If you really love bread and eat it every day, you'll never regret buying a fully-featured bread machine. If you're just dipping your toes into the bread machine waters, you might prefer to start with a basic bread machine, and if you love bread, but can't tolerate gluten, you'll want to see our discussion of gluten-free bread machines.
There's no better reviewed bread machine than the Zojirushi BB-CEC20 Home Bakery Supreme 2-Pound-Loaf Breadmaker (Est. $250). It's highly versatile, easy to use and turns out perfect bread virtually every single time. It can also make cakes, French bread, cookies, pasta and even meat loaf.
Users praise the BB-CEC20 for its many options, noting in particular its 10 total cycles. Three of them are quick, and users say it's nice to have fresh, warm bread in about 2 hours or so. There are other special recipe settings as well, and a very comprehensive recipe book that teaches you how to use them. The three crust-color options include light, medium and dark, and it has a 13-hour programmable timer so you can come home to, or wake up to, a hot loaf of bread. Users say that the BB-CEC20 is solid and durable. Many owners have owned this Zojirushi bread maker for years, have baked hundreds of loaves and say that they still come out perfectly.
One of this bread makers most popular features is its shape. While most bread machines make a vertical loaf that results in almost "round" slices when you cut them, the BB-CEC20 is a horizontal design and that results in bread slices that are more like store bought – better for sandwiches and toast, say users. They also love that it has a sourdough starter function, since many people feel that sourdough bread is one of the healthiest types you can eat.
The Zojirushi BB-CEC20 bread machine uses dual paddles to mix dough. Expert bakers agree that bread makers with dual paddles do a better job of kneading than single-paddle machines, which can leave bits of flour and other ingredients unmixed in the corners of the bowl. Users agree, consistently noting the efficiency of the dual paddles, and most are pleased with the machine's performance. It is large and heavy, but owners also say its brushed stainless finish is attractive enough to sit out on the counter.
Zojirushi makes another top-rated bread machine, the Zojirushi BB-PAC20 Home Bakery Virtuoso Breadmaker (Est. $350). It has a few more bells and whistles than its smaller brother, including a clock and stay-cool handles. It also has a gluten-free bread setting. One interesting feature is a heating element in the lid, which is intended to produce a darker and more even crust. In most regards, it draws reviews that are just as good as for the BB-CEC20, and even better feedback for more consistent results with whole wheat and whole grain breads. Owners also love the automatic pause, which allows them to stop the cycle temporarily to shape the loaf.
Smaller families or singles may appreciate the Zojirushi BB-HAC10 Home Bakery 1-Pound-Loaf Programmable Mini Breadmaker (Est. $190), which makes just 1-pound loaves. It has some good features, too, although not as many as its bigger brothers. Those features include two crust-color settings, a 13-hour timer and a number of customizable settings. The BB-HAC10 requires less counter space than the larger BB-CEC20 and weighs less, but otherwise operates similarly. It only makes vertical loaves, however; while the larger Zojirushi's make horizontal loaves. If making your bread from scratch is a priority and you don't need a bigger machine, this smaller Zojirushi BB-HAC10 bread maker is a solid choice.
Still, the bottom line is that while any of these Zojirushi bread makers could be a worthy addition to your kitchen, depending on your needs, for most families the BB-CEC20 is likely to be the perfect fit.
Elsewhere in this report
Best basic bread machines
Not everyone needs all the bells and whistles of a high-end bread machine. These low- to mid-range bread makers perform very well on a variety of basic breads.
Gluten-free bread machines
Whether you're gluten-intolerant or just trying to eat more healthfully, a gluten-free setting will keep you from being deprived of your morning toast.
We explain what you need to know before you go shopping for a bread machine, and what features you can expect from various types of bread makers.
Links to the expert and user reviews we used to select the top bread machines, along with our assessment of each reviewer's expertise, credibility and helpfulness.