We toasted more than 500 bread slices to find these winners.
There's a wide variety of toasters on the market, from 2- and 4- slice toasters, to plastic and metal, as well as long slot. Most aren't designed to just toast a plain white slice of bread anymore either (remember when sweet potato toast was a thing?). In addition to being able to toast bread to your favorite shade of golden brown, it's important to find a toaster with the right settings for your lifestyle.
For example, the bagel setting usually just toasts the inside of a bagel and warms the outside so you don't have to worry about an overly dry or crunchy bite. A defrost setting is great for frozen waffles or bread; it typically adds more time to the toasting process so you get the same results if the waffles or bread were fresh. Reheat typically toasts bread or other ingredients for a short amount of time, perfect for a toaster pastry or adding a touch more color.
2-slice toasters vs. 4-slice toasters: When choosing a toaster, consider how many slices of toast you and your family will be making at one time. If there's more than two of you racing to make breakfast at the same time, a 4-slice toaster is probably your best bet. If counter space is a concern, however, you may want to opt for a 2-slice toaster.
Long slot toasters are gaining popularity now due to the rise in more rustic forms of bread. Opt for long slots if you love sourdough or other artisanal breads. You'll never be able to fit a whole slice in a traditional toaster without cutting it in half. We like the Cuisinart Bakery Artisan Toaster. Another detail to keep an eye out for is toasters with wide slots. They make toasting bagels and thicker slices of bread easier and fuss-free.
Plastic toasters vs. metal toasters: Generally, plastic toasters tend to be less expensive than metal. There's also the aesthetic to consider. In our tests, we found that toast quality wasn't compromised either way.
On our quest to make the perfect toast and find the best toaster on the market, the Good Housekeeping Institute Kitchen Appliances and Technology Lab left no crumb behind: We rated toasters on how well, how evenly, and how quickly they toasted bread, as well as their ability to produce a range of toasted shades from light to dark. We also checked the manuals, ease of controls, surface temperatures, cleanability — we love a removable crumb tray — and more.
Below are the best toasters for tackling bread, bagels, and frozen food (and more!). We even included a "Most Stylish" toaster, because we know this is one appliance you probably won't be storing in your cupboard.
Best Value Toaster: Black + Decker 2-Slice Toaster
Best 2-Slice Toaster: Breville Die-Cast 2-Slice Smart Toaster
Best 4-Slice Toaster: Krups Savory 4-Slice Toaster
Best Long-Slot Toaster: Cuisinart Bakery Artisan Toaster
Best Toaster for Small Spaces: Cuisinart 2-Slice Compact Toaster
Toaster with the Best Features: Cuisinart ViewPro 2-Slice Toaster
Most Stylish Toaster: Smeg 4-Slice Toaster
Looking for an appliance to toast and bake? Check out the 10 Best Toaster Ovens for Cooking Basically Everything.