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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:   $35 List | $37 at Amazon
Pros:  Inexpensive
Cons:  Keep Warm function is a bit confusing to use
Manufacturer:   Hamilton Beach
By Max Mutter and Steven Tata  ⋅  Oct 25, 2016
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54
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#8 of 11
  • Bread Toasting Quality - 35% 6
  • Ease of Use - 35% 5
  • Bagel Toasting Quality - 15% 5
  • Frozen Food/Defrosting Quality - 15% 5
RELATED: Best Toaster

Our Verdict

In our 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.

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Pros InexpensiveGreat toasting performance, incredible bagels, stylish looksInexpensive, toasts 4 slices at once, toasts bagels evenlyGood toast, decent bagels, inexpensiveGood toasting performance, good bagels, inexpensive
Cons Keep Warm function is a bit confusing to useExpensiveNo specific bagel mode, toasting can be slightly inconsistent overallHard to clean crumb trayMediocre froze pastries, difficult crumb tray access
Bottom Line Makes okay toast and bagels,but there are much better budget options out thereThe best bar none, particularly if you're a bagel aficionadoImpressive performance at a low prices makes this a compelling 4-slice modelNot a bad budget option, but certainly not the best budget optionImpressive toast and bagels at a bargain price
Rating Categories Keep Warm 2-Slice Smeg 2-Slice Elite Gourmet... BLACK+DECKER... AmazonBasics KT-3680
Bread Toasting Quality (35%)
6
9
7
7
8
Ease Of Use (35%)
5
7
6
6
4
Bagel Toasting Quality (15%)
5
10
9
7
8
Frozen Food Defrosting Quality (15%)
5
8
7
7
5
Specs Keep Warm 2-Slice Smeg 2-Slice Elite Gourmet... BLACK+DECKER... AmazonBasics KT-3680
Weight (lb) 2.6 5.4 6.4 2.7 2.5
Dimensions (L x W x H) 11" x 7.3" x 7.8" 12.7" x 7.7" x 7.6" 14.7" x 7.1" x 7.7" 10" x 6.5" x 7.4" 10.7" x 6.4" x 7.6"
Standard/Long Slot Standard Standard Long Standard Standard
Available with Long Slot? Yes Yes Yes No No
Available in 4 slot? No No No Yes No
Color/Finish Options Stainless Steel Cream, Red, Black, Chrome, Pastel Blue, Pink, Pastel Green Black Plastic/Stainless Stainless Steel Black Plastic/Stainless
Exterior Housing Material Stainless Steel Coated Steek Stainless Steel Stainless Steel Plastic
End of Cycle Indicator Beep None None None None
Manufacturer Warranty One Year Limited One Year Limited One Year Limited Two Year Limited One Year Limited

Our Analysis and Test Results

Performance Comparison


Below we further discuss the Keep Warm's performance in each of our individual tests.

Bread Toasting Quality


The Keep Warm made decent toast in our test, albeit with some of the common inconsistencies. It tended to toast the tops of slices a bit darker than the bottoms, and to brown one vertical crust much more than the other. It was also slightly inconsistent between cycles, but nowhere close to the degree that 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 of 6 out of 10 puts it right in the middle of a metric that saw scores ranging from 4 to 9.

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 fairly 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 be engaged until after the lever has been pushed down and a cycle has been started. 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 cycle has finished, beeping loudly every minute to remind you that it's ready. This is a nice feature for people who seem to always be 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.

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 a 5 out of 10 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 scored a 5 out of 10 in our bagel toasting test, putting it toward the bottom of the score sheet. Our bagel testing produced scores falling from 4 to 10. The Keep warm actually 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.

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 5 out of 10 on our defrosting test, putting it in at the midpoint in a field of scores spanning from 3 to 8.

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

Value


The Keep Warm offers reasonable performance, and with a list price of just $35 it's hard to be disappointed. However, the Best Buy Award winning Oster Jelly Bean offers better value at the same price.

Credit: Katherine Elliott

Conclusion


The Keep Warm is a reasonable performer that offers a unique keep warm feature that some users may find useful. Considering its low list price many will be satisfied with its performance, but there are better performers, namely the Oster Jelly Bean available at the same price.

Max Mutter and Steven Tata