We’ve tested all the top models to find the best toasters that deliver the finest, most perfectly cooked toast
Imagine a kitchen without a toaster – you probably can’t, right? Toasters are very much a kitchen staple for the majority of us and, with so many different models on the market, understanding how to find the best toaster from the duds is crucial.
On this page, you’ll find all of the toasters that have met our stringent toast expectations, from the best budget toasters to the ones that offer both style and substance. You can pick up any old two-slice and four-slice models for under £30, but the very best toasters will set you back a tad more.
If you’re unsure about which features you need or should be looking for, our buying guide below will give you a crash course in buying the perfect toaster. Whether your budget is £40 or £400, we’ve got the lowdown on all the best toasters in their respective areas.
How to choose the best toaster for you
Buying a new toaster should be simple: find one you like the look of that you can afford, order it from Amazon and wait for it to arrive the next day. Sorted. While that may work, there are actually quite a few handy features on today’s toasters that are worth looking out for.
Should I buy a two-slice or a four-slice toaster?
This is the first decision you need to make. Unless you’re very tight on worktop space or live alone, we’d recommend a four-slice toaster. It makes busy breakfast times, or just trying to knock out beans on toast for two, that much easier. Due to this, we tend to stick to recommending (and reviewing) four-slice models, but bear in mind that there are usually two-slice versions of these, which will perform practically identically to their larger siblings.
While a two-slice toaster will only have a single browning control (timer), on a four-slice model you may be provided with one or two such controls. A single control means the timer is set for all four slots, which is fine if you all want your toast done the same way. Two timers means you can set each pair of slots separately so you can toast, say, crumpets on one side while doing toast on the other, or have “his and hers” slots set to your personal preferences.
What features should I look out for in a toaster?
A reheat button usually activates a short (one-minute) cycle to heat up cold toast. Note that on some toasters, this function is marked on the timer dial instead of being a separate button. Similarly, the “a bit more” button gives your toast an extra 30 seconds.
A keep-warm function allows you to hold fire until you’re ready with your coffee and orange juice. Conversely, a rapid toasting function is fabulous if you’re running late. And a warming rack lets you heat items such as rolls and croissants over the heat from the toaster.
A defrost setting is useful for frozen bread. First, it defrosts bread then switches to the toasting cycle. Each model is different: on some models, you need to press the defrost button before you push the bread carriage down, while others are pushed once you’ve activated the toaster.
Pause – sometimes called “lift and look” – means you can have a sneaky peak at the browning process before pressing the toast back down again to where it left off.
High lift saves you from burning your fingers by pushing the slots up so you can retrieve your toast safely.
A bagel setting is handy for anything, like bagels or English muffins, that you want to toast on just one side.
A sandwich rack can be a godsend if you like toasted sandwiches.
Variable-width slots accommodate a wide range of thicknesses, which is useful if you like ultra-thin or doorsteps, or indeed bagels or muffins.
Is a crumb tray an essential feature?
All the toasters we’ve seen have built-in crumb trays, which catch the crumbs in the bottom of the toaster and can then be slid out easily for disposal. Most have twin crumb trays – one for each pair of slots, around the rear. This is a little fiddly and you often forget to empty them until it’s too late. If you’re keen to keep your toaster clean, a single large crumb tray or a front-accessed tray is a good choice.
How we test toasters
We test all our toasters in a real world setting by, you guessed it, making lots of toast. It’s not just thin supermarket loaves, though. We test using bagels and thick sliced bread too, repeating the same tests several times to ensure there is consistency. During each toasting session, we make a note of how evenly each slice is browned and whether our baked goods have any trouble fitting into the slots width or lengthways. If the toaster has any special features, such as a dedicated bagel or defrost setting, we make sure to test those and make a note of the results, good or bad.
We think timing is important too, which is why we assess how long single slices take to toast using the same setting on every model, again for testing consistency. Once all the toasting and tasting is done, we look at build quality and style, and whether these reflect a model’s price tag. Your toaster should be as functional as it is stylish, which is why our testing takes everything into consideration.
READ NEXT: Our guide to the best bread makers
The best toasters you can buy in 2024
1. Braun Series 300: Best budget two-slice toaster
Price when reviewed: £29 | Check price at AmazonFew things can ruin breakfast as much as losing a small slice of bread down the slot of a toaster. Fortunately, this neat two-slice model has a high-lift function to help stop that happening, which can also be used for cooling toast down a little before being removed.
This is combined with seven toast settings in minutes (three makes great golden-brown toast) and useful defrost and reheat buttons, which both come into their own during busy mornings. It’s not great for chunky doorstep slices as its slots are relatively slim (although you’ll be able to get a crumpet in), but this does translate to a sleek, compact design that tucks easily into a corner.
Perfect for smaller and solo households, the catch is that it only comes in white with a grey panel, so colour fans will have to look elsewhere.
Key specs – Number of slots: 2; Reheat mode: Yes; Defrost mode: Yes; Bagel mode: No; Muffin rack: No
2. De’longhi Ballerina: Best toaster for even browning
Price when reviewed: £60 | Check price at John Lewis If you want your toaster to be a statement piece that takes centre stage on your kitchen worktop, this is the one for you. De’longhi’s Ballerina toaster is inspired by Murano glass and the pleats of a ballerina skirt, making for an unusual and striking kitchen essential.It’s not just a pretty face, though. In testing, it excelled in every area. It has five heat settings and three buttons for standard toasting, reheating and defrosting. Toast came out evenly browned on 90% of occasions, regardless of heat setting and the reheat function warmed our cold toast through, without drying it out. The defrost function was excellent too, and although we experienced some unevenness in browning, the toast held on to enough of its moisture during cooking. It’s not the cheapest toaster on this list, but it’s certainly striking and the results were excellent.
Key specs – Number of slots: 4; Reheat mode: Yes; Defrost mode: Yes; Bagel mode: No; Muffin rack: No
3. Smeg 2 Slice Toaster: Best two-slice toaster
Price when reviewed: £149 | Check price at John Lewis You expect a great design from Smeg, and its 2 Slice Toaster certainly delivers. Our chrome test model looked stunning, but it’s also available in a range of other colours if you don’t like the mirror-effect finish. It’s not just a pretty face, either, with sturdy build quality throughout and satisfying zip to its lever when your toast pops up.
The results were impressive: toast was evenly done, and it’s faster and more power-efficient than anything we’ve seen at this price. The slots are really wide, too, so getting bigger items to fit isn’t a problem. Speaking of which, there’s a bagel mode so you can get them crunchy on the outside and doughy on the inside – as nature intended.
It’s also available as a four-slice model, which should perform similarly to this one and has the advantage of two great big slots (rather than the more common four smaller slots) so that you can toast longer items with ease.
Read our full Smeg 2 Slice Toaster review
Key specs – Number of slots: 2; Reheat mode: Yes; Defrost mode: Yes; Bagel mode: Yes; Muffin rack: No
4. Kenwood Elegancy: Best four-slice toaster for thick bread
Price when reviewed: £60 | Check price at Kenwood The mid-price toaster market might be a tad saturated, but there are a few shining gems that we think are worth every penny. Kenwood’s Elegancy toaster is one such toaster thanks to its stylish design, choice of colours (black, dusky blue or cream) and useful features. While this toaster doesn’t have a separate bagel function, it does have a good defrost setting, independent extra-wide slots, a high lift lever so it’s easier to fish out smaller items, and removable crumb trays at the back.
During testing, the Elegancy performed well. We were able to achieve a nice even brownness using all the settings for the most part, although sometimes the level of browness did vary – something we see a lot on mid-price toasters. The defrost setting works best on a lower setting and doesn’t dry out bread too much. What’s more, we found it very easy to clean thanks to crumb trays that are easy to remove. All in all, this is a nifty little toaster with some great functions at a decent price.
Key specs – Number of slots: 4; Reheat mode: No; Defrost mode: Yes; Bagel mode: No; Muffin rack: No
5. Russell Hobbs Retro Toaster: Best retro-style toaster
Price when reviewed: £100 | Check price at CurrysIf you favour a retro look, this will make a smart addition to your kitchen. And that’s not all that’s going for it. It’s remarkably fast, toasting four slices in under two minutes and providing consistent browning across the whole slice.
Other handy features (beyond the normal cancel, reheat and defrost buttons plus six browning options) include the countdown timer, so you know exactly how much time you have to get the butter, marmalade and coffee ready, plus a “lift and look” feature so you can check how your toast is coming along without having to start from scratch when you put it down again.
It’s also easy to clean, but it’s better suited to standard-sized loaves, so probably not your best bet if you use homemade bread. And the shiny look shows up every mark.
Key specs – Number of slots: 4; Reheat mode: Yes; Defrost mode: Yes; Bagel mode: No; Muffin rack: No
6. Dualit NewGen 4 Slot Toaster: Best high-end, high-tech toaster
Price when reviewed: £220 | Check price at John LewisDualit toasters are still a slice above the rest. A lot of people fixate on the exterior design and they are iconic, particularly when clad in traditional stainless steel. For us, though, it’s their superior engineering and easy-to-repair nature that really makes them special in a world where too many things are disposable.
The NewGen, unlike some of the lesser Dualit models, uses toasting elements that have more filaments than normal and a protective layer across the top, so they can’t be easily damaged when you inevitably dig out a bit of crust with a knife. Those filaments work quickly, too, turning out the perfect toast in under two minutes, although it sucks up 0.041kWh doing so.
The separate timer and pop-up control looks fiddly, but gives you accurate toasting every time and lets you check on progress without disturbing the timer. The simple interior design means that practically everything can be easily replaced or repaired, so your toaster should last a very long time. It’s not just a design classic, it’s a toaster for life and well worth the money – if you can justify it.
Read our full Dualit NewGen 4 Slot Toaster review
Key specs – Number of slots: 4; Reheat mode: No; Defrost mode: Yes; Bagel mode: Yes; Muffin rack: Optional