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Home & garden.

Updated: 23 Dec 2021

How to buy the best toaster

From tasty toast to perfect pitta, we explain how to pick the best toaster for you
Rebecca Jakeman
Woman putting bread into 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.

Just want to see our top picks? See our round-up of the best toasters to browse our recommended models and find the right one for you.

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

Two-slice toasters

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.

See all our two-slot toaster reviews.

Four-slice toasters

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.

Discover the best models for consistent toasting in our four-slot toaster reviews.

Long-slot toasters

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.

The quality of long-slot toasters varies hugely.

How much do you need to spend on a toaster?

Bread in 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. 

Check our round-up of the best toasters to find a bargain Best Buy, and make sure you get the inside track on the terrible toasters to avoid

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 when 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 Sage toasters 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).

Make sure you get a toaster that has the features you want, and toasts properly, by checking our toaster reviews.

Other things to consider when buying a toaster

Girls eating toast

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.

Our independent toasting tests check everything from how quick, even and consistent the toasting is, to what breads fit and how easy the toaster is to use and clean. See our guide to how we test toasters for more.

Make sure you get a Best Buy kettle to matchsee our guide to matching kettle and toaster sets.

Is it worth buying a Dualit toaster?

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 Dualit toaster reviews 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 round-up of the best toaster brands to see how Dualit shapes up against cheaper brands for how long its toasters last and how satisfied its customers really are.

Is it possible to repair a toaster?

Depending on how serious the problem is, you may well be able to repair your toaster at home. Some of the most common issues are inconsistent performance and faulty pop-up functions, both of which are very easy fixes that don't require any fiddling with electrics.

Another common toaster fault, however, is a faulty heating element or complete failure of the product. These aren't problems that you should attempt to rectify at home, as you could put yourself in danger. Instead, find a Which? Trusted Trader near you and leave the repairs to qualified professional. 

How should I dispose of or recycle my old toaster?

According to Recycle Now, around one million tonnes of electrical and electronic waste are generated every year. Every item that has either a plug, a charger, batteries or carries a crossed-out wheelie bin logo can be recycled, and that includes toasters.

If you're giving your kitchen a makeover and your old toaster is still working, you can donate it to a charity shop. Many of them will even come and collect from your home, especially if you have other items you wish to donate.

For toasters that are no longer in working condition, your best bet is to take them to your local recycling centre. Some councils will collect bulky waste items from you, but for smaller items like toasters it's easier (and cheaper) to take them yourself.

Find your nearest recycling location (including stores and council sites) using Recycle Now’s electrical recycling locator.

Get the best deal on a toaster

Golden brown toast in 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.

Ready to buy your next toaster?

Log in or sign up to Which? to unlock our independent toaster reviews.

We’ve tested all the most popular models, including designer Dualit toasters and DeLonghi toasters, as well as cheaper Russell Hobbs toasters and budget Argos toasters and Asda toasters.