A Guide to Selecting a 4-Slice Toaster
We’re used to a lot of our kitchen appliances being “set it and forget it”, as in slow cookers, coffee makers, rice cookers, and more. But the pop-up toaster, which allows you to toast bread for a certain time, and then pop it out when it’s ready, has actually been around since 1921! It’s a convenient alternative to a toaster oven, which is more versatile, but not as automatic as a pop-up toaster. A toaster also gets the job done faster and uses less energy. There are 4-slice toasters on the market nowadays that let you toast a wide variety of bread: white bread, whole wheat bread, English muffins, bagels, and even waffles!
We’ll see that there are very simple models, which have the familiar feature where you lower the bread manually into the toaster, and it pops out according to the browning setting that you selected. There are also more advanced models for preparing toast from a wider range of bread, as well as toasters that can defrost and reheat for you as well!
Types of 4 Slice Toasters
Most 4-slice toasters have similar basic features, but there are improvements in some models over others. We can distinguish between toasters with a digital setting, and those with an analog setting:
Digital setting: These will have a push-button control to adjust how dark you’d like your toast. An example is the Cuisinart CPT-435P1 4-Slice Countdown Motorized Toaster. You can select from among 7 different shade settings, from light to dark toast.
Cuisinart CPT-435P1 4-Slice Countdown Motorized Toaster
Analog setting: There are also simpler 4-slice toasters that have a dial that lets you select how dark you’d like your toast. An example is the Hamilton Beach 4-Slice Toaster. It has an auto-shutoff feature when the time is up for your selection, as well as a “Cancel” button to pop out the bread if you think that it’s brown enough already.
Hamilton Beach 4-Slice Toaster
Motorized Toaster: The two types of toasters that we mentioned above have a lever that allows you to lower the bread into the toaster, as well as remove it when you think it’s ready. But there are also motorized toasters, which lower and raise the bread automatically, such as the Cuisinart CPT-540 4-Slice Motorized Toaster. By lowering the “start” button, the motor lowers the bread into the toaster, and it pops out when the time is up. You can also raise the button to cancel the toasting and get the bread out earlier. It has extra-wide slots to accommodate many types of bread and pastries that you may want to toast: white bread, whole wheat bread, bagels, English muffins, and waffles!
Cuisinart CPT-540 4-Slice Motorized Toaster
What reviewers say
Here are some customers’ impressions about the 4-slice toaster that they bought:
High-lift function: Some toasters with a lever have a special “high-lift” function, which allows you to lift the bread a little bit higher, so that you can get it out easily without burning your fingers on the sides of the toaster.
Choose slots deep enough to fit large slices: Some customers complained about the toaster that they bought, where a large slice of bread wouldn’t fit entirely into the toaster. (That was a problem with the Black & Decker 4-Slice Bagel Toaster since it’s primarily for preparing toasted bagels.) If you want to toast larger slices, make sure that the slots accommodate them.
Width of the slots: Customers also mentioned that they had instances where the toaster’s slots were okay for Wonder sliced bread, but they had problems with non-standard slices. Even though it can accommodate bagels or hamburger buns, it still might give you trouble with something thicker than that.
Here are some tips to help you select the best 4-slice toaster for your needs:
Defrost setting: Some toasters have a “defrost” setting, which allows you to take frozen bagels or English muffins, plop them into your toaster, and they come out toasted to perfection. For example, in the Whall Store 4-Slice Toaster, using the defrost setting keeps the bread inside the toaster for an extra 8%-12% of the time for regular toasting.
Keeping the trays clean: Most of the toasters that we reviewed have a removable crumb tray, which collects the crumbs that accumulate over time. It’s important to clean your toaster out regularly so that the crumbs don’t burn and affect the taste of your toast. When cleaning your toaster, it’s advisable to switch off the toaster, unplug it, let it cool, and then remove the crumbs from the crumb tray.
Bagel setting: Many toasters have a “bagel” setting. This makes the heating element on one side operate at only 50% of the desired setting. That way, you can get the inside half of the bagel toasted, while the outside is only gently browned. This is the principle of operation in the KitchenAid 4-Slice Toaster (Model No. KMT4115).
KitchenAid 4-Slice Toaster (Model No. KMT4115)
Two totally independent toasters: Most of the 4-slice toasters in the Best Reviews Guide list are really two 2-slice toasters side-by-side. That means that you can set the shade of two slices of toast to one setting, and set the other two slices to another setting.
Cancel button: Almost all of the toasters in the Best Reviews Guide list have a “cancel” button, which aborts the toasting. This is handy if you don’t want your toast to be so brown, or if you see that the toast didn’t pop up at the right time. It also lets you stop and restart when it’s more convenient.
Reheat button: The Cuisinart Metal Classic 4-Slice Toaster (Model CPT-180P1) includes a “reheat” function. This way, if you prepared toast already, but it cooled off before you were able to serve it, you can heat it up again.
Cuisinart Metal Classic 4-Slice Toaster (Model CPT-180P1)
Wide slots: Many toasters have wide slots to accommodate more than just typical sliced bread. Most have slots that are 1.5” wide so that you can insert an English muffin, bagel, waffle, or artisan bread that you slice yourself.
We went through some of the best 4-slice toasters available. If you have a big family, a 4-slice toaster can supply you with a lot of toast fast. And even if you have a small family and you have a surplus of bread, you can toast it and save it from going bad. A 4-slice toaster is a convenient addition to your kitchen!