It’s been just over 10 years since a radical concept glass toaster caught our attention, promising a future of finely tuned toasting control. We look back at the rise of see-through toasters, and bring you the inside track on the tempting toaster tech you can buy now.
The glass toaster concept design by Inventables never made it to market. But two years later, toaster brand Magimix launched its flagship ‘Vision’ glass toaster (above), which you can still buy today.
The Magimix Vision toaster allows you to watch your bread as it toasts. It uses concealed quartz elements at the top and bottom to brown toast, instead of the traditional wire filaments, to give an unobstructed view of your slices.
It’s still a statement piece, with a £130 price to match, and most recently featured as part of Nigella’s designer kitchen on her new TV show ‘At My Table’. However, these days it has got competition – rival brands such as Russell Hobbs and Morphy Richards have launched cheaper alternatives.
Glass toasters allow you to keep a close eye on progress, but they can be tricky to keep clean. We’ve had mixed results in our tests, too – some have been so poor at toasting we’ve named them Don’t Buys.
Check our glass toaster reviews to get our verdict on which ones are worth buying – and the ones to avoid.
Futuristic toaster designs
Search the web for modern toasters and you’ll find all manner of weird and wonderful concept designs, from toasting knifes that you simply sweep over your bread, to rotating toasters that twist and deposit your slice straight onto your plate.
Sadly, few of these make it to production, so you’re unlikely to get your hands on them any time soon, but here are two unusual toasters you can buy now:
Tefal Toast N Egg, £30
This unusual toaster has been around for more than a decade. If you love the idea of poaching an egg to go with your toast, it could be the toaster for you. But is it any good? Read the full Tefal Toast n Egg review to find out.
Seren side-loading toaster, £60
This toaster has a tray that you load and push into the toasting tunnel, rather than popping it into slots in the top. Seren says that this wide toast rack is ultra versatile, allowing you to toast everything from pastries to wraps in addition to standard slices. It also has removable magnetic side panels, which you can swap for different colours if you fancy a change of scene.
We will be testing this toaster shortly, so check back soon for our first impressions.
Top toaster features to look out for
Wacky designs aside, plenty of useful toaster features have become more widespread in the past 10 years. Here are some key features to look out for if you’re buying a toaster in 2018:
1. High lift
If you love to indulge in afternoon tea treats, such as crumpets, tea cakes and hot cross buns, it’s worth looking for a toaster with a high-lift lever. These raise the toasting carriage right up so you can easily fish out smaller items without singeing your fingers. We’re seeing more and more toasters with this feature, including some good-value cheaper models.
High-lift levers are a helpful extra, but they don’t always mean a toaster is straightforward to use. Check our reviews of recent high-lift toasters to get our verdict:
One for the perfectionists, and an alternative to going for glass, the ‘lift-and-look’ function on toasters gives you the option to pop up your toast and check how well done it is without cancelling the toasting cycle. If you can’t stand your toast overdone, this feature gives you more control over the end product and will mean less disasters with choosing the wrong setting.
Watch out though – some toasters simply don’t brown well, no matter how much you check up on them. Read our full reviews of the latest lift-and-look toasters to find our star performer:
3. Bun warmer
Tired of the same old toast? Some toasters have an integrated bun warmer that lets you warm up items that won’t fit in a toaster. By placing the bun warming rack over the top of the slots, you can warm up buns, rolls and croissants more quickly and easily than you could in an oven.
Bun warmers are an appealing option if you like a teatime treat, but we’ve found a Don’t Buy toaster with this feature. Find out which model you need to steer clear of from the following models:
4. Countdown dial
Are you an impatient snacker? We’re seeing a rise in toasters with countdown dials, which let you know exactly how long you have to wait for your toast to be ready. Our tests have uncovered some toasters that will keep you waiting twice as long as others, so depending on the model you buy, you’ll either have just enough time to get your butter and spreads ready or be standing by the toaster for ages in anticipation.
Want a good, fast toaster with a countdown dial? Check our reviews of the following models to see our favourite:
5. Bagel setting
You can make perfect New York-style bagels in your kitchen if you buy a toaster with a bagel setting. Technically, most models are able to toast bagels if their slots are thick enough, but a dedicated bagel setting should toast only the cut side, so you retain the traditional doughy edge.
Check our reviews of toasters with bagel settings below to find out which ones are best for bagels but also make great toast, are versatile and easy to use:
Added extras are nice to have, but they won’t get you very far if your toaster can’t cover the basics. Use our list of Best Buy toasters to discover the best toasters to buy in 2018 – we’ve found brilliant two-slice and four-slice toasters for every budget.