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Tom’s Guide
Tom’s Guide
Jackie Dove

I’ve been using the KitchenAid 4-Slice Toaster for a week — what I love and hate

KitchenAid 4-Slice Toaster review.
The KitchenAid 4-Slice Toaster: Specs

Slices: 4

Material: Stainless steel

Dimensions: 11.62 x 11.4 x 7.48

Weight: 7.2 Pounds

Settings: 5 + Bagel

Cord length: 39 inches

Color options: Contour Silver, Brushed Stainless, Empire Red, Onyx Black

The KitchenAid 4-Slice Toaster with Manual High-Lift Lever is a husky beast of a toaster with a pleasing rounded retro style. You'll need plenty of countertop space if you want to make it part of your kitchen setup, but there's rewards aplenty if you do. The KitchenAid currently comes in at under $70 at Amazon and features four large toasting slots that can accommodate thick breads, English muffins, and bagels up to 1 1/8 inches wide. 

A set of dual controls effectively gives you two toasters in one. During my testing, I was able to set different controls over two sets of bread and even toast regular slices and bagels at the same time with separate settings.

That said, it's not without a couple of drawbacks. Any 4-slice toaster will take up more space and, at 7.2 pounds, it's one of the heavier toasters I've used as well as the most energy-hungry. Those in smaller apartments may want to opt for a smaller and more affordable 2-slice toaster instead. Meanwhile, if you're regularly defrosting bread with a toaster you may find the lack of a frozen setting off-putting.  

KitchenAid 4-Slice Toaster: Price and availability

The KitchenAid is available from Amazon at $69 at the time of writing, with an original listing price of $79. That puts it on the more affordable side when compared with other 4-slice toasters, such as the Breville Bit More 4-slice Toaster currently on sale for $99 at Amazon. Anyone on a budget can obviously save money by downgrading to a 2-slice toaster such as the  

The toaster comes in four colors: Brushed Stainless Steel, Contour Silver, Empire Red, and Onyx Black.

KitchenAid 4-Slice Toaster with Manual High-Lift Lever: Design

 KitchenAid 4-Slice Toaster   (Image credit: Future)

The KitchenAid’s flexible stainless steel unit lets you toast two different sets of bread at their own independent temperatures, or even toast a mix of breads and bagels at the same time. You’ll need ample counter space to accommodate it because it's obviously larger than a 2-slice toaster, measuring 11.62 inches wide by 11.4 inches deep by 7.48 inches high. It’s also the heaviest toaster I've tested recently at 7.2 pounds. I used the Empire Red model which combines pleasing deep red panels on either side of the toaster, flanking a brushed metal front and back. 

The five, knob-based shade controls lock into place with a soft click, so there are no extra shade settings in between the major ones. A Bagel setting and a Cancel button are the only other controls, as the KitchenAid lacks a Frozen setting. That means that either the setting you choose will also defrost and cook the bread on the first go, or you’ll have to give the bread a higher setting or a second toast round. 

External temperatures are relatively high — ranging from 68 to 112 degrees and 95 to 118 degrees as measured from the front and side of the toaster on both sides respectively. Vents placed in the middle of both side panels dissipate the heat to some degree. However, the toaster, while surprisingly warm on the outside in comparison to some other models I've used, was perfectly OK to handle. What’s more, it could double as a hand warmer on chilly mornings!

It also pulled the most energy at 0.091 kWh at the medium setting with all slots toasting for 3:19 minutes.  

KitchenAid 4-Slice Toaster with Manual High-Lift Lever: Performance

KitchenAid 4-Slice Toaster toaster test (Image credit: Future)

For the most part the toast we tested at low, medium, and high settings conformed to the shades we expected. The low setting had some slight color, but basically the unit dehydrated the bread and made it slightly crisp. The medium setting had a rich brown color, while the dark setting was almost black but not charred. 

On most of our toast tests, shade was inconsistent on lower settings, and noticeably darker on one side. Sometimes the grill marks showed, and toast color was not entirely even on each slice with a mix of light and brown. Shade at the medium setting is pretty dark with some lighter patches on each slice in different places.

The toaster did better in terms of evenness and consistency on the bagel tests. For bagels we looked for the appropriate level of browning based on the setting for the front side, while on the other side we sought less color but a soft, warm consistency, and the KitchenAid delivered on all counts. 

KitchenAid 4-slice toaster bagel test (Image credit: Future)

With no specific Defrost setting — the only toaster we saw that lacked this setting — we set the desired shade for our frozen waffle test as usual and were not surprised to find that the lower setting produced a lighter than desired shade. 

However, the toaster rallied to a more appropriate shade on the darker setting. Consistency suffered at the lighter settings too, as the flip side of the waffle was noticeably lighter than the front side.  

KitchenAid 4-Slice Toaster with Manual High-Lift Lever: Ease of use and cleaning

KitchenAid 4-slice toaster crumb trays (Image credit: Future)

Operating this toaster is similar to most, as it gives you a manual lever that you can push down to set the bread to toasting. At the same time, the Cancel button up front glows a bright blue, so that you can clearly see which set of slots the toast is in and can cancel the job if you wish. The High-Lift Lever is the same one used to lower the toast into the unit and raise it up above the slots to remove it without burning your fingers. When finished, the unit emits a rather loud alert sound which cannot be adjusted,  and may awaken family members if you live in a smaller house.

Since this is two toasters in one thick body, there are two cleaning trays in the back. At the bottom of the toaster you will see two black panels that read “Push”, and doing that will eject each toaster tray individually. This allows you to clean each separately by pulling them out, emptying them, rinsing them off with water, and placing them back into their slots. 

I wasn't impressed with the High-Lift lever for viewing smaller breads, as it didn't raise the toast high enough to really see much. In case you need any guidance on how the toaster is supposed to work, a detailed, illustrated manual comes with the toaster outlining all the features and functions as well as abundant safety warnings.

The KitchenAid, with its relatively long 39-inch cord and attached cord wrap, is topped with a three prong grounded plug for extra safety. One nice feature is a cord wrap at the bottom that lets you store the cord underneath the unit while still keeping it level on the counter.

KitchenAid 4-Slice Toaster with Manual High-Lift Lever: Verdict

KitchenAid 4-slice toaster test results (Image credit: Future)

The KitchenAid 4-Slice Toaster with Manual High-Lift Lever makes a stylish statement, but you’ll need plenty of space on your kitchen counter or table to accommodate it. We liked that this four-slice toaster lets you toast two sets of breads separately with independent controls — essentially giving you two toasters in one. 

I was less impressed with basic toast performance, especially at lower levels, where toast came out patchy or uneven. I'm mystified as to why there is no defrost setting, but common sense dictates that breads may take longer to defrost and thus calls for a higher setting. Even toasters that have a defrost settings sometimes specify that settings should be higher if you intend to toast straight from the freezer. 

And lastly, while I appreciate the attention to safety, it would also have been nice to have the option to  silence the rather loud alarm the toaster emits once toast is complete. 

There's no doubt this is a versatile and capable toaster and will serve you well. But a few niggling flaws stop it short of being a must-buy.

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