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How to Choose the Right Commercial Toaster

Commercial toasters are one of the essential pieces of kitchen equipment every restaurant needs. Purchasing the right one for your establishment is an important step in offering a selection of toasted and grilled menu items!

What is a Commercial Toaster?

Commercial toasters are used to toast bread, bagels, english muffins, buns, and many other types of bread products. There are 3 types of toasters to choose from: Pop-up, Conveyor, and Bun Grilling. See how they stack up against your needs and narrow down your search in our point-by-point comparison.

What to Consider Before Purchasing a Commercial Toaster

There are several main questions you will want to ask yourself before purchasing a new toaster:

  1. What will it toast? Do you want to serve toast, bagels, buns, or a combination?
  2. How much can it toast? Choose from models that can toast anywhere from 60 to 1,600 slices per hour.
  3. How much space will it take up? Do you have sufficient counter space? Do you have enough clearance for the taller units?
  4. What electrical requirements do I need? Consider whether or not you need 120V, 208 / 240V, or 240V electrical connections.

Pop-Up Toaster

four slot pop-up toaster with bread and a plate of toast

  • What will it toast? Great for bread and english muffins. Some will accommodate bagel halves and thicker items like texas toast, but not all.
  • How much can it toast? About 60 - 380 slices per hour.
  • How much space will it take up? Uses the smallest amount of counter space; most will be under 13" wide x 14" deep.
  • What electrical requirements do I need? Most are 120V. Some heavy-duty models need a 208/240V connection.

These toasters are perfect during lower volume meals since they conserve more energy than conveyor toasters. Perfect for toasting bread, bagels, and similar items, a pop-up toaster is an ideal solution for small diners, coffee shops, and other areas with relatively small demands.

Things to Consider when Buying a Pop-up Toaster:

1.) Product Opening: Most commercial toasters will have 2 or 4 slots and will include the slot size, so you can tell if your most commonly-used items will fit. Some models also feature two different slot sizes, so you can toast bread in one side and texas toast or bagels in the other.

2.) Heat Control: Generally speaking, the operating temperature for a pop-up toaster cannot be adjusted. Some commercial toasters only have heating elements on one side, which is great for one sided toasting and bagels; others have heating elements on either side of the slot for double-sided toasting.

3.) Toasting Time: A timer is the most common way to control toasting time on a pop-up toaster. A longer toasting time results in a darker, crisper finished product while a shorter time makes it lighter and softer.

4.) Usage: Pop-up toasters can be divided into three basic categories when it comes to usage:
silver four slot pop-up toaster with dials and buttons

Light-Duty

  • Small volume applications: around 60 slices/hour
  • Not NSF or commercially rated
  • Ideal for: Residential use, office break rooms, low-volume hotels

black and silver four slot pop-up toaster with NSF tag

Medium-Duty

  • Handles a higher volume of toast: anywhere from 60-225 slices/hour
  • Commercially rated
  • Ideal for: Small coffee shops or diners

black and silver four slot pop-up toaster labeled heavy duty

Heavy-Duty

  • Intended for high volume use: anywhere from 225-380 slices/hour
  • Commercially rated
  • Ideal for: Breakfast buffets, coffee shops, cafes, and diners

Conveyor Toaster

conveyor toaster on countertop with toast and bread basket

  • What will it toast? Bread, bagels, english muffins, and even specialty breads. All conveyor toasters have a specific product opening; just make sure that what you're toasting will fit through that space.
  • How much can it toast? Anywhere from 200 - 2,400 slices per hour.
  • How much space will it take up? Can range from about 15" to 24" wide and 18" to 26" deep.
  • What electrical requirements do I need? Lower-production models can fit a standard 120V connection. If you're looking above 500 slices / hour, you'll probably need a heavier-duty connection, like 208 / 240V.

These units are designed for higher output and a wider range of breads than a commercial pop-up toaster. The product is loaded into a feed area in the front of the unit and is drawn back into the heating chamber using a conveyor belt.

After being toasted by heating elements located above and below the belt, your product falls down a slanted chute into a collection area. If you operate a breakfast buffet, catering business, or a busy restaurant, a conveyor toaster is a great option for your business.

Things to Consider when Purchasing a Conveyor Toaster:

1.) Product Opening: Conveyor toasters all come with a specific opening size ranging from about 1 1/2" to 3". You'll want to look at all the items you could potentially be toasting and make sure they'll fit through that opening before making a final purchase.

2.) Heat Control: Some toasters allow you to control the temperature of the top and bottom elements independently or to even turn one off. This lets you toast on only one side, if you so desire.

3.) Toasting Time: The toasting time and the color / texture of the final product is determined by conveyor speed. Speed it up to achieve lighter toasting, and slow it down for a darker appearance.

A stacking kit will let you put two conveyor toasters together to increase your production capacity while saving space.

Bun Grilling Toaster

countertop toaster with buns toasting and finished toast on counter

  • What will it toast? Designed for bun halves, sub rolls, and similar items, but it can also take bagels and sliced bread. It can toast dry or use a butter coating and griddle plate to caramelize the product, rather than truly "toasting". We offer commercial toaster models that automatically adjust to different product sizes.
  • How much can it toast? Anywhere from 550 - 1,600 slices per hour.
  • How much space will it take up? These tend to be bigger than the other types, ranging from about 22" to 25" wide and 12" to 18" deep. Because they have a vertical feed chute, they can be as tall as 31".
  • What electrical requirements do I need? Most units will require a 208V or 240V connection, although 120V models do exist.

A bun grilling toaster can toast all the same things as a conveyor toaster and more. Plus, it can match conveyor toasters in slice output. It really boils down to what you want to toast and how you want your products toasted.

If you're a high volume sandwich shop or cafeteria who wants to give the house burger or sandwich a boost with a buttered, toasted bun, this is probably the machine for you. If you need to toast a lot of bagels for the breakfast line, a conveyor toaster might be the better choice.

Things to Consider when Purchasing a Bun Grilling Toaster:

1.) Dry vs. Wet Toasting: A butter spreader lets you butter the bread for wet toasting. If you'd like to toast products dry, without butter, these units require the use of Teflon® sheets, which usually ship with the product. We also offer replacement sheets.

The Teflon® sheets are placed against the grill plates to prevent the bread from sticking to the equipment. It is also recommended to use Teflon® sheets with bread products brushed with garlic butter, butter with cheese in it, or other high protein butters.

2.) Product Opening: Most of these models feature a self-adjusting conveyor system, so whether toasting bagels or buns, it will adjust accordingly.

3.) Heat Control: The griddle plate on these toasters can be adjusted to the desired temperature using a thermostatic control.

4.) Toasting Time: This is usually determined by the gear setting on a bun griller. Different gears correspond with different toasting times (22 second, 35 second, 55 second, etc.). Use these settings and the griddle temperature to achieve the desired texture.

How to Safely Clean and Remove Crumbs from a Toaster

four slot pop-up toaster with toast inside and crumb trays extended

Keeping your commercial toaster clean is important to the overall performance and safety of the unit. Before cleaning your toaster, always switch off the unit, unplug it, and make sure it's cool. 

The outside of the toaster can be wiped down daily with a damp cloth, and a small brush can be used to clean tough-to-reach spaces. 

Most toasters have a tray at the bottom where the majority of crumbs will fall. Remove the toaster’s crumb tray, empty all of the loose crumbs, and wipe the tray clean, making sure it’s dry before replacing.

Do not turn toasters upside down or shake them to remove crumbs. This can be damaging, loosening internal components and further lodging crumbs inside of the toaster. Shaking a toaster can also cause knobs and levers not to work over time.

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