Today is National Toast Day, so have your knife at the ready to enjoy one of the nation’s favourite snacks.
You’ll want to celebrate with a lovely golden slice, but our research has shown that your toaster may not be up to the task.
Only 16% of the toasters we’ve tested score a full five stars for toasting bread evenly. That leaves a lot of households potentially putting up with less-than-perfect toast.
For the best possible slice, it helps to start with a top toaster. See our round-up of the best toasters for 2019 for our recommended models.
Get the best from your toaster
Toasters may be relatively simple gadgets, but the science of perfect toast is surprisingly complicated, and you might be inadvertently sabotaging your slice.
Use the tips below to make sure that you end up with the ultimate toasted treats.
1. Adjust the settings for different bread types
Different types of bread need different toasting approaches. The density of the bread, colour and levels of moisture and sugar can all affect how quickly it toasts. Our guide below explains how to adjust your toaster for different breads.
Quick toasting guide: what setting to use for different breads
- Brown bread is quicker to toast than white
Brown bread usually needs less time in the toaster than white. This is because there’s less moisture in brown bread, so it can dry out or burn more easily if it lingers too long.
- Go low and slow for gluten-free bread
Gluten free bread tends to be thicker and denser than a wheat-based loaf, so it will need a longer time on a lower heat to make sure it cooks all the way through, without burning on the outside.
- Crank it up for muffins and crumpets
Crumpets and English muffins are best enjoyed with a crispy edge and doughy inside, so opt for a higher setting.
They will need different times in the toaster, though. Crumpets can dry out easily so you shouldn’t leave them in for too long, whereas English muffins are best cooked through and hot enough for butter or hollandaise sauce to melt into them.
- Take care with fruit breads, tea cakes and hot cross buns
Fruited breads have a high sugar content which means they are susceptible to burning, so need a shorter toasting time.
If you often toast smaller items, look for a toaster with a high-lift lever to stop you singeing your fingers when you fish them out. A peeking function that allows you to check toasting progress is also a handy feature to prevent you from overdoing it.
Want a toaster with a dedicated gluten free setting? See what we thought of the Crux CRUX008 toaster
2. Flip halfway through toasting for single slices
If you regularly make a quick snack for one, you might know the pain of having one side of your slice significantly darker the other.
This is because the elements in the unused slot are still switched on, and the heat can pass through into the next slot. Flipping the toast front to back mid-cycle will help to even things out.
Single-slot toasters, which have one long slot instead of two, are another way round this issue. Of the two we’ve tested one is significantly better than the other, though. Read our full Russell Hobbs Elegance 2 Slice 23380 and Russell Hobbs Luna 2 Slice Copper 24310 reviews to see which one is worth buying.
3. Adjust the settings for extra rounds of toast
If you’re making a second round of toast, the chances of ending up with darker or burnt bits is greater as your toaster is already warmed up.
Some toasters overcompensate by throwing their slices out early, sometimes when they’re barely even browned.
Experiment with your toaster to find out how it copes with subsequent runs. Then you’ll know whether to turn your dial up or down when you’re toasting back-to-back.
Some toasters claim to do the thinking for you. Dualit says that its ‘perfect toast technology’ adjusts the elements automatically based on the temperature of the toaster, and the room it’s in. To see if this really does make perfect toast, read the full Dualit Domus DLT22 toaster review.
4. Slice and store your bread properly
It might seem obvious, but an evenly sliced loaf is more likely to brown all over than if you’ve done a haphazard job.
- Use a serrated knife
- Cut slowly
- Crouch down to see the side of the loaf and ensure you’re slicing straight
Don’t go too thin as it’s likely to dry out or burn. Too thick and you could end up butchering your slice trying to wedge it in the slots.
Fresh is best
Slightly stale bread can be saved by a toaster, but you’ll get the best results from fresher slices. This way, the middle stays slightly spongy and the edges will crisp up, giving you that perfect toast texture.
Best ways to store fresh bread at home – see the results of our bread storage test
5. Buy the right toaster
However carefully you approach your toast, some toasters just aren’t up to the job. We see all sorts in our tests: from patchy slices, to two completely different faces, to over or underdone toast.
The best toasters serve up delicious, golden brown toast, and should be easy to use too.
You don’t have to spend a fortune either: 12 of our Best Buy toasters cost less than £25, and can out-toast models costing more than five times as much.
Make sure you’re in the know with the toasters to avoid too, check our list of Don’t Buy toasters
How do you like yours?
Want the perfect brew to go with your breakfast? Complete the set with a Best Buy kettle