Whether you prefer sourdough or sliced white, there’s nothing quite like hot buttered toast.
It’s no surprise 91 per cent of British homes own a toaster and any household with more than one toast eater will benefit from investing in a four-slice machine. This kitchen staple can cost anything from £20 to £200, so consider exactly what you need before splashing out.
Nearly all toasters have reheat, cancel and defrost settings but be sure your preferred model will fit different-sized bread if you love larger loaves or adore bagels.
It’s worth checking slots can be controlled individually if everyone in the house likes their toast cooked differently, too.
We tested a range of toasters in our own kitchen, considering speed of cooking, browning levels, how easy each was to clean and even how every toaster looked out on the worktop.
For each, we toasted and munched through sliced white supermarket bread, bagels, crumpets, taller farmhouse slices and even frozen bread to check whether each cooked evenly and how they tasted.
We were looking for a consistent golden colour and toast that was fluffy but cooked throughout with that all-important crunch.
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The best toasters for 2021 are:
- Best overall – Dualit classic four slice newgen toaster: £199.15, Dualit.com
- Best for tall bread – The Funky Appliance Company cream funky toaster: £89.99, Robertdyas.co.uk
- Best budget buy – Wilko red 4 slices toaster: £25, Wilko.com
- Best for speed – Bosch TAT4P440GB DesignLine Stainless Steel Toaster: £59.99, Bosch-home.co.uk
- Best for bagels – Lakeland Stainless Steel 4-Slice Toaster: £49.99, Lakeland.co.uk
- Best for cleaning – Tower Cavaletto 1800W 4 Slice Toaster: £54.99, Towerhousewares.co.uk
- Best for colour co-ordination – Smeg TSF03PBUK Four Slice Toaster: £189.95, Smeguk.com
- Best for crumpets – Salter EK3619GRY Skandi 4 Toaster: £48.99, Freemans.com
- Best for small spaces – Progress EK3394P 4 Slice Toaster: £19.99, Amazon.co.uk
- Best for reheating – Dunelm Elements 4 Slice Black and Copper Toaster: £40, Dunelm.com
- Best for frozen bread – Cuisinart 4 Slice Toaster in Frosted Pearl: £80, Cuisinart.co.uk
Dualit classic four slice newgen toaster
It’s definitely not cheap but this classic, handsome toaster made in West Sussex is built to last. Every part is fully repairable or replaceable while the elements have a patented protective layer that makes them virtually unbreakable and easy to clean. It’s surprisingly speedy too and the toast we made was consistently excellent, moist inside but with a good crisp bite – although taller slices did poke out of the top.
It works a little differently to all others we tested, with a mechanical timer that needs turning to the required toasting time to start cooking. Once the toast is ready, a timer sounds but toast doesn’t pop up automatically. This takes a bit of getting used to but keeps the toast lovely and warm until you’re ready to eat it. Our only quibble is that a second batch of toast added when one is already cooking uses the same timer so needs an extra minute adding once the first is ready.
Two specific features made this our toaster of choice. There’s a dial to turn off the slots not in use, which is great when cooking just one slice. Plus we loved the fact you can pop up bread mid-toasting to check the colour without restarting the timer. It all makes this toaster worth the investment even at this price.
The Funky Appliance Company cream funky toaster
Best for: Tall bread
Rejoice! This toaster’s major selling point might be its hip good looks, but we were more delighted by its 15cm deep chamber, which meant tall slices (and the all-important Warbuton’s Toastie bread) fit perfectly. Toast had a good crunch to it and level three of the six available browning settings gave the perfect colour. Unlike many others we tested, there was also a discernible difference between every browning level so you can guarantee toast exactly as you like it. Be aware there’s no bagel setting though.
Of course, this toaster is a head-turner too with a rounded shape, retro feel and distinctive triangular levers. We especially loved the fact writing is kept to a minimum on the outside so doesn’t spoil the look. However, it’s a little larger than most toasters so could dominate a small worktop. There’s a matching kettle and it comes in cream, rose gold and (our favourite) chrome, so if you want your toaster to be a talking point, this is the one to go for.
Wilko red 4 slices toaster
Best: Budget buy
Bring a pop of colour to your kitchen with this bright, cherry-red toaster, which you’d never guess was such a bargain. The retro machine has a sleek, rounded design with chrome details and we loved the old-school appeal of its dials to adjust browning. The cord storage underneath is handy to tuck excess wire away and keep worktops tidy too.
It has defrost, reheat and cancel buttons, though you may want to give this one a miss if you’re bonkers for bagels as there’s no dedicated setting for cooking them. We also found tall slices of bread didn’t quite fit and needed turning halfway through to ensure both sides were perfectly toasted, but this toaster’s bold colour, great price and smooth curves will still brighten your mornings.
Bosch TAT4P440GB designline stainless steel toaster
Best for: Speed
A robust, no-nonsense machine, this stainless steel and black appliance doesn’t have any extra bells and whistles but delivers top-notch toast in a flash. It would be a dream on a busy morning when every second counts and all the toast we made was deliciously fluffy inside with a good colour.
The reheat and defrost function both worked well although we missed a dedicated bagel setting when ours burnt a little on one side. Our only real gripe? We found crumbs gathered in the rim around the toasting slots and were really difficult to remove, so you might find you need to clean it more often than expected.
Lakeland stainless steel 4-slice toaster
Best for: Bagels
This go-with-everything stainless steel toaster looked great out on the worktop and would work in any kitchen. It’s not too big either so won’t dominate smaller spaces but has everything you’ll need, including a cancel, defrost and excellent bagel setting that worked well to lightly toast the rounded side of ours without burning it. The wide slots were great for crumpets and farmhouse slices of bread too although we would’ve loved a reheat button for those times we don’t realise our toast has popped up and is getting cold (just us?).
There are six browning settings to get toast exactly as you like it. Though, be aware, one set of controls operates all four slots at once, which is annoying if you want a just-toasted slice while someone else prefers toast well-done. We did love the lift and see function though – usually seen on more expensive toasters – to allow you to check the progress of toasting without having to reset the cycle.
Tower cavaletto 1800W 4 slice toaster
Best for: Cleaning
Those who prefer a pristine kitchen will adore this chunky stainless steel toaster as it’s a doddle to keep as good as new. There were no awkward ridges for crumbs to gather, the rose gold levers and dials don’t show fingerprints and the removable crumb trays are really easy to clean.
It comes in four colours including black, pink and grey but we loved the unusual midnight blue we tested that looked extra-chic on the worktop. There are matching accessories including a kettle and storage jars available. It’s a little slow to toast but the six browning settings worked well and never left our toast soggy. Like many, taller slices poke out the top a little but otherwise this is a great choice for standard loaves.
Smeg TSF03PBUK four slice toaster
Best for: Colour co-ordination
A real style statement, this iconic retro toaster has a premium enamelled finish and looked fantastic out in the kitchen. It comes in a range of colours including pink, cream and red but we tested the pastel blue and were smitten by its gorgeous understated colour. It’s possible to get a whole range of items to match too, including an espresso maker, blender and kettle – or even a fridge and range cooker.
We found it was a little slower than we expected but delivered good, crunchy toast every time that was well worth waiting for. There are six browning levels and slots are extra wide, so it coped well with slabs of farmhouse bread while bagels were cooked perfectly on the dedicated setting.
Salter EK3619GRY Skandi 4 toaster
Best for: Crumpets
Strangely strokable, this classy toaster really looks the part with its stainless steel body, soft touch finish and pale wooden handles. It’s lightweight and fairly compact which makes it easy to clean and move around, plus there’s a matching kettle. Slots are quite wide so we found it fit thicker bread in a treat, although taller slices did just peep out the top. It did manage these better than many others we tested though.
There are seven browning levels but we found level four gave toast a nice colour so we didn’t need to touch it. We would have preferred a little more crunch but toast was golden brown right to the corners and crumpets came up a treat. Bonus points for buttons that light up when the toaster’s in use too.
Progress EK3394P 4 slice toaster
Best for: Small spaces
Easily one of the cheapest toasters we tested, we were seriously impressed by the dinky footprint of this basic all-white appliance which would be a godsend if you’re short on worktop space. The cord storage underneath the toaster is handy to keep wire to a minimum too.
It took a little longer to toast than some machines but delivered good, even results and has a defrost, cancel and reheat function, although there’s no setting specifically designed for bagels. The compact design means taller slices of bread don’t fit fully in the toaster – a common problem – and need turning halfway through, so this would be more suited to someone who prefers regular-sized sliced loaves.
Dunelm elements 4 slice black and copper toaster
Best for: Reheating toast
If you’re planning a total kitchen overhaul, this matching range from Dunelm is a good way to get a consistent look without breaking the budget. The sleek black toaster has a matching microwave and kettle which look more expensive than they are thanks to a textured diamond design, solid stainless steel body and chunky copper details. It has illuminated LED controls, variable browning, defrost and cancel functions, though we were less impressed by the bagel setting which left ours a little too pale and not-so-interesting.
Busy households will love the reheat function, which we found particularly good at warming but not burning toast we were too busy to grab straight away. Otherwise, we got the best results with all bread by turning the controls up quite high for decent browning.
Cuisinart 4-slice toaster in frosted pearl
Best for: Frozen bread
Easily one of our favourites, this lovely looking appliance made some of the best tasting toast we tried. Slices were evenly coloured to all four corners and had a delicious crunch. It was quick too, taking around two and a half minutes to deliver the perfect slice and managed slightly taller and thicker bread than many of the other toasters. We did find some thicker items like bagels sometimes got a little stuck on removal though.
We were especially wowed by the defrost setting which is a godsend on busy mornings when you’ve forgotten to take bread from the freezer. This speedily transformed frozen bread to even golden toast that tasted just as good as if it was cooked from fresh. There’s a matching kettle and both come in subtle vintage rose, light pistachio and a timeless frosted pearl. It does show fingerprints quite easily but nothing a quick wipe won’t fix.
Four 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.
Accessories: 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.
Style: 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.
Size: 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
Invest in the sturdy Dualit classic four-slice newgen and you’ll never need to buy another toaster again. If you can’t justify the hefty cost, try the Cuisinart four-slice toaster instead, which has almost as many features for less than half the price, looks good and makes consistently delicious toast.
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