
Wide slots
Only a two slice toaster 

The Magic Chef MCST2SS 2-Slice Toaster is an inexpensive toaster with wide slots to fit in bagels, burger buns, and thick slices of bread. This toaster is significantly less expensive than some of the other toasters in our roundup, but it still comes with some of the best features. The seven-point dial offers browning control and there’s a reheat/defrost option as well as a separate bagel button. 

A slide-out crumb tray makes the Magic Chef 2-Slice Stainless Steel Wide Slot Toaster easy to clean, and its sleek exterior isn’t cheap-looking. Sure, it’s lacking on a four-slice capacity and some of the smarter features we’ve seen on other toasters, but if you want a low price model to get the job done, this is the one we’d suggest.  

4. Dualit NewGen Toaster: Best two and four slice toaster

Best toasters 2020: Top rated two and four slice toasters

(Image credit: Daulit)

Dualit NewGen Toaster

A stylish toaster which comes with both two and four slice options.

Stylish, with a massive color range
Lift and look feature
Use each slot separately
No cool touch sides

The Dualit NewGen Toaster is expensive, but its ProHeat elements will ensure that it’s an unbreakable investment which will remain a kitchen staple for years to come. The toaster comes in two slice, three slice, four slice, and six slice options, but the technology and design remains the same. 

Alongside this, you get some conveniences like an adjustable rear foot so you can balance the Dualit NewGen on uneven surfaces, and a removable crumb tray for easier cleaning. These toasters allow you to choose how many slots you turn on which will save you energy when making only one or two slices in a four slice toaster. They’re also covered by a two year warranty. 


5. Dash Clear View DVTS501RD: Best clear view toaster

Best toasters 2020: Top rated two and four slice toasters

(Image credit: Dash)

Dash Clear View DVTS501RD Toaster

A glass window lets you watch your bread toast in this innovative toaster.

Glass window lets you watch bread as it toasts
Inexpensive
Good heat consistency
Toaster has only one slot

The Dash Clear View toaster performed well in our tests, producing toast that was evenly browned on both sides without any burn marks. The device also did an exceptional job toasting frozen bread and bagels.

The glass door on the front of the toaster allows you to watch the browning process. Admittedly, this is a bit of a novelty design. As soon as you become familiar with your toaster, you’ll likely keep the same settings and won’t need to use the glass window all that often. But it’s nice while you discover the sweet-spot settings or if you live in a household where there’s a variety of toast preferences.

There are a few tradeoffs for this great value toaster. For one, the crumb tray is awkward to access. Longer than it is wide, the tray is accessed from the side of the toaster. If the toaster sits next to a wall or other objects, you’ll have to move it to fully remove the tray. It is also a bit of a pain to pull out.

The toaster has just one slot, even though it is long enough to fit two slices of bread. If you have two pieces of longer bread – such as sourdough – you might not be able to fit more than one slice in the slot at a time.


6. Smeg 2 Slice TSF01PGUS: Best looking toaster 

Best toasters 2020: Top rated two and four slice toasters

(Image credit: Smeg)

Smeg 2 Slice TSF01PGUS Toaster

This toaster has a good-looking retro design.

Good-looking retro design
Great for making bagels
Available in several colors
Gets hot after repeated use

This toaster is more than great looking, we also enjoyed the way the Smeg warms bagels. It looks great on the countertop and comes in a handful of colors, although it’s quite expensive for a two slice toaster.

This device simply runs hot. After repeated use, it gets hotter and hotter. When you make multiple slices of toast back to back, the later ones become burned even though the settings haven’t changed. But on a low setting, this toaster makes great toasted bagels. In fact, it was better than all others in this category.


7. Cuisinart Classic CPT-180: Best toaster for warranty

Best toasters 2020: Top rated two and four slice toasters

(Image credit: Target)

Cuisinart Classic CPT-180 Toaster

A high quality four slice toaster with an impressive warranty.

Classic design
Three year warranty
Bagel, reheat, and defrost settings
Low lifting height

Everything about the Cuisinart Classic CPT-180 toaster screams high quality. It’s got an attractive stainless steel exterior and four slots with versatile defrost, reheat, and bagel settings. In our tests it toasted quickly and evenly and we were impressed with how it performed on both bread and bagels. It has a removable crumb tray, but you can only access this from the back. 

If you’re using smaller slices you’ll need to be careful when removing from the Cuisinart Classic CPT-180 toaster, as the low lifting height doesn’t leave much room to grab when your toast is finished. That being said, this is a somewhat reasonably priced toaster with four slots which makes it perfect for a family.


How we tested

To evaluate each toaster’s performance, we conducted four tests:

Evenness

The evenness test was the most critical and heavily weighted test we performed. We set the toaster on the medium heat level and toasted a slice of white bread. We checked for evenness on both sides of the bread, as well as for burn marks.

Consistency

Some toasters get hotter after repeated use. The toaster will toast the first batch of bread evenly, but the second and third batches progressively become more burnt. We toasted several slices back-to-back on a medium setting and in the same slot to determine heat consistency. Toasters that maintained evenly toasted bread after several uses received high scores.

Frozen

If you freeze bread for longer storage, you’ll want a  toaster that can cook frozen bread. We tested how well the appliance toasted frozen bread by setting the toaster on the medium level. If the toaster offered a defrost setting, we used it for the tests. We looked for evenness and consistency in the toast. We noticed that toasters with a defrost setting did much better than ones without it.

Bagel

Finally, we checked to see how well each model toasted bagels on a medium setting. If the toaster had a bagel setting – to toast just one side of the bagel – we used that.

How much should you spend on a toaster?

Toasters come in a wide variety of styles but spending more is not always a guarantee of better toast. In our tests we found that some of our cheapest toasters made better toast than some high-end models. Toasters can range in price from less than $20 to over $150 and can feature digital or manual controls. Generally speaking, toasters with more cooking slots cost more – depending on the quality of the toaster. Our advice is to purchase a toaster that has enough slots to fit your favorite breads or bagels and fits your budget.

Toaster safety

While toasters are simple in function, they can still be a dangerous appliance. We've all laughed as a cartoon character or actor was zapped by putting a fork in the toaster or from dropping their toaster in the bath - but these aren't the only safety considerations for your toaster. Firstly, you should always make sure the crumb tray is regularly cleaned out. This can prevent smoke and burning food. Toasters generate heat, but do you ever think about where that heat goes? It goes up. Use your toaster in an area that doesn't have overhanging cabinets or appliances to avoid possible flames or heat damage.

Other simple safety tips include:

  • Keep the toaster and cord away from countertop edges where it could be pulled or bumped off.
  • Unplug the toaster and let it cool completely before storing.
  • Keep it out of reach of children and teach older children how to properly use the toaster.
  • If a piece of bread gets stuck - unplug the unit before attempting to remove it.

Other important considerations 

Cleaning & Reliability

If you are looking for a toaster that won’t leave a mess, find one that has an easy-to-remove crumb tray. A crumb tray that can be removed from the front is the most convenient and easiest to clean and replace. When we spoke with Alexus, an appliance associate at Best Buy, she told us that the number one reason toasters were returned – surprisingly enough – was because the crumb trays were difficult to remove. “You get what you pay for. The cheaper ones won’t cost as much, but they might be plastic or require a manual to know how to remove [the crumb tray].” She went on to say that the more expensive devices, while they do cost more, are typically better designed and easier to use.

We contacted multiple restaurant locations of a well-known breakfast franchise to get a better idea for the reliability of these appliances. The general managers from each location told us that they have never had an issue with their toasters even though they typically use their devices at least 20 times a day. This isn’t very surprising since toasters are relatively simple machines. They did note, however, that cleaning the crumb trays regularly helps the toaster work better and prevents them from giving off any smells.

2-Slice vs. 4-Slice Toasters

If you’re in college or live on your own, you will likely only need a two-slot toaster. These are typically cheaper and take up less counter space. However, if you have kids or usually have breakfast at the same time as someone else in your household, having a four-slice toaster can help make your mornings run more smoothly. The best four-slice toasters have dual control, meaning that the two sets of toaster slots operate independently of each other so you can perfectly toast your bread while your significant other toasts their bread at a different setting. This way if you and someone else want to use the toaster at the same time, you can. These machines are often twice the size of the two-slice toasters so you will want to make sure you have counter space available.

Checking on Your Toast

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 and lifts it when it’s finished. Although this feature doesn’t affect the functionality of the toaster, it gives it a luxurious and impressive feel.

Can you toast a croissant in a toaster?

Because of the flaky, delicate nature of croissants, toasting them in a traditional toaster isn’t the best way to heat them. This is because, first, it is easy for the croissant to catch on the heating elements and tear, both ruining your croissant and creating a possible fire hazard. Second, it’s hard to tell how high to set your heat level to avoid burning. A lot of standard toasters don’t have slots big enough to fit a croissant either.

We suggest using either a traditional oven or a toaster oven for croissants. Both of these have windows that let you watch your croissant to ensure it doesn’t overcook. Both also cook croissants without squishing or tearing them. Using a toaster oven also lets you bypass a tray or baking sheet so you can get a good, golden color on both sides of the croissant without having to flip it over.