Some bread machines are versatile enough to make jams, cakes, bagels, pretzels and even meatloaf. Most standard models have between eight and 13 pre-programmed settings for specific loaves including gluten-free and whole grain varieties. Loaf-size capacity ranges between 1 pound and 2.5 pounds; some models can accommodate up to 4 different loaf sizes.
Scale: Inconsistent --> Meets Expectations --> Stellar
Ease of Use
It often requires trial-and-error to learn how to adapt recipes to a bread machine. Look for features like yeast dispensers, delayed start, quick-bread cycles, and non-stick loaf pans for additional convenience. It's also important to add ingredients in the order specified by your model, not in the order listed in a recipe.
Scale: Complicated --> Straightforward --> Simple
Make sure you measure your space if you plan to keep your bread machine on the countertop. Models that make vertical loaves tend to be taller and may not fit under cabinets, while horizontal-oriented machines have a larger footprint. These simplistic, square or round appliances come in white, black, and stainless-steel options.
Scale: Disenchanting --> Not Too Shabby --> A Looker
Bread machines aren't obnoxiously loud, but typically make a whirring or knocking sound during the kneading process. Some models do a better job of staying stationary while the paddles are churning, but others wiggle or vibrate their way across the counter. These are usually the noisier models.
Scale: Too Loud --> As Expected --> Ultra-Quiet
HERE'S A BRIGHT IDEA
Add ingredients the night before, set the timer, and wake up to the smell of freshly-baked sweet bread in the morning. No preservatives or additives – you're in control of the ingredients.
Bread rises faster at altitudes of 3,000 feet or higher, requiring adjustments to temperature, baking time, or ingredients.
WE LOVE THIS…
Breville BBM800XL Custom Loaf Bread Maker
Thanks to the automatically-collapsing paddle, you'll never need to excavate abandoned paddles from your freshly-baked bread again. This Breville also includes an automatic dispenser for fruits and nuts, so there's no babysitting required either. If you're willing to pay the $250 price for the convenience, that is.
Our Go-To Sources
At Amazon.com, you'll find hundreds of bread machines, many of which have amassed hundreds of owner-written reviews. This is an excellent source for insights on real-world usability and long-term durability.