We tested a wide range from cheap toasters to luxury models using slices of shop-bought loaf, XL tall slices, thickly sliced artisan bread, fruit loaf and sliced bagels. We also tested any extra functions on offer such as pastry warmers.
All were rated against practical considerations such as size and weight, safety, ease of use, good looks and speed of toasting (we can confirm that the rumours are false: the settings on your toaster don’t correspond with the number of minutes it takes to toast bread). For those who want a matching kettle and toaster set, see our review of the best kettles.
Taking into account variations in the types of bread we were using (old bread tends to toast faster) and after exhaustive toasting, warming and munching, we selected the fifteen best models for two-slice toasters, four-slice toasters and even smart toasters. Find out more about the specific criteria we used to test the toasters beneath the main review.
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- Toaster with best overall functionality: Sage the Smart Toast BTA845, £189.99
- Best new brand toaster: Gastroback Design Toaster Pro 2S, £64.90
- Best blow-out buy: KitchenAid Artisan 5KMT4205 4-slice toaster, £399
- Best-looking 4-slice toaster: Swan Gatsby ST14082 4-slice toaster, £46.99
- Best statement style 4-slice toaster: Dualit NewGen 4-slice toaster, £220
- Best value 4-slice toaster: Russell Hobbs 24381 Inspire 4-slice toaster, £49.99
- Best retro design 4-slice toaster: SMEG TSF03 4-slice steel toaster, £175
- Most stylish 4-slice toaster: DeLonghi CTO4 Argento Silva toaster, £47
- Best mid-range 4-slice toaster: Tower Cavaletto T20051RG 4-slice toaster, £49.99
- 4-slice toaster with best browning: Kenwood Mesmerine TFM810 toaster, £85.96
- 2-slice toaster with best browning: Breville VTT981 Edge 2-slice toaster, £45
- Best overall 2-slice toaster: Zwilling Enfinigy toaster 53008, £71.96
- Best toaster with eco credentials: Eco Conscious Edition 5000 Series toaster HD2640, £50
KitchenAid Artisan 5KMT4205 4-slice toaster
Best blow-out toaster
- Sophisticated toaster technology
- Sleekly designed
Star rating: 4.5/5
KitchenAid has created a serious bit of kit with this Artisan 4-slice. It’s size, design and die-cast metal construction scream statement, demanding a deep work surface and boasting a sophisticated number of settings. The pairs of extra-wide toasting slots are sensor-controlled, lowered with a gentle elevator ping that’s particularly satisfying, and it’s accompanied by useful extras like a toastie rack. If you have the space and budget to invest, this model makes toasting fun.
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Read our full KitchenAid Artisan 5KMT4205 4-slice toaster review
Swan Gatsby ST14082 4-slice toaster
Best-looking 4-slice toaster
A lot of thought has gone into the styling of the Swan Gatsby 4-slice toaster, but thankfully it’s not style over substance. Defrost, reheat and bagel functions are on offer, plus its lever arms have a bread-lift feature so you don’t need to poke around for your slices. Its seven heat levels are over-enthusiastic for normal toasting; five settings would be enough here but on the whole, this is a good-looking toaster worthy of its price tag.
Read our full Swan Gatsby ST14082 4-slice toaster review
Russell Hobbs 24381 Inspire 4-slice toaster
Best value 4-slice toaster
Star rating: 4/5
This budget-friendly toaster gets the job done for a good price. What it lacks in functions (it doesn’t have bagel or keep-warm options for example), it makes up for in reliability. It produced some of the most evenly-toasted bread of all models we tested, plus it handles thicker sliced bread as well as the standard sliced loaf. Toasting takes slightly longer than other models and the exterior of the toaster does get rather hot, but overall we were impressed with performance over price.
Read our full Russell Hobbs Inspire toaster review.
SMEG TSF03 4-slice steel toaster
Most retro-design four-slot toaster
- good choice of colours
- even browning
- large slots
- heavy and cumbersome
- gets quite hot
Star rating: 4/5
SMEG’s distinctive retro style is timeless and versatile, and this toaster in signature style has real visual impact. It comes in a variety of pastel colours (including pastel pink – check out our full guide to the best pink kitchen appliances and accessories for more). But it also impressed us with its functionality. It has generous, extra-wide slots that hold taller slices of bread horizontally. Those who like personalisation will be happy with the number of options available. There are 11 browning settings in total, plus effective keep-warm and defrost settings and accompanying products to buy, including a bun warmer and sandwich rack.
Read our full Smeg TSF03 toaster review.
Kenwood Mesmerine TFM810 toaster
Four-slot toaster with best browning
- Even toasting
- Fairly light
- Quite slow
- Needed adjusting for frozen bread
Star rating: 4.5/5
A lightweight toaster with excellent results, this stylish model has plenty of toasting options. It handles chunkier slices of bread and delivered the most even browning of all models we tested. Not too large or heavy, the plastic outside stays cool enough to touch, which makes it a good choice for the safety-conscious. It also looks good, with a 3D pearlised effect available in four colours.
Read our full Kenwood Mesmerine toaster review.
Sage the Smart Toast BTA845
Toaster with best overall functionality
- Good selection of settings
- Easy to use
- Good browning
- No warming function
Star rating: 4.5/5
Although it’s undeniably expensive, using this toaster felt a little like making breakfast with a friendly robot. Created in collaboration with the original kitchen whizz, Heston Blumenthal, this clever toaster has various niche functions such as crumpet toasting. Everything is operated by buttons rather than levers. Bread smoothly descends into the slots as though descending a lift. Sadly it lacks a warming option, but otherwise Sage has thought of everything, and this is a joy to use.
Read our full Sage the Smart Toast review.
Breville VTT981 Edge 2-slice toaster
Best browning from a 2-slice toaster
- Copes with all sizes of bread.
- Wide range of toasting settings
- helpful “lift-and-look” feature.
- Didn’t toast evenly on both sides
Star rating: 4.5/5
This is a good-looking, well priced model from a trusted brand. The stand-out feature is ‘lift-and-look’, where you can slide the toast up and have a peek at how it’s getting on without cancelling it, then having to work out which setting to restart on. If you’re happy to stand over your toast, this means you can get it absolutely spot on.
This toaster has all the traditional features you need and expect (including defrost and reheat) and is very straightforward to use.
Slots coped with all thicknesses of loaves and there was an unusually wide range of toasting settings – nine in total. The only downside was that we consistently found toast browner on one side than the other.
Read our full Breville VTT981 Edge 2-slice toaster review.
DeLonghi CTO4 Argento Silva toaster
Most stylish toaster
- Good looks
- Surprisingly cheap for such an attractive toaster
- Two separate sets of controls
- Hard to find the toasting sweet spot
Star rating: 3.5/5
This is a fabulously stylish toaster with well thought-out functions. It is the sort of toaster that would be a real talking point in your kitchen. Our sample was mustard yellow, but there are five other options, including blue and pink.
The four slots are operated in pairs so you could be cheerily toasting slices from the freezer on one side and browning a bagel in the other. This makes it ideal for bigger families.
However, it took quite a lot of trial and error to get the brownness right so this needs patience. Having said that, once you have mastered it, it shouldn’t be a problem. Browning is fairly even and it coped with most slices apart from those that that are either particularly tall (it didn’t toast right to the top) or small (they were tricky to get out and needed a good thrust of the lever).
Read our full DeLonghi CTO4 Argento Silva toaster review.
Philips Eco Conscious Edition 5000 Series HD2640 toaster
Best toaster with eco credentials
- Ideal for the eco-conscious
- Warming rack
- Not great for long slices
- Sometimes burnt with defrost button
Star rating: 4/5
A toaster with impeccable eco-credentials, this compact toaster is ideal for smaller households, or kitchens with a limited working area. The toaster is made from bio-based plastics, which come from biological and renewable resources.
It’s smaller than average and very lightweight but surprisingly speedy. It’s also very effective and coped well with all but the tallest loaves. We liked the extra feature of the bun warmer in particular. Unusually, this toaster also comes with a lid which keeps the toaster clean, neat and dust-free when it’s not being used.
The defrost function is combined with the browning button, so you can’t choose how brown you want your defrosted slice to be (although of course you can always use the cancel button).
This compact toaster would make a perfect gift for an eco-conscious student.
Zwilling Enfinigy 53008 toaster
Best overall 2-slice toaster
- Very evenly toasted bread
- Special bagel function
- Great looks
- Cancel button not immediately obvious
Star rating: 4.5/5
Sleek, attractive and very effective, this toaster offers everything you need. Of all the toasters we tested, this gave us the most evenly browned results with both sides of the toast being near identical.
It coped well with pretty much anything we threw at it – frozen bread, thick bread, bagels, fruit loaf and standard sliced supermarket bread. If we are being extremely fussy, the very top of a tall sandwich loaf wasn’t completely browned when placed in the normal vertical position.
The toaster has the usual reheat and defrost functions, along with a bagel setting, all marked with icons. The “cancel” button is also the browning dial and that isn’t obvious as it’s marked by the Zwilling logo.
It’s a two-slot toaster, so not the best for larger families, but double-length and four-slot models in the same range are available.
Read our full review of the Zwilling Efinigy 53008 toaster.
Gastroback Design Pro 2S toaster
Best new brand
- Fun to watch
- Wide slots make it suitable for bagels and thick slices
- Didn’t always toast evenly on either side.
Star rating: 4/5
If you have impatient kids demanding to know “is it nearly ready yet?”, this could be the toaster for you. It has an LED display that counts down (in little blue bars, rather than seconds) so you can see how far along it is. It’s a small, perky little toaster suitable for smaller kitchens.
This has all the standard reheat, defrost and cancel functions, as well as an integrated warming rack, which is a nice feature if you like warmed croissants and pastries.
Most of the controls are on the front, with the bun rack control and toasting lever on either side. The cord is rather short, so you can’t place this far from a power source.
Toasting results were good overall, though we did find it toasted unevenly at some levels, with toast much more browned on one side than the other. It dealt effectively with fruit loaf and bagels, though it missed the top of taller loaves.
Read our full Gastroback Design Pro 2S toaster review.
Tower Cavaletto T20051RG 4-slice toaster
Best mid-range 4-slice toaster
- Easy to use
- Good for thicker breads and bagels
- Long guarantee
Star rating: 3.5/5
This is a ‘notice me’ toaster. It has a stainless-steel housing and copper controls with a contrasting trim in a choice of four colours, including a pretty pastel pink. Our black and silver version was very striking.
This is easy to use and intuitive with large buttons. There are the usual cancel, reheat and defrost options which are clearly written above each button.
While it may look fancy, at heart it’s a no-nonsense, simple and effective four-slot machine with separate controls for each pair of slots so they can be used separately. There is no bun rack or bagel setting but you certainly don’t need the latter thanks to the wide slots. However, it wasn’t deep enough for the very tallest bread to go in vertically. We thought the results were a little uneven too, with different levels of brownness on either side.
This comes with a three-year guarantee and is mid-priced.
Read our full Tower Cavaletto T20051RG 4-slice toaster review.
Dualit NewGen 4-slice toaster
Best statement toaster
- Very hands on, which is great if you know exactly how you like your toast
- Good “peek and pop” option
- Striking machine.
- You must remember to change the “slice” setting
- No accessories included
- Very expensive
Star rating: 4/5
This is unlike any other toaster we tested. There are no browning settings; instead you choose how long to toast for with helpful guidelines in the instruction book. Once set, the timer gradually and audibly whirrs down to nought. Once done, the toaster simply switches off rather than the toast popping up, so the toast stays warm inside the toaster until you need it. You then raise it up with the lever.
There’s also a knob to select the number (one to four) of slices you’re toasting, which you need to remember to adjust if you’re changing this the next time.
Although most toasters in our sample have reheat, defrost and cancel buttons, this has none. Instead, the defrost function is integrated into the timer. To reheat, just select a short time and put the toaster on.
The toaster is hand-made to order and comes in a choice of 20 colours, to match every kitchen.
Results were good and even. A warming rack and sandwich cage for toasties are sold separately, which we thought was disappointing for a toaster at this price point.
Read our full Dualit NewGen 4-slice toaster review.
When you’re buying a new toaster, there are plenty of other factors to consider, too. Are you a fan of chunky artisan bread, or loaves with large slices that your toaster might struggle to hold? Read our tips on the features to look for when buying a toaster:
What does it toast?
When you’re looking for a four-slot toaster, think about what you use your current model for the most, and make sure it has everything you need. If you’re a fan of bagels, you’ll want that extra functionality.
If your family all makes their toast pretty much the same way, a single-lever model will suit you fine (and likely be cheaper), while the bagel function found on some toasters is useful for lovers of bagels and crumpets, as it toasts one side, while only warming the other.
As with so many kitchen appliances, you often get what you pay for: some cheaper models do a perfectly good job, but if you’re using your toaster every day, it’s worth investing in a sturdy model that can withstand being used regularly and taken in and out of the cupboard without getting damaged.
Is it a titan of a toaster with a cumbersome cord that will take up too much space in your kitchen cupboards? If you’re a fan of bagels, or store your bread in the freezer, does it include all the functions you need to create toast perfection?
Checking the weight and measurements of your toaster is also important, as four-slice models are significantly larger than two-slice versions, and can weigh a lot. If you store yours in a high cupboard, a lighter model is best, unless you’re happy to rearrange your kitchen.
Most modern toasters have a defrost setting that allows you to toast bread from frozen, with the exception of the cheapest models.
For anyone who does not want to eat their toast straightaway, this is an important consideration. The toaster will keep your slice heated without toasting it further, until you return to it later.
If you enjoy a thickly sliced bread or chunky artisan types, be sure to look for a toaster with an extra-wide slot. Some models even have adjustable slow width. On pressing down a lever, the metal frame fits to the slice size to ensure an even toasting, regardless of thickness.
We tested and reviewed a representative sample of toasters in controlled conditions.
We used five different bread types to test all the functions and capabilities of the toaster; standard loaf slices, fruit bread, chunky-cut artisan loaf, extra-tall slices and sliced bagels. Each toaster was scored out of five against the following criteria on our testing matrix, before getting an average score.
Size and shape
Does the cord tuck away for easy storage? Does it take up a lot of kitchen work-surface, and is it heavy to lift?
Does it offer any extra settings such as defrost, warming and bagel function? Are there controls for each side of the toaster, and are there any extra features such as the option to check your bread mid-toast?
Design and aesthetic
Does the toaster look good and come in different colours to suit your kitchen?
How well does the toaster handle different types of bread? Do standard slices brown evenly, with the same result on each side?
Value for money
Toasters perform the basic task of browning bread, so the price should fit the sophistication of its technology and the variety of functions on offer.
Overall quality of materials
Every part of the toaster was given a tug and a shake.
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If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at [email protected].
Which toaster do you use? We’d love to hear your product suggestions below…