Toasters have been a staple in our kitchens for more than 100 years, but that doesn’t mean you can always rely on them to do their job properly.
A toaster is a must-have in every kitchen. Although they are among the most simple of small appliances to use it can be difficult to find the right one for your home and workspace.
Types of toaster
These are the most common and readily available options. They are small and compact so they are great for small kitchens with limited counter space. The controls are typically located at the short end.
You might need a toaster capable of browning four slices at once if you have a large household. It can be hard to find one that evenly browns all four slices.
Independent controls allow you to brown the pairs at different levels. Make sure you have enough space on your work surface to accommodate larger sizes. Controls are often located on the front side of the toaster.
Toasters for long-slots
Toasters with long slots have two or three longer slots. They can accommodate two slices. They are less common, but are a good compromise for those who want to toast four slices but don’t have room for a bulky appliance, as they have a slimmer profile.
They’re also great at fitting in taller slices or oddly-shaped breads, as you can fit them in on their sides.
Features of the standard toaster
This feature can be found on many toasters and allows you defrost bread immediately from the freezer.
This feature allows you to stop the proceedings mid-cycle.
This warms up toast which has already started cooling without browning it any further – handy if your coffee or eggs aren’t quite ready.
Most toasters have this concealed in the base, where it can be easily removed and emptied – although some make a messier job of it than others.
Extra toaster features
This is similar to a reheat function, but goes one step further by keeping the toast warm until you’re ready for it.
This handy function means you don’t have to reset the cycle to take sneaky peek on the progress of your toast
This setting allows you to push the bread higher than normal so you can pick it up without burning your fingers – particularly useful for smaller items like crumpets.
This feature is only available for higher end toasters.
Slots of variable width:
You can use a lever to compress your bread when it falls down, or to make it wider for bagels and teacakes.
Bagels and crumpets should be served with only the cut side toasted and this function allows you to do just that.
This allows you to heat buns, pancakes, or croissants directly on top of your toaster with a separate rack (or an integrated version that can be used with a lever).
Sandwich toasting Box:
Very few toasters come with one of these compressing cages with a solid bottom, which is a shame as it’s a simple but great way of making toasties without having to use a separate machine.
Things to consider when buying a toaster
To find the right toaster, you must first decide what you will use it for. If your needs are simple: you expect to only use it to make toast using standard sized slices of bread, then you can go with just about any toaster and likely be fine (unless you’re picky about how evenly your bread gets toasted – then you may want to avoid some of the toasters on the cheaper end of the spectrum).
You don’t want your toaster to be used for just toasting, but you also have other needs. This list will help you narrow down your options and ensure you get the best model.
This is particularly important if you’re a fan of homemade breads and/or larger loaves as many toasters struggle to fit these in, leaving the top of the slice poking out of the top. Fans of bagels and crumpets should also look for extra-wide slots.
The higher the power, the faster your bread becomes tasty toast. But it’s not just a question of speed. Slower toasters can produce inferior results, which are more chewy and less crunchy. For a 2-slice toaster, use 1000W or more and for a 4-slice one, use 1800W or more.
Ease of cleaning
Some toasters look great but show up every fingerprint and unfortunately they don’t come off easily. To keep your toaster looking new, make sure it can be easily cleaned. You should also be able to easily remove and clean the crumb trays.
Although it doesn’t always follow that the more expensive the toaster the longer lasting it is, the best quality elements, build quality and materials will affect both the price and longevity of your appliance. Ask the manufacturer if they offer repairs and if there are replacement parts. Regularly emptying the crumb tray can help extend the life of your toaster.
In order to save energy, it’s worth checking whether you can choose how many slots to heat up at once in your chosen appliance. Only using the number of slots needed will make your toaster more efficient and help reduce uneven browning – for example, if you’re only toasting one slice of bread but two slots heat up, one side will end up being browner than the other.