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If you’re not quite ready to splurge on a smart oven, that is totally A-Okay, but you’re going to at least need a good toaster until you do take the plunge. Although you shouldn’t go buying the cheapest thing you can find at your local department store, a mid-range option will absolutely get the job done.
When looking for a toaster, I wanted two things: one, it needed to toast evenly and the settings should be intuitive; two, since this is often a countertop appliance, it should be nice looking, because a pretty kitchen is a happy kitchen.
I recommend the Hamilton Beach 2-Slice Toaster (model 22504) to get you the perfect slice of peanut butter toast each morning.
Although Hamilton Beach does have toasters with that can cook up to four slices at once, that’s not something my fiancé and I would use very often. Typically, only one of us has some type of toast for breakfast, and that’s usually the only time we’re using this appliance.
We also have very little counter and storage space, so for those occasions when we are toasting several slices, it would still be worth it to just toast them in batches.
For those of you with larger families and a bigger kitchen, consider looking at Hamilton Beach’s well-reviewed 4-slice digital toaster (model 24504) It might make your mornings run a bit more smoothly if you can get four mouths fed at once!
Hamilton Beach 4 Slice Toaster available from Amazon
First of all, this small appliance absolutely passes the pretty test. The outside is a brushed, smudge-proof metal, which I love because it means I won’t have to polish it to keep it looking good on my countertop.
The brushed metal look works well with nearly every kitchen, so if you’re buying this as a gift, you can be confident that it will look great in your friend or family member’s home.
Beside the brushed metal that I prefer, this toaster is also available in candy apple red (model 22504E) if you are into more a more colorful kitchen and matches the finish of the entire Hamilton Beach Candy Apple Red Collection. Either finish provides a great look with just enough of a touch of 1950s retro without being overpowering.
Hamilton Beach 2 Slice Metal Toaster, Candy Apple Red available from Amazon
It’s relatively small at 8.5” x 8.5” x 13.2”, so it won’t take up too much room on your
countertop. However, if you are planning to store it in a cupboard, it only weighs one pound, so you won’t find yourself struggling to move it back and forth.
It has extra wide slots so you can easily toast a thick slice of bread without dangerously pushing it in or struggling to get it out. The slots keep your bread low once they’re finished toasting with a lever to raise the slices, that way they stay warm until you have a chance to get to them.
It features built-in cord storage for an easy way to keep your counters clear. Although the top and inside of the toaster get very hot, the outside stays cool to the touch so you don’t need to worry too much about little hands reaching up for their breakfast.
The Hamilton Beach 2-Slice Toaster boasts the ability to toast bread to an even golden brown, and nearly all reviewers attest that it can do the job.
It has five numbered settings to achieve your desired doneness and even comes with recommendations for what setting works best for different type of breads in the instruction manual. It has three settings: toast, bagel, and defrost.
The toast setting is what you should use for a standard piece of toast or English muffin. Use the bagel setting for bagels and thicker slices of bread.
The defrost setting is great for things like toaster waffles or if you’ve just pulled a loaf of bread from the freezer and don’t have time to wait for it to thaw out. For a person who stockpiles loaves of bread when they go on sale, I absolutely love this feature!
As previously mentioned in this review, the outside is smudge-proof, which means you won’t have to worry about wiping down the fingerprints to keep the metal shiny. However, that doesn’t mean the metal is splatter-proof, so when you do need to get it clean, just wipe it down with a damp washcloth.
The Hamilton Beach 2-Slice Toaster features an easy to pull out crumb tray that you can empty right into the garbage. Some reviewers commented that this tray is very shallow and can’t hold a lot of crumbs, so you will want to try to remember to empty it out on a regular basis.
Occasionally, turn the toaster upside down over the garbage can to shake loose bigger crumbs that couldn’t make it down to the crumb tray.
Make sure that you never submerge it in water or get the power cord wet. Some users reported that if the toaster was kept to close to the sink and got wet, it sparked.
If it does get wet, unplug it from the wall and dry it thoroughly before using.
For those that don’t like the idea of sticking their fingers in the slots to retrieve smaller pieces of bread, Hamilton Beach sells a tong accessory designed to go with this toaster.
Hamilton Beach offers a one-year warranty, so if it doesn’t work out for you, you can return it easily.
Some reviewers commented that the lever to pop the toast all the way up after toasting broke after a few weeks of use. Although this is a relatively minor issue as it still toasts and you can get the bread out with some maneuvering, it’s something to keep in mind.
Although some reviewers commented that their bread didn’t toast evenly, the majority of users say their morning toast comes out perfectly every time. You can read actual customer reviews at Amazon.
The mass approval of this small appliance paired with the bonus bagel and defrost settings and it’s shiny exterior made the Hamilton Beach 2-Slice Toaster the right choice for me. I love that it doesn’t take up too much counter space, and if I do choose to store it, it’s nice and light for easy moving.
I hope this review made your toaster hunt all that much easier and that soon you’ll be enjoying bagels as perfectly toasted as mine soon!
About Chelsea Miller
Chelsea Miller, born and raised in Portland, Oregon, graduated from the University of Oregon where she discovered both her love of football and cooking great food. She's the founder of the food blog "A Duck's Oven" and began writing for Foodal in 2014.