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Toaster Reviews and Buying Guide:

Toasters have been around since the 1920's so by now all manufacturers should have toasting bread and bagels down to a science, right? That's not the case as we found in several reviews in both magazines and online. Since everyone has a different idea of how "brown" or "toasted" their toast should be, it's hard to rate these small kitchen appliances successfully. Even the cheapest of models toast bread just fine, but it's often a matter of finding the right setting and sticking with it. 2 slice toasters sell much better than the 4-slice models (3 to 1) in stores. One big complaint amongst consumers is that many toasters can't toast thicker breads or bagels very well but we found some brands that do this well. Which toaster is right for you? Keep reading below to find out.

One of the first things to decide on is - Will you need a 2 slice or 4-slice toaster in your household? As we mentioned, 2 slice models are the preferred choice simply because they handle our daily needs. These 2-slice toasters come in side by side or one long slot which holds 2 slices. The four-slice toasters are definitely much bigger and take a lot of counter space. Experts say you don't need a 4-slice model unless you have a large family or do Sunday brunch often with other families or friends. Some toaters have a "bagel" setting which lets you toast just one side of the bagel (the cut side). It's easy to pick a finish on your toaster that matches your kitchen decor - they come in stainless steel, chrome, copper, and white plastic. The top brands are Back to Basic, Braun, Proctor-Silex, Cuisinart, KitchenAid, DeLonghi, Hamilton Beach, Sunbeam, and Krups. One of the top sellers on Amazon.com is the Back to Basics TEM500 Egg-and-Muffin 2-Slice Toaster and Egg Poacher ($30) which receives outstanding reviews from owners which should matter much more than what experts have to say. The more expensive DeLonghi Aluminum 2-Slice and Dualit 4-Slice Toaster ($320) get praise for their toasting capabilities, but not everyone needs to spends $100's on a toaster to be happy. We found the best reviews online at Amazon.com in their user comments section and Slate Magazine did a recent review on toasters which was informative as well. Consumer Reports rates toasters but we found the online reviews to be more consistent and reliable. Where should you go to buy a toaster? Sears carries Kenmore, Oster, KitchenAid, Villaware, and Hamilton Beach. Amazon.com pretty much carries the rest if you can't find the model you want in a retail store. Remember that for $20 to $30 you can get a good toaster and that it's not necessary to spend $80+.

Best 2-Slice Toaster:

In todays modern kitchens with stainless steel appliances and modern decor, the Braun HT600 Impressions Toaster ($55) - should fit in nicely and make perfect toast as well. The brushed stainless steel exterior is cool-touch so you don't have to worry about getting burned. This toaster features 1 long, extra wide slot for the bread or bagel meaning you can fit 2 slices in it if you want. There are 7 browning settings for you to fiddle with and find the one that matches your taste. The defrost and reheating functions are nice bonuses. If you just need to reheat things like croissants or rolls, place the warming rack right on top. The removable crumb tray makes for easy cleaning and there is a 1 year warranty. If you want a more traditional two-slice toaster, go with the Back to Basics TEM500 ($30). Both are available at Amazon.com.

Budget 2-Slice Toaster:

The Proctor-Silex 22450 Cool-Touch 2-Slice Toaster ($17) is a solid choice for basic toasting needs. Fits bread or bagels just fine and "even toasting" it what many owners praise it for doing. The cool-touch exterior keeps this small appliance safe around your kids. Toast darkness control settings from 1 to 6 get you the "perfect" toast each time. I have personally owned a Proctor-Silex toaster for about 6 years now and it does the job without burning your toast. I sometimes have to squish down bagels to get them to fit properly, but otherwise the toaster has given me no problems. Available on Amazon.com.

Top Rated 4-Slice Toaster:

Do you have a big family or entertain a lot? Four-slice toasters can come in handy if you have house guests often or just eat a lot of toast. They can save time instead of having everyone wait while the 2 slices finish in the toaster. The KitchenAid KMTT400SS 4-Slice Metal Toaster - Brushed Stainless Steel ($100) is a very popular model on Amazon.com. The 1 1/2 inch wide slots allow for bread and bagels of all sizes. The results are consistent pieces of toast and bagls that are browned to perfection. The bagel and reheat settings are just 2 reasons why consumers can't say enough about this KitchenAid toaster. The crumb tray is not only removable but it's dishwasher safe (easy cleaning). Most buyers were very satisfied with the results they got from the toaster.

Toaster Oven:

Toaster ovens have their uses too so we didn't want to leave this category out of the review. The Krups Six-Slice Digital Convection Toaster Oven ($160) will bake, broil, and toast. The 2 racks give you ample room for cooking things up to 20 1/2 inches wide by 15 inches deep and 10 1/2 inches high. Real Simple rates this unit as the "best" amongst toaster ovens reviews on Amazon definitely support his opinion. The FBC2 from Krups gives you even heating with ranges from 150 to 450 degrees. Has an LCD control panel with digital clock and timer. There is auto shutoff and a cool-touch handle.

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