Crowdstorm's toaster buyer's guide
Welcome to Crowdstorm's guide to buying your perfect toaster. While they may seem like the simplest piece of equipment in the kitchen, when you start comparing the options you soon discover the toaster market is a minefield of prices and features.
That's what we're here for: to give you the lowdown on the basics to look out for, as well as putting all the best toaster options in front of you from all your favourite online and high street retailers.
So whether you’re just looking for a reliable Breville or Russell Hobbs model, or the latest art-deco Smeg or Dualit four-slice masterpiece, we aim to provide you with all the information you'll need to find the best toasters deals for you.
Number of slices
The number of slices is the easiest to understand of all the toaster features, but configuration, space and running costs are easy to overlook. For domestic kitchen toasters this number is between one and six, while catering items will cater for more.
- 1-slice: These toasters (sometimes referred to as a single slice toaster) may seem too limited for some, although in many situations they’re just what you need. Designed primarily for use in places such as guest houses and nursing homes, the one-slice toaster does exactly what you expect it to do while saving space, money and electricity.
- 2-slice: A feature in most family homes, the two-slice toaster is the most popular available and as such it’s where the greatest variety is to be found in terms of design and features. They usually contain two toasting chambers arranged side-by-side, although there is often the option to use only one chamber at a time. It is also possible to get a slim-line, long-slot toaster that can toast two slices end-on-end, although these are rarer and usually come with a designer price tag.
- 4-slice: The four-slice toaster is beaten in the popularity stakes only by its two-sliced sibling. They generally come with either four bread-sized chambers lined up parallel to each other or with two long, thin slots, designed to take two slices each. Sometimes four-slice toasters come with two independent sets of controls, meaning it’s possible to toast your bread in pairs, set to different settings. Four-slice toasters are generally used by larger families, or in small catering situations, such as bed and breakfasts.
If you need to be able to toast more than four pieces of bread at a time, you will need to look at getting yourself a 6-slice toaster. If you require more than 6 slices, you will need to look into getting yourself a catering toaster.
Frozen bread settings
Most people would agree that sliced bread is best thing since, well, sliced bread, however it does have a tendency to go stale rather quickly. For this reason many of us choose to freeze our loaves.
The problem with freezing bread is that it’s not always ready to use when you need it, so many toasters now come with a frozen bread setting (often referred to as a defrost setting) which slowly warms your bread into a usable form, before blasting it at normal toasting temperatures.
Of course, it’s possible to defrost bread in a toaster with no frozen bread setting simply by turning the temperature right down, or there’s always the oven (or microwave, although you’ll tend to lose any crustiness). However using a toaster with the feature build in takes a bit of the guess work out of this exercise and is the best alternative, as it shouldn’t in itself add much to the price.
Adjustable width toasters
With your toaster having to deal with everything from bagels and baguettes to bloomers and batons, many turn to a variable width toaster.
These models come with wider slots to accommodate thicker slices, rolls etc. Inside the slot is a cage which closes around the bread to centre it between the elements.
The downside of an adjustable width toaster is that they tend to be very wide units, so do considering how much kitchen space you have. If you'll only need this feature occasionally and you are stuck for space, there's always the grill for those fat bread moments!
Other common toaster features
- Bagel setting: If you prefer your bread with a hole in the middle and some kind of coating (such as sesame or sunflower seeds), a bagel setting is perfect. When switched on it will only heat one side of the element, so as not to burn the toppings.
- Mid-cycle cancel: While you can push the handle of your toaster up if your toast is done but hasn’t popped, this can affect the life of your toaster by using the spring mechanism in a way it isn’t really meant for. A cancel button gets around this additional wear and tear.
- High lift: A high left (or hi-left, we presume to give it that ‘techy’ feel) toaster lets you lift the toast higher than usual out of the toaster – particularly useful if you tend to cook bread that’s either thin/soft (and so likely to break) or small (such as rolls).
- Reheat function: If you’ve ever cooked a full-English breakfast, you’ll know the hardest part is timing. A reheat mode turns the element down to a lower temperature, ensuring you can warm up your toast to serving temperature without further browning.
- Removable crumb tray: The easiest way to empty out your toaster without covering the entire kitchen in crumbs!
What to do next?
That's the easy part! Once you’ve found the ideal toaster deal from all the offers available here, simply click through to purchase it. You'll find all your favourite UK online and high street retailers to compare, offering all the big as well as budget toaster brands on the market.
When you leave Crowdstorm you'll be taken directly to your retailer of choice's website - right on the product page you need. Remember Crowdstorm is only here to help you compare toasters - we don't take a cut, or directly sell you the product, as we're not a retailer (we make our money through advertising, not from you!).