Toaster (oven) Reviews and Guides
The toaster has been an irreplaceable kitchen appliance for decades, and it’s a must-have tool for a quick and tasty breakfast.
A brief history of the toaster:
- It was invented by Alan MacMasters in 1893 in Scotland.
- Later on, it was reinvented in the United States by Frank Shailor (1909).
- The first pop-up toaster was developed in 1919, while the famous automatic pop-up Toastmaster model was manufactured in 1926.
- In 1930 pre-sliced bread was introduced and that caused toaster sales to increase significantly.
- Toasters became more affordable and common in the 1960s, while the 1980s saw the development of models with wider slots to accommodate bagels and different types of bread.
- Today, there are smart toasters, fully automatic and motorized, while toaster models come available in all sorts of designs and sizes, with a variety of useful functions.
Over a hundred years later, toasters have developed so much that embarking on a quest to buy one is not an easy task. Toasters have gotten larger, more feature-packed and new types of appliances such as toaster ovens and air fryers have appeared. Multiple cookware brands (like Cuisinart), have expanded their product line with toasters and toaster ovens.
Let’s cover some basics about toasters and their features so that you will have the best information when having to make your choice about which appliance will work best for you.
How does your toaster work?
A toaster works by turning electricity into heat, which then cooks bread into crispy, delicious toast. As electricity flows into the appliance, it heats up a series of thin filaments which then radiate heat toward the bread and cook it.
If you’ve looked into the toaster while it’s in use, you can see the filaments glowing and feel the heat coming off the appliance.
TIP: never touch the filaments either with your fingers or with a kitchen utensil, because they are very hot and carry a lot of electricity. There’s a danger of getting yourself electrocuted. If you need to remove bread stuck in the toaster, make sure to unplug it first.
How does the toaster turn itself off when the bread is ready? It’s all built-in the appliance, either with a timer, a thermostat or for newer and more sophisticated models, electronic light-detector circuits. When you press the lever to activate the toaster, the metal cage stays down using a spring. This pops up when the timers or thermostats switch the toaster off.
The pop-up feature is another safety element since you don’t want to have to reach inside the burning hot toaster to retrieve the bread and risk touching the filaments.
How many watts does a toaster use?
When in use, most toasters use between 800 to 1500 watts of energy. You can keep in mind that an average toaster will use around 1200 watts. As an appliance, the toaster heats up fast and uses no standby or idle power so it doesn’t use so much energy compared to toasting bread on the stove or in the oven.
Making great toast
What can you put in a toaster?
When you think about what toasters are used for, the obvious answer is for toasting regular sliced bread. However, there are many more options for toasty goodness you can enjoy:
- artisan bread or sourdough
- English muffins
TIP: use toaster bags to increase the range of delicious treats you can cook in your toaster. These non-toxic, non-stick bags let you toast sandwiches, heat-up leftover pizza, heat veggie burgers, cook bacon, and more!
Most toasters today come with a wide range of features to make this even easier. Look for models with extra-wide or long slots that will fit artisan bread slices, or with bagel functions that warm up the bagel and toast it only on one side.
In order to make great toast, it’s good to be familiar with the toaster’s functions and browning controls. That’s the little knob or slider that lets you select a number before pushing the lever down to commence the toasting process.
What do the numbers on your toaster mean?
Contrary to popular belief, the numbers on your toaster do not represent how many minutes the bread will toast for. In fact, each toaster manufacturer may have a different scale and browning control levels. Often toasters will go from 1 to 5 or 6 (or even 7), to indicate how brown the toast will be when it emerges. Since people have different preferences and toasters have different settings, it’s best to experiment with yours to find what works best for you.
TIP: different types of bread toast differently, but even within the same type or brand there can be variations. A slightly stale piece of bread is dryer than its fresh counterpart and will crisp up faster in the toaster.
How do you clean your toaster?
Toasters are some of the most frequently used appliances in the kitchen. You probably use your every day and you don’t think twice about it. But for better performance, it’s a good idea to clean it once in a while.
If you haven’t thought about that and don’t know where to begin, follow these easy steps:
- Unplug your toaster (always clean it while it’s unplugged, to avoid accidents).
- Use a small and soft brush (like a toothbrush or pastry brush) and brush the interior of the toaster to remove any stuck crumbs.
- Remove the crumb tray and get rid of the crumbs. If it’s dirty, you can clean it with warm soapy water. Make sure to dry it thoroughly before adding it back to the toaster.
- If you feel there are still crumbs in the interior, you can turn the toaster upside down and gently shake it over the sink to get rid of them.
- Clean the exterior of the toaster by wiping it gently with a damp cloth. Pay attention to any knobs or buttons.
TIP: If your toaster has a stainless steel finish, you can wipe it with a diluted vinegar solution. This will help restore its shine and polish it.
That’s it. This way your toaster will look as good as new!
The perfect toaster for you?
If you’re on the lookout for a toaster, it’s a good idea to do a little research before settling on the model you want to buy. This way you’ll be sure you’ve chosen the perfect toaster for your needs.
But the concept of a “perfect toaster” might sound really vague and subjective; that’s because it mostly is. For such a popular and frequently used appliance, you wouldn’t want to be stuck with one that doesn’t make you happy. So let’s consider what makes a toaster perfect.
A few things to consider before choosing a toaster:
- Counter space: how much space do you have on your counter and do you plan on keeping the toaster on it or storing it away when it’s not in use? Measure the available space you have and check the toaster’s measurements to make sure it will fit.
- 2 slices or 4? Depending on your toast needs in the morning, it might make sense to invest in a 4-slice toaster. This will help save a lot of time. On the other hand, the appliance will be bigger and will demand more counter space.
- Functions: what kind of treats do you like? If you enjoy thick-cut artisan bread or sourdough, or if you like to enjoy bagels in the morning, you can go for a toaster with extra-wide and long slots or one that has a good bagel function. If you freeze your bread, most toasters have a really handy Defrost function that will defrost and then toast the bread for you.
- Cleaning: most toasters have removable crumb trays for making clean-up easy, but another thing to consider is the toaster’s exterior finish. For example, stainless steel is a good choice and generally easy to clean, but it might show fingerprints.
- Design and appearance: there are so many options, from vintage-looking toasters, colorful models, automatic motorized models without levers, small and compact or large and roomy. Depending on your needs, you can find which works best for you.
- Other features: some toasters have cord storage or accessories such as warming racks for pastries. Others have audible alarms to alert you when the toast is ready. There are varied and handy options for every need.
The above might seem like a lot, but you can easily narrow it down starting with the slice capacity and size and work your way to the other options that you want to have. Prioritize which aspects are important for you and that will help you make your decision.
An alternative appliance for crispy toasty deliciousness is the toaster oven. Many people might prefer it over a standard toaster because it has many functions.
What is a toaster oven?
So what exactly is a toaster oven and what can you use it for? It’s different than a microwave oven, in that the heat source is different. It operates like a small oven for reheating, baking and broiling as well as toasting.
What can you make in a toaster oven?
Toaster ovens generally have heating elements both on top and bottom for different functions. They distribute dry heat so they can be used for foods intended to have crispy texture or caramelization. Apart from toasting bread, you can use a toaster oven for toasting sandwiches, roasting vegetables, baking, broiling or reheating various meals.
The advantage of toaster ovens compared to conventional ovens is that the smaller space heats up much faster and doesn’t use as much energy. They are great for saving space in the kitchen as well.
How do you use a toaster oven?
Depending on your toaster oven, you can select various functions and uses. For toasting bread, place the bread flat on the toaster rack and select the appropriate setting and time on the dial. Most toasters make a sound when the toast is ready. An advantage to the toaster oven is that it has more space, so you can toast multiple slices at once, or combine bread and other baked goods in one go.
How do you clean your toaster oven?
Since there are more elements to the toaster oven, you’d think it would be more complicated to clean, but it’s really not. With the following simple steps you can always enjoy a clean toaster oven:
- As always, unplug the appliance before you clean it.
- Open the toaster and dump out any crumbs or food bits that might be stuck inside.
- Remove the rack and the tray and wash them in the sink with warm soapy water. Make sure to dry them thoroughly before putting them back in the toaster.
- For the interior, you can use a solution of vinegar, water, and dish soap, that’s mild and will not damage the appliance. Wipe the inside with a soft cloth and try not to get liquid on the heating elements.
- For the glass door, you can use diluted vinegar to wipe it down and clean it.
- For the outside of the appliance, you can use a mild cleaning product and a soft cloth to get rid of any dirt and food that might be stuck on it.
TIP: You can use a handy non-stick oven liner for the bottom of your toaster oven. That will catch any drips and grease from cooking and then you can easily remove it and dispose of it without having to clean the drip tray.