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How To Use A Toaster – The Complete Guide

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The toaster is a classic modern appliance that every household should have. From delightful breakfasts like bagels to simple enjoyments like toast, your toaster is meant to provide you with versatile functionality.

It’s typically quick and easy and most toasters allow you to adjust settings to your own needs as well. 

The thing is, there are so many different things that you can make in a toaster. You can toast frozen things like waffles and toaster strudels or you can crisp up some other items like English muffins, toast, bagels, and more.

So, how do you use a toaster? To use a toaster oven, place your desired food (bread, bagel, waffle, etc.) into one of the open slots on the toaster. Adjust the settings to your preference of doneness before pressing down the lever that lowers the product into the toaster. Once your food is done cooking, the toaster will pop it up automatically.

In this guide, we will go over how to use a toaster.

We will discuss things like how toasters work, step-by-step instructions on how to use a toaster, and then we will also break down how to use a toaster for specific items like bagels, toast, waffles, and more. 

Stick with us to learn how exactly you can use your toaster! 

How To Use A Toaster

Let’s start with the basics. While we have a lot of ground to cover and we plan to share some specific details about using a toaster for certain things, we also want to just give you a general idea of how to properly use a toaster. 

Keep in mind that this set of instructions will be pretty basic and then you can change and alter certain parts of the process to cater to what it is you are toasting as well as your own preferences for the toasting process. 

The one thing we want to point out is that every toaster is different.

While they all have settings and functions that can be fairly similar, the way that they toast or the accuracy of those settings is going to be different from toaster to brand and other variables

We point this out just to make you aware that you may need to plan to adjust your settings slightly based on how your toaster cooks for your settings. 

Without further ado, here are the general steps for how to use a toaster. 

  1. Find a place for the toaster on the counter that is not directly touching anything else and is stable. 
  2. Plug your toaster in. 
  3. Slide your item to toast into the designated slots available. Your toaster may have a single slot or it might have 2-4 slots available. 
  4. Choose your settings appropriately based on your toaster. You may need to select a bagel setting, a frozen setting, or any number of other things. Also, make sure to adjust the number/”light-to-dark” setting. The lower the number, the lighter the toasting will be. 
  5. Activate the toaster. In most toasters, this is done by pressing down a lever on the side or front of the toaster. This lever will lower the item to be toasted down inside of the toaster. 
  6. If you believe that your toasted item is ready but hasn’t popped out yet, you can generally “stop” the toaster with a button or force the lever up (although not recommended). If your toaster has a stop function, use that. It’s best to get your settings right so this isn’t necessary. 
  7. When the toasting item is done, it should pop up automatically for you to remove from the toaster. 
  8. The item and the toaster will most likely be hot to the touch so we recommend using tongs to remove your item and transfer it to a plate. 

That’s it! It’s really pretty simple overall. Keep in mind there may be some adjustments that you make along the way depending on what you’re toasting, your preferences, and even your toaster. 

Now, let’s dig a little deeper. Soon, we will give you specific instructions for toasting certain popular toaster items as well. 

How Do Toasters Work? 

The inside of a toaster is run by electricity and they typically have heating elements on the inside. It’s this cross between the electricity and the heating element that really does the work here. 

A toaster uses infrared radiation to cook with. This infrared system will create heat within the toaster.

This is a direct heat that is generally known for being easy and cheap to produce as well. It’s really useful and it makes the toaster a fast but efficient tool

The infrared heat comes from a light. You may notice the heating elements turning red or orange while the item is toasting.

That just means they are working! Typically, the elements will make direct contact with your bread or other item but not always. 

However, the heat generated from that element works into your bread thanks to the friction caused. It’s a direct heat source that conducts heat. It will toast the outside of your item while also cooking the inside of the item in the process. 

The interesting thing about a toaster is that it uses this unique infrared heating process but it doesn’t require a lot of energy or electricity to operating. This is because toasters are made with nichrome wires inside their heating elements. 

These wires withstand high temperatures but also slow down electrons when the electricity is flowing. This helps to convert them to heat in an efficient way.

The wires and the elements are meant to be durable and also able to heat and cool quickly when used. 

It’s a similar concept to say your hair dryer, where your heating elements cool down just a few seconds after you turn it off but it blows hot and can get warm while it’s on.

So, here’s the kicker. How will your toaster know when the item inside is “done”? Well, this is where your settings will come into play.

You may have special functions like “bagel”, “frozen”, or even “warm”. Different toasters have different settings such as this

All toasters will have a dial, slide, or button where you set the level of darkness you want to achieve.

This may be accentuated by a number or a scale or even a “light-to-dark” setting. We mentioned earlier that the lower the setting, the lighter the toasted item will be. 

Toaster Safety

While we’re here let’s just touch slightly on toaster safety. If you are not careful, you can face electrocution issues or even getting burnt. 

One of the most important safety things to know is you should never poke something metal or conductive inside the toaster.

If you put a knife or something like that down inside your toaster while it is operating, you can get shocked

Even when you’re using tongs to remove items from the toaster, we recommend using tongs that have coated ends or perhaps even silicone or plastic tongs. You certainly don’t want to get shocked. 

The other thing to note is that it gets very hot down inside that toaster and the elements that produce heat also get extremely hot. If you stick your fingers or hands against the metal plates, you’re likely to get burnt

How To Take Care Of Your Toaster

Finally, let’s talk about properly caring for your toaster while we are specifically discussing the inner workings of the toaster. To make your toaster last longer, you need to properly care for and maintain the toaster. 

Mostly, your toaster just needs to be cleaned regularly. When you use it, bread crumbs will pile up.

Most toasters have a crumb tray or something along those lines to catch the crumbs but it is inevitable that they will also pile up inside the toaster. 

If you have a removable crumb tray, you mostly just need to be sure to remove it and clean it regularly. You can do it every use but you really can get away with doing it every few uses as long as you are doing it regularly. 

We do want to point out that your toaster needs to be cooled down and unplugged when you remove the crumb tray. 

While the crumb tray is removed, you can also give your toaster a good shake to shake out any loose crumbs that maybe never made it to the tray. Do this over a trash can or something so you can clean up any crumbs that shake loose. 

Wipe down the outside of your toaster regularly to keep it clean as well. 

Some items toast differently than others so now let’s talk about how to toast some specific items. 

How To Toast Bread In A Toaster

Most toasters were originally designed with the intention of being able to toast bread. While most toasters have also been adapted for a variety of other toasting needs too, this was their original priority and they’ve simply evolved over time. 

Toasting bread is the simplest process with a toaster because it’s just a matter of adding the bread and pushing down the lever. It’s super simple and rarely does your toaster fail to deliver. 

Check out these steps for how to toast bread in a toaster! 

  1. Prepare your toaster by plugging it in and placing it on a steady surface. 
  2. Place an individual slice of bread into the allotted slots. Do not try to place more than one piece of bread stacked together in a single slot. You can use just one slice of bread or multiple, depending on how many slices your toaster will hold. 
  3. Choose your settings for the bread, based on how toasted you want your bread to be. Remember that 1 or low is the lightest toasting setting and the higher the number, the more toasted your bread will be in the end. The highest setting is pretty dark so if you want something in between, go with a middle setting. 
  4. Once you’ve got your settings chosen and your bread is in the slot, press down or move the lever that lowers the bread into the toaster. This generally activates the toasting process. 
  5. Wait patiently while the toaster does what it was designed to do
  6. When the toast is finished, it should pop up on its own. On some toasters, you do need to raise the lever farther up to raise the bread up high enough to remove from the toaster. 
  7. Be careful removing your bread as both the bread and the toaster might be hot. We recommend using silicone or plastic tongs. 

If your toast pops up and it’s not as done as you want it to be, you can toast it again and it won’t hurt it. You may need to reduce the settings for the second time around so that the toaster doesn’t burn your toast. 

How To Toast Bagels In A Toaster

If you toast bagels regularly, you want to be sure you have a toaster that will accommodate bagels.

These are larger than a traditional slice of bread so you either have to slice them very carefully or use a toaster with wider slots that can accommodate a bagel. 

We also want to point out that most modern toasters also have a bagel setting. This triggers your toaster to know that it’s toasting something besides just bread.

Bagels are thick so they might take a little extra heat or time to really toast them well. 

Follow these steps for how to toast a bagel. 

  1. Slice your bagel in half. Most bagels have a pre-cut in them but you can also just gauge halfway for slicing to the best of your ability. You really want to try to get a smooth slice down the center. 
  2. Place half of the bagel per slot in your toaster. The inside of the bagel should face towards the inside of the toaster. 
  3. Choose your setting for how dark or how light you would like your toasted bagel to finish at. Remember that the lower settings are the lightest and the higher settings are the darkest. 
  4. Be sure you press the bagel setting button if your toaster has this function.
  5. Press the lever down that begins the toasting process. This should lower the bagel down and begin the toasting. 
  6. Leave your bagel and let the toaster do the work. 
  7. Your toaster should pop up when the toasting process is complete. 

If your toaster doesn’t have a bagel setting, you will probably need to set your light to dark setting slightly higher than you would for a normal piece of bread. Most newer toasters do have the bagel setting but this is not a guarantee. 

If your toaster has a bagel setting be sure to use it as it is designed to helping to better toast bagels. 

Some people actually prefer to toast their bagels twice and will flip the sides and do a second toasting process. You shouldn’t have to do this but you certainly can if you think you would prefer those results. 

How To Toast Waffles In A Toaster

When you buy frozen waffles, they are made to be heated in either your toaster or your microwave. The toaster really does the best work of crisping them up and not making them soggy. 

This is a frozen item so you will need to keep that in mind as you get your toaster ready to make the item as well.

If your toaster has a frozen setting, this will be the perfect time to use that function. It will allow the toaster to better defrost and cook and toast the waffle, rather than just warm it. 

Follow these steps to toast a waffle in the toaster. 

  1. Place a single waffle in an individual slot in the toaster. You can put as many waffles as you have slots in the toaster. 
  2. Adjust your settings to prepare for the waffle.
  3. Be sure to select the “frozen” setting on your waffle, if it has that function. 
  4. Press the lever to lower your waffles and begin the toasting process. 
  5. Let the toaster do its thing, toasting and cooking your waffle to the perfect crispness. 
  6. When the toaster is finished, it will pop up. 
  7. If you feel the waffles are not quite done, you can flip them over and toast again but this time don’t use the frozen setting. 

Most modern toasters do have a frozen setting but just like any other function, it is not a guarantee.

If you do not have a frozen setting, we recommend setting to a slightly higher darkness setting so that the toaster can both cook through the frozen waffle and toast it. 

This also may be a scenario where you need to toast the waffle twice. In most cases, setting to a slightly higher setting will be sufficient but it really depends on your preferences more than anything else. 

You can follow these steps for any toaster-friendly frozen item. 

How To Toast An English Muffin In A Toaster

Finally, let’s talk about English muffins. This is another great toaster item that some people like to enjoy for breakfast. 

English muffins are a unique material and your toaster probably won’t have a setting dedicated to English muffins.

You can try the bagel setting and it will most likely be effective but you may need to be prepared to use a high setting to really get the muffin toasted well otherwise. 

Follow these steps to toast an English muffin. 

  1. Slice your English muffin in half to make it thinner and so you can toast the insides of the muffin. 
  2. Place each half in a separate slot of your toaster. 
  3. Prepare your settings. English muffins will take longer to toast. If your toaster has a bagel setting, we recommend using that here. You will also probably want to move your dial closer to the darkest settings. 
  4. Push the lever down to lower the English muffin and begin toasting. 
  5. Let the toaster toast it up and it will pop up when it is ready. 
  6. If you need slightly more toasting, try putting the English muffin back in at a low setting. 

English muffins always take longer than toast, which is why we recommend the bagel setting if you have one.

If you do not have a bagel setting, you should plan to toast on a high setting a full round and then potentially toast again at a low setting to finish it off. 

Keep in mind that all toasters work differently so you may need to figure out what works best for your toaster and your preferences as well. 

Up Next: Can You Put Cardboard In The Oven?

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