The 10 Best 4-Slice Toasters
10. Proctor Silex 24201
9. Hamilton Beach Cool Touch
8. Hamilton Beach Long Slot
7. Krups Breakfast Set
6. Cuisinart CPT-180
5. Oxo Lever-Free
4. West Bend TEM4500W
3. Dualit NewGen
2. Russell Hobbs Retro
1. Breville Smart
A Four Slice Toaster: The Appliance You Didn't Know You Were Missing
This might come as something of a surprise, but the average toaster requires at least three and a half minutes to toast a decent slice of bread. In fact, a group of scientists even conducted a study testing thousands of slices of toast made in dozens of toasters and concluded that, based on an array of metrics including everything from golden-brown color to external crunch and internal softness, the ideal slice of toast cooks in a toaster for exactly 216 seconds.
That's the better part of four minutes, meaning that if you would like to serve two people two slices of toast each, you will have to wait around for no fewer than seven minutes and 12 seconds for all four pieces of bread to be ready. That is, assuming you are using a standard two slice toaster. With a good four slice toaster, on the other hand, your breakfast platter or club sandwich lunch will be ready twice as fast.
One important to thing to keep in mind is that four slice toasters are never twice as expensive as two slice options; in fact, on average they are only about 30 percent higher in cost. Most two slice toasters operate at an average power consumption of around 1,200 watts. While a four slice model certainly uses more power, it does not use twice as much energy as its smaller counterpart. So, ultimately, preparing four slices of toast (or four waffles or two sliced bagels) at once is not only more efficient in terms of time saved, but also in reduced energy consumption and operating cost — that's good for the planet and for your bank account, too.
Once you are convinced that a toaster with four slots is the right appliance for your household, it's time to choose the right device. In most cases, there's little need for a toaster at the very top end of the price range, but if you regularly prepare bagels, waffles, toasted tarts, and bread, buying at least a midrange toaster is generally advised. Any decent toaster will have a dial to control its heating time and a removable tray for cleaning fallen crumbs from the unit. Also, look for features such as pre-set bagel or frozen food programs that will remove much of the guesswork from the toasting process.
Ultimately, you will likely find several toasters with similar functions in similar price brackets. If your toaster will usually live on the kitchen counter, then it's easy to justify spending extra cash for an appliance that looks handsome. A unit with a brushed stainless steel exterior is always a fine choice. For the toaster that will spend most of the time in a drawer or cabinet, looks are an afterthought; find the unit with the right features and the lowest cost.
Toaster Safety 101
Under normal conditions, using a toaster is a safe and simple affair. But as logic would dictate, any appliance that uses copious amounts of electricity and produces a high volume of heat can indeed be a safety hazard. So, take a few simple precautions to ensure that your toaster helps you make plenty of warm, tasty bagels and breads and never presents a danger to your home, friends, and family.
The first step to toaster safety is also the simplest: when you are not actively using your toaster, it should always be unplugged. This removes the possibility for the appliance to be accidentally activated, possibly while in close proximity to flammable materials like paper towels or cereal boxes, and it removes the chance of electric shock or an electrical fire. Also, be sure to move any and all potentially flammable materials away from your toaster before activating it. This includes napkins, wooden knife blocks and cutting boards, and other common kitchen items.
In the rare instance that a toaster does produce a fire, it's a wise idea to have a fire extinguisher on hand.. (Of course it's wise to have an extinguisher in any kitchen in general.)
Never try to clear a jam or clean out a toaster that is plugged into the wall, and always give a toaster at least four or five minutes after it has been disconnected from its power source before you attempt to service or clean it. A toaster can deliver a severe shock if its internal components are touched while it is plugged in, and lingering heat can cause an injury even well after the device was last used.
A Brief History Of Toasting Bread
Human beings have been baking and enjoying bread for tens of thousands of years. Heating prepared bread further, until it takes on a pleasant, toasted character is likewise not a recent development, with references to toasted bread dating back at least as far as the Middle Ages.
The popularity of toast as an everyday foodstuff grew greatly during the 1800s, and many devices were developed to aid in the preparation of this enjoyable source of carbohydrates. Early toasters were essentially nothing more than wire baskets with handles that allowed a slice of bread to be held over an open fire or slid into a heated oven. The results were much the same as we know toast today, but the process was labor-intensive in the utmost.
The world's first recognized electric toaster was developed by a Scotsman named Alan MacMasters in the year 1893. His appliance was effective, but not durable, with the heating elements -- often made of iron -- subject to accidental melting. Developments in ever better elements using alloys led to safer, more stable toasters released in the early years of the 20th century.
The first pop-up toaster was developed by an American named Charles Strite who patented his now ubiquitous device in 1921. Toaster development throughout the rest of the century (and into the current era) mirrored other advances in technology at large, including the use of digital controls, LED indication lights, and ever-safer electrical components.