A matte black toaster on a counter with bagels, bread and jam


While the toaster seems like one of the more humble kitchen appliances, achieving the perfect balance of toastiness outside and moisture inside can prove difficult. In a new toaster, look for things like larger slots, a wide range of shade settings and functions tailored to what you’re toasting. Whether you’re getting your daily dose of whole wheat or preparing a whole brunch spread, the right appliance can help enhance the meal. And you may have more options than you think. Read our guide on types of toasters to easily upgrade this kitchen staple.

What are the features to look for in a toaster?

You may be surprised to discover toaster features that go beyond the basics. Look for these popular features that have taken on notorious toaster problems in pursuit of the perfect toast.

Black toaster on a counter with bagel and lox ingredients surrounding it

More slots for more slices

Most toasters come with either two or four slots, though some commercial-type toasters will have six, and there are even one-slot varieties available. If you have a large household, 4-slice toasters, like these models from KitchenAid, will help you serve up more toast than 2-slice toasters in fewer batches. 

Extra long and wide slots

Longer, wider slots are made to toast more than sandwich bread. They’ll help give thicker artisan and homemade breads a satisfying crunch as well. For example, KitchenAid® toasters come with slots up to around 1 ½-inches wide to accommodate whatever you're toasting—bagels, english muffins, artisan breads and homemade breads.

High-lift levers

The lever is what you press to lower bread into the appliance and pop toast out. But on some older models, the toast doesn’t always pop up high enough, and you end up having to go in after it. A high-lift lever lets you raise even small pieces of toast up high enough to grab them easily, protecting your fingers from the heat. Most models, like the KitchenAid® 2 Slice Long Slot Toaster let you use the lever to raise up the bread mid-toast and check its progress.

Black 2-slice toaster on counter with avocado toast

Adjustable shade control

Not everyone has the same idea of a perfect toast. Shade control lets you select the darkness level that’s ideal for the meal, yourself or anyone else. For example, select KitchenAid® toasters come with up to seven shade settings, so you can get light toast, dark toast and every shade in between.

Unique toasting functions

Some toasters offer settings tailored to specific foods and scenarios. Consider a toaster with one of these functions to help bring breakfast to the next level. 

  • Bagel settings. If you want a good toaster for bagels, some are designed specifically to keep them soft inside while creating a light crunch outside. The KitchenAid® Bagel Function reduces the power on one side of the heating elements by 50% to gently brown the outer side of the bagel, while toasting the inside.

  • Add time settings. Similar to the invaluable “add 30 seconds” button on a microwave, some toasters let you add just a little more time to reach your perfect brown. Learn more about toaster ovens vs microwaves.

  • Defrost settings let you bring bread straight from the freezer to the toaster. It can defrost a frozen piece of bread, then toast it, sometimes in as little as a minute.

Dirty crumb tray pulled out from bottom of toaster

Removable crumb trays

When it comes to a nicely toasted bagel or piece of bread, crumbs may be the only con among a long list of pros. Conveniently, some toasters have a tray at the bottom of the appliance designed to catch crumbs, slide out easily, then clean up quickly


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