Toast is one of life’s great comfort foods.

Any amateur can make it: Put bread in toasting device, push button, wait, remove and slather with something.

But it’s also trendy: In recent years, toast has found a cozy spot among and under food trends like avocado, small-batch jam, artisanal cheese and free-range proteins of various types.

“Toast is popular now because it’s a versatile concept,” says Jill Donenfeld, author of “Better on Toast: Happiness on a Slice of Bread — 70 Irresistible Recipes” (William Morrow Cookbooks, March 2015).

“It’s pretty. It’s single serve. And it’s portable. Bread is just not something most people dislike.”

Luckily, the toaster has evolved, too.

While toaster ovens are popular for thick slices and for toppings, slot toasters in their modern iterations have lots of snazzy features. Countertop space and personal preferences may drive your decision.

Some style-savvy options:

Williams-Sonoma has Breville’s sleek toaster, in silver or cranberry red, with presets for multiple slices and levels of browning. The appliance is also a capacious countertop oven with convection baking. The company’s Signature 4-slice toaster is equipped with self-centering guides and 7 browning settings. (www.williams-sonoma.com )

Smeg’s snazzy ’50s-style slot toaster comes in retro hues like fire-engine red, and pastel pink, blue or cream. (www.westelm.com )

Dualit’s Architect 4-slice model lets you toast up both thick and thin slices at the same time. Settings include defrost, and an option to toast just one side of your bread. (www.thehut.com )

Cuisinart’s Compact 2-slice stainless toaster, with a handy defrost-then-toast feature and roomy toasting slots, would fit nicely on a tiny kitchen counter. (www.cuisinart.com )

At the high end of the market, Kitchenaid’s Pro Line 4-slice toaster comes in apple red, black, medallion silver and frosted pearl. LED lights above the settings allow you to operate the appliance in low light. A thoughtful “A Little Longer” button lets you give your bread an extra tweak of toastiness if necessary. And an automatic Keep Warm function continues to keep your toast cozy for an extra three minutes, in case someone’s late to the table. (www.kitchenaid.com )

Donenfeld’s an old-school pan toaster; the technique makes for a uniformly buttery, crispy slice, she says.

Greg Lofts, deputy food editor at Martha Stewart Living, has his own twist on the pan toast: “I prefer to toast bread in a dry, cast-iron skillet. This method yields a crispy, golden exterior and soft, chewy interior — basically everything I want a piece of toast to be.”

His pro tip: “I slice bread when it’s fresh and keep it in the freezer, so I can easily toast one slice at a time and enjoy it throughout the week. No more stale bread!”

Whether you use a high-tech appliance or a stick over an open flame, it’s hard to argue with toast’s simple charm. As Donenfeld writes in her book, “Food tastes better when it’s eaten on a piece of hot, crispy bread. There’s something primal about it.”

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KIM COOK
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