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The Ultimate Toaster Review from Budget-Friendly to High-End

Introduction

Have you ever wondered if that extra-fancy toaster is really worth hundreds of dollars? Or can a budget-friendly model deliver that perfect golden-brown slice? We set out to find the answer by testing toasters across a wide price range, from budget-friendly options to those that could cost as much as a fancy dinner.

Table of Contents

The Quick Answer

We’ll focus on how well these toasters handle the breakfast staples – bread and bagels – using detailed descriptions and images to illustrate their performance. Here’s the breakdown of the four toasters that impressed us the most:

In this post, we’ll break down the strengths and weaknesses of four of the most interesting toasters we tested:

Get ready to see how well each toaster handles everything from classic white bread to thick-cut bagels. We’ll use detailed descriptions and images to illustrate their performance, helping you decide which toaster is the best fit for your kitchen and your budget.

Important Things to Consider When Shopping for a New Toaster

Finding the perfect toaster that fits your needs and budget can be tricky. Here are the key things to think about:

  • Price: Toasters range from budget-friendly to luxury investments. Determine your budget beforehand to narrow down your options.
  • Bread & Bagel Performance: Consider how often you toast bread vs. bagels. Some toasters excel at both, while others have strengths in one area.
  • Slot Size: If you often toast thicker slices, artisanal bread, or bagels, look for toasters with extra-wide slots.
  • Features: Consider features that add convenience:
    • Shade Settings: More shade options mean greater customization.
    • Bagel Setting: Ensures one-sided toasting for perfect bagels.
    • Defrost/Reheat: Handy for frozen bread or warming up cooled toast.
    • High-Lift Lever: Helps you retrieve smaller items easily.
  • Crumb Tray: Removable crumb trays make cleaning a breeze.
  • Design & Aesthetics: If your toaster lives on your countertop, choose a design that matches your kitchen’s style.

Our Top Toaster Picks

The Budget Buster: GE Toaster

A budget-conscious choice, the GE toaster handles the basics decently but has some limitations:

Results

Features:

  • 7 Shade Settings: Customize your toast with precision, from lightly golden to deeply browned.
  • Extra Wide Toaster Slots: Accommodates thicker slices, bagels, and various baked goods.
  • 2-Slice Toaster: Compact design for smaller kitchens or lighter toasting needs.
  • Removable Crumb Tray: Easy cleaning and crumb control.
  • Illuminated Buttons: Clear indicators for selected settings.
  • 880 Watt rating
Bread

The GE toaster did a great job toasting bread evenly

Bagel

It wasn't the best with bagels, struggling to achieve consistent browning on both sides.

The KitchenAid Choice: KitchenAid Toaster 

Known for reliability, the KitchenAid offers solid performance for everyday use:

Results

Features:

  • Extra Wide 1.5 Inch Slots: Accommodate thicker slices, bagels, artisanal bread and more.
  • High Lift Lever: Easily remove smaller items and check on toasting progress.
  • 7 Shade Settings with Bagel, Defrost, Reheat, and Keep Warm: Enjoy customized toasting, handle frozen bread, or effortlessly reheat and maintain the warmth of your toast.
  • Easy-to-Clean, Removable Crumb Tray: Maintain a clean toaster with ease.
  • Under Base Cord Storage: Keeps your counter tidy.
  • 1200 Watt rating
Bread

The KitchenAid toaster delivers consistent toasting for bread, making it a reliable option for everyday use.

Bagel

While not the worst, the KitchenAid toaster wasn't the best at toasting bagels. It struggled a bit with achieving even browning on thicker bagels.

The Sweet Spot: Smeg Toaster

A step up in performance and design, the Smeg toaster is a reliable all-around choice:

Results

Features:

  • Generously Sized Slots: Accommodate a wide variety of breads, from standard slices to thick, artisanal loaves.
  • 6 Browning Levels: Customize your toasting experience with precision, achieving your ideal golden brown.
  • Intuitive Controls: Stylish chrome knob offers simple operation with reheat, defrost, cancel, and bagel functions.
  • Self-Centering Racks: Ensure perfectly even toasting on both sides of your bread.
  • Removable Crumb Tray: Effortless cleaning keeps your toaster and countertop looking pristine.
  • 880 Watt rating
Bread

The Smeg toaster excelled in toasting bread, producing even and consistent results across multiple tests.

Bagel

This toaster handled bagels with ease, delivering perfectly toasted bagels with a chewy inside.

The High-End Contender: Revolution Toaster

The high-tech contender, the Revolution is packed with features but comes at a steep price:

Results

Features:

  • Touchscreen Interface: Intuitive controls offer precision with various toasting modes, shade settings, and options for fresh or frozen breads.
  • Smart Toasting Algorithms: Advanced technology customizes the toasting process for different bread types, ensuring optimal results.
  • InstaGLO Heating System: Rapid heating provides the perfect texture – crispy outside, soft and flavorful inside.
  • Sleek Design: Large display and matte black finish bring a modern, high-tech aesthetic to your kitchen.
  • Panini Press Included: Transforms your toaster into a versatile panini maker for delicious grilled sandwiches.
  • 1440 Watt rating
Bread

The Revolution toaster performed admirably when it came to toasting bread, achieving even browning and a perfect crispness.

Bagel

Similar to its bread toasting, the Revolution toaster excelled at toasting bagels, delivering consistent results every time.

Not Recommended: Budget Toasters (under $30)

Unfortunately, none of the toasters we tested in the sub-$30 price range delivered satisfactory results. These toasters struggled with the basics:

  • Uneven Toasting: Toast often emerged with burnt patches and undercooked areas, making for an inconsistent and disappointing breakfast.
  • Fights with Bagels: These budget toasters had trouble with bagels. They’d either turn out too pale or unevenly browned, with one side significantly darker than the other.
  • Missing Features: These budget models often lack features we take for granted, like wider slots to fit thicker bread slices or a removable crumb tray for easy cleaning.

Overall, while the allure of a super-cheap toaster is understandable, they often lead to more frustration than satisfaction.

Personal Testimonial

“I was torn between the stylish Smeg toaster and the reliable KitchenAid. The Smeg’s retro design and perfect bagel toasting were so tempting! Ultimately, I chose the KitchenAid for its versatility and value. It toasts my everyday bread just as well, has those handy defrost and reheat functions, and the price was much easier on my wallet. I don’t regret my decision – the KitchenAid is a workhorse in my kitchen!”

Toaster Takeaways

  • Price Matters, But Not Everything: In general, you’ll get better performance by spending more on a toaster. However, there’s a point of diminishing returns – the most expensive toaster we tested didn’t perform significantly better than a mid-range option.
  • Consider Your Needs: If you’re a frequent toaster and want the best possible results, a higher-end model might be worth the investment. But if you only toast bread occasionally, a mid-range option like the GE or KitchenAid toaster will do the job just fine.
  • Think Beyond Price: When choosing a toaster, consider factors like slot size, ease of use, and features like bagel settings or crumb trays.

By following these tips, you can find the perfect toaster to fit your needs and budget, and enjoy perfectly browned toast every time!

Ready to choose the perfect toaster? Our quick comparison table highlights the key features, capabilities, and price points of the top models we reviewed. Find the best toaster for your kitchen in a snap!

GE Stainless Steel Toaster | 2 Slice | Extra Wide Slots for Toasting Bagels, Breads, Waffles & More...
KitchenAid KMT2116ER 2 Slice Slot Toaster with High Lift Lever, Empire Red
SMEG 2 Slice Retro Toaster (Matte Black)
Revolution R180B High-Speed Touchscreen Toaster, 2-Slice Smart Toaster with Patented InstaGLO...
GE Stainless Steel Toaster | 2 Slice | Extra Wide Slots for Toasting Bagels, Breads, Waffles & More...
KitchenAid KMT2116ER 2 Slice Slot Toaster with High Lift Lever, Empire Red
SMEG 2 Slice Retro Toaster (Matte Black)
Revolution R180B High-Speed Touchscreen Toaster, 2-Slice Smart Toaster with Patented InstaGLO...
$48.95
Price not available
Price not available
$369.95
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-
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GE Stainless Steel Toaster | 2 Slice | Extra Wide Slots for Toasting Bagels, Breads, Waffles & More...
GE Stainless Steel Toaster | 2 Slice | Extra Wide Slots for Toasting Bagels, Breads, Waffles & More...
$48.95
-
KitchenAid KMT2116ER 2 Slice Slot Toaster with High Lift Lever, Empire Red
KitchenAid KMT2116ER 2 Slice Slot Toaster with High Lift Lever, Empire Red
Price not available
SMEG 2 Slice Retro Toaster (Matte Black)
SMEG 2 Slice Retro Toaster (Matte Black)
Price not available
-
Revolution R180B High-Speed Touchscreen Toaster, 2-Slice Smart Toaster with Patented InstaGLO...
Revolution R180B High-Speed Touchscreen Toaster, 2-Slice Smart Toaster with Patented InstaGLO...
$369.95
-

Additional Q&A:

It depends on your needs. If you toast frequently and want perfectly browned bread and bagels every time, a higher-end toaster like the Smeg or Revolution could be a worthwhile investment. However, for occasional use, a budget-friendly model like the GE often gets the job done.

The Smeg toaster excelled in our bagel tests. It delivered consistently toasted bagels with a perfect golden-brown exterior and a chewy inside. The Revolution toaster also performed well with bagels.

Look for toasters with extra-wide slots. The GE, KitchenAid, and Smeg toasters we tested could all accommodate thicker slices and artisanal bread. The Revolution toaster is also a good option for larger bread types.

Most toasters in our review, including the GE, KitchenAid, Smeg, and Revolution, featured removable crumb trays. Simply slide out the tray, empty the crumbs, and give it a quick wash for hassle-free maintenance.

Generally, yes. Toasters with higher wattage, like the KitchenAid (1200 Watts) and Revolution (1440 Watts), tend to toast faster than lower wattage models like the GE and Smeg (both around 880 Watts).

Get it for – $48.95