The Best Toasters, According to Our Product Testing Team

Updated: Mar. 11, 2024

Whether you're waking up to waffles, bread, pastries or strudels, the best toasters add delicious browning without burning breakfast. We tested 14 toasters to find the best options for home cooks.

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Toasters on Wooden Kitchen Countertop, The 7 Best Toasters Tested And Reviewed,TMB STUDIO

It’s hard to beat the convenience of an old-fashioned pop-up toaster, especially when it comes to whipping up a quick breakfast before work or school. Frozen waffles, strudels and pastries aside, a perfectly toasted piece of bread is the foundation of a good sandwich—and we take our sandwiches seriously here. In our opinion, the best toaster saves space, browns evenly and rings up at a good value.

Sure, you can always fire up your trusted toaster oven. But toasters take up less space and some home cooks swear that they toast more efficiently than their countertop cousins. They’re often cheaper, too.

But not all toasters are created equal. That’s why we tested 14 toasters and went through a whole lot of bread to see which brands deliver even results, are easy to use, clean up without issue and offer top-notch browning without burning. We wanted to find the right toaster for everyone, from the home cook to the busy mom.

After rigorous testing over three days, we deduced that these seven toasters offer the best bang for your buck.

Beautiful By Drew Toaster on Wooden Kitchen Countertop
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BEST OVERALL

Beautiful by Drew Toaster

Pros:

  • Affordable price
  • Beautiful accents, colors and rounded look
  • Touchscreen operation feels luxe
  • As-expected browning under all settings
  • Extra-wide slots fit most breads, aside from a few squat options
  • Easy to clean (matte colors and upper chrome forgiving to fingerprints)
  • Bagel symbol indicates which way to insert halves
  • 2-year limited warranty

Cons:

  • Requires a light hand when pulling down the lever
  • Power button flashes while off, which we found a little irritating

Topping our list of the best toasters is none other than the Beautiful toaster from Drew Barrymore’s Walmart line. This toaster offers the same sleek look as the line’s cookware set, a bonus in our book. Because it comes in multiple colors—black sesame, cornflower blue, lavender, oyster grey, rose, sage green, white icing—it effortlessly blends in with a range of decor styles. Even better, the matte finish doesn’t show fingerprints after regular use. It also arrived with zero dents or dings thanks to its robust, recyclable packaging. Win!

Touchscreen operation adds a layer of luxe to this already pretty toaster, and the gold embellishments on the lever round out the look. When unplugged, the controls disappear for a pleasant neutral display. The lever also offers a lift function to help remove squat breads like English muffins. The toaster itself doesn’t slide around during operation, but our testers recommend using a light hand while pulling down the lever to avoid tipping the toaster forward.

During our tests, we were most impressed with the waffle setting, which browned all over and completely defrosted the waffle’s interior—something the other toasters we tested struggled with. Interestingly, the manual said not to toast pastries with runny fillings or icing. We went ahead anyway for science, using the lowest setting. It turned out fine, so in our opinion it’s certainly possible to still enjoy pastries with this toaster.

On the lightest toast setting, this was one of the quickest toasters to finish. It adds a substantial crisp on both sides of the bread without any browning. The medium setting offers a nice all-over browning that even reaches the edges. Finally, the darkest setting gave our testing team some of the most even toasting we’ve seen (albeit too dark for our tastes). Overall, the toaster is easy to clean, looks lovely on the counter and offers as-expected browning for all settings. What more could you ask for in a mid-price toaster?

BEST SPLURGE

Café Express Toaster

Pros:

  • Gorgeous, high-end look and feel
  • Some of the most even browning we’ve seen on the middle setting
  • Stays securely in place; no sliding
  • Crumb tray easy to remove, clean and replace
  • Bagel symbol indicates which way to insert halves
  • 1-year warranty

Cons:

  • Not the best option for frozen waffles
  • Pricier than other options on this list

One of the most frustrating parts of ordering a toaster online is not seeing it in person first, especially when the product is on the pricey side. However, we can assure you that the Café Express toaster is truly as beautiful as it is effective. An eye-catching brushed stainless finish with copper accents on the knobs and feet look put-together. Shoppers enjoy a choice of three shades: black matte, white matte and stainless steel. While fingerprints do show on this upper-price pick after operating and cleaning, they easily wipe away with a microfiber cloth.

This toaster also boasts a liftable lever, but we didn’t find it necessary in our tests—we could easily retrieve our English muffin without employing that feature. While it won’t win any awards for waffles (one side burnt in the center while the other side was evenly yet overly brown), toaster pastries came out with golden brown edges and a filling heated to the just-right temperature. Bagels are a tight squeeze, but the bagel setting doesn’t burn them either—you’ll have no problem toasting up your yummy New York bagel haul from Goldbelly.

Those that prefer light toast may be disappointed with the uneven browning and varying intensity on the lowest setting. However, folks that fit squarely in the center (not too light and not too dark) will certainly appreciate the evenness and pleasant mid-toastiness that the medium setting offers. The highest setting was also one of the most passable of the group, with only the top third portion of the bread being slightly overdone. Overall, this is a nice-looking toaster that offers good bang for its buck and is our favorite of the high-end toasters we tried.

A Woman Using Café Express Toaster on Wooden Kitchen Countertop
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Pros:

  • Very inexpensive
  • Lightweight yet sturdy
  • Not incredibly fancy, but looks nice on a counter
  • Surprisingly resistant to fingerprints
  • Easy to remove the crumb tray for cleaning
  • 3-year warranty

Cons:

  • Plastic lever has the potential to break
  • Few choices in color or finish

In our search for the best toasters, we considered options of all different price points. The Proctor Silex toaster exceeded our expectations for a budget toaster, earning it a place as the best value toaster we tested. Despite ringing up at less than $25, it offers delightfully warm and crispy bread on the low setting, good (albeit slightly uneven) performance on medium and evenly dark toast on the highest setting.

Sure, the unit is basic and has its drawbacks. Cancel is the only button besides the toast dial, you definitely need to lift the lever for burn-free removal of squat slices and there’s no bagel setting (although in our tests the unit certainly was capable of blonding one up without burning it). There’s also no frozen/defrost setting. But despite its limitations, the toaster was a top performer with frozen waffles, delivering a nice golden tone to both sides. It offers passable performance for toaster pastries, too. There’s no designated setting, so we just used low heat. The center came out warm and the edges of the pastry did get brown.

Despite the disadvantages that come with it being a relatively inexpensive model, we actually find the lightweight materials a plus for families with kids since its easy to move. It’s also more stable than expected from a budget pick. Those expecting an inexpensive toaster that performs as expected will find the Proctor Silex toaster a suitable option.

Pros:

  • Sleek look that comes in six shades and finishes
  • Incredibly stable and lever feels high-quality
  • Shade dial has an audible click, so you know it’s properly set
  • A bell sounds when each toast session is finished
  • Bagel symbol indicates which way to insert halves
  • 1-year warranty

Cons:

  • Toasts more slowly than other picks on this list
  • 3-prong plug may not work with all outlets
  • Fingerprint magnet

As evidenced in our KitchenAid mixer review, we’re already pretty big fans of the appliance brand. That’s why we’re excited that the KitchenAid toaster’s easy controls, perfect browning and sleek look secured it a spot as the best all-purpose option. We chose the Empire Red model with reflective red plastic sides and a brushed stainless top band. Chrome vents on the side give it a retro automobile feel that we love.

That said, this is definitely one of the best toasters for those who prefer light to medium-dark toast. The highest setting churned out smoking pieces that looked pretty inedible and the medium setting was a bit more brown than we’d expect. Most folks will find that the sweet spot is the lowest setting, which offers a golden brown, even toast that extends the whole length of each bread slice.

Most importantly, though, is that the KitchenAid toaster performs well across the board. In our tests involving waffles and a toaster pastry on low, it performed nicely. The waffle had a nice golden brown on the parts that are brown, and the insides were warmed through. We were most impressed with the toaster pastry, which warmed up nicely in the middle and got a little golden around the edges. It also offers a perfect bagel with a golden-brown hue and a few dark spots—but dang, did it take a while to get there.

This guy is slow and steady—though he did win some of the races. For a mid-price toaster, this met our expectations and, in some ways (looking at you, Pop Tarts), exceeded them.

A Woman Using Kitchenaid Toaster on Wooden Kitchen Countertop
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Pros:

  • Gorgeous design backed by strong, quality materials
  • 11 different sizes, shades and finishes available
  • Easy to clean and de-crumb
  • Includes a stop button
  • Has defrost and bagel buttons
  • 1-year warranty

Cons:

  • No lift function on the lever
  • Easily shows fingerprints
  • Won’t fit squatter slices
  • Expensive

The only thing better than enjoying a freshly toasted piece of sourdough? Enjoying a freshly toasted piece of sourdough that was made with style. The best toasters offer more than just good looks, and the SMEG toaster does much more than look pretty on a counter. This toaster is a beautiful appliance, featuring rounded corners, a shiny chrome finish, a brushed stainless top and a cute round lever. The distinctive retro style is a definite eye-catcher. It also comes in a whopping total of 11 different colors, sizes and finishes.

Since it’s made from alloy steel, it’s surprisingly resistant to dents and dings. The feet are a rubbery silicone that prevent slips and slides. In terms of settings, options for defrost and bagels are both available, and the toaster performed decently with each. The SMEG toaster fully defrosted the waffle, though there were several darker patches present on the surface. The bagel was a bit blonde for our taste, but a second round of toasting would bring it to a nice medium brown. In terms of pastry performance, it gave us a thoroughly warmed pastry with an ooey, gooey center. Yum!

The lowest toast setting offered zero browning, but there’s a definitely crisp to the exterior of the bread. It’s about as light as you could possibly go while still constituting as toast. Medium gave us an impressively even brown on all sides, but was overall pretty dark for mid-level toast. The highest setting produced fully black toast with one strip of bread at the bottom that was less toasted than the rest. We consider this one’s performance on-par with the lower priced toasters on our list. However, those looking for something with a fun aesthetic that works as expected will find this one worth the higher price point.

Pros:

  • Has “Lift and Look” and “A Bit More” buttons
  • Three-prong plug with a handy pull ring
  • Toaster is very stable, without being “sticky”
  • Automated lever button
  • Fits squatter slices at an angle
  • Shows virtually zero fingerprints
  • 2- and 3-year warranties for purchase

Cons:

  • Does not come with manual
  • No choice of color or finish
  • Pricey

Smart toasters are a great fit for those who consider their toaster one of their most-used appliances (or for BLT fanatics like us). Because of this, our list of the best toasters wouldn’t be complete without this top-performing Breville smart toaster. So, what makes this luxury small appliance so smart? You won’t find a gimmicky LED screen or touch controls here. Instead, it’s what’s inside that takes this toaster to the next level.

Bagels and toaster pastries come out perfectly bronzed, and waffles are defrosted with a pleasant golden-brown color on one side. Brava, Breville! In terms of toast, the lowest setting offers a really nice kiss of brown all over. The medium setting gives similarly even results, despite a grid outline of the rungs on one side of the bread as opposed to the solid browning present on the reverse sides. Each piece was pleasantly crispy. In our tests of the highest setting, some portions of the bread are just dark brown versus actual black. That may be a pro for some who prefer dark brown toast to blackened pieces.

This is one of only two toasters that could fit the 7.25-in. squat sourdough bread (at an angle). Remarkably, the Breville also hides fingerprints very well. You’d think no one has ever touched it! Extras include a “Lift and Look” button which pauses the toast cycle, raises up the bread for viewing, then lowers it. A button labeled “A Bit More” does exactly that, adding a bit more time to the toasting clock. Both buttons are a nice touch, and two of the features that makes this option a standout. A bar on the bottom shows the toaster’s progress, so it’s easy to know when breakfast is ready at a glance.

Overall, we found this a good pick for home cooks that should last much longer than its inexpensive counterparts.

Breville Toaster on Wooden Kitchen Countertop
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Amazon Basics Toaster on Wooden Kitchen Countertop
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BEST ON AMAZON

Amazon Basics Toaster

Pros:

  • Very affordable
  • Offers pretty even toasting, especially compared to pricier models
  • Super easy to clean and empty crumbs
  • Bagel symbol indicates which way to insert halves
  • Includes a cancel button
  • 1-year limited U.S. warranty

Cons:

  • Ridges in dial may pick up more dirt and grime
  • No option for different colors and finishes

Only available on Amazon, the Amazon Basics toaster doesn’t tout itself as smart or stylish. But for an Amazon Basic item, this toaster feels more substantial than others. The finish is very attractive, with a black matte body, a brushed stainless finish on the side control panel and a black shade dial and control lever. It’s classy, slip-resistant and durable.

We were most impressed with the liftable lever, which gave generous clearance for fingers to grab the short English muffin slices. The lowest toaster setting offered no browning, but the bread was nicely crispy. Medium produced a couple of black spots, and there’s a thin rim around the edges that isn’t quite as toasted as the rest. Despite that, it was really quite even compared to the other options we tested.

While an excellent choice for toast, it leaves a little to be desired when it comes to bagels and waffles. Only one side of each bagel half was browned up, so the performance wasn’t very even. But this was still more successful than some of the competitors. On the other hand, there was no redeeming the waffle setting—one side came out 70% burnt and the other side was only slightly golden.

That said, low heat made a near-perfect pastry—second only to the KitchenAid (which costs six times more). For the price and convenience of Prime shipping, it’s worth snagging one of these if you don’t need something outrageously fancy.


What to Look for When Buying a Toaster

When looking for the best toaster, there are literally hundreds (if not thousands) of options available. To narrow things down, think of what aspects are the most important to your family. Are you looking for a toaster that offers a touchscreen and artisanal toasting modes? Or are you hunting down a reliable pick that will last for years and is small enough to fit on an apartment counter or kitchen cart? Something in-between?

Next, consider your budget. While some toasters ring up at over $400, the average person may not (and likely won’t) need to splurge on a fancy option. This step is easier once you determine your needs. Larger four-slice toasters are often pricier than their two-slice counterparts, but price also depends on functionality. Generally, those looking for a simple appliance without extra bells and whistles can safely spend under $100.

Regardless of what you’re looking for, our team put in the work to find the best toasters for every budget, breakfast and space.

Why You Should Trust Us

Toasted Breads with Labels on Wooden Surface
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As home cooks and breakfast enthusiasts, we take our toast seriously at Taste of Home. We know that toasters may not be the most glamorous kitchen appliance. However, we firmly believe that everyone deserves a reliable option that delivers a delicious crunch. Breakfast should always be free from burn marks and uneven browning.

Our testing team has three years of experience testing and evaluating everything from the best coffee subscriptions to the best flower delivery services. Many of us have backgrounds in kitchen and culinary careers ourselves. The remainder of our team are simply passionate home cooks who want to recommend the very best products using honest and fair testing practices. We would never recommend a product we don’t love, regardless of how popular it is or how big the brand is.

How We Found the Best Toasters

A Woman Using Café Express Toaster on Wooden Kitchen Countertop
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Our Product Testing Team began by researching and identifying top toaster brands, focusing on those which are easy to secure at big box stores. From there, we spent three days testing 14 different toaster options in our Testing Lab. Our picks ranged from $23.99 all the way up to $297.

Two hands-on testers worked with each pick to test for the following features:

  • Size and unit of measurements
  • Packaging and shipping quality
  • The fit of test foods, including thick cut brioche, sourdough, English muffins, pastries, bagels and frozen waffles
  • Ease of slice removal
  • Any special settings and the performance of those settings
  • How long the settings take
  • Appearance, material and overall quality
  • Ease of care and cleaning
  • Quality compared to price

Our tests (including a fingerprint smudge test) helped determine which toaster came out on top, and what other brands are worth considering. The picks on our list span a diverse range of budgets, sizes and capabilities, so we categorized each toaster that made the cut by its best features.

Whether you’re looking for the perfect piece of toast or something that gets the job done for a fair price, you’re bound to find your next favorite breakfast sidekick on our list.