How to buy the best toaster
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.
We've tested toasters that struggle to fit even standard slices inside the slots, and plenty that produce patchy toast.
Find out to what you need to know when choosing to help you find your perfect toaster.
Video: how to buy the best toaster
Our handy video gives a quick overview of what to consider when choosing a new toaster.
Types of toaster
These are the most popular and widely available option. Most are fairly compact and are a good choice for small kitchens with limited counter space. Controls are usually on the short end of the toaster.
If you live in a larger household you might want a toaster that can brown four slices at once, though it can be tricky to find one that browns all four slices evenly.
Look out for independent controls that let you brown each pair to different levels, and make sure you've got enough worktop space to accommodate the larger size. Controls are usually on the front face of the toaster.
Long-slot toasters have one or two longer slots, which can accommodate two slices each. 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.
How much do you need to spend on a toaster?
Toasters range from around £5 for a no-frills, own-brand model to more than £200 for a premium toaster from a fancy brand.
Pricier toasters tend to offer more features than standard supermarket models, such as illuminated controls and countdown timers, accessories such as sandwich toasting cages, and special settings for things such as bagels and crumpets.
Paying more doesn't guarantee you'll get glorious golden toast, though. Some expensive models have flunked our tests, producing bread that's barely warm, or horribly uneven, and we've also found some brilliant cheap toasters for less than £20.
Standard toaster features
These features tend to come as standard on even the very cheapest toasters:
- Cancel – stops the toasting cycle
- Defrost – for toasting frozen bread
- Reheat – quickly warms up your toast
- Crumb tray – captures any stray crumbs. Empty at least weekly if you use your toaster every day.
Extra toaster features to look out for
Spending a little more can get you some handy features, such as:
- Extra lift – look out for this if you love to toast crumpets or muffins. It raises small items out of the toaster so you won’t burn your fingers fishing them out
- Bagel setting – this turns the heating down on one side so your bagel ends up with a traditional doughy edge and a toasted centre
- Lift and look – also called ‘peek and pop,’ this feature lets you check on your toast without cancelling the cycle, some also have a 'bit more' button for a burst of extra toasting time
- Countdown timer – these count down until your toast is ready, so you know exactly how long you have to make a cup of tea or get your butter out of the fridge
- Bun warmer – either a clip on rack or a pop up version that’s integrated into your toaster. You might be better warming buns and croissants in the oven, though
- Sandwich toasting cage – hinged metal cages that let you make quick and easy toasties and do away with your toastie maker. Sometimes sold as an additional accessory (eg for some Dualit toasters).
Other things to consider when buying a toaster
You might not look out for these, but you'll notice their absence:
- Slot size – most toasters struggle with larger bread types, leaving a strip untoasted, or worst of all not fitting them at all. If you like teatime treats such as crumpets and bagels, look for extra-wide slots, and check our reviews for the more versatile models
- Toaster style – that geometric pattern or chrome finish might look great in the shop, but it's a magnet for fingerprint marks and crumbs. If you want a low-maintenance but stylish toaster, look for a smooth finish, and avoid fussy designs
- Ease of using controls – if they're too small, hard to read or twist, you could find it an everyday frustration.
Is it worth buying a Dualit toaster?
Designer brand Dualit is a popular choice for a statement toaster, but its classic retro-look toasters can cost more than £100 each. So are they worth the investment?
You can expect premium materials and finishes on a Dualit appliance, but it’s not just looks you’re paying for. Dualit toasters often have extras, such as a bagel setting and a lift-and-look function.
Some are also equipped with ‘perfect toast technology,’ designed to adjust the heat each time for the perfect slice. However, we’ve found that some Dualit toasters are considerably better than others, so it’s worth comparing all our to pick the very best model.
Buying a reliable toaster
If you’re paying a premium for a toaster you also want it to last. See our roundup of the to see how Dualit shapes up against cheaper brands for how long its toasters last and how satisfied its customers really are.
Get the best deal on a toaster
Toaster prices vary throughout the year, so keep an eye on your favourite models to see when they’re cheapest.
Retailers such as Currys and Argos often slash their prices in the January sales to make way for new designs, or in September to tempt students heading to university.
It’s also worth looking out for bundled deals. It can be cheaper to buy a kettle and toaster set together than to buy each appliance separately.