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How to use a toaster

How to use a toaster

We’re going to break down exactly what happens when we use a standard, electric, pop up toaster. Instead of just knowing the steps, you’ll know what happens and why that happens.

Depending on your model of toaster, this guide may slightly differ from what you have. Most toasters come with the same design, however.

How to use a toaster

Table of contents

  • Quick explanation
  • Make sure your toaster is plugged in
  • Place the bread into the bread slot
  • Push down the lever
  • Leave the bread to cook
  • Let the toast pop-out
  • Conclusion

Quick explanation

In a rush and need to know how a toaster works now? Here’s our easy 5 step guide to knowing how to use a pop up toaster.

1. Make sure your toaster is plugged in

If your toaster has no power, it won’t work. Simple as that. Plug it in and make sure there is electricity flowing to the appliance.

2. Place the bread into the bread slot

Depending on the size of your toaster, there will be 2 or 4 bread slots. You don’t need to use them all, just make sure there’s some bread to toast.

3. Push down the lever

Your bread will drop down into the appliance and the elements will begin to glow.

4. Leave the bread to cook

This generally doesn’t take any more than 2 – 4 minutes, but check the instruction manual for your device. You don’t need to stay next to it while it cooks the bread.

5. Let the toast pop-out

If you’re using a toaster that was made after the 1920s (which everyone should be doing!), your toast will pop out of the machine. Now you just need to take it out and apply your topping of choice.

Make sure your toaster is plugged in

Before we can begin to make toast, we need to make sure that our toaster has an electric current feeding it. Pretty much all toasters available today work by taking electrical energy and converting it to heat energy. If there is no electrical energy to use, you will just have bread.

Plug your toaster into a socket in the normal way and flick the switch (if your socket needs one). Now you have an electric current flowing to the toaster.

How to use a toaster

Place the bread into the bread slot

We can actually do this even before the toaster is turned on, but it has to be before we press the lever.

Now that you have an electrical charge, you can place your bread in. It doesn’t matter which kind of bread you use, as long as it fits into the bread slot.

Depending on the type of toaster you own, there may be differing numbers of bread slots. Generally, home toasters have no more than 4 slots. You can add as many pieces of bread to your toaster with very little impact on the toaster’s “performance” – if you are eco-conscious and want to use as little energy as possible, try to use as many slots as you can for each round of toast.

The bread should sit “half-out” of the toaster; that is, half of the bread will be exposed outside of the appliance. This means that it is sitting on the cage inside, ready for the toaster machine to be turned on.

Push the lever down

Most toasters come with a lever on the side that drops the cage into the appliance and turns on the elements. This is how we start cooking our toast.

The lever isn’t just a way to lower toast into the correct compartment for cooking; it also completes the circuit that feeds the electric current to the heating elements. Because the circuit is now complete, the electricity begins to flow through the elements and we start to see how they react under the charge of the current.

If you are looking over into the holes of your toaster, you will see that the elements are now beginning to shine brightly. They will generally warm up to a dull red and possibly even turn a particularly bright, almost white shade of red after a few moments. Now your elements are turning the electrical energy into heat energy.

Note: do not put anything into the toaster when there is an electric current flowing. If you put a knife in, you can cause serious injury from electrical shock, explosions, or fire from messing with the circuitry.

At this point, your toast will begin to cook. The elements will heat up the air around your toast and give it that lovely, dark brown color that you are looking for.

Leave the bread to cook

Now that the toaster is working, you don’t really need to do anything. You can walk away and do something else during this time. Modern toasters are designed with safety in mind, so you shouldn’t have to worry about the risk of a fire unless the toaster is damaged (in which case, don’t use it).

There is a thermal sensor in all toasters today that will stop the machine from cooking when it detects the bread has reached a certain heat. This saves you having to eject the toast from the appliance when you think it is cooked. Of course, if you want to stop the machine early, there is either a release button or the lever will slide back to its original position.

Let the toast pop out

When the toast is cooked, the thermal sensor will switch off the device and the pop-up mechanism will eject the now toasted bread. The cage that carries the toast will move upwards, meaning the toast will pop out over the top of the hole.

How to use a toaster

Because the cage is no longer at the base of the toaster, the circuit is also broken. Electricity is no longer flowing to your appliance, so the elements should also be cooling down. As they can reach temperatures of up to 1200 degrees Fahrenheit, they are certainly still not safe to touch!

Now you can take your toast out and apply whatever topping you like.


And there you have it, how to use a toaster. These 5 steps really require very little human intervention, so you can simply place your toast in and forget about it. Over 100 years of engineering has gone into making the toaster what it is today.

Many little improvements mean that the people who are wondering “how do I use a toaster?” simply need to follow our 5 little steps and they can have as much toast as they like.

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