Certain appliances are worth splurging on, but if you’re just looking to toast your favorite bread, bagels, or English muffins, there’s no need to break the bank. Even, the cheapest toasters will do the job quickly and consistently, whether you want to toast fresh or frozen items. And the best part? Some of them cost as little as $20.
Since most toasters function more or less in the same way, what you really sacrifice with a cheaper model is extra features like time settings, a wide range of presets, and LCD screens. That said, some cheap toasters have preset buttons for making bagels or frozen items, but all will have some sort of dial that lets you control the toasting time, and, therefore, the level of browning. A cancel button is also nice to have, and ejects your toaster’s contents in case you want to cut the time short.
What you should consider when shopping (along with your budget), is what you plan to toast and how that affects your needs. Thick items like Texas toast, bagels, and craggy English muffins often get stuck during toasting, so look for a toaster with slots that are at least 1.5-inches wide. Depending on your preferences, you can choose between two- and four-slice toasters.
The best cheap toasters offer just enough functionality to satisfy, but won't set you back a lot. Keep scrolling, they're gathered up below.
1. The Overall Best Cheap Toaster
Cuisinart’s compact plastic toaster is available with two or four slots, and has just the right amount of tech to deliver consistent toasting of a range of items. The extra-wide 1.5-inch slots offer plenty of space for bagels, English muffins, and thick breads to be toasted and removed easily, and dedicated, one-touch programs for bagel, defrost, and reheat have been optimized for perfect browning.
If you’d rather be in control, you can choose between seven toasting levels on the manual dial, and make use of the cancel button if you’re in a hurry — or, when your nose tells you your food has been adequately browned. If you opt for the four-slot model, you can program each pair of slots separately.
According to one reviewer: "It is exactly what I’m looking for: a straightforward toaster with all the basic toaster functions (toast, bagel, defrost, reheat), and in a price range that makes sense for a small appliance that does one thing—toast bread. Additionally, it’s small, has an easily accessible crumb tray, is quiet, and the sides remain cool when toasting. But the best feature is how FAST it toasts! I find it takes a minute, maybe a little more or less, depending the setting."
2. The Runner-Up: A $20 Toaster
This simple, two-slot toaster from Hamilton Beach is outfitted with a straight-forward dial and lever for toasting two slices of bread, two waffles, or a split bagel or English muffin. The slots are generously sized at 1.5-inches wide so even thick-sliced items will fit without having to be forced in or pried out after toasting. A cancel button is positioned in the middle of the dial in the event you want to check on your toast’s progress or cut the program short.
Hint: if you’re using your toaster for back-to-back items, it will eventually heat up and can brown items quicker with each use. Aside from taking up a very small footprint, the Hamilton Beach model weighs less than 2 pounds, making it easy to store between uses if you don’t want to leave it out. And, did I mention it’s $20?
According to one reviewer: "Besides the brand name and the cool walls, I also love that it is lightweight and has a place in the back to wrap the cord for storage. I keep my toaster on a shelf in my kitchen so the cord wrap keeps it neater."
3. The Cheapest 4-Slice Toaster
If you're feeding a group, a four-slice toaster makes a lot more sense than a simple two-slice toaster, and you'd be hard-pressed to find a cheaper one than this highly rated option from Sunbeam. For just $25, this toaster is smartly designed with 5.4-inch-long slots that are wide enough to fit bagels or thicker bread (though the manufacturer is a bit quiet on the specific width). It also has seven different heating settings so you can toast to your exact liking. While this toaster lacks some of the more nice-to-have features like a defrost or preheat setting, but toast can be ejected by raising the lever on the side. Over 5,000 Amazon reviewers have added this toaster to their kitchen.
According to one reviewer: "Overall, I think this is a great toaster for the price. It's pretty simple to clean and it looks nice on our countertop. Toast always comes out at exactly the level of brown-ness I wanted."