To learn more about the history and evolution of toasters, we interviewed Eric A. Murrell, publications chair and former newsletter editor at the Toaster Collectors Association; Hugh Rushing, former executive vice president of the Cookware Manufacturers Association (now The Cookware and Bakeware Alliance); and Michael Sheafe, vintage-toaster repair person.
And to help us figure out why toasters have such short lifespans, students in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at Ohio State University disassembled two of our recommended toasters and several vintage toasters to run comparative analyses on them.
We interviewed experts like Peter Reinhart, acclaimed baker and cookbook author, to narrow the selection of toasters to test. Additionally, we read editorial reviews from sites including Good Housekeeping. We also looked at user reviews from online stores like Amazon, Walmart, and Bed Bath & Beyond. Finally, we conducted a reader survey to help us figure out what most people look for in a toaster, and we used an AI-powered analysis tool to scan 6,500-plus customer reviews across 15 toasters to identify what made some models better or worse than others.
To see how each toaster handled breads of different shapes and sizes, we toasted dozens of loaves of basic white bread, bagels, frozen waffles, and English muffins. For our white-bread test, we toasted three back-to-back rounds of Wonder bread slices to see how consistent the toast was from model to model and batch to batch. These multiple batches showed us how well each toaster could regulate its temperature after heating up.
The Cuisinarts have a simple, boxy design, so the two-slot version takes up less space than some of the flashier toasters we tested, like our previous runner-up, the space-inefficient Cuisinart CPT-3000 ViewPro Glass 2-Slice Toaster (which is now discontinued). If you have a small kitchen and your counter space is at a premium, the Cuisinart two-slice is the way to go. The four-slice Cuisinart is just 4 inches wider than the two-slice model.
Cleaning and maintaining both Cuisinarts is as simple as sliding out the removable crumb tray and wiping it clean (similar to other models we tested). The Cuisinarts come with a limited three-year warranty; only the expensive Magimix matches it for having the longest warranty of any toaster we tested. Our two-slot upgrade pick from Breville comes with a one-year warranty.
The SMEG 2-Slice Toaster produced mostly even results in our back-to-back tests, aside from the two batches that were practically burned. We liked the looks of this toaster, but the lever doesn't allow you to lift your carbs up out of the slot, which means you have to risk burning your finger (or use bamboo or wooden tongs) to retrieve them.
Though it was a company best-seller when we tested it in 2018, the Hamilton Beach Keep Warm 2-Slice Toaster (22816) gave us pale bagels and streaky toast with white tops. The toaster also beeps loudly three times before your toast pops up, which gets annoying fast.
Special thanks to the Center for Electron Microscopy and Analysis (CEMAS) at The Ohio State University for allowing students to use the electron microscopy and X-ray spectroscopy to determine the composition of the toaster heating elements.
Since 2016, Michael Sullivan has spent hundreds of hours researching and testing toaster ovens for this guide. As a senior staff writer at Wirecutter, he has researched, tested, and reviewed toasters, air fryer toaster ovens, pod-shaped air fryers, and deep fryers, among other kitchen gear and gadgets. This guide builds on work by freelance writer Brendan Nystedt.
Ease of operation: A good toaster oven should be intuitive to use, with clearly labeled controls and an easy-to-read display. The most basic features should include adjustable temperature controls (ideally between 150 F and 450 F) and adjustable toast-shade settings.
In every round of testing we conducted for this guide, we started by filling each toaster with as many slices of basic white bread as we could, then set each machine to toast at medium shade. The results gave us a heat map of each oven, showing us how evenly each model toasted and whether there were any hot spots.
We recommend the Panasonic FlashXpress Toaster Oven for those who want a small oven to make toast, prepare a few frozen snacks, or reheat a couple slices of pizza. We are smitten with its adorable retro 90s design, and after years of long-term testing we continue to be impressed with its strong baking performance, compact size, and reasonable price. The FlashXpress cooked foods to a lovely, even golden brown better than most other models we tried in this price range (and beyond), and its toast shade settings were among the most accurate. For a relatively low price, this toaster oven stands out from a crowded pack of mediocre, cheap models. We found its performance and features to be comparable to those of larger and pricier toaster ovens.
Without a doubt, the Cuisinart distributed heat evenly across its voluminous cavity, toasting nine slices of bread in a single batch to near golden-brown perfection. Corner to corner, no other oven was as consistent (aside from the exorbitantly priced Wolf Gourmet Countertop Oven). Similarly priced large toaster ovens (like ones from Breville and KitchenAid) concentrated heat in the center of the oven and had more significant fall-off of heat toward the edges.
This model comes with the most basic accessories, including an oven rack, a baking pan, and a crumb tray. More-advanced digital models will alert you once the oven is preheated to a set temperature, but the Hamilton Beach lacks this feature. The instruction manual recommends allowing 5 minutes for the toaster oven to preheat. Even so, a charming, old-school ding does alert you when the timer goes off. We preferred this subtle sound to the ear-shattering beeps on some digital models, like the Wolf Gourmet Countertop Oven.
One disappointing thing about the Breville, especially at this price, is that it comes with a two-year warranty, whereas the Cuisinart has a three-year warranty. To learn even more about the Breville Air Fryer Pro, see our guide to the best air fryer toaster ovens.
If you have your eye on a recipe written specifically for a pod-shaped air fryer (as most are) but want to prepare it in a convection toaster oven, you can get good results with some minor adjustments.
The Smart Oven Air Fryer is the latest combination toaster oven / air fryer made by Breville. It is a traditional oven, a convection oven, and an oven-style air fryer all in one device.
Perpetually running late in the morning Firstly, join the club, and secondly, invest less than 30 in this super-speedy toaster. It took just two and a half minutes, tops, to deliver tasty toast to our testers, who loved its classy navy sides and shiny gold controls.
This high-tech toaster features digital controls for a modern toast-making experience. Its bells and whistles include an LED countdown, a defrost booster for crispier results when toasting bread from frozen and a memory function that stores the last setting you used for speedy recall.
This on-trend glossy toaster is a great value buy at under 25, especially given its generous seven browning levels, defrost and reheat settings. Our testers found it a doddle to use, enjoying the colour they were after without having to use numbers higher than five.
Most of the toasters I tested are able to make nice, light toast, but medium and dark toast proved to be more divisive. A lot of the medium settings resulted in toast that was too blonde, patchily toasted, or more evenly toasted on one side and less on the other. And the dark setting, with a couple of the models, incinerated the bread, literally setting off my smoke detector!
Toaster size is a big consideration when deciding which one to get. There are two-slot toasters, which have room for two pieces of bread at once. Four-slot toasters, of course, have room for four pieces. And long-slot toasters allow for multiple slices of bread or longer slices. Here are the pros and cons of each kind.
Toast all kinds of bread to perfection with a Breville toaster. From English muffins for breakfast to slices of sweet pound cake for dessert, Breville toasters are up for anything. Opt for a Breville 2-slice toaster to conserve counter space, or go with a Breville 4-slice toaster to cut down on wait times when serving a crowd. If you love to bake or regularly enjoy loaves of artisanal bread, a Breville long slot toaster featuring wider openings allows for consistent toasting across the entire slice. When it comes to choosing the best model for your kitchen, consider a few different options. The Breville Luxe toaster, for instance, lives up to its name with a sleek body, six settings and an LED progress indicator. The Breville Smart toaster delivers the same look and quality with the addition of automatic lowering and toasting adjustment at the push of a button. Enjoy your new toaster by cutting yourself a slice of your favorite bread with a bread knife, warming it up and spreading it with fresh whipped butter. 59ce067264