The best bread machines make it easy and simple to get home-baked bread, so that the only thing you need to get baking is to measure out the ingredients and push a few buttons. With one of the best bread machines in your arsenal, you can enjoy the pleasures of freshly baked loaves with minimal effort.
All of the mixing, kneading, rising, and baking takes place automatically inside the machine. There are models that make loaves of all sizes and varieties and even some that make gluten-free bread. The best ones will bake up loaves that rise up high with evenly baked and browned crusts. You can even set them to bake while you sleep so you can wake up and smell the cinnamon raisin!
If you hate the work involved in kneading, and the stress of finding a warm place for your dough to rise, but love to stretch your own pizza dough or braid a challah, you can use the dough setting for mixing, kneading, and the first rise, and then remove your dough to shape it yourself and bake your creation in the oven.
What are the best bread machines?
Based on our extensive research, the best bread machine is the Zojirushi Home Bakery Virtuoso Plus. It consistently delivers beautiful, golden-brown loaves with rounded tops and crispy crusts on all sides. In addition, it offers a multitude of cycles for everything from basic white to multigrain bread and even jam and cake as well as a unique sourdough starter setting. But as is often the case, the best doesn’t come cheap.
If you want to buy a machine for less than your monthly car payment, we have a great budget buy to recommend, the Hamilton Beach Artisan Dough & Bread Maker. This affordable model can still make a myriad of types of bread and is the only one on the market with a loaf pan and kneading paddle that you can toss in the dishwasher.
Both the Zojirushi and the Hamilton Beach machines bake loaves ranging in size from 1 to 2 pounds but if you have a small family and only need a 1-pound loaf, Zojirushi’s Home Bakery Mini Breadmaker may be the perfect choice for you. On the other hand, if you have a whole posse of teenagers chowing down at the breakfast table, you might want to invest in either Breville’s the Custom Loaf or the West Bend 3 lb. Hi-Rise Bread Maker 47413, which both make larger-than-average loaves. And if you want to be able to come home from work and make a loaf of bread for dinner, the Oster 2 lb. Bread Maker has a speedy one-hour cycle.
For a picture-perfect loaf every time, you can’t beat the Zojirushi Home Bakery Virtuoso Plus. Whether you opt for classic white or hearty whole wheat, it will come out with a rounded top, a crispy but not tough crust, and a tender crumb. The Virtuoso Plus is the best bread machine for sophisticated bakers as it has a setting for making a sourdough starter and another that allows you to program in your own recipes. Plus, you have a selection of 3 crust colors. When it’s the optimal time to add cranberries or walnuts, the machine beeps to remind you.
The bright LCD display is easy to program and unlike those on other bread machines, it tells you what time your bread will be done, rather than how much time is left. That means you don’t have to do math in your head but rather see exactly when your pumpernickel will be ready to be slathered with butter.
If you’re looking for a beautifully designed machine with a lot of fancy features, you’ll love the Breville the Custom Loaf. It can make a loaf that’s up to 2 1/2 pounds, among the largest of any electric bread baker. It has 13 settings, including one for an extra-crusty loaf and another for gluten-free bread, making this one of the best bread machines around.
The Breville is pricey but has a lot of nice extras including some you won’t find on any other machine. There’s a dispenser that automatically adds the fruits, nuts, or chocolate chips so you can truly set and forget it, regardless of your recipe. After it finishes kneading, the paddle folds down. That means you don’t have to extract it from your baked bread and there’s no crater in the bottom of your loaf. An interior light makes it convenient to see what’s going on inside the machine without opening the lid. Like all Breville appliances, it has a plug that’s particularly easy to pull out of the socket.
Although it’s budget friendly, the Hamilton Beach Artisan Dough & Bread Maker doesn’t skimp on settings, making it the best bread machine for budget-conscious shoppers. In addition to the typical settings including jam, cake, and gluten-free, it has some unusual ones. There’s a cycle specifically for French bread and one for artisan dough that gives dough made with a sourdough starter an extra slow cool rise before you shape it yourself into a boule. And like virtually all models, you can set it to bake overnight; if you opt to sleep in, it will keep your bread warm.
The Hamilton Beach has some timesaving features. When you haven’t planned ahead of time, it can whip up a loaf start to finish in under 2 hours on the Express setting. And clean-up is truly a breeze as you can chuck both the pan and the paddle in the dishwasher. Overall, it’s easy to see why Artisan Dough & Bread Maker is one of the best bread machines.
The Cuisinart Compact Automatic Bread Maker takes up less space on your countertop because it’s taller than it is wide. You do, however, wind up with an unusually tall loaf that you may want to turn on its side to slice to get reasonably sized portions. Even though it’s compact, this bread baker can still turn out a loaf that’s up to 2 pounds and it has a dozen settings including a special one for packaged mixes. You can control the color of your crust and when it’s the right time to add in the raisins, you’ll hear a reminder beep.
In spite of its relatively low price, the Cuisinart is a beautifully designed brushed stainless-steel appliance. It has an interior light for checking progress without opening the lid to sneak a peek. You get a very thorough instruction manual plus a booklet with lots of appealing recipes. Add it all up and you have one of the best bread machines for the money.
No need for a giant machine if there’s only one or two of you sitting down at the dinner table. Zojirushi Home Bakery Mini Breadmaker makes an adorable cube-shaped loaf that won’t leave you with a lot of stale bread. In addition to a setting that allows you to adjust the color of your crust, it has a bread texture setting that lets you choose soft, regular, or firm. On the Zojirushi Mini Breadmaker, you will find fewer settings and there’s no gluten-free cycle. However, it does have a quick 2-hour setting if you want to bake on impulse.
The machine itself is small and lightweight, and even has a carrying handle to make it easy to stash away when you’re not using it. With its white plastic casing, it’s not a trophy appliance to dress up your counter top, but it’s the best bread machine for small families.
You can get a loaf of bread from the Oster 2 lb. Bread Maker almost as quickly as if you drive to the store, which is one reason this appliance made our best bread machines list. Its Expressbake 1-hour setting is the fastest you’ll find on any machine. Oster does warn that loaves may come out denser and darker than you’re used to, but still you can have the pleasure of fresh-from-the-oven loaves without planning in advance.
There’s also a slightly longer 1 hour and 20 minute cycle and of course longer settings for breads for a variety of baked goods including white and whole wheat. You don’t get a gluten-free setting or settings for any other out of the ordinary bread types.
The Oster comes in basic white but is one of the cheapest machines on the market. But even at this price you get an LCD display that’s easy to program.
The new Sensio Bella 2lb Bread Maker gives you lots of flexibility at a super affordable price. In addition to 12 settings for all kinds of bread from basic white to whole wheat to gluten free, not to mention yogurt, jam and cake, you can vary the color of the crust, speed things up with a 2 hour cycle, and keep your freshly baked loaf warm for an hour.
The Bella has a few features you might not expect from such an inexpensive model. There’s an LCD screen for making your selections and a viewing window to check to see how your loaf is rising and baking. You get a little tool to help remove the paddle from the bottom of the loaf before slicing. As the pan is coated with a nonstick finish it is easy to clean by hand but you can pop both it as well as the paddle in the top rack of the dishwasher.
If your family goes through bread like gangbusters, you’ll want the West Bend 3 lb. Hi-Rise Bread Maker. It can make a jumbo 3 pound loaf, the largest of any electric bread baker. And on those days, when only one or two are home for supper, you can make a petite 1 ½ pounder. This machine has two kneading arms, which the manufacturer claims makes for very thorough mixing, a lighter taste and a higher rise. The finished product is shaped like a traditional loaf, making it easy to slice.
The West Bend is loaded with all of the features you expect on a bread machine, including a dozen settings, crust color control and delay start. There is no express setting and some of the settings require up to 3 hours but the long time may also help give a tender texture and a high rise.
How to choose the right bread machine for you
Machine Size: Bread machines are not small appliances. Before you buy one, make sure you measure the space in your kitchen where you plan to keep it, including the distance from the countertop to the cabinet. And check that there will be some space around the bread baker, especially in front of it. Some machines can “rock and roll” as they knead the dough and you don’t want to take any chance that your machine would be able to “walk” right off the counter.
Loaf Size: The purpose of having a bread machine is being able to have freshly made bread. Don’t buy a model that makes a bigger loaf than your family can eat in a day or so. Keep in mind that homemade bread doesn’t have any preservatives and can stale quickly. You can guestimate that a one-pound loaf will give you 8 slices and that you’ll get an additional 4 slices for every half pound. A 2- pounder is about 16 slices.