Whether on TikTok or in convenient product placement, you've likely seen the Balmuda Toaster. Made by the Tokyo-based brand Balmuda and released in the US in 2020, the $299 toaster has become a hot product, owing in part to its beautiful design and luxury price tag — and it's not alone.
Whether a classic Smeg or the minimalist Sowden Toaster, a fancy toaster is certainly on a lot of folks' wishlists. But of all the kitchen appliances you can spend your hard-earned money on, we set out to see if this toaster was worth the splurge.
Balmuda Toaster: What We Think
This stunning toaster oven's reputation precedes itself. It's an excellent toaster and a beautiful countertop appliance. I've been using it for months to toast bread and reheat leftovers, and, honestly, I love it. Its unique steam tech really is a game changer, and the design is absolutely gorgeous — but is it worth $300? Only if you're looking for a work of art over a toaster.
If you can afford the price tag and counter space, the Balmuda is gorgeous and performs well. But I wouldn't necessarily triple your toaster budget to splurge on an appliance that won't serve multiple uses in your kitchen.
The toaster's steam tech is unique and effective.
The main selling point of the Balmuda, besides its design (more on that later), is its use of steam. Rather than just using heat to toast your bread or whatever else you might need warmed up, you add water (about 1 teaspoon) into a little compartment on the top of the oven that is released as steam inside the toaster. (A little bit of the steam will also come out of the top, so watch your hands.) This makes whatever you're toasting warm and crispy, while also ensuring that it retains some moisture.
I definitely noticed a difference in the final product during testing, as food toasted in the Balmuda was less likely to end up dry, brittle and even burnt. Additionally, everything I put in it toasted very evenly. And the uniqueness of its toasting tech kind of helps to sweeten some of the bitterness of the appliance's price tag (emphasis on some) as I've never come across a toaster oven quite like this one.
The design is beautiful.
I never thought I'd say this about a toaster, but the Balmuda is truly beautiful, which explains why you might be spotting it in the kitchens of influencers like Emily Mariko. The design is simple yet very elegant thanks to its minimal gold detailing and matte black finish (also available in white, gray and taupe). However, I did note that the matte exterior does show dust and fingerprints and requires wiping down with a damp cloth every now and then.
Unlike the short-lived stainless steel slot toasters I've owned in the past, I want this one to stay on my counter and be the centerpiece of my kitchen. And if you've ever come across any of the other well-designed products from Balmuda (the list is pretty short), like its electric gooseneck kettle, then this won't come as a surprise.
The interior of the oven is simple, but I found it quite difficult to clean. The toaster does have a discreet removable crumb tray, which really helped. However, I did have a pizza cheese melting mishap that required some careful cleaning, which is a common tradeoff with toaster ovens as there's more surface area for food to fall.
It's expensive, bulky and only serves one purpose.
The Balmuda's major cons are, unfortunately, also some of the toaster's most obvious features — the first one being its price tag. At just under $300, the purchase is hard to justify. For reference, this toaster is the splurge pick in our guide to the best toasters, which includes toasters ranging from $42 to $480. Two out of the three other toasters on that list that exceed the $200 mark serve a dual function, like a toaster oven and air fryer hybrid or a toaster with smart features.
The toaster has two knobs: one for time (up to 15 minutes) and one for temperature (up to 450 degrees). And the temperature control also has four special modes for sandwich bread, artisanal bread, pizza and pastry. As a user, it wasn't totally clear to me how the specific modes differed, and I found myself just setting the toaster to the temperature I preferred. All in all, if you take away the steam function on the Balmuda, which is quite nice but not worth $300, you're left with a pretty simple (yet stunning) toaster oven.
Aside from its excellent design, the first thing I noticed when taking the toaster out of the box was how much larger it was than I expected. It's 14.1 by 12.6 by 8.2 inches, which is honestly pretty comparable to the size of the other toaster ovens we've tested. But if you're used to a two-slot toaster or a toaster oven that also doubles as an air fryer, then you might be as shocked as I was. Plus, if you're not someone who has toast every single morning, losing that countertop real estate might start to hurt, and storing the appliance in a cupboard feels counterintuitive to its beauty. That said, my air fryer did break a couple of months into testing, and while the Balmuda was not an alternative, it did stand up to everyday use reheating pizza, banana bread, etc.
Balmuda Toaster: Alternatives
An affordable toaster oven is certainly not hard to find. Our favorite is the 2-in-1 Countertop Oven and Long Slot Toaster from Hamilton Beach ($90) that acts as both an oven and slot toaster. But if you're looking for a toaster or toaster oven that also acts as a piece of decor like the Balmuda, then there's no exact equivalent — but I do have a few suggestions.
If money is no object, the Couture Air Fryer Toaster Oven from Cafe is somehow $150 more than the Balmuda, has a very sleek design and also functions as an air fryer. For someone who just wants a slot toaster that looks nice on their counter, you can't go wrong with a Smeg. It has six browning levels and four modes, and it's $100 less than the Balmuda.