We spent over 44 hours researching, toasting, tasting, and testing to find the best 4-slice toaster. We compared toasting time, price, ease-of-use, and most importantly, the quality of the end result. Making our final choice for Best Overall was a bit of a difficult decision because each of these units performed well. Although each was able to produce quality results, only one was able to do so with the least amount of fuss. Due to its overall performance, straightforward ease-of-use, and durable construction, our top pick is the Cuisinart CPT-180 Metal Classic Toaster. It also has a modern, yet retro, stylish design and even stayed cool to the touch despite its 100% stainless steel body.
Table of Contents
How We Selected
To research this guide, we started out with 197, 4-slice toasters to “wade through”. From there we started narrowing our choices by choosing options we feel are necessities in a toaster. First off, we knew that we wanted wide toasting slots because we didn’t feel that traditional, thin-slotted toasters could adequately handle the current trends of what people now look for in their toaster. (Can you say bagels?)
We wanted each toaster to be able to accommodate wider items such as bagels and thick slices of toast so we picked those with 1 ½”-wide toasting slots. No one wants to pry stuck pieces of bread or bagels out of a hot, metal appliance, so a wider slot was a must for us. Sorry Pampered Chef, we won’t be needing those bamboo toast tongs anymore. We narrowed our choices to 82 once we filtered out toasters that didn’t have wide slots.
Our next filter was that we wanted to keep our choices within the $25 – $60 price range which surprisingly only cut out 2 contenders and still left us with 80 toasters to choose from. After pouring through and determining which of those 80 toasters had the best reviews, we narrowed our search to 12 toasters.
From here it was a matter of asking experts in the field of cooking (chefs, food bloggers, Bed and Breakfast owners and the like) to vote for their favorite out of the 12. After all that background research, we finally had our three we were going to test.. Whew!
The three 4-slice toasters that we ultimately picked and tested at length were listed between $29.00 and $54.00 at the time of testing. Although we initially came across many toasters that were well over $100.00, we couldn’t justify buying them because of their high price. We also couldn’t imagine them producing a piece of toast that was three to four times better than the three, more affordable appliances we chose to review. In the end, our instincts were right and we were able to make perfect toast – at less than half the cost of some of the high-end brands.
How We Know Which is Best
We spent hours upon hours testing toasters – testing all their buttons, toasting ability, and special features. We cannot tell you how much toast we made, compared, and ate!
We checked the various claims made by each company and through our extensive testing we obtained a very good idea of what was easy and what was cumbersome with each. We also researched each toaster online and read reviews to learn what others like and don’t like about each.
Additionally, we reached out to experts in the field to see what they look for and like in a toaster.
Believe it or not, the practice of toasting bread became popular during the times of the Roman Empire. In the days before electricity, toasting bread was actually a way to preserve it and keep it from becoming soft and moldy. Preserving food and not wasting it was the name of the game!
Obviously, the first toasters were not the fancy, electronic gadgets that we see today, but rather a simple contraption that could hold a piece of bread above hot coals or a fire to “scorch” it. In fact, the word toast is derived from the Latin word “tostum” which means to burn or to scorch.
Today, toasted bread, toasted bagels, and just about toasted anything can make our mouths water. You can imagine our delight when it came time to research and write our Best Toaster Review! Daily toast, bagels, English muffins?? Guess who’s happy!!
How We Tested
We performed several toasting tests. The first was on power level four for each toaster. The perfect level we found for all three is around 3.5. Here we can see from left to right the Black & Decker, Hamilton Beach and Cuisinart. From the picture below you can see that the Cuisinart toasts bread more evenly than the other two. Even though level four the toast is well-done, you can really see which toaster performs the best. The toast from the Black & Decker is the most uneven. The Hamilton Beach and the Cuisinart are a little too powerful at power level four and the bottom edge of the bread and bagel are slightly charred.
We also tested the surface temperature of each piece of bread that was toasted on power level four. The all were very hot to the touch immediately after, but quickly cooled.
Black & Decker
Our next test was performed using each toaster on power level three This is the level we usually use in our home so we started here. We used a piece of basic, wide, white bread and timed it until it popped – then compared the results.
The Black + Decker
The Black + Decker had the overall longest toasting time at 2 minutes and 53 seconds, and the bread was still not quite as brown as we would have liked. This isn’t surprising when you look at the overall wattage the toaster consumes compared to the others. Don’t worry – we still slathered on some butter and gobbled it down. At power level three the bread is lightly toasted.
The Hamilton Beach
We weren’t happy with the way the Hamilton Beach’s two, extra-long slots (meant to each hold two pieces of bread) weren’t long enough to accept our bread without it overlapping a bit (see picture below in our What We Didn’t Like section). Surprisingly though, it produced the best toast on power level three compared to the other two toasters. The toast was done just right and we couldn’t eat it fast enough. We might have even made a second batch.
The Cuisinart had the fastest toasting time overall and the bread was delicious and crunchy. However, we would have liked it browned just a smidge more so in the future we just turned up the heat a bit on this one. The perfect setting is on power level three and a half.
Along the way, we discovered something to keep in mind while toasting multiple pieces in the same slot during the same toasting session. The first piece we toasted was always lighter than every subsequent piece and sometimes the second batch even came out overdone. Once the toaster is hot (or warmed up) you will need to turn down your preferred toasting number to achieve the same level of brown, crunchy yumminess you get when the toaster starts out cool. Even though the toaster remained hot the outside of the toaster remained at 87 degrees.
All of the toasters offered a setting for toasting bagels. However, we didn’t like that when we pushed the button on the Black + Decker, there was no visual sign as to whether it was activated or not. No matter how many times we pushed the bagel button (and we MIGHT have pushed it a few extra times than we needed to) nothing lit up or “turned on” as far as we could tell. The toaster might very well have toasted in a different manner but we were unaware if it did or didn’t.
Black + Decker
Nothing lit up on the Black + Decker when the Bagel Button (or defrost button) was pushed.
The Hamilton Beach’s Bagel button did light up and was backlit in blue when activated. The Cancel button was also backlit and, in fact, was illuminated every time the toaster was toasting.
The Hamilton Beach’s buttons are backlit in blue when they’re activated.
The Cuisinart, on the other hand, has a red light that turns on when the bagel button is pushed. This made us very happy, knowing that the toaster was performing as it should inside.
The buttons on the Cuisinart have a red light that illuminates when the button is pushed.
All three of our toasters feature a 1 ½ “- wide toasting slot. We found this slot size is plenty big enough to handle thicker items such as bagels and our new favorite – Pretzel Rolls.
Yep, Pretzel Rolls are a big hit around here. We love them toasted with plain butter and we also love toasting them a bit before making them into sandwiches. We were a bit worried that they might not fit into the toasting slots but every one of these toasters’ slots were able to accommodate them.
All three toasters have ample-sized toasting slots. Each is 1 ½ inches wide. This means we can toast bagels, rolls and even pretzel rolls without issue.
The slots are wide enough that you don’t have to manually push down rolls or bagels or pry them out with a fork.
All models we tested were well built and will last for years. Below is a picture of the Cuisinart popping out some English Muffins from one of our tests.
We performed a test to look at how many watts each toaster consumed at the 60 second mark while toasting. The Hamilton Beach consumes the most power due to the fact it only has one lever that controls all of the slots. The slots are extra long to accommodate two pieces of bread. Even if you are toasting a single piece of bread you consume the same amount of energy as if you were toasting four slices of bread. This is an inefficient design and isn’t very eco-friendly. The Cuisinart and the Black & Decker were within 200 watts of each other.
Black & Decker
Styling and Design
All of the toasters are made of Stainless Steel with varying amounts of plastic detailing. The Cuisinart’s styling has the least amount of plastic. On this unit, the plastic is located on the bottom and underneath and includes the feet. The Black + Decker and the Hamilton Beach are made with black, plastic accents that wrap up the sides of the units. They all stayed cool to the touch other than the area right on top near the toasting slots.
Both the Black + Decker and the Cuisinart have 4 individual toasting slots that are 1 ½ “ wide x 5 ½ “ long. The Hamilton Beach, because of its unique, long design, has only 2 toasting slots and they are 1 ½” wide x 10” long.
|Cuisinart||Black + Decker||Hamilton Beach|
|Keep Warm Button||No||No||Yes|
|Power Cord Clips||Yes||Yes||Yes|
|Number of Slots||4||4||2|
|Toasting Slot Size||1 ½ in. x 5 ½ in.||1 ½ in. x 5 ½ in.||1 ½ in. x 10 in.|
|Toasting Time (Level 3)||1 min 52 sec||2 min 53 sec||2 min 14 sec|
|Warranty||Limited 3-Year||Limited 2-Year||Limited 1-Year|
Cuisinart 4 Slice Toaster
Cuisinart is a well-respected American home appliance company that is known for its quality products. The Cuisinart 4-Slice Toaster is no exception. With 4 slots, this toaster has double the capacity to toast versus a regular, 2-slot toaster. Its 4-slot design is great for larger families and those who love to toast!
Straight out of the box we were excited with its heavy-duty feel and solid construction. Beyond that, we were pleased as pie that it produced perfect toast with ease. Its controls are simple, yet elegant, and it offers 3 additional “option” buttons beyond simply pushing down the lever: Bagel, Defrost, and Reheat.
With its traditional push-lever design it was easy to use and its solid build feels like a quality, sturdy appliance. After the many hours we spent testing toasters, we really came to appreciate the well-thought-out design of this particular Cuisinart model. With its simple-to-turn dials, a lever that only clicks and stays down when the unit it plugged in, and its easy-to-read buttons that light up when they’re pushed, we knew this was our winner.
Cuisinart Option Buttons
- The Bagel Button heats only the upper half of the bagel, leaving the bottom soft and chewy – we all agreed that is the most delicious way to eat a bagel.
- The Defrost Button can be activated after the lever is depressed which warms up frozen items such as waffles, pancakes, and French toast before it toasts them. We thought this was a great feature for people like us who are always on the go and might not have time to defrost their breakfast before toasting and running out the door.
- The Reheat Button carefully reheats your (inevitably forgotten) piece of toast without overly browning it or burning it. We love this economical feature!
Hamilton Beach 4 Slice Toaster
When we first chose the Hamilton Beach we were excited for its arrival with its long, slender design. However, we came to realize that the design was actually not a great fit on our counter compared to the squarer toasters.
Also, the entire toaster heated up when toasting even a single piece of bread. We found this to be inefficient and we really came to dislike this even more when we tested the toaster’s wattage and found it to be over twice as high as the other two contenders.
However, we did like one feature on the Hamilton Beach that the other two do not have – it beeps three times right before it’s finished toasting. What a great reminder to grab your food before it cools.
This brings us to another of its unique features. It offers a Keep Warm setting that will keep toast warm for up to three minutes. You do need to activate this while your food is toasting vs after, but it’s another great feature when you’re getting ready in the morning and won’t be back to the toaster right away.
Overall, we liked this toaster the least of the three but it still made yummy toast. Basically, our final decision for the best 4-slice toaster came down to the little details.
Black + Decker 4 Slice Toaster
The Black + Decker 4-Slice toaster is an easy-to-use and economical option for a 4-slice toaster. It offers Bagel, Frozen, and Cancel functions as well as self-adjusting guides that hold your food snug while toasting which ensures even toasting. A high-lift lever raises your item above the top of the toaster for easy removal which helps keep your hand out of the way of the hot surface.
It is designed with extra-wide slots to fit bagels and thick bread slices and we found this to work perfectly. Underneath you will find a handy cord wrap that keeps excess cord hidden. But we did find it cumbersome that the crumb tray was on the bottom and you had to lift the toaster to get to it. However, at roughly half the price of the Cuisinart, it will do a perfectly fine job of making toast and is a perfect choice for a basic 4-slice toaster.
What We Liked
We liked that all three of these toasters could make a delicious piece of straight-up toast. We also liked that they were all able to accommodate wider items such as bagels and pretzel rolls (or any type of roll for that matter). Spending a bit of time with your toaster and testing it will help you learn which settings will make your perfect piece of toast
The cords on each unit wrapped up nicely underneath. Cuisinart is shown here.
Each of these toasters has a set of clips underneath so that you can wind up the cord neatly and/or take up the slack if you keep the toaster out on your counter. We moved these three toasters around quite a bit while testing and the clips did a great job of holding the cords out of the way.
What We Didn’t Like
Of the three toasters, our biggest complaint was with the Hamilton Beach. This surprised us because we were expecting to really like its long and sleek, space-saving design. However, along with the long, front-to-back styling came its odd slot design. Although this toaster is sold as a 4-Slice toaster, it in fact only has two, very long slots. AND not only did our wider, Italian-style bread slices overlap in the slot, but we found it to be energy inefficient with only one lever. With only one lever, both slots (in essence, every coil in the toaster) activated and heated up with each toasting – even when only toasting one item.
In the end, we found this long design to not be very user-friendly.
Two pieces of wide, Italian bread overlap if they’re in the same slot.
The Cuisinart has a toast symbol (with the number 1 inside it) in front of one of its toasting slots. We were excited to see this and thought that it was an energy saving feature where just that one toasting slot would heat up when toasting only one slice of bread.
We tested our theory but found that in fact, both slots heated up. We consulted the instruction guide that came with the toaster. It told us that the toaster is designed to heat the whole toasting chamber and that what you need to do is turn down the heat level for a single slice so that you don’t over-toast it. We surmised that the symbol on the toaster only acts as a reminder to turn down the heat when toasting only one item. Nothing more.
We found this to be a bit confusing and not instinctive, but not too much of a big deal. Definitely not a deal breaker.
Cleaning and Care
We’re sure it’s obvious, but we want to point out that before wiping or cleaning any toaster it should be unplugged from the wall.
Each of these toasters has a method for cleaning out the crumbs that accumulate inside. However, the Black + Decker was the most cumbersome to clean because we needed to turn the toaster over and open an access door underneath the unit. It does not have a removable tray which means we had to shake the crumbs out into the sink or into the garbage can. This is the second way in which the Black + Decker was more difficult to use than the other two toasters in our Top 3. (The first being that we weren’t sure if the bagel button was activated when we pushed it).
On the other hand, both the Hamilton Beach and the Cuisinart have removable trays that slide out from the back of each toaster without having to turn the appliance over. The Hamilton Beach has one long tray that pulls out from under its long toasting slot and the Cuisinart has two trays – one under each slot – as shown in the picture below.
For cleaning, all you need to do is wipe down the toaster and the crumb trays with a damp cloth. If extra cleaning is needed, try a little soap and water and maybe a bit of stainless steel cleaner if you want to rejuvenate its luster and shine. You might even want to consider alternative ways to clean stainless steel using items you might already have at home.
Two removable crumb trays at the back of the Cuisinart
In the end, although all three toasters were able to make us lovely pieces of toast, and all could accommodate larger bagels and rolls with ease, it was the Cuisinart that stood out above the other two. We fell in love with its sturdy build and well-thought-out design which made it function with ease. It performed basic functions, it was reliable, and there was no guess work, which made it our clear-cut winner.
Just as we surmised at the beginning of this guide, we were able to make a perfectly delicious piece of toast without needing to spend a crazy amount of money on a toaster.