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Hamilton Beach Keep Warm 2-Slice Review

All around average performer, no specific strong suit
Hamilton Beach Keep Warm 2-Slice
Credit: Hamilton Beach
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Price:   $40 List | $42.57 at Amazon
Pros:  Inexpensive
Cons:  Keep Warm function is a bit confusing
Manufacturer:   Hamilton Beach
By Max Mutter and Steven Tata  ⋅  Jan 26, 2022
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54
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#14 of 16
  • Bread Toasting Quality - 35% 6.0
  • Ease of Use - 35% 5.0
  • Bagel Toasting Quality - 15% 5.0
  • Frozen Food - 15% 5.0

Our Verdict

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.

Compare to Similar Products

 
Awards  Best Buy Award  Best Buy Award  
Price $40 List
$42.57 at Amazon
$30 List
$29.95 at Amazon
$35 List
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$40 List
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$40 List
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Overall Score Sort Icon
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Pros InexpensiveStrong toasting, small storage, easy to use, budget friendly, good strudelBudget-friendly, easy-to-use, great strudelsInexpensive, toasts 4 slices at once, toasts bagels evenlyGood toast, decent bagels, inexpensive
Cons Keep Warm function is a bit confusingMediocre bagels, wafflesSubpar bagel toastingNo specific bagel mode, toasting can be slightly inconsistent overallHard to clean crumb tray
Bottom Line All around average performer, no specific strong suitIt may not be the most aesthetic, but this toaster is compact, practical, and budget-friendly for its high performanceAn easy-to-use toaster that is also easy on the wallet, and great for strudel lovers, but not for bagel loversThe best option we've found for people seeking a 4-slice or long-slot model on the cheapA 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%)
6.0
8.0
8.0
7.0
7.0
Ease of Use (35%)
5.0
8.0
8.0
6.0
6.0
Bagel Toasting Quality (15%)
5.0
5.0
5.0
9.0
7.0
Frozen Food (15%)
5.0
7.0
6.0
7.0
7.0
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.

Performance Comparison



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.

Hamilton Beach Keep Warm 2-Slice toaster - in our testing the keep warm's toast had some inconsistencies, and...
In our testing the Keep Warm's toast had some inconsistencies, and seemed to be drier than average.
Credit: Steven Tata

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.

Hamilton Beach Keep Warm 2-Slice toaster - you have to press down the keep warm's lever before selecting a...
You have to press down the Keep Warm's lever before selecting a toasting mode. We found this a bit counterintuitive, but quickly became accustomed to it.
Credit: Katherine Elliott

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.

Hamilton Beach Keep Warm 2-Slice toaster - the keep warm often toasted on bagel slice more than the other.
The Keep Warm often toasted on bagel slice more than the other.
Credit: Steven Tata

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.

Hamilton Beach Keep Warm 2-Slice toaster - the keep warm's defrost setting made decent waffles, but often...
The Keep Warm's defrost setting made decent waffles, but often burned some edges.
Credit: Steven Tata

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.

Hamilton Beach Keep Warm 2-Slice toaster
Credit: Katherine Elliott

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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