No matter how you slice it-the toaster is a must-have appliance for most kitchens, which is why Consumer Reports tests dozens of models every year.
Testers set each toaster to a medium setting, and they look at how well each toaster makes a single slice and then a full batch.
Testers use an industry-standard chart to help categorize how well each toaster performs. The best toasters match the evenly browned toast on the toast color chart.
Testers also look for good color range with each toaster so that everyone who uses the toaster will be happy with their toast.
Consumer Reports also assesses how long each toaster takes to deliver the goods-the faster, the better!
You also want a toaster that's really easy to use and clean. You don't want any cracks or crevices, and you want to be able to pull out that crumb tray very easily.
Testers even looked at a toaster with a gluten-free bread setting. Gluten-free bread is a bit denser than regular bread, and you might not get the same results in the same setting.
The 30-dollar Bella Pro Series Model 90062 toaster delivered. And it performed Excellent on the standard setting with regular bread, too.
Toasting for a crowd? Consider splurging on the top-rated four-slice toaster-the 100-dollar Breville Bit More Model BTA730XL. It has wide slots for bagels, and if your toast turns out too light, press the "bit more" button and it will toast a little longer.
Consumer Reports tested all of the toasters with precut, packaged bagels. But ... if you're a bagel lover and like a fatter, bakery bagel, be sure to look for a toaster with the widest slots you can find. Some toasters have a bagel setting that toasts on one side only, so you can brown the cut side and keep the other side softer.
Consumer Watch: Toaster Takeover