Toasters: How to buy the best toaster
- Best toaster features, and whether to go for a 4-slice or 2-slice model
- Stainless steel, chrome and coloured toasters
- Best toasters revealed, including reviews of Breville, Dualit and DeLonghi toasters
Which? has put a range of 2-slice and 4-slice toasters - from brands including Dualit, DeLonghi, Breville and Argos - through a rigorous testing process to produce a list of perfect toasters. But how do you whittle the top performers down to the best toaster for you?
Our toaster reviews tell you how good each toaster is at browning bread, what extra features each has (from bun warmers to pause buttons) and how fast they toast. You might also want to consider whether the toaster you have in mind has a matching kettle to go with it.
Toasters range from £5 for a no-frills, plastic, own-brand model to around £175 for a deluxe, metallic toaster with lots of extra features. Plenty of our Best Buy toasters are priced between £20 and £40.
The January sales, or during September - when retailers seek to tempt students heading to university to stock up on budget kitchen gadgets - are good times to look for a toaster bargain (see our guide to getting discounts on products for more seasonal shopping tips). Buying a matching kettle and toaster set might also save you money, compared to purchasing both items separately.
Toaster features and accessories
Looking for something more? We've listed toaster settings and other extras to keep an eye out for:
- Defrost function for frozen bread
- Pause and check - one of the newest features developed - allows you to use the cancel button to let the toast pop up so you can see how brown it is, then resume the programme where it left off
- Bagel settings are increasingly common and brown just the cut side of the bagel
- Energy-saving, single-slot mode - only heats up one slot to toast a single slice
- Independent controls for the left and right-hand slots on 4-slice toasters
- Countdown feature lets you judge how long you have to wait until your toaster is ready, sometimes down to the second
- A bun warmer - a separate metal rack attached to the top of the toaster - can heat rolls and croissants, though we've found their effectiveness a bit hit and miss
We've independently tested more than 100 toasters in the Which? lab - our full product reviews detail specific features and extras offered by individual toaster models.
The best toast
Because you can't try out a toaster in the shop before you buy it, it's difficult to know how well any particular model works in practice. That's where our thorough toaster testing comes in.
An evenly browned slice of toast on both sides is just one of the things we look for in the Which? lab when we test toasters - along with how long a model takes to toast bread, ease of use and cleaning, its ability to accommodate different-sized bread, bagels and crumpets, and more.
Find out more about how we test toasters, along with our full list of current toaster Best Buy recommendations.
Simple to use toasters
Toasters are regularly used kitchen items, so make sure yours is simple to operate. Here are a few pointers:
- Using the toaster mechanisms, levers and buttons should be light work
- The bread carriage should come up high enough to remove small items without burning your fingers
- The settings should be clearly marked
- Crumb trays should be easy to access and empty
Head to a large homeware shop or department store where a selection of toasters are out on display to get to grips with different toaster models.
Toaster colour and finish
While the basic design of the toaster has remained the same over the years, the range of toaster styles and finishes have continued to develop. Colourful toasters can brighten up a neutral kitchen or complement a bold colour scheme.
We've tested toasters ranging in colours from standard white plastic to polished metal - with red, blue, cream, black and silver toasters in between. Many models come in a variety of colours - but not all shops will stock the whole colour range.
Stainless-steel toasters are the current popular trend, while plastic alternatives offer a more basic but low-cost finish. Many toaster options have kettles to match, too. Popular toaster brands such as Dualit have also helped to bring back kitsch 1950s-style toasters. We've also tested a stylish glass toaster.
Toaster and kettle sets
A matching toaster and kettle set will add colour-coordination and style to your kitchen. Lots of popular brands - including Dualit, Russell Hobbs and Breville - make toaster and kettle sets, with models matching each other by colour, contouring and overall aesthetics. And while it's not always cheaper to buy a combined toaster and kettle set, doing so will sometimes save you a few pounds.
For more information on matching your toaster and your kettle, read our guide to matching kettle and toaster sets.
Matching toasters with your kitchen
As well as the kettle and toaster sets mentioned above, also look out for toasters with matching coffee machines, jug blenders and other appliances, for a unified, stylish kitchen finish. Bundled kitchen sets featuring a range of different kitchen appliances are available, and will often cost less than buying the equivalent products individually. Appliances are coordinated by colour, style (whether modern or traditional) and size.
4-slice toasters versus 2-slice toasters
Most toasters are large enough to accommodate two slices of bread, usually with two toasting chambers side by side. Two-slice toasters are the most popular and widely available option and a good 2-slice model will be compact enough to fit snugly on your kitchen worktop.
Four-slice toasters are also available and are particularly good for families or people who often cook breakfasts for many people. On the downside, a 4-slice toaster is inevitably bulkier than a 2-slice model and will take up more worktop space. Look out for slim toasters with two longer slots to fit four slices of bread as a narrower alternative.
A good toaster will have deep and wide enough slots to accommodate thick slices of bread, bagels, crumpets and other toasted items - something we measure when we test toasters in the Which? lab. See all our toaster reviews here.
Dualit toasters and other brands
Dualit is the UK's most popular toaster brand, but we've also tested models from all the big names in the toaster market, including Breville, DeLonghi, Morphy Richards and Russell Hobbs - as well as cheap and cheerful own-brand toasters from Tesco, Sainsbury's and Argos. Find out which Dualit toasters are Best Buys, and what the other top-performing toasters are, by reading our toaster reviews.
Most toaster manufacturers produce a wide range of models with slightly different designs and some of these are exclusive to particular shops. Some stores only quote the model name (eg DeLonghi Icona, Prestige Deco, Dualit NewGen), whereas some give the model number instead.