With a new toaster, it’s a good idea to experiment with the first few slices of bread to find a browning setting that’s best suited to your taste. Once you find your favourite setting, a good toaster should be able to reproduce the same result consistently — even if you’re using it to prepare breakfast for a large family.
To find out which model lasted the distance, we painstakingly toasted (and consumed) more than 1000 slices of bread over several weeks. Our testers found that only two models achieved very good scores for browning evenly across both sides of the bread (Breville and Tefal), while most models produced small patches that were over or undercooked around the edges. Morphy Richards and Modern Living came last in our browning test, producing slices that were unevenly toasted.
Interestingly, spending more won’t necessarily guarantee you a better slice of toast — one of the most expensive models didn’t make it into our What to buy list, and cheaper models featured at both ends of our overall ratings.
Overall, Breville topped the chart as an all-round performer — producing evenly-brown toast over repeated toasting cycles. It also scored well in our single slice test — a task that can could be tricky as the toast may absorb extra heat from the empty slot and overcook.
Useful additional settings
All nine toasters offer some pre-programmed settings. Most models, have a reheat setting (except for Sunbeam), a defrost setting for frozen bread (except for Breville) and a few have a bagel (Bellini), or crumpets setting (Breville and Sunbeam) to toast the thicker-baked goods.
Breville and Sunbeam only browned the crumpets slightly, but they were evenly toasted with some additional time. The Bellini's bagel setting is useful as it’s designed to only crisp and brown the surface of the bagel while warming the inside of it.
The reheat setting worked well in the Tefal and Morphy Richards, but for most of the rest only managed to warm the bread through, without restoring the original crispness of a fresh piece of toast. And in the case of Modern Living, the toast was overcooked using the reheat setting.
Collecting the crumbs
Crumb removal is easier with toasters that have wider slots at the bottom of toasting chambers — a feature that prevents dirt from getting trapped. You should also look for crumb trays that are easy to pull out and insert, which can be tested at the shop before you buy.
The toasters with the best crumb-removal design were Breville, Modern Living and Russell Hobbs, as their crumb trays can be easily pulled out easily and emptied. The Tefal rated poorly on crumb removal because it has a small opening at the bottom of the toasting chamber. Its angled opening also means that stray crumbs are likely to become caught inside, even when the toaster is turned over and shaken.
It’s important to clear your toasters of crumbs quite regularly so they don't become stuck to the bottom of the toasting chamber over time and and also to avoid attracting insects. Emptying the tray alone is often insufficient. All of the models tested would require a good upside-down shake for a thorough clean. On the other hand, cleaning the exterior of the toasters is much simpler, as most only require a quick wipe using a clean sponge.