In our toaster testing the Keep Warm was the definition of average, scoring a 5 in every one of our testing metrics. Considering its low price this average performance is fairly admirable. Its namesake 'keep warm' function is great for those who tend to find themselves absorbed in grinding coffee beans or making a sandwich for lunch when their toast pops up, as it will keep your toast warm for a few extra minutes. However, overall, we think there are better appliances out there for toasting bread and other things.Editor's Note: We updated this toaster review on January 26, 2022. The updates provide more details on our favorite toasters.
Hamilton Beach Keep Warm 2-Slice Review
Cons: Keep Warm function is a bit confusing
Manufacturer: Hamilton Beach
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Hamilton Beach Keep Warm 2-Slice
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|Pros||Inexpensive||Strong toasting, small storage, easy to use, budget friendly, good strudel||Budget-friendly, easy-to-use, great strudels||Inexpensive, toasts 4 slices at once, toasts bagels evenly||Good toast, decent bagels, inexpensive|
|Cons||Keep Warm function is a bit confusing||Mediocre bagels, waffles||Subpar bagel toasting||No specific bagel mode, toasting can be slightly inconsistent overall||Hard to clean crumb tray|
|Bottom Line||All around average performer, no specific strong suit||It may not be the most aesthetic, but this toaster is compact, practical, and budget-friendly for its high performance||An easy-to-use toaster that is also easy on the wallet, and great for strudel lovers, but not for bagel lovers||The best option we've found for people seeking a 4-slice or long-slot model on the cheap||A good, inexpensive option that does just about everything well|
|Rating Categories||Hamilton Beach Keep...||Cuisinart CPT-122||Oster 2 Slice||Elite Gourmet ECT-3100||Black+Decker TR3500SD|
|Bread Toasting Quality (35%)|
|Ease of Use (35%)|
|Bagel Toasting Quality (15%)|
|Frozen Food (15%)|
|Specs||Hamilton Beach Keep...||Cuisinart CPT-122||Oster 2 Slice||Elite Gourmet ECT-3100||Black+Decker TR3500SD|
|Weight||2.6 lbs.||3.7 lbs.||3.5 lbs.||6.4 lbs.||2.7 lbs.|
|Dimensions (L x W x H)||11.0" x 7.3" x 7.8"||6.5" x 11" x 7.2"||11.7" x 6.9" x 7.3"||14.7" x 7.1" x 7.7"||10.0" x 6.5" x 7.4"|
|Standard / Long Slot||Standard||Standard||Standard||Long||Standard|
|Available with Long Slot?||Yes||No||No||Yes||No|
|Available in 4 slot?||No||No||No||No||Yes|
|Color/Finish Options||Stainless Steel||White, Red, Black||Gray||Black Plastic/Stainless||Stainless Steel|
|Exterior Housing Material||Stainless Steel||Plastic||Stainless Steel||Stainless Steel||Stainless Steel|
|End of Cycle Indicator||Beep||None||None||None||None|
Our Analysis and Test Results
Below we further discuss the Keep Warm's performance in our test comparison of the toasters in this review.
Bread Toasting Quality
The Keep Warm made decent toast in our test, albeit with some typical inconsistencies. It tended to toast the tops of slices a bit darker than the bottoms and brown one vertical crust much more than the other. It was also slightly inconsistent between cycles but nowhere close to the degree we observed in the CPT-420. The Keep Warm's toast also seemed to be a bit drier than toast from the other models we tested, not to a terrible degree, but enough that the toast felt just a tad too crunchy. The Keep Warm's score puts it right in the middle of a metric.
Ease of Use
The Keep Warm's controls are relatively easy to use, and all the mode buttons light up once pressed. The shade knob is a bit stiff and does not click into individual settings. The mode buttons can't engage until after the lever is pushed down and a cycle starts. This isn't a huge issue, but it is a little counterintuitive at first. The keep-warm function works well, but again can be tricky to figure out upon first use. Pushing the keep warm button after a cycle has started will retain the toast in the slot to keep it warm for three minutes after the process has finished, beeping loudly every minute to remind you that it's ready. This is a nice feature for people who are constantly engaged in another task when their toast is ready. The crumb tray removes from the back, and it's a bit finicky to get out.
The Keep Warm is nothing if not consistent. It again scored below average in this metric. While operating the Keep Warm never left us frustrated, it just wasn't as enjoyable to use as the top performers in this category. Additionally, its titular keep warm function isn't self-explanatory; we had to go to the manual to see what exactly was going on when we pushed that button.
Bagel Toasting Quality
The Keep Warm offered disappointing results in our bagel toasting test, putting it toward the bottom of the score sheet. The Keep warm toasted the faces of bagels fairly evenly, leaving only a few light spots around the edges. It slipped in the scoring because of its inconsistencies between slices. In our tests, it often toasted one slice to a greater degree than the other. Its bagel mode was able to leave the backsides untoasted, even on the over toasted slice.
Frozen Food/Defrosting Toasting Quality
The defrost setting on the Keep Warm simply adds extra time to the cycle. It does not slowly thaw and then toast frozen items. Subsequently, it did not fare as well in our defrosting tests as other models that use the two-stage technique. When toasting frozen bread, it was able to keep most of the slice even but often left patches adjacent to the top and bottom crusts conspicuously white. It churned out acceptable frozen waffles, but it repeatedly burned edges. This performance earned the Keep Warm a midpoint result in a field.
Should You Buy the Keep Warm?
The Keep Warm is a reasonable performer that offers a unique keep warm feature that some users may find helpful. Considering its low list price, many will be satisfied with its performance, but there are better performers (that even cost less). The Keep Warm offers reasonable performance, and with a list price of just $35, it's hard to be disappointed.
What Other Toaster Should You Consider?
This toaster is largely disappointing, but if the price is the draw for you, we prefer the Amazon Basics KT-3680. This toaster costs less and still offers impressive performance in our toasting bread and bagels tests. We think most folks will be happier spending less and getting more, even if it means sacrificing the "keep warm" feature that we suspect most won't end up using.
— Max Mutter and Steven Tata
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