Editor's Note: Products featured on Wide Open Eats are independently selected by our editors. However, when you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.
Toasters are a traditional kitchen countertop appliance that you may not find yourself thinking about too often. At least, not until you've found yourself one morning with a blackened piece of crusty bread in one hand, and the dashed hopes of a delicious breakfast in the other. There goes the idea of your perfectly browned everything bagel, floating away with the smoke that's now belching up from the wiry steel depths of an ineffective device. If it's time to replace your toaster, you've come to the right place.
While there is an overabundance of these appliances on the market, there are only a few things that separate the best toaster models from those that might leave you high and very (very) dry. So, the first thing you have to decide when looking to buy a new toaster is whether or not it is the function or fashion that is driving your choices. The toasters with the most bells and whistles can offer you upgraded features, but they may also come in an appearance that disrupts your design. Fortunately, just because a toaster has a certain aesthetic doesn't mean that it is lacking in utility. These days, even the most curated toaster can have some truly useful aspects. After considering the type of toaster you want, the next things to think about are practical traits. The wattage power is important, as this will determine how fast your toaster does its job. Then, you'll want to check the accessibility of the crumb tray, which will determine how easy your toaster is to clean. Are the slots wide enough to fit extra-large bread, Texas toast, or bagels -- or will you burn yourself trying to shove them in and out of a space where they don't fit? This can seem like a lot to ponder for one simple appliance, which is why we've covered some ground for you.
1. The Best Space-Saving Toaster
- Extra wide (or long) 9.96'' X 1.65'' slot
- 1000 watt heating system
- Reheat and defrost functions
When you are battling for limited space on your countertop, the KEITAN single slot is a good ally to have. The wattage of the heating system isn't the best on the market, but it's solid and reliable. Similarly, while this toaster doesn't have a wildly impressive array of settings, it will get the job done. Rather than being a boxy shape like more conventional models, the biggest benefit to this toast is that it won't take up a lot of space on your counter, depending on how you orient it. If your checklist consists of 1) takes up little space 2) does the job reasonably well, this is the best option for you.
2. A Fast-Working Toaster With a Unique Feature
- 10" wide slot
- 1400 watt heating
- 7 variable toast settings
Some mornings, you wake up, and it's hard enough to drop bread into an appliance, let alone pull together utensils, toppings, and a plate to put it all on. Then you have to fish out your toast when the lever fails to pop, and it's more of a hassle than going hungry would be. On those days, you'll be thankful you let the West Bend QuikServe take care of you. This toaster promises to have your food cooked in 90 seconds or less, and rather than pushing it back up through the top, your browned bread will automatically drop down through a chute onto a removable serving tray, which is also a machine-washable crumb tray. Maybe best of all is that this toast purports to serve gluten-free users the best, offering a setting that toasts longer at low heat, which is ideal for gluten-free bread.
3. The Most Customizable Option
- 1½" wide slot
- 1800 watt heating system
- 5 toast options with 7 brown settings for 35 total settings
Cuisinart is widely known as a premium producer of kitchen appliances, and the Custom Select toaster is no different. If you like to have your sourdough, English muffins, bagels, or waffles toasted in a very specific way, this is the model for you. Along with the high variability of toast settings and temperatures, this model has a high-lift carriage and an easily removable crumb tray. No burnt fingertips, no blazing bread pieces, just easy cleaning and highly retrievable toast. Plus, a contemporary design proves that operation doesn't have to translate to an unpleasant appearance.
4. The Best Toaster With Long Slots
- 1½" wide slot
- 1300 watt heating
- Collapsible warming rack
If you toast a lot of longer pieces of bread like homemade sourdough, bagels, and other oddly-shaped breads, the Elite Gourmet Long Slot is your pick. Along with the extra-wide slot capable of welcoming even the bulkiest bagels, this toaster comes with a pop-up warming rack: it's ideal for heating muffins, croissants, tarts, danishes, or any other morning pastry that wouldn't otherwise fit within your machine. The Elite Gourmet fits four slices, toasts on six settings, and will certainly provide some bang for your buck.
5. The Most High-Tech Toaster for Your Smart Home
- 1" wide slot
- 1500 watt heating
- 5 food settings, 3 toasting modes, and 7 browning levels
The Revolution InstaGLO is the style for those who want their kitchen to feel like Smart House. The bright touchscreen comes in full color, presenting an uncomplicated display that is easy to use -- and when you aren't toasting bread, you can choose between a digital or analog clock face for your countertop. Revolution's InstaGLO has a stainless steel body crafted in smooth curves and loaded with features such as an auto-lift for your toast, and a countdown clock to time your food. You may find this techy-toaster at other retailers, but Bed Bath & Beyond offers the best price on the market.
6. The Luxury Pick That's As Gorgeous As It Is Functional
- 1¼" wide slot
- 950 watt heating
- Attractive design
Smeg is Italian-based but replicates the feeling of gorgeous, high-quality vintage appliances. The operating qualities of this toaster are pretty standard: it has two extra-wide slots, a backlit chrome knob that controls four primary functions, and self-centering racks that keep an even browning for your bready goods. Smeg will certainly play the role you need it to in the kitchen, but this device's biggest selling point is the sleek, mid-century design.