Toaster Buying Guide
The most expensive 4-slice toaster that research uncovered, albeit a restaurant model, has a list price of 1462 US Dollars (USD), but can be purchased for 860 USD on the Internet. You can also get a two-slice toaster for as little as 10 USD. What you want in a toaster, and the quality of the item can make a large difference in price, so even for this simple appliance, it’s well worth thinking through your purchase before you make it.
Basic Toaster Functionality
One of the main complaints about toasters in reviews is that they don’t toast evenly. Since this is the basic function, it might not occur to you to question this, but it comes up often. Other problems are toast catching on fire, flying across the room, getting stuck, and the mechanism that allows the toaster to temporarily lock in the toast position to fail. No matter what range of features you want in a toaster, correct functioning in these areas should be givens.
Beyond that, elements to pay attention to besides cost include:
- • the number of slots, depending on number of people to serve and service style in the household (do-it-yourself vs. sit-down meal)
• the width and depth of the slots
• the type and amount of control the user has
• the presence of a bread lift
• a slide-out rather than a hinged crumb tray for ease of cleaning
• extra functions such as defrost, heat, cancel, and bagel
• temperature regulation both in the slot and for the exterior casing
• cord storage
• automatic shut-off for stuck items
• Breakfast Sandwich Toaster: This type of toaster offers three ways to cook an egg — boiling, poaching, and steam-scrambling — while also toasting bread, an English muffin, a croissant, etc., and warming a slice of ham or sausage that has been pre-cooked. All operations can be set to complete at the same time and be fashioned into a homemade breakfast sandwich.
• Sandwich Toaster: Some toasters have an accessory called a sandwich cage which allows you to place an entire sandwich within one slot, with the cage holding all the layers in place while it toasts.
• Six-slice Toaster: For the large household, this toaster lets you choose whether to run two, four, or six slots at a time, and includes a “keep-warm” feature.
Toaster as Part of the Kitchen Ensemble
Many toasters are either black or white plastic, stainless steel, or a combination. Today, one can also find a wide assortment of color toasters, including many with a combination of red and stainless steel, and even toasters in blue and yellow and “apple green.” At least one model has glass walls, so you can watch your toast cook.
There are also toasters that are design conscious in a variety of ways. For appealing to the younger members of the household, the Mickey Mouse toaster, for example, features a picture of Mickey Mouse (and plays the Mickey Mouse Club March when the toast pops). Toasters are also available adorned with Hello Kitty and Winnie the Pooh.
Beyond color, there is toaster style. There are toasters made by many of the major kitchen appliance makers, so that if you have other appliances in your kitchen, you can choose your toaster to match. Cuisenart, Oster, Salton, Farberware, Kitchenaid, Hamilton Beach, Krups, Proctor-Silex, and Viking —as well as other brands — are available.
If it’s neither color nor manufacturer you’re looking for, you can focus on style more purely. This might lead you to consider the fairly wide offering of retro style toasters. Or you could buy the toaster that fits your practical needs and use a bought or made toaster cover to tie it into your kitchen décor.
Written by Mary Elizabeth