10 best 4 slice toasters: Make breakfast quick and easy

Make feeding the family in the morning a breeze with these time-efficient machines 

Kate Hilpern
Thursday 07 May 2020 12:30
It's all about how well it browns your bread and the golden finish to crumpets and bagels
It's all about how well it browns your bread and the golden finish to crumpets and bagels

There are more benefits to getting a four-slice toaster than the fact that they produce larger quantities of toast ready for your marmite or marmalade.

For one thing, they tend to be more stable. And for another, they often allow you to use each pair separately – so you can save energy by using it as a two-slice toaster or operate them with different browning levels if, for instance, one of you wants sourdough toast and the other a crumpet.

Look out for a toaster with a slot size that works for your bread – if you make your own large loaves, for instance, you’ll want a toaster that doesn’t leave the top poking out.

Look for at least 1800W – anything less could leave you with chewy bread that lacks crunch. Controls should be easy to use and the machine shouldn’t show up every fingerprint.

All four-slice toasters tend to come with buttons for cancel, reheat and defrost, plus a removable crumb tray. And some come with features such as keep warm, “a little longer”, quick look, high lift, countdown timer, variable width slots, bagel setting, bun warmer and sandwich toasting cage.

We tested all features of the toasters we tried, as well as marking them for how fast they produced toast, the evenness of the browning and ultimately the taste. Crisp on the outside and fluffy within with a lovely golden hue got top marks, while those that produced uncooked streaks and lack of crunch got tossed aside.

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Haden salcombe toaster

A firm favourite, this is easy to use, fits every shaped slice – even taller and thicker ones – and browns bread quickly and faultlessly, producing toast that would pass muster at even the swankiest hotels.

It looks good too – whether in black with copper trim or (our favourite) teal blue, both of which have a matching kettle available. Besides all the usual features, there’s a lift-and-look function and extra-lift for smaller breads like crumpets and it does a good job with muffins and bagels too. At just two-and-a-half minutes it’s also quick.

Morphy Richards vector toaster

Available in black, red, cream or white (with matching kettles available), this modern-looking toaster won’t be your first choice for different sized breads as it doesn’t like tall slices and lacks an extra lever lift for the likes of crumpets.

But for bog-standard supermarket loaves and thicker slices, we found the level four setting (out of seven browning options) was spot on, producing picture-perfect toast that tastes terrific. Be warned it’s a bit on the slow side, though, and crumbs can gather in hidden nooks and crannies, but nothing that a damp cloth can’t sort out.

Russell Hobbs inspire toaster

We love the ripple finish on this striking toaster, which comes in a variety of colours and with brass accents on the newest models. For average-sized slices, you won’t have any complaints – it’s easy to work and gives a nice even golden hue across both sides and to all four corners even after it’s been in use for several rounds of toast.

We like the fact that the buttons glow when in use too. But it’s definitely not your best bet for taller slices which don’t quite fit in. And it’s on the slow side. A matching kettle is available.

Breville lustra toaster

This smart grey toaster (which also comes in cream or red) has a whopping nine settings – great for precision browning, and we like the extra lift for smaller items and lift-and-look feature for checking if your toast may have already reached its peak mid-browning.

It’s fast, at two-and-a-half minutes, and thick slices pose no problem, although – as with so many toasters – tall ones do. You can work the pairs of slots independently and the crumb tray works a treat, but fingermarks can show up on the casing. There’s a matching kettle, although it’s not great.

Tefal loft toaster

Whether it’s marmalade or marmite that takes your fancy, you won’t be disappointed spreading it on toast that comes out of this machine – not an uncooked or burnt patch in sight. Available in white, red, black or blue with rose gold trim (and kettles to match), it has four slots with two separate leavers (although be warned, they’re controlled by the same browning dial so no good if one of you wants a crumpet and the other bread).

The controls are easy to use and light up when selected, while the high-lift helps with crumpets. It’s easy to clean, with smooth-action crumb tray removal. But it’s no good for taller slices.

Dualit domus 46600 4-slice toaster

Like the other primo Dualit toaster reviewed here, this one has an impressive nine browning levels. Along with all the usual settings, there’s also an extra lift for smaller breads and “peek and pop” to check on progress.

With the exception of tall bread which pops out of the top (a common problem), it gets good results for all shapes and sizes – including thick and thin slices, along with crumpets through to bagels. It’s fast, but really heavy and not quite as easy to clean as other toasters. And it’s expensive. A matching kettle available in the same colour range – black, white, grey or porcelain.

Smeg 4-slice 2-slot toaster

We adore the pastel colour options – green, pink and blue – plus there’s black, white, cream, red and chrome. Brownie points too for the two-slot design, which is both space saving and makes tall slices a doddle as you just can pop them in sideways.

It can also handle thicker slices including crumpets and bagels with ease and you can buy a sandwich cage for toasties and a bun warmer for pastries and croissants. It’s easy to use, with an easily removable and cleanable crumb tray, but it’s quite slow – not much cop if you’re always running late in the mornings. And it doesn’t come cheap. Matching kettles available.

Beko cosmpolitis toaster

Joy of joys, this retro look toaster fits taller slices of bread without leaving an uncooked streak across the top – surprisingly unusual in the world of toasters. Available in white, black or blue (with matching kettles in the same colours), each pair of slots can be used independently and it’s easy to set the browning level – we’d recommend using the highest one, though, to get a decent browning. It’s easy to keep clean, but it’s quite slow and you might wind up with one side slightly more toasted than the other.

Sage a bit more 4 slice toaster

For an all-singing-all-dancing urban-look toaster, this is a worthy buy. Everything works like a dream, from the sliding control for the five levels of browning to the countdown to pop-up time, with an adjustable-volume bleep to tell you it’s ready.

It fits all slices, including thick and tall, and the frozen setting works particularly well. Whizzy features include a high-lift eject to check on toast mid-cycle and the “a bit more” button if your toast isn’t quite brown enough. For crumpets, fruit loaf and bagels, you can set it to give extra heat to reach the inside without burning the outside. But it’s pricey.

Dualit 4 slice vario classic 40352

From one of the most famous names in the industry, this timeless, durable and beautifully engineered stainless steel toaster is one of the quickest we tried, in just over two minutes (even from frozen, it’s only two-and-a-half) and gives even results.

It has extra-wide slots, which can all be used independently and there’s a mechanical countdown timer and manual eject so you can take a sneaky peak at any time. All parts are replaceable, which helps justify the steep price tag, and you can get a warming rack and sandwich cage as extras. But it can get a bit hot and it’s tricky to retrieve crumpets and bagels.

4 slice toasters FAQs

What features should you look out for when buying a toaster?

Number of settings:
The greater the number of settings (the standard is six), the more control you’ll have over perfecting the browning on your favourite breads.

Some higher-end toasters come with a metal rack that sits on top to warm the likes of rolls, pancakes and croissants, while a few have a sandwich rack that compresses your sandwich, with a solid bottom to stop contents spilling out inside your toaster.

Digital display:
By no means essential, but a nice-to-have feature is a digital display that gives you an easy-to-see countdown timer so you can get the rest of your brekkie ready at exactly the same time that your toast pops up.

Ease of cleaning:
Many toasters show up every fingerprint, while others make a messy job of removing the crumb tray, which you should regularly clean out. Make sure your toaster can be wiped clean and has an easy-access tray.

Four-slice toasters are available in just about every style (and colour) you can think of from uber-modern glass to rustic, country kitchen style. Many are available with matching kettles, and sometimes other small kitchen appliances too.

Some four-slice toasters are much bigger and bulkier than others, so always check this against the amount of free space you have on your worktop. One space saving idea is to go for a toaster with two long slots, fitting two pieces of bread each, as opposed to four separate ones.

The verdict: 4 slice toasters

We don’t think you can go wrong with the Haden Salcombe Toaster, which has plenty of extras and is hard to fault – and all for under 50 quid. For something even whizzier (although it comes at a price), check out Sage’s A Bit More Toaster – we like the urban look too.

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