We’ve reviewed some truly great toasters and toaster ovens, but as technology improves, those extra bells and whistles can add up. Fortunately, for under $50, you can still toast, bake, and broil your way to the best breakfasts every morning.
Our top pop-up toaster pick for under $50 is the Cuisinart 2 Slice Compact Plastic Toaster(available at Amazon for $39.88) which can hold its own against any model on the market.
To find the best affordable toasters, we toasted up a whole lot of white bread and bagels, heated frozen pizza, baked biscuits, and broiled chicken.
Here are the best toasters under $50 we tested:
Cuisinart 2 Slice Compact Plastic Toaster
Oster Black Stainless Collection 2-Slice Toaster
Hamilton Beach 2 Slice Toaster 22623
Oster 2-Slice Toaster TSSTTRJB2R
Hamilton Beach Keep Warm Toaster
Made By Design 2 Slice Extra Wide Slot Stainless Steel Toaster
Black and Decker 2-Slice Toaster T2569B
Amazon Basics 2 Slice Extra Wide Slot Toaster
Here are the best toaster ovens under $50 we tested:
Black and Decker TO1303SB 4-Slice Toaster Oven
Black and Decker 2-Knob 4-Slice Toaster Oven
Hamilton Beach 31330D 6-Slice Toaster Oven
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Cuisinart toasters can typically be had on the cheap and still be amongst the best toasters. In spite of its rock-bottom price, the Cuisinart 2-Slice Compact Plastic Toaster is beautifully designed and performs well, making it our best value choice (our original best value, the Black + Decker 2-Slice, was discontinued). We love how the gray lettering on the controls really pops against the light background, making it super easy to choose your setting. It was very fast, serving up dark toast in under 3 minutes. When we toasted five 2-slice batches in a row on medium, we got ten slices of identical toast in about 6 minutes. How great when you’re making BLT’s for a bunch of hungry kids! While it did a beautiful job of toasting a bagel on the bagel setting, we found a fat New-York style bagel fit tightly in the slots and neither bagels or English muffins popped up high enough to grab without raising the lever for an extra lift. There's also reheat and defrost features.
When it comes to toasting, the Black and Decker does a remarkable job, especially considering its low price, lack of frills, and petite size. This is the perfect model for a small household that primarily wants to make toast or tuna melts and perhaps occasionally broil a couple of chicken breasts for dinner.
It’s not large enough to hold a 12-inch pizza or even a Cornish hen, never mind a whole chicken. While it was much slower at baking crescent rolls and heating frozen pizza than the other toaster ovens we tested, it browned perfectly evenly.
Not much bigger than a pop-up toaster, the Black and Decker is also lightweight so it’s easy to move around or stash away. To operate, you have to set two dials and then activate a timer. It comes with a small baking pan that’s just large enough for two open-face sandwiches.
Hi, I'm Sharon Franke, and I’ve been reviewing kitchen equipment for the past 30 years. In addition to testing and writing about everything from bagels slicers to bread machines, I’m a passionate home cook. Before I became obsessed with cooking appliances and tools of all kinds, I spent seven years working as a professional chef in New York City restaurants. While I’m always on the lookout for the newest recipes and restaurants to try, when I’m cocooning at home, more often than not, it’s a toasted bagel that’s on my plate.
We tested 2-slice pop-up electric toasters (we haven't tested 4-slice toasters yet). Each appliance was rated first and foremost on how well it toasts bread. Could it produce a range of shades and toast evenly enough that all 4 sides come out looking the same? When you make batch after batch does each one come out the same or start getting darker? How does it do on the bagel setting?
Of course, we also considered the experience of using the product to find the best toasters, including how easy it was to set the controls and the convenience of the special features. Since all the toasters got too hot to touch around the slots, whether or not English muffins and bagels popped up high enough to grab without burning your fingers was an important factor. We also evaluated how well each toaster was constructed, including wide slot and long-slot toasters that can toaster different types of bread. And while we didn’t include appearance or size in our ratings, we took them into consideration, as this is one appliance that will almost certainly live on your countertop.
Each toaster oven in this guide was rated first on how well it toasts bread, just like a pop-up toaster. Could it produce a range of shades and toast evenly enough that all 4 sides come out looking the same? Could it evenly toast bagels?
I baked up frozen pizza, refrigerated biscuits and broiled chicken breasts to see if they came out cooked on the inside and nicely browned on the outside in a reasonable amount of time. The convenience of using the product, including how easy it was to set the controls and the helpfulness of the cooking functions, were also an important part of our rating process. I looked at its size, construction, and design of each toaster oven during testing. Is it all stainless, or are there plastic parts? Do the glass doors get dirty easily?
Other Toaster Ovens Under $50 We Tested
Black & Decker 2-Knob 4-Slice Toaster Oven
If price is your number-one consideration, or if you’re really space challenged, the Black and Decker 4-Slice Toaster Oven is for you. Barely bigger than a toaster, you don’t get the functionality of larger, pricier models. However, you can still depend on it for toast, baked goods, and broiled foods. To start heating, you turn a mechanical timer. If you’re cooking something that needs more than the timer’s half-hour limit, you can select a stay-on mode. Just be sure to turn it off when cooking’s finished.
A small lightweight aluminum baking pan comes with the Black and Decker. When I baked refrigerated biscuits, I was only able to fit six, as opposed to the standard eight that come in a package.
If you're not looking to spend a lot and primarily want good toast, the Hamilton Beach 6 Slice Toaster Oven will make you happy. It excels at browning bread and bagels evenly and can bake a batch of crescent rolls or biscuits or broil up some chicken breasts but is not designed for roasting a whole chicken.
This oven looks fairly utilitarian and won’t add any pizzaz to your countertop. To use it, you have to set three separate dials and it operates on a mechanical timer so it isn't terribly precise. However, it does what it’s intended to do well and won't put too much of a dent in your budget.
The latest thing in large kitchen appliances is black stainless steel: a softer, easier-to-clean finish than gleaming stainless steel. If you want to capitalize on the trend without swapping out your fridge, consider the Oster Black Stainless Collection 2-Slice Toaster. Naturally, we wouldn't be writing about it here unless it was also great at toasting bread at all shades. When you’re toasting small items like English muffins, you will have to use the toast lift to grab them without risking burnt fingertips. In addition to bagel and frozen bread settings, it has a "Quick 30 Sec" button if you want your toast just a wee bit more well done.
Talk about no frills! The Hamilton Beach has no settings other than cancel. There isn't a removable crumb tray —you pull it open and give it a shake. However, for less than the price of a movie ticket, you get a darn good toaster.
As you would expect at this price, it’s lightweight so it might be a good choice if you keep your toaster stashed away and pull it out on weekends or when you have company.
For storage, you wrap the cord around the side, which isn’t pretty but is easily accomplished.
Although it’s not a looker, you can’t beat the price of the Hamilton Beach. And you don’t sacrifice at all when it comes to getting a perfectly browned piece of bread or a bagel.
This was one of the few that was able to turn out five matching batches of toast one after the other. When you’re making a small item like an English muffin you’ll have to remember to use the lever to raise it above the hot slots. Its bagel button, defrost setting and keep warm setting are very well marked so they’re easy to select.
Target’s house brand, the Made By Design 2-Slice Extra Wide Slot Stainless Steel Toaster, sells for an unbeatable price but, as you would expect, it’s utilitarian looking and lightweight.
However, it does a reasonably good job of toasting bread. And surprisingly, it’s one of the only toasters we tested that stays cool enough to touch just about everywhere except the stainless steel on the top of the slots.
On the bagel setting, it extends the time but toasts on both sides of the bagel.
We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.