In just about every household these days, you will hardly miss a toaster. In fact, research has it that on average, we spend about 35 hours a year toasting bread.
But a slide of bread just does not become a toaster on its own, you need a quality toaster that churns out delicious pieces.
With so many varieties on the market, choosing the best one for your needs can be quite an uphill task.
In this article, we are going to delve into the toaster world and lay down the main types of toasters and outline the features that set them apart.
Also Read: Best Toaster Ovens for Potatoes
Types of Toasters
1. Pop-Up Toaster
The basic idea behind the operation of a pop-up toaster is simple.
You take a single piece of bread and fix it into a slot located at the top of the toaster.
After that, you need to push down a lever on the side of the toaster to lower the bread into the toasting area.
By so doing, you activate the heating elements to do their magic.
Also Read: Brief Timeline of a Toaster
As an automatic toaster, the pop-up toaster flips open as soon as the toasting cycle is complete thanks to a set of smart sensors.
However, you can still control the speed of the toasting process using either a lever knob or a series of push buttons – it all depends on the model you pick. As such you can control the brownish crisp on the toast.
The simplest pop-up toaster model comes with a single slot and therefore allows you to toast just a single slice of bread at a time.
Such a model would be suitable for personal use, but what happens if you have a large family? Fortunately, there are larger models that come with up to four slots.
As expected, models with more slots are more popular among households with a large and busy family.
They are designed to live on the countertop and become an integral part of your kitchen décor.
Most models are constructed from stainless steel to increase durability and give you an easy time during cleaning.
Some of the latest models have an exterior finish of copper, chrome, or plastic. Pop-up toasters are available in a rainbow of colors such as white, grey, black.
Pop-up toasters actually do more than just toasting bread. They are perfect for teacakes, potato waffles, crumpets, and bagels.
- Easy to operate
- Can toast bread slices of different sizes
- Quite affordable
- May get too hot
- Accumulation of bread crumbs results in reduced efficiency
2. Toaster Ovens
If you are looking for a versatile appliance that can not only toast but also cook food, a toaster oven fits the bill.
They come with a frontal door that opens into a toasting area fitted with horizontally arranged racks.
All you have to do is place food items on the racks, close the door, and the set the required cooking cycle and temperature through the knobs or digital controls.
This will activate heating elements fitted both at the top and the bottom of the oven.
Also Read in Detail: What is a Toaster Oven?
As with pop-up toasters, toaster ovens are engineered to switch off automatically once the desired doneness is reached or if the set cooking cycle is complete.
There are many toaster ovens these days that are far more than just capable of toasting a slice of bread. They come with digital control and cooking presets.
Some “Smart” Toaster Ovens even employ sensors as well as a comprehensive set of features that allows you to control each and every element of your cooking including how brown do you want the bread to get.
One thing you will love about toaster ovens is the fact that they allow you to toast with toppings like cheese, garlic, and melt sandwiches thanks to the horizontal arrangement of bread slices.
Toaster ovens are basically regular ovens in a small size.
They have a compact look that eats up very little countertop space thanks to multiple shelf racks arranged vertically.
You are able to vary the distance between your food and the heating elements depending on whether you want intensive or light toasting.
The various parts are made from a variety of metals and molded plastics.
You can also fit them over-the-counter as well as affix them inside cabinets or walls.
The horizontal mode operandi of toaster ovens gives them an edge over other types of toasters because you will be able to carry out a range of functions, including browning, defrosting, broiling, and baking.
Basically you can perform full fledged cooking and roasting if the toaster chamber is large enough.
- They are miniature ovens
- Come in various sizes
- Larger models can even roast a whole turkey
- Come with myriad of functions including dehydrator, and an Air Fryer
- Quite heavy
- The surroundings can get pretty hot and therefore you have to ensure proper ventilation.
3. Convection Toaster Oven
The convection toaster oven is a rather older technology but one that is found on plenty of toaster ovens these days.
Its standout feature is a built-in fan that helps in even distribution of heat.
The fan circulates warm air around your meal to ensure that every part cooks evenly and is drained of excessive moisture.
The end result is crispy, evenly toasted pieces that have an attractive brownish color from all angles.
Also Read: Best Toaster Ovens for Broiling
In addition to the fans, convectional toaster ovens are fitted with heating elements and metallic walls that generate radiant heat.
Other than that, the features of a convection toaster oven are more less the same as a regular toaster oven we talked about earlier.
Convection toaster ovens may also come with a plethora of features including Air Fryer, dehydrator, as well as dedicated preset cooking functions for foods like pizza, bagel, rotisserie chicken etc
Most models come with a chrome exterior and have a sleek design that’s economical in terms of counter space.
You can use the convectional toaster oven to cook just about anything. However, they do a great job on cooking meals that include roaster vegetables and meat.
They have a cult following among chicken lovers thanks to their browning ability as well.
- Most energy efficient
- Cooks a bit faster compared to toaster ovens
- Cooks evenly across all corners and thus is excellent for meat.
- Does not raise the dough when baking cakes
- You have to adjust temperature and cooking cycles in recipes when using convection feature.
4. Conveyor Toaster
A conveyor toaster is fitted with heating elements at the top and bottom of the cooking chamber like a regular toaster oven.
Their signature feature is a chain-driven belt that carries bread through toasting chambers so that you can quickly toast a large batch of bread slices.
Typically, toasting is complete by the time the bread reaches the end of the conveyor belt.
At that point, the bread is directed into a feeder area where it can be picked up ready for eating.
To help you control the belt speed, the toaster is fitted with an easy-to-turn knob.
For darker toast colors, you need to adjust the knob and lock in a lower belt speed.
Most models come with just a single rack wide enough to hold up to three rows of slices of bread.
Most commercial toasting appliances are conveyor toasters because they can typically produce more product per hour than slot toasters or toaster ovens.
These aren’t aesthetically appealing and really well suited for your home kitchen decor.
However, if you are running a restaurant, then their industrial look and durability makes all the more sense.
Conveyor toasters are mainly used to toast bread at a commercial level.
The average model can churn out up to 1,000 slices of bread an hour.
However, some recent models have been built with specific dishes in mind, such as hamburger buns and chicken.
- Durable design
- Heavy duty
- The exterior stays cool to the touch
- Fast toasting that is ideal for restaurants and bakeries.
- More complex controls than slot toasters
- Fairly heavy
- A lot more expensive
There are generally four types of toasters as we saw above: pop-toaster, toaster oven, convection toaster oven, and conveyor toaster.
There is no single model that fits all meals or requirements. Each toaster type has its own uses cases, pros and cons.
No matter the model you settle upon, care and maintenance can extend the useful life of your appliance.