Consumer Reports puts toasters to the test -- which ones pop to the top?

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- Consumer Reports recently tested two and four-slice toasters. Testers even looked at a toaster designed with a gluten-free setting. Find out which toaster pops to the top!

No matter how you slice it, the toaster is a must-have appliance for most kitchens, which is why Consumer Reports tests dozens of models every year. "We set each toaster to a medium setting, and we look at how well each toaster makes a single slice and then a full batch," said Haniya Rae, Consumer Reports Home Editor.

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This industry standard chart -- yes, that really is a thing they use -- helps testers categorize how well each toaster performs. The best toasters match this evenly browned toast in the toast color chart. "We're also looking for good color range with each toaster so everyone that uses the toaster will be happy with their toast," said Rae.

Consumer Reports also assesses how long each toaster takes to deliver the goods. The faster the better! "You also want a toaster that's really easy to use and clean," said Rae. "You don't want any cracks or crevices and you want to be able to pull out that crumb tray very easily."

Testers even looked at a toaster with a gluten-free bread setting. "Gluten-free bread is a bit denser than regular bread, and you might not get the same results on the same setting," said Rae.

The $30 Bella delivered. And performed excellent on the standard setting with regular bread, too.

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Toasting for a crowd? Consider splurging on the top-rated four-slice toaster, Breville Bit More, which costs $100. It has wide slots for bagels and if your toast turns out too light, press the "bit more" button and it will toast a little longer.

Consumer Reports tested all of the toasters with pre-cut, packaged bagels. But, if you are a bagel lover and you like a fatter, bakery bagel, be sure to look for a toaster with the widest slots you can find. Some toasters have a bagel setting that toasts on one side only, so you can brown the cut side and keep the other side softer.

Click here for a look at more stories by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.

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