Two-slice or four-slice? Find out what to look for in a toaster, then check out our test results to see which models will guarantee you perfect toast every time.
Four-slice toasters are great if you have a big household or a big appetite. They usually have separate levers for each pair of slots, and some also have separate browning controls for each pair.
Two-slice toasters take up less space, and often have wider and longer chambers so you can toast a wider variety of shapes and sizes – handy if you eschew “standard” loaves in favour of artisan breads.
A safe toaster should switch off automatically once time is up, even if a stuck slice is keeping its carriage down. Non-slip feet and power cord storage are also useful safety features.
“Cool wall” design insulates the outer surfaces from the toasting chamber, keeping them at temperatures that are safe to touch. A plastic body doesn’t conduct heat as well as a metal one, so is less likely to burn you.
Ease of use
A toaster’s crumb tray should be simple to remove and replace, and controls should be well labelled and easy to operate. Some toasters have separate controls for each slot, which is brilliant for toasting different breads at the same time when one needs a longer blast.
While it might not look as sophisticated, a plastic shell is usually easier to clean than one made of stainless steel.
Aside from safety improvements, high-end toasters tend to pack in features that are nice to have, but not usually essential. They could improve your toasting experience, but you might be just as happy with a cheap, simple model.
If you keep bread in the freezer, a defrost/frozen setting adds a little time to the cycle so the bread thaws properly.
A reheat setting comes into play when you get your kitchen timing wrong. You can, however, get the same effect by turning the browning control right down.
A “lift and look” button raises the carriage so you can see how close your toast is to perfection.
An LED progress indicator counts down the seconds.
Instead of popping up abruptly, a motorised lift gently raises the toast when it’s done.
An audible alert lets you know when your toast is toasted.
A height-lift carriage allows you to raise smaller items, such as crumpets, above the toaster slots.
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