Best toaster 2020: brown your bread and crisp your crumpets | T3

Best toaster 2020: brown your bread and crisp your crumpets

Be the toast of the town or a tasty bit of crumpet with this lavish spread of bread broilers for all budgets

Best toaster
(Image credit: Dualit)

No kitchen should be without the best toaster you can get, and they are available at a bewildering array of prices, from about a tenner for a Tesco own-brand special to over 100 for multi-slot Dualit and Kitchenaid models. You could wait till Amazon Prime Day but wouldn't you rather have some toast now? Mmm, toast.

We are going to go ahead and assume you're in the market for something techy and high-end. However there are more affordable – but still stylish and effective – toasters in the list. They're for if you're on a budget, tight, or simply not that bothered about toast.

For its blend of timeless design, renowned efficacy and longevity, we've gone for the Dualit NewGen. However, if you're after something much cheaper, Russell Hobbs' Legacy toaster does much the same job, for a quarter of the price. But it's not as nice, though. Those who favour oddly shaped, artisan loaves should look at the Graef Long Slot, because it can take pretty much any size or shape of slice.

Here's what you need to complete your kitchen and/or your breakfast.

How to buy the best toaster

Is it worth paying extra for a toaster? We reckon so, but then we love toast and we love cool-looking kitchen tech. Pay more and you get something that looks nicer, and should consistently make better toast, first time, thanks to greater controllability.

It should also last longer – Dualit's best toasters are made so that every part can be serviced or replaced, so theoretically, they'll last forever. Often, more premium toasters will make the toast quicker, although not always. In fact, because toasting is a process of both cooking and drying, sometimes it pays to wait a little longer if you want perfect crispiness.

The most important thing is that the best toasters should toast uniformly – both in terms of browning all of both sides of the bread to the same degree, and also in the sense that each batch of toast comes out the same as the last, without needing to fiddle with the timer setting. Cheaper toasters will usually produce a first batch that is less cooked than subsequent ones, as it's starting 'from cold'.

There are some other handy features that you only tend to find on pricier/better toasters. 

• Bagel/crumpet settings, for those who like their bread snacks toasted on one side only. I've never understood this, but someone obviously must like their bagels and crumpets raw on one side.

• 'Keep warm' functions, for those who don't immediately polish off their toast,  but still want it warm when they return to it later.

• A defrost setting for toasting from frozen. You find this on all but the very cheapest toasters these days. Again, I ask myself, who the hell toasts bread from frozen? But each to their own.

• Toasted sandwich making. This isn't so much a setting as an accessory – a metal basket with a handle that you strap your bread and fillings into before placing it in a toaster slot. You can buy these for classy models from Dualit, KitchenAid and the like.

Anyway, these are my favourite toasters, in order of preference, taking into account cost-to-quality ratios. Raise a toast to the toasters today!

Our pick of the best toasters for you 

T3 Awards 2020

1. Dualit Newgen

Raise a toast to the best toaster a person can get

Specifications
Number of slots: 4
Power: 2200W
Heat settings: 1
Other settings: 1 2 3 or 4 slices, Variable browning, Frozen bread and Bagel/Tea Cake
Dimensions: 22 x 36 x 21cm
Reasons to buy
+Designed for heavy-duty use+5 year guarantee+Plenty of control
Reasons to avoid
-Expensive for the home

A pure, timeless, kitchen tech classic to sit alongside your KitchenAid stand mixer, this takes Dualit's commercial kitchen heritage and tidies it up for your kitchen. Browning and consistency are exemplary, and every part is replaceable and serviceable so in theory at least, the Newgen should last forever. 

The exterior does get kinda hot, a long-standing criticism of Dualits, so do be a little careful. It's actually hard not to be careful around the Dualit NewGen as it comes with all sorts of alarming warnings, such as 'unplug after use: fire hazard' and dire warnings of what will happen if you place it below cupboards that are not high enough up the wall. Well, better safe than sorry, we guess.

This looks and feels premium in every way, and once you get used to how thoroughly and quickly it toasts – and master the very old-school clockwork timer – it's a joy to use. The toasting slots are deep and wide, while the manual eject mechanism is cunningly designed so even smaller pieces of toast are pushed up and out once done. Because of the way the Dualit is designed you can pop up your toast at any time without turning off the heating elements – and then pop it back down if it's not done. Once it is done, you or the timer turns off the elements, but that leaves enough residual heat that you can leave toast to stay warm in the slots.

The NewGen produces toast rapidly, with supremely uniform toasting. The defrost and bagel settings work extremely well. There are also neat touches like the slot selector, which means only the slots you are actually using heat up – particularly handy on the 4-slice. 

There's a choice of 2- or 4-slice models in five colours, or purest, purist stainless steel. Obviously, you can buy far cheaper toasters that do almost much the same thing – in fact, there's loads of them in this very list. However, you can say the same thing about a Rolex, can't you?

Best toasters: Sage Smart Toaster

(Image credit: Sage)

2. Sage Smart Toaster

Superb toast, at speed

Specifications
Number of slots: 4
Power: 1900W
Heat settings: 5
Other settings: quick look, 'a bit more', crumpet/fruit loaf, frozen
Dimensions: 19.7 x W29 x D27.8 cm
Reasons to buy
+Some clever settings+Progress indicator+Audible alert
Reasons to avoid
-No warming function

Available in two and four-slot guises, this makes superb toast, at speed, without requiring a hulking, great body like the KitchenAid toasters. The slots are mechanised, the options plentiful (for a toaster) and the whole look is pretty nice.

The buttons are totally idiot-proof, without being patronising. They're clearly marked 'Quick Look' (lets you check up on your toast without cancelling the toasting process), 'A Bit More' (gives the finished toast a minute more, should you feel it's not quite perfect), and then there's buttons for frozen bread and 'Crumpets', which means it only cooks one side. 

The toasting slots are wide and deep enough for all but the chunkiest doorstops, while a stylishly illuminated countdown timer under the time setting slider lets you know how long till your toast is ready.

Best toaster: John Lewis & Partners Simplicity 2-Slice Toaster

3. John Lewis & Partners Simplicity 2-Slice Toaster

Best cheap toaster

Specifications
Number of slots: 2
Power: 900W
Heat settings: 7
Other settings: defrost, reheat and warming function
Dimensions: 19.86 x 30.11 x 16.56cm
Reasons to buy
+Super simple to use+Countdown timer+Removable crumb tray
Reasons to avoid
-Some might say it’s a tad plain

We’ve taken a shine to the minimalist design of the John Lewis & Partners Simplicity 2-Slice Toaster. However, as toasters go it’s pretty good too, just as long as you’re after two slots instead of four.

Using the toaster couldn’t be more straightforward as thanks to the no-frills styling you’ll find little in the way of controls to master. You can vary the browning of your bread, or defrost and reheat slices too, but that’s about it. An illuminated on/off LED makes toasting tasks even easier.

Crumbs can be dispatched thanks to the removable crumb tray while the 900W power rating is fine for everyday toasting activities. Oh, and a minor flurry of excitement is provided by the countdown LED indicators that tell you how long you’ve got left before your crispy slices pop up. Cool.

4. Russell Hobbs Legacy

Classic styling, modern features

Specifications
Number of slots: 2
Power: 1300W
Heat settings: 3
Other settings: bagels and buns, frozen
Dimensions: 30.5 x 21.2 x 26.4 cm
Reasons to buy
+Fast toast+Very powerful+Various colours
Reasons to avoid
-Rather large

Cheap, cheerful, makes four slices of all-but-perfect toast. What more could one ask? 

Russell Hobbs' (they were two people, you know) Legacy promises a "48 percent faster" toasting capability means that you don't have to wait around as long for your bread to toast. It's ideal if you're in a hurry in the morning or need to make several slices. 

If you're not after a 'premium' kind of device, this does the job well and it certainly doesn't look bad at all. As on pricier models there are buttons for frozen bread and bagels, the latter of which you will of course never ever use.

It also has wider slots which are great for toasting thicker slices of bread.

5. Graef Long Slot Toaster

Looooooooong for artisan bread

Specifications
Number of slots: 4
Power: 1380W
Other settings: cool wall, bun attachment
Dimensions: 38 x 11.6 x 19cm
Reasons to buy
+Long slot, as you can probably guess+Bun attachment
Reasons to avoid
-An expensive choice-Not great bun/croissant results

This oft-overlooked classic of the toaster world looks absolutely fantastic, with a fantastiche, mid-20th century Braun/Dieter Rams modernist look that can only be described as 'very, very German indeed'. 

It also makes fantastic toast, including from frozen, and isn't wildly pricey, at least compared to some of its rivals here.

The long, wide single slot (or double on the 4-slice) mean you can put in bread of just about any length and breadth - a godsend with artisan loaves, though admittedly less essential if you favour Warburtons. 

A word of warning: the Graef is unusually slow, but then that is probably why it creates such perfect, uniform toast. German meticulousness and attention to detail win out, once more.

The 4-slice version also comes with a rack for toasting 'buns and croissants'. We found it almost entirely useless for those tasks, but it does look nice.

6. Smeg TSF01

Plenty of smart features (and smart colours)

Specifications
Number of slots: 2
Power: 950W
Heat settings: 6
Other settings: crumpet/fruit loaf, frozen
Dimensions: 19.8 x 31 x 19.5cm
Reasons to buy
+Warming function+Choice of colours+Integrated cable storage
Reasons to avoid
-Not everybody wants retro

A highly attractive design that, unlike some Smeg products, should sit well in any kitchen. 

Non-slip feet make the toaster stable on any kitchen surface and a removable crumb tray makes cleaning quick and simple. 

In a choice of five candy colours, or hard unyielding black, the Smeg TSF01 makes impeccable toast, with the usual 'premium' gamut of buttons for frozen bread and bagels/crumpets which, in the planet toaster manufacturers come from, are seemingly only to be toasted on one side. Automatically centering racks ensure your bread gets evenly browned on each side.

The slots are pleasingly wide, too, while there's also integrated cable storage. 

7. Breville Strata

'Lift and look' to prevent burning

Specifications
Number of slots: 4
Power: 1650W
Other settings: lift and look, reheat, frozen
Dimensions: 20 x W32 x D27.5 cm
Reasons to buy
+Super powerful+Warming function
Reasons to avoid
-No bagel function

The best value four-slot toaster I can find, this is actually very attractive from a distance, although naturally the build quality, when viewed at close quarters, is not as Panzer-like as your Dualits or your Sages.

Anxious toasters can 'lift and look' to view the progress of cooking without having to terminate it, the slots are exemplary in both length and girth, and the toast that eventually pops out is undeniably even and toast-like.

The slots are divided in two, with different controls for each, and there's the obligatory, if pointless, cook-from-frozen and 'bagel' buttons, plus the marginally more useful 'keep warm' function. Textbook.

8. KitchenAid Artisan Toaster

Plenty of features and a lot of control

Specifications
Number of slots: 2 (4 slice also available)
Power: 1250W
Settings: shade settings, LED countdown, bagel and sandwich features, auto-lift
Dimensions: 22.5 x W18 x D33cm
Reasons to buy
+Ultra-fine control+Auto lower and lift
Reasons to avoid
-Costly-The four-slice is huge 

Narrowly winning the battle to be the most insanely expensive toaster you can buy, this Artisan comes in a choice of seven colours on the 2-slice version, including the on-trend pistachio seen here and a ridiculously black shade of 'cast iron' black. 

Now, this is probably the best toaster we've ever used, and a hefty, hefty thing. It's got mechanised toast lowering and raising, the option to add an extra 30-seconds of cooking time if not quite done, the best "keep warm" function we've used, plus the usual, inexplicable bagel and cook-straight-from-the-freezer buttons.

It makes excellent toast. Is it excellent enough to justify the price difference over the Russell Hobbs, let alone the Dualit or Sage? 

NB: the 4-slice version only comes in red or grey and costs north of £260. And while the 2-slice resembles a London bus, the 4-slice is about the size of one.

9. Dualit Architect

A more contemporary Dualit toaster

Specifications
Number of slots: 2
Power: 1200W
Heat settings: 8
Other settings: 'peek and pop', warming, frozen bread and bagel/bun
Dimensions: 20.5 x W27.8 x D29.3cm
Reasons to buy
+Mix and match with your kitchen decor+Extra wide slots
Reasons to avoid
-Not everyone will like the design

From the cheaper end of the Dualit range, although hardly coming from the bargain bucket, this toaster looks cool, but in a more self-consciously modern way than your classic Dualit. Again there are two- and four-slot versions, with extra-wide bread cavities for chunky slices of toast. A 'peek-and-pop' function lets you see how your toast is doing without actually ending the cooking cycle. Interchangeable plates let you customise the look to suit your tastes. 

It feels weirdly insubstantial, especially compared to its more expensive stable mates, but it makes solid toast, and has a way more contemporary look.

Morphy Richards Equip

10. Morphy Richards Equip 222055 2

Simple but effective toasting

Specifications
Number of slots: 2
Power: 850W
Heat settings: 5
Other settings: Variable browning, Variable thickness, Reheat, Defrost
Dimensions: 18.7 x 16.5 x 26cm
Reasons to buy
+Stainless steel finish+Chunky controls+Slide-out crumb tray
Reasons to avoid
-Stainless finish does show fingerprints

If you’re a fan of fat toast, or big hunks of bread that give many toasters a hard time then the Morphy Richards Equip 222055 2 – great name! – is a good bet. This two-slice offering has wide slots, so it can handle fat bread with aplomb.

Externally, the toaster is dominated by brushed stainless steel, which looks great out of the box, though does show fingerprints over time. Nevertheless, once you’re past the styling the high lift feature is a real boon for extricating hot toast without burning your fingertips.

What we really like about this toaster though are the chunky and undeniably easy to use controls. A big old toasting level dial and bulky buttons for the likes of Reheat and Defrost functions make it a treat for those bleary-eyed breakfast duties.