Toasters just keep getting savvier. These days, many models can toast bagels on the cut side only, reheat toast without further browning, defrost bread, or cancel at the touch of a button. Nice as these extras may be, they’re not what makes a toaster a keeper. What matters most is how well a toaster can toast. After testing 11 of the more cutting-edge models on the market, we found that the best ones were those that could consistently toast bread just the way you like it—whether pale or nearly burnt—in just one cycle.
In our tests, the toasters that met this standard had a full browning spectrum: At the lowest setting, a slice of white bread came out pale yet crisp and warm. At the highest setting, it came out burnt. And in between was that ideal golden slice. If a toaster can’t deliver this range of browning intensities, it’ll have trouble handling different kinds of breads (heat that nearly burns plain white bread is just what a moist English muffin or a dense slice of sourdough needs), and you’ll get stuck toasting your bread for two cycles—or worse, one and a half—and hovering over it to make sure it doesn’t burn. Now, that’s no way to start a morning.
Break in your toaster Most new toasters need to be used a half dozen times or more for the heat elements to adjust and work properly.
Nearly all of the toasters in our tests had their merits, but after toasting loaf after loaf of bread, the five machines shown below stood out as our favorites.