Nothing rivals the delight of slicing into a freshly baked loaf of bread. However, only some have the time or inclination to devote to the process of fostering a wild starter and learning the skill of sourdough baking. Investing in one of the best bread machines is a great choice for individuals who seek a quick and effortless way to make bread at home. They not only provide fresh loaves without much bother, but you can pick and choose the ingredients to suit your dietary demands. After weeks of evaluating nine bread machines, I concluded that the Zojirushi Home Bakery Virtuoso Plus Breadmaker is the best option for most home bakers. It was one of the few machines that regularly produced nicely baked loaves while also being a joy to operate. I propose purchasing the Cuisinart Compact Automatic Bread Maker, an exceptional value pick with an “ultra-fast” bake option, for a more reasonable option. The Zojirushi Home Bakery Mini Breadmaker, which is great for tiny kitchens, and the SAKI Bread Maker, an easy-to-use machine that produces loaves large enough to feed a crowd, are two other top performers I tested.
Here is a list of all the winners from my rigorous testing process:
- Best Bread Machine Overall: Zojirushi Home Bakery Virtuoso Plus Breadmaker
- Cuisinart Compact Automatic Bread Maker: Best Value Bread Machine
- Best Small Bread Machine: Zojirushi Home Bakery Mini Breadmaker
- SAKI Bread Maker: Best Bread Machine For Large Loaves
Unlike earlier bread machines, which created weirdly shaped, bland, and poorly textured loaves, the latest generation of machines produces delicious loaves that are great for sandwiches and toast and a variety of extra options that make jams, cakes, yogurt, and more. I was amazed by how easy it was to create smooth, pillowy loaves in some of the top-performing selections I tested after years of baking bread from scratch. So, whether you’re just starting or looking to up your game with special ingredients and mix-ins, consider this guide a comprehensive starting point in your hunt for the best bread machines.
1. Zojirushi Home Bakery Virtuoso Plus Breadmaker
Dimensions: 10.5 x 18 x 12.9 inches | Weight: 24 pounds | Loaf sizes: 2 pounds only | Number of settings: 15 | Dishwasher-safe pan: No | Warranty: 1-year limited
- Baking a delicious loaf that’s a fairly standard shape and size
- Anyone looking to use their machine for making more than just bread
- Clear and direct instructions
- You’re on a budget and counter space is at a premium
- You want the option of baking more than one loaf size
Due to its reputation for generating irregular loaves that are square and tall with a large hole in the bottom where the kneading paddle leaves an impression, most home bakers are put off by the idea of using bread machines. That was not the case with the Zojirushi Home Bakery Virtuoso Plus Breadmaker; I’m happy to report. Throughout my testing, the machine produced loaves that were appropriately formed, easy to cut, and rose wonderfully, resulting in a pleasant texture and an even crumb structure. The finished result was dependably wonderful and a satisfying overall experience.
The Zojirushi Home Bakery Virtuoso Plus Breadmaker created perfectly shaped loaves that were easy to… [+] cut with a lovely texture and solid crumb structure.
Another notable feature is the machine’s powerful motor, made exclusively for kneading dough. It is an excellent pick for most home bakers but especially great for anyone with physical limitations or difficulty kneading and shaping yeast dough. I tested it by kneading brioche and pasta dough in the machine and was blown away by how effortless it came together. Simply placing the ingredients in the pan and selecting the “homemade” preset, the machine handled the entire process without any involvement, outperforming my much louder and less capable KitchenAid stand mixer.
The Zojirushi Home Bakery Virtuoso Plus is also user-friendly, with an easy-to-read display screen, a wide viewing glass, and a recipe book and manual that provide useful information about the bread-making process. (Even as an expert baker, I found the manual’s material surprisingly useful.) Overall, I was impressed by its smooth functioning, which readily produced tasty loaves in just a few hours.
2. Cuisinart Compact Automatic Bread Maker
Dimensions: 10.25 x 13.25 x 11.25 inches | Weight: 12.1 pounds | Loaf sizes: 1, 1.5 and 2 pounds | Number of settings: 12 | Dishwasher-safe pan: No | Warranty: 3-year limited
- Those with smaller kitchens
- Discerning home bakers shopping on a budget
- Anyone who might appreciate the option to make bread in less than 2 hours
- You prefer a larger viewing window
The Cuisinart Compact Automatic Bread Maker, which costs $128, is one of the best bread machines on the market. It’s a great option for anyone who wants to try baking bread at home without investing too much money. For starters, owing to a helpful beeping sound that notifies users to remove the kneading paddle before the baking process begins, it bakes loaves without the dreaded hole at the bottom. While this may appear to be a minor detail, it makes a significant difference in the final appearance of your loaf, making it appear homemade rather than machine-made. During the testing process, these considerate features, along with a comprehensive recipe book and user-friendly display, boosted this machine above others in its price range.
I baked three loaves of bread with the Cuisinart Compact Automatic Bread Maker, including a loaf of… [+] Panettone is a type of bread.
Bakers can choose between a light, medium, or dark crust while making loaves in three sizes. There is also an “ultra-fast” option that bakes bread in under 2 hours, which is useful for those who prefer baking their loaves shortly before meals. I liked the easy-to-use display with 12 programmed settings that are readily presented on the lid, reducing the need to study the recipe book again. Cleaning the bowl is also a breeze, especially after removing the kneading paddle in the middle of the mix. While the slim and small form takes up minuscule room on the countertop, you may need to cut out vertical storage space if you want to tuck it away in your cabinet. I did have some difficulties observing the baking process through the little glass, but if you are okay with not having a front-row seat to the bread-making process, this little machine outperforms expectations for the price.
3. Zojirushi Home Bakery Mini Breadmaker
$254$297Save $43 (14%)
Dimensions: 11.25 x 8.5 x 12.25 inches | Weight: 12 pounds | Loaf sizes: 1 pound only | Number of settings: 9 | Dishwasher-safe pan: No | Warranty: 1 year
- Anyone who prefers baking smaller loaves
- Home cooks who appreciate a cute gadget
- Those with limited storage or countertop space
- You like baking larger loaves or have a family to feed
The Zojirushi Home Bakery Mini Breadmaker only creates 1-pound loaves, making it an excellent pick for anyone who values freshly baked bread but doesn’t require a huge lot of it.
The Zojirushi Mini, with nine bake choices and a crust control tool, allows users to make many loaves. The instructions are carefully provided on a label glued on the side of the machine, which I appreciated. Despite its small size, the machine equally divided the ingredients, producing a loaf I was quite happy with. Like the Zojirushi Home Bakery Virtuoso Plus Breadmaker, the Mini features a robust motor that performs kneading exceedingly well. However, the final result is square and relatively compact compared to the other machines I tested.
Is it capable of handling more than just bread, as advertised? I managed to make a great batch of blueberry jam with little to no effort. And, given the robust kneading feature, I’d gladly replace my KitchenAid with the Mini for smaller baking chores.
Dimensions: 10.5 x 17.2 x 13.7 inches | Weight: 14.7 pounds | Loaf sizes: 2, 2.5 and 3 pounds | Number of settings: 12 | Dishwasher-safe pan: No | Warranty: 2-year limited
- Large families or anyone who needs a lot of bread
- Those with large kitchens or ample of cabinet space
- Anyone who enjoys to experiment with recipes
- You’re short on space
The SAKI Bread Maker was the only bread machine to make 3-pound loaves out of all the bread machines I tested. It’s a wide and lengthy machine that takes up a lot of countertop space, but for the price, it’s a great option for anyone who likes to bake larger loaves.
Another notable feature is an easy-to-use digital touchscreen display that allows you to effortlessly choose between 12 programs and even tells you exactly what stage of the baking process the bread is in. I found cleaning the pan and paddles easy even though none of the parts are machine washable.
Overall, I was happy with all three loaves baked in the SAKI. The French bread recipe I tested had a great thick crust and crunch, and due to its size, I could enjoy it for several days. The accompanying recipe book is chock-full of interesting recipes to try—it was the only machine to offer recipes for scrambled eggs, chocolate pudding, and coconut mochi, all of which are possible to make using the machine’s various customizable settings—and given the weight capacity and dual kneading paddles, it would be the ideal machine to try your hand at making bagels or a stiffer dough.
Other Products I Tested
KBS Large 17-In-1 Bread Machine: Even before I put it to the test, the first machine I received displayed an error message indicating a malfunction. The second replacement operated admirably, generating acceptable loaves with no distinguishing characteristics. However, the mediocre manual and recipe booklet, which provided inadequate specifics, could have impressed me. The produced loaves had a metallic aftertaste reminiscent of old-fashioned machine bread.
Hamilton Beach Artisan Dough And Bread Maker: This popular bread maker disappointed me. While it’s simple to use, the taste of all three loaves I tested was less than stellar, with evident holes at the bottom. The attached recipe book needed to be more in-depth and provide full guidance. To make matters worse, one of my loaves exploded abruptly during the rising stage. The machine’s small glass made monitoring the baking process difficult, and the programming display needed to be more intuitive than its competitor, the Cuisinart Compact Automatic Bread Maker.
Hamilton Beach Bread Maker Machine: While the dishwasher-safe pan may be a deal-breaker for anyone who values quick cleanups, I found it to be bulky and the result to be ordinary. It’s a good option for making basic bread but not for more complicated baking ventures. Unfortunately, I had to pass on this one.
Neretva Bread Maker Machine: The recipe for whole wheat sandwich bread on the Neretva bread machine included an interesting oversight: whole wheat flour (a vital ingredient in whole wheat sandwich bread) was listed as optional. When I tested their white and French bread recipes, I noticed a lack of clarity, simplistic recipes, and adaptability. The machine produced good loaves, but I needed help understanding the display screen and instructions. While 20-in-1 features may appear appealing, many needed to be more varied and unlikely to be used on a daily basis. I must admit that the pork meat floss set piqued my interest, but as a vegetarian, I couldn’t put it to the test. The retro appearance looked great on my countertop but could have made a better impression.
Breville Custom Loaf: With its many bells and whistles, huge recipe book, automatic fruit and nut dispenser, and large display screen, the Breville is a great pick. However, the loaves it produced did not eventually justify the high price. If you spend that much money on a bread machine, the Zojirushi Home Bakery Virtuoso Plus Breadmaker, with its strong motor and kneading capability, is the way to go. The bread I baked wasn’t always perfect—some collapsed or looked and tasted wonky—and, despite the paddle’s collapsing feature, which saved the bread from the distinctive hole, it didn’t seem worth the money.
How I Tested The Best Bread Machines
Over three weeks, I thoroughly tested nine different machines, baking over 20 loaves of bread. I only used the recipes in each machine’s recipe book to keep the testing process standardized. I began by baking a standard white bread and carefully studied each ensuing loaf, considering its shape, rise, crumb structure, texture, and overall flavor. Some loaves had leathery crusts or collapsed surfaces, while others were airy and chewy. I repeated the experiment, focusing on whole wheat loaves, which were generally more tasty and texturally satisfying than white loaves, though personal preference may have played a factor. Finally, I chose one difficult recipe to test each machine’s capacity to execute beyond the basics.
I also employed a specified set of criteria to evaluate each bread machine throughout the testing process. To begin, I evaluated the convenience of use, evaluating the clarity of the display screens, the simplicity of the hardware, and the quality of the supplied instructions and recipes, preferring machines without a too large or complicated manual. (For example, both Zojirushi machines included stickers on the side with default recipes for their simple white bread, making them easy to follow.) The machines that won had intuitive and user-friendly displays that didn’t necessitate extra searching or sifting through menus. During the bread-making process, the display needed to convey clear and easily accessible information. Finally, I considered the size of each machine and its ability to mix in with other countertop appliances. While keeping the bread machine on display at all times is not required, it is better for it to blend in with the rest of the kitchen.
How To Choose A Bread Machine
The size of the machine, like any unnecessary kitchen appliance—and by that I mean the task of making bread could easily be accomplished in your oven, so a bread machine is not a required gadget—ranks high on the list of attributes to consider. “If you have to take it out of storage to use it, you’ll never use your bread machine as much as you might want to,” advises PJ Hamel, a food blogger and recipe developer for King Arthur Flour. If kitchen space is an issue, she offers an intriguing solution: “Do all your prep in the kitchen, then simply take the pan to wherever the machine is, press start, and let it do its thing.” (Hamel keeps her machine in a closet.) So consider what you have space for—either on your counter or in a closet—and go from there.
Number Of Settings
You may consider purchasing a bread machine primarily for the purpose of baking bread. However, most machines include many extra features, making everything from cakes to yogurt. Because bread machines can also operate as kneaders, proofers, and mini ovens, most machines can be configured for only one of the phases in a bread-making cycle.
Bread machines should be easy to use, or you’ll babysit your sourdough starter. Some of the machines I tested, such as the Breville Custom Loaf and the Cuisinart Compact Automatic Bread Maker, had much simpler displays, whilst others, such as both the Zojirushi and the SAKI Bread Maker, featured good, clear instructions and recipe books. However, if you’re only interested in a bread machine because you want a classic sandwich bread, don’t worry about the extra capabilities a bread machine offers. My tests found that the simpler the machine, the better the overall user experience.
The Zojirushi Home Bakery Virtuoso Plus Breadmaker, the most costly bread machine I tested, costs over $400, while the Hamilton Beach Artisan Dough & Bread Maker costs $110. What’s more, both machines include a host of additional capabilities. However, although one machine is competent at many tasks, the other excels at practically all of them, especially bread making. If the quality of your loaves is more important to you than utilizing your machine for making 11 different things, it’s worth investing a somewhat higher upfront cost because the more you enjoy your bread, the more you’ll use your bread machine.
I’ve been baking bread at home for over seven years and blogging about food—specifically bread—for a comparable amount of time. My work has appeared in magazines such as Taste Cooking, Eater, and Bon Appétit. I run a micro-bakery in my hometown, where I bake sourdough bread and bagels every Saturday morning in a small deck oven. This considerable bread-making experience has provided me with a solid understanding of what creates a quality loaf of bread, the optimal ingredients to utilize, and the entire process from flour to finished product. My sourdough starter has been going for almost eight years and has traveled with me to many different countries and towns.
Prior to this assignment, neither I nor many of my bread-baking pals had ever used a bread machine. However, for this piece, I had the opportunity to chat with three specialists who know a thing or two about baking bread and bread machines in particular. PJ Hamel, a recipe creator, and food writer at King Arthur Flour, routinely uses her bread machine for kneading. Given the expensive expense of gluten-free bread at grocery stores, Jane Bonacci, co-author of The Gluten-Free Bread Machine Cookbook: 175 Recipes for Splendid Bread and Delicious Dishes to Make with Them, believes bread machines are especially useful for people with dietary limitations. Finally, Marsha Perry, the recipe blog Bread Machine Diva’s founder, has been baking with bread machines for over two decades and meticulously documents her efforts on her website.
Do You Really Need A Bread Machine?
A bread machine can be a game changer for the right home cook. If you buy packaged bread daily but are concerned about the additional preservatives and sugars, a bread machine allows you to manage your ingredients and know precisely what goes into your loaves. It offers the opportunity to make healthier homemade solutions. Making your own bread at home can also be cheaper than purchasing artisanal loaves. This is especially useful for someone who consumes bread on a daily basis or has a large family to feed. Finally, making fresh bread from scratch can be time-consuming, especially for mobility limitations. A bread machine allows you to enjoy fresh loaves without putting in much effort.
Is It Cheaper To Buy Bread Or Make It In A Bread Machine?
Making bread with a bread machine is typically cheaper than purchasing loaves at the shop. Homemade bread requires low-cost ingredients: yeast, flour, salt, and sugar, instead of investing in a machine, which can be expensive upfront. If you usually buy artisan loaves at the grocery store or bakery, a bread maker will save you a lot of money. Making your loaves may result in little savings if you generally purchase cheaper loaves of sliced bread.
Which Is The Best Bread Machine For Beginners?
If you’re starting out and budget isn’t an issue, the Zojirushi Home Bakery Virtuoso Plus Breadmaker is ideal for most home bakers. The concise user manual and helpful recipe book make it easy to use for most people, and the clear display is simple to operate even for first-time bakers. The Cuisinart Compact Automatic Bread Maker is a good option if you’re on a tight budget but want to maintain quality. The small machine is easy to operate and can make great loaves in less than two hours.