Here's the KitchenAid Artisan toaster – or KitchenAid Pro-Line toaster if you are reading this outside of Europe – review, in a sentence: big toaster, big price, big… toast production skills.
The KitchenAid Artisan toaster is most definitely one of the best toasters you can buy, if what you want is something reassuringly weighty and very striking in appearance – I hesitate to use the word 'attractive' for something that resembles a bus and weighs nearly as much. In the UK, yeast-based spread Marmite is often put on toast, and also serves as a metaphor for things that people either 'love or hate', and that probably applies here.
You'll be pleased to hear it's also one of the best toasters I've tried when it comes to the boring stuff, ie: making toast and doing crumpets, bagels and so forth. It lacks a certain something in comparison to Sage and Dualit's competing premium toasters, but if you are on the 'Love' side of the Artisan toaster looks debate, it may still be just right for you. You can then add the Artisan model from our guide to the best kettles and place them next to your classic KitchenAid stand mixer in a very alluring Insta story.
If you're on the 'Hate' side, you may as well stop reading now and go do something more enjoyable.
KitchenAid Artisan/Pro-Line toaster: price and availability
Just to be clear here, this is the UK/Euro KitchenAid Artisan toaster. In America it's called the KitchenAid Pro-Line toaster. In Australia it's also called that, but there's also an Artisan toaster that is totally different to this one. Thanks KitchenAid!
Pricing is a little on the weighty side for a toaster, but then, it is a weighty toaster, especially the 4-slice version. In the UK the Artisan toaster costs about £200. In the USA the Pro-Line Toaster starts at about $300 and in Australia around AUS$300. Make sure you keep some money in reserve to buy some bread products as well.
KitchenAid Artisan toaster: design and build
One word: LARGE. Another word: heavy. And some more words: available in a range of nice colours, including the iconic Empire Red seen here.
The KitchenAid Artisan takes cues from its classic stand mixer in terms of being self-consciously well built, with a mostly-metal construction and prominent, very obvious buttons and levers. Admittedly, it is very hard to make a toaster that is complicated, but this one could be understood by a Martian within about five minutes.
Luxury touches include the way the bread glides down via a motorised platform, when it detects bread has been inserted, and then pinned between the heating elements. This does mean you need to get both slices (or all four if opting for the larger model) in place at more or less the same time, so no dilly-dallying.
An up-down button on the front then lets you see how your toast is getting on, or put it down for a bit longer if you're not satisfied with its 'done-ness'.
The other buttons cover bagel toasting – ie: on one side only – toasting bread from frozen and, probably the most useful, keeping it warm once toasted, without scorching it to a crisp.
KitchenAid Artisan toaster: toasting performance
The Artisan's wide slots are good for bread of most thicknesses, although a lot of more artisan breads are too long, unless you cut them in half. KitchenAid does also make a long slot toaster, if you favour the longer bread styles.
As with most toasters, you should probably start your first toast batch of the morning with it on a very high setting if you want well-done toast. If you then move straight to doing another batch, slide the temperature control down a little. You soon get the hang of it.
As you would expect/hope, the Artisan toaster browns bread, rolls, crumpets, bagels and more very evenly and fairly quickly – you can't rush good toast. With sliced bread the results are excellent but not really that much better than you'd get with a toaster costing £20. However – again as you might expect – it performs better with more expensive and tasty forms of bread.
The ability to mechanically levitate the bread to see how it is cooking is handy, but it does mean the timer starts again from zero if you put it down again, unlike the Sage and Dualit flagship toasters.
The bagel setting does what it's meant to do, although I have no idea why you would only want to toast a bagel on one side. The frozen bread setting works adequately – you can, of course, toast frozen bread without it, but it's handy to have. The keep warm setting is excellent.
If you buy the optional toasted sandwich cage, you can also use the KitchenAid Artisan to cook, obviously, toasted sandwiches. I haven't tried this, but I suspect it might cause a certain amount of crumb tray grief, as it fills with molten cheese.
KitchenAid Artisan toaster: verdict
I always think of the KitchenAid Artisan toaster as one of the 'Big Three' toasters, alongside Sage Smart Toaster (aka Breville Smart Toaster) and Dualit Newgen. It's my least favourite of the three, but there is no doubt it's an excellent toaster. If you love the look of it, chances are you'll love the way it toasts as well.
Yes, I'm aware you can get toasters that do more or less the same job for a fraction of the price. If you'd rather have a toaster like that, I always recommend Russell Hobbs.
Those seeking something more high-tone, and more resemblant of a London bus should definitely shortlist this KitchenAid Artisan (or Pro-Line!) toaster. Ding ding!