Oster 6332 Review

From $19 Best

Pros:

  • Does the job well, accurately, and quickly, users say.
  • Illuminated bagel and frozen buttons; cancel button; 7 browning levels.
  • Extra-wide slots; auto-centering guides; high-lift lever to boost bread that remains inside the slots after the toaster pops.
  • Anti-jam function turns off the toaster if something gets stuck.
  • Cool-touch housing.
  • Removable, dishwasher-safe crumb tray.
  • 4.5 out of 5 stars from more than 1,000 reviewers on BestBuy.com.

Cons:

  • Lacks a warm/reheat function.
  • Some complaints about uneven browning and slots that seem short.
  • Some reports of malfunctions and limited durability.

Takeaway: Users consider this Oster toaster a terrific value, citing its simplicity and ability to toast bread, bagels, and muffins properly -- for a true bargain price. Some even say it outperforms pricier toasters. There is also a white version.

Where to buy

Cuisinart CPT-122 Review

From $23 Best

Pros:

  • Above-average performance overall, according to experts and users.
  • Bagel/thick bread, defrost, and reheat buttons with indicator lights; cancel button; 7 browning levels.
  • Extra-wide 1.5-inch slots; high-lift lever.
  • Removable crumb tray; cord storage.
  • Stylish white toaster with stainless steel accents.
  • Unusually long 3-year warranty.

Cons:

  • Lacks cool-touch housing.
  • Some reviews describe uneven browning, and toast that's a bit on the dark side even at lower levels.
  • Some reports of limited durability.

Takeaway: This two-slice Cuisinart toaster stands out from others in its class with a slick design: white plastic housing with stainless steel accents. Some users dislike the bagel setting, which toasts both sides rather than toasting only the cut side and warming the crust, as most other toasters do. But a strong endorsement from a majority of users for its toasting chops, features, and hard-to-beat price make this model a winner.

Where to buy

Krups KH734D50 Review

From $45 Best

Pros:

  • Toast comes out crispy and soft in all the right places, according to user reviews.
  • Illuminated dual controls for cancel, defrost, reheat, and bagel; 6 browning levels.
  • Extra-large and deep self-centering slots; high-lift lever.
  • Removable crumb tray; cord storage.
  • Stainless steel housing for a high-end look.
  • 2-year warranty, twice as long as many other cheap toasters.

Cons:

  • Neglecting to run the toaster empty several times before putting it to use, per the instruction manual, may allow unpleasant odors to seep into whatever is toasting.
  • Some grousing about long toasting cycles.
  • Scattered reports of uneven browning and inconsistent temperatures.
  • Lacks cool-touch housing.

Takeaway: This four-slice Krups toaster produces all the hallmarks of excellent toast and looks stylishly modern, to boot. Some complain that it's a bit pokey, but others say the end results are worth waiting for.

Cuisinart CPT-340 Review

From $50 Best

Pros:

  • Applause from most users for performance and build quality.
  • Dual controls; bagel (and thick bread), defrost, and reheat buttons with indicator lights; cancel button; 6 browning levels.
  • Extra-wide 1.5-inch slots; high-lift lever for smaller items.
  • Compact footprint takes up less than 1 square foot of counter space.
  • Removable crumb trays.
  • Stainless steel and black toaster.
  • Unusually long 3-year warranty.
  • 4.2 out of 5 stars from more than 400 reviewers on Amazon.

Cons:

  • Some users gripe that the bagel setting toasts both sides.
  • A few reviews say the shade settings are inaccurate.
  • Lacks a cool-touch exterior.

Takeaway: It's hard to argue with the appeal of this budget-priced four-slice toaster from Cuisinart. Its stylish black and stainless steel appearance is just one reason users commend the CPT-340. Others include its comparatively compact footprint, practical features, and a finish on toast and bagels with just the right amount of crunch and color.

Hamilton Beach PerfectToast 22121 Review

From $21 Good

Pros:

  • Good, consistent performance at a modest price, user reviews say.
  • Extra-wide 1.5-inch slots with centering guides; auto boost raises small pieces of bread for easy removal.
  • Illuminated buttons for frozen toast, frozen bagel, bagel, and cancel; 5 browning levels.
  • Automatic shut-off if bread jams.
  • Cool-touch housing.
  • Removable crumb tray.

Cons:

  • Lacks a warm or reheat function.
  • Slices from some bakery-size loaves may not fit.
  • Scattered complaints about both sides not browning to the same degree.
  • Some reports of limited durability.

Takeaway: This Hamilton Beach toaster gets a daily workout in thousands of homes, toasting bread and frozen bagels and waffles to order. Users appreciate the simple controls and overall value. This basic two-slice model serves up the components of a meal or snack without fuss or bother.

Where to buy

Oster TSSTJC5BBK Review

From $28 Good

Pros:

  • Impressively efficient performance for the price, most users say.
  • Toast, bagel, frozen, warm, and cancel buttons backlit with LED lights; 7 browning levels.
  • Extra-wide 1.3-inch slots with auto-adjusting guides; high-lift lever for retrieving bread that remains inside the slots after the toaster pops.
  • Anti-jam function turns off the toaster if something gets stuck.
  • Removable, dishwasher-safe crumb tray.

Cons:

  • Lacks cool-touch housing.
  • Some reviewers complain about uneven browning.
  • Scattered reports about various malfunctions, such as the "on" lever not staying down.

Takeaway: For a budget toaster, the two-slice Oster TSSTJC5BBK is loaded with features that users appreciate. Many report that it produces perfect toast, although some grouse that one side or another, or the top or bottom, may not brown to the desired degree. There is also a silver version, model 6594.

Hamilton Beach Modern Chrome 24791 Review

From $30 Good

Pros:

  • Generally good performance, according to a majority of user reviews, and excellent toasting in tests by consumer product experts.
  • Dual controls with defrost, cancel, and bagel settings; 7 browning levels.
  • Extra-wide slots with self-adjusting guides; high-lift lever.
  • Removable crumb tray.
  • Stainless steel housing.

Cons:

  • Lacks cool-touch housing and a warm function.
  • Cannot accommodate toaster pastries.
  • Scattered complaints about uneven browning.
  • Some reviews report problems with the lever and heating elements.

Takeaway: A basic and very inexpensive four-slice toaster, the Hamilton Beach 24791 scores particularly well with experts for toasting consistency but garners qualified support from everyday users. Most say it does more than a decent job toasting breads of all types, but some tell of uneven results. A two-slice version (model 22791) is also available at almost the same price.

Hamilton Beach PerfectToast 24121 Review

From $30 Good

Pros:

  • Produces well-toasted bread and bagels, even from frozen, many reviews say.
  • Dual controls with illuminated frozen toast, frozen bagel, bagel, and cancel functions; 5 browning levels.
  • Extra-wide 1.5-inch slots; auto boost raises small pieces for easy removal.
  • Automatic shut-off if bread jams.
  • Cool-touch housing.
  • Removable crumb tray.

Cons:

  • Lacks a warm or reheat function.
  • Some complaints about uneven browning or underdone toast.
  • Scattered reports of malfunctioning coils, levers, and settings.

Takeaway: Like its two-slice sibling, the Hamilton Beach PerfectToast 22121, the four-slice PerfectToast 24121 is a budget-friendly toaster that adequately serves the needs of many users. Although some grouse about disappointing results, saying multiple cycles may be needed to reach the desired level of doneness, a majority are pleased with what they get on the first try.

Buying Guide

Choosing a Toaster

These days, many people call on a toaster oven to deliver crispy toast, bagels, English muffins, and toaster pastries, but it's no match for a dedicated appliance. Even a cheap pop-up toaster can perfectly brown the foundation of a soul-satisfying meal or quick-as-a-minute snack. Many traditional two-slice toasters come in a four-slice version, which offers convenience and efficiency but hogs counter space and costs more. Cheapism.com read scores of expert and user reviews to find the best two-slice toasters under $30 and the best four-slice toasters for $50 or less.

Toaster Brands.

As with many countertop appliances, there's no shortage of inexpensive options. Familiar brand names in entry-level toasters include Hamilton Beach, Oster, Cuisinart, and Black & Decker. Krups makes an occasional appearance but more often shows up in the mid-range, along with labels such as Breville, DeLonghi, KitchenAid, and T-fal; Cuisinart and other budget players also field mid-price toasters. Higher up the ladder sit names such as Smeg and Dualit.

Pricey vs. Cheap Toasters.

It's certainly possible to spend upward of $150 for a top-of-the-line pop-up toaster. For that, you get sleek and eye-catching aesthetics, chrome and steel construction, speed, and frills such as digital controls, motorized lift, and heat sensors -- and, some might argue, tastier results.

But the best entry-level toasters hold their own. They boast modern (sometimes retro) profiles, often last for years, and present a host of desirable features once reserved for high-end models, including extra-wide slots, multiple settings, and a removable crumb tray. And many reviews attest that the best budget toasters produce results that rival their upscale counterparts.

Cheapism.com participates in affiliate marketing programs, which means we may earn a commission if you choose to purchase a product through a link on our site. This helps support our work and does not influence editorial content.

Features Comparison Buying Guide continues below table

(from $23.00)
Cheapism Ranking Best
Slots 2
Shades 7
Settings Bagel, defrost, reheat, cancel
Removable Tray Yes
Warranty 3 years
(from $19.00)
Cheapism Ranking Best
Slots 2
Shades 7
Settings Bagel, frozen, cancel
Removable Tray Yes
Warranty 1 year
(from $50.00)
Cheapism Ranking Best
Slots 4
Shades 6
Settings Bagel, defrost, reheat, cancel
Removable Tray Yes
Warranty 3 years
(from $45.00)
Cheapism Ranking Best
Slots 4
Shades 6
Settings Bagel, defrost, reheat, cancel
Removable Tray Yes
Warranty 2 years
(from $21.00)
Cheapism Ranking Good
Slots 2
Shades 5
Settings Frozen toast, frozen bagel, bagel, cancel
Removable Tray Yes
Warranty 1 year
(from $28.00)
Cheapism Ranking Good
Slots 2
Shades 7
Settings Bagel, frozen, warm, cancel
Removable Tray Yes
Warranty 1 year
(from $30.00)
Cheapism Ranking Good
Slots 4
Shades 7
Settings Bagel, defrost, cancel
Removable Tray Yes
Warranty 1 year
(from $30.00)
Cheapism Ranking Good
Slots 4
Shades 5
Settings Frozen toast, frozen bagel, bagel, cancel
Removable Tray Yes
Warranty 1 year
(from $58.00)
Cheapism Ranking Bonus
Slots 2
Shades 7 (digital)
Settings Bagel, defrost, reheat, cancel
Removable Tray Yes
Warranty 3 years
(from $32.00)
Cheapism Ranking Bonus
Slots 2
Shades 6
Settings Bagel, defrost, reheat, cancel
Removable Tray Yes
Warranty 2 years
(from $15.00)
Cheapism Ranking Bonus
Slots 2 hot dogs, 2 buns
Shades Adjustable timer
Settings NA
Removable Tray Yes
Warranty 90 days

Toaster Reviews: What We Considered

To cull the best cheap toasters, we dug deep into expert and consumer reviews. Sources for our research included ecommerce sites such as Amazon, Walmart.com, BestBuy.com, and HomeDepot.com, as well as those maintained by manufacturers. For guidance based on expert product testing, we turned to Top Ten Reviews, TechGearLab, Good Housekeeping, CNET, and Consumer Reports.

No toaster garners an unblemished rating for toasting performance. Uneven browning and crisping, whether top to bottom, side to side, or slot to slot, is the primary complaint lodged against even the best cheap toasters. But the vast majority of reviewers gleefully report how pleased they are with whatever pops out of the toasters on our list.

Browning Controls.

People have different preferences when it comes to the shade of their toast, and different types of bread require different amounts of toasting time. Raisin bread, for example, browns rapidly due to the high sugar content, while thick slices and breads with lots of whole seeds and grains take longer to toast. The browning controls let users determine the duration of the toasting process.

Digital controls are the most precise but generally available only on high-end toasters. Inexpensive toasters rely on a dial with at least five specific shade options denoted by numbers or dots. In reality, the choice of shades is a continuum along a spectrum from light to dark. Burned and/or under-toasted bread is the bane of every consumer who likes their toast just so. Getting used to a toaster's eccentricities -- that is, exactly how the browning/shade indicators correspond to degrees of light and dark -- requires some trial and error.

Settings.

Newer toasters, even those in budget territory, now feature several settings for different functions.

  • A bagel setting typically toasts only one side of the bagel and warms the other. In almost all cases, that means the cut side feels the most heat. On some models, however, the bagel setting merely toasts for a longer period, heating both sides to the same degree (so it's also good for very thick bread slices).
  • Many toasters also include either a defrost or frozen function, which adds time to the toasting cycle or defrosts the item before the "toast" order is given.
  • Warm or reheat is another setting that sometimes shows up in the cheap price range. It lets users reheat or keep the toasted item warm for a brief period without toasting it further.
  • A cancel button stops the process in case the bread (or whatever) is toasting more quickly than expected. Some of the cheapest toasters don't sport a cancel button, so we made sure to check for that in making our picks.

Four-slice toasters generally have dual controls, allowing different settings for two sets of two slices. In other words, they essentially function as two independent two-slice toasters side by side in the same housing.

Bread Lifter and Slots.

One downside of budget toasters is housing that heats up very quickly because of poor insulation or lesser-quality components. Only some models feature stay-cool housing, and reviewers caution that the area around the slots gets very hot regardless.

A bread lifter, found on most toasters, ensures that smaller items like English muffins or sliced buns pop up high enough to avoid having to poke around inside the toaster. The mechanism is either automatic or requires users to lift the lever that starts the toasting process. Many models also are equipped with an anti-jam device that shuts down the toaster in the event something does get stuck.

Unlike the old days when bagels and thick-cut slices invariably got mangled in the narrow slots, forcing users to reach in with bare fingers or yank with a knife or fork (all dangerous!), the best current models feature slots that measure at least 1.3 inches wide. This is ample space for English muffins, artisanal bread, and bagel halves.

Crumb Tray.

Bread and muffins tend to crumble and tear during toasting and as they make their way out of the slots, which creates crumbs that collect at the bottom of the toaster, inviting pests and posing a fire risk. A crumb tray that's easy to pull out and empty minimizes such problems. (Remember to do this often.) We looked for toasters with removable trays, because they're more convenient than the hinged variety and now are common at the budget end of the market.

Durability and Warranty.

In general, users report that their toasters are easy to clean and maintain, particularly if they have a removable crumb tray. Assorted malfunctions -- such as elements that barely heat up or levers that break -- and limited durability do come up in toaster reviews. Cheap pop-up toasters can be prone to breaking partly because of their economical build and partly because food often gets stuck and messes up the mechanicals. While a one-year warranty is typical, most of our picks for best cheap toaster boast two- or three-year warranties.

Additional Products We Considered

Krups KH732D50 Review

From $32

Pros:

  • Nice, even browning, experts and users report; longer cycles crisp, rather than burn, bread.
  • Cancel, defrost, reheat, and bagel settings with illuminated buttons; 6 browning levels.
  • Extra-large slots with self-centering guides; high-lift lever.
  • Auto shut-off if bread jams in the slots.
  • Removable crumb tray; cord storage.
  • Stainless steel housing.
  • 2-year warranty exceeds the norm.
  • Recommended by consumer product experts for consistent toasting, ease of use, and overall performance.
  • Top 5 finisher in TechGearLab testing.

Cons:

  • Heavier breads may need an extra cycle.
  • Occasional inconsistency with regular bread and bagels.
  • Scattered reports about disappointing results and malfunctions.
  • Neglecting to run the toaster empty several times before putting it to use may allow unpleasant odors to seep into whatever is toasting.
  • Lacks cool-touch housing.

Takeaway: The two-slice version of our pick for best four-slice toaster, the Krups KH732D50 earns stars from experts and consumers for notable performance and a solid set of useful features. Users admire its efficiency and good looks, set off by a sleek, brushed stainless steel skin. Tagged a smidge above our $30 cutoff for a two-slice toaster, this well-regarded model might appeal to consumers with a few extra dollars to spare.

Nostalgia Retro Pop-Up Hot Dog Toaster Review

From $15

Pros:

  • Quickly heats hot dogs and toasts buns, reviewers say.
  • Fire-engine-red housing and a retro design add to the appeal of this fun, inexpensive small appliance.
  • Adjustable timer; stop button.
  • Comes with mini-tongs, a removable hot dog basket, and a crumb tray.
  • 4.1 out of 5 stars from more than 150 reviewers on Walmart.com and nearly 500 reviewers on BestBuy.com.

Cons:

  • One very limited use.
  • Bun edges tend to burn.
  • Scattered reports of mediocre heating/cooking.
  • Short 90-day warranty.

Takeaway: Tagged at a real budget price, the Nostalgia Retro Pop-Up Hot Dog Toaster exceeds expectations, users report. Although some consider it little more than a gag gift, others tell of happy kids and adults munching away on hot dogs that cook in minutes. Reviewers say the toaster works best with a full load (that is, two regular-size buns and franks).

Where to buy

Cuisinart Touch to Toast CPT-420 Review

From $58

Pros:

  • Toasts bread, English muffins, and bagels to desired doneness, most reviews say.
  • Leverless design with push-button motorized lift to lower and raise bread.
  • Backlit buttons for bagel (1-sided toasting), reheat, and defrost functions; separate cancel and toast buttons; digital controls for 7 shade settings.
  • Extra-wide slots with centering guides.
  • Countdown timer and end-of-cycle alert.
  • Removable crumb tray; cord storage.
  • Brushed stainless steel housing.
  • Unusually long 3-year warranty.
  • 4.1 out of 5 stars from hundreds of reviewers on Amazon.v
  • Top 5 finisher in TechGearLab testing.

Cons:

  • Lacks cool-touch housing.
  • Some expert tests report uneven browning.
  • Scattered reports of electrical malfunctions.

Takeaway: We encountered some toasters that experts laud while consumers demur, but the leverless Cuisinart Touch to Toast CPT-420 garners plenty of love from both parties. They give this two-slice model two thumbs-up for toasting ability and a rich feature set more often found on higher-priced toasters. The motorized lift operates quietly, reviewers say, and the digital shade settings and countdown timer eliminate guesswork.