Hamilton Beach Keep Warm 2-Slice Review
Our Analysis and Test Results
Below we further discuss the Keep Warm's performance in our test comparison of the best toasters.
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 other models. 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.