What makes a toaster efficient? Read through reviews of popular toasters, and you’ll see that many people seem to care more about the bells and whistles — automatic lowering of bread, pleasant dings when toasting is complete, and the like — than anything else.
But for this list, I focused on three main things: relatively even toasting of bread, ease of use, and potential for long-term use. Hope you find it helpful:
Krups 2-Slice or 4-Slice Toaster
These Krups toasters’ unique efficient feature is its built-in warming rack. As a Slate review points out, “the top of the toaster is slightly concave, so that you can rest rolls or sandwiches on it.”
Toaster Review named Krups 2-Slice Toaster the “Best Toaster Overall” because its many settings give the user a lot of control. Other useful features include a bread lift, a dishwasher-safe crumb tray, and a sleek, partly stainless-steel exterior.
For those with small kitchens though, the toaster’s large size might be a deal breaker: The 2-slice toaster’s 8 x 11 x 7.5 inches and weights 5 pounds, while the 4-slice toaster weighs a hefty 11 pounds. Users also note that this toaster’s slower than some others — and Slate’s reviewer found the control panel too confusing: “It’s not nuclear physics, but I did have to consult the manual.” At Amazon, the Krups 2-Slice Toaster costs $59.99.
KitchenAid KMTT200 2-Slice Toaster
If you usually toast just one slice of bread at a time, this KitchenAid toaster’s your best bet. Because heat radiates from empty toaster slots, a single slice in most toasters will brown more on one side than the other. But the opposite happens with KitchenAid KMTT200, according to Fine Cooking: Single slice toasting delivers perfect results, while two slice toasting yields uneven sides.
I especially like that the KitchenAid toaster comes in an all-stainless steel housing option, though red, blue, and black (above) plastic siding options are also available. Like the Krups, KitchenAid has a bread lift and a dishwasher-safe crumb tray — and is similarly bulky, weighing in at 5 pounds. Get it at Amazon for $69.99.
DeLonghi DTT900 Esclusivo or DTT980 Esclusivo
Love bells and whistles? Go with the DeLonghi Esclusivo (DTT900′s the 2-slice version, DTT980 the 4-slice), a toaster that gets rave reviews for its many cool features. Most notably, the DeLonghi raises and lowers toast automatically, a feature that won Slate’s reviewer over: “If your temperature control has already been set, it’s possible to make toast without ever touching the toaster. It’s magic, I tell you.” The alert chime that signals when toast is ready also had reviewers raving about this machine. And Fine Cooking notes that toast rises well above the slots, rendering a bread lift unnecessary.
However, bells and whistles can break — as some the reviews on Amazon point out — and unique features are tough to fix. And Toaster Review found that the slots, while extra-wide, “still seem inadequate for bigger and longer bagels and rolls.”
Still, I do like the toaster’s rounded edges and sleek design. On a more practical level, the DeLonghi has an efficient crumb tray. The entire bottom of the toaster can be removed to dump out the crumbs. Amazon sells the DTT900 for $79.95.
Last but not least: The most efficient toaster of all may be the toaster you already have. If you’re reading this post because you recently broke your toaster, you might want to save yourself a few bucks and try your hand at fixing it first. Here’s a short guide on eHow for fixing small problems, and a longer guide with a complicated diagram if you really want to get into it. Down with planned obsolescence!