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Best Bread Machines

By: Kelly Burgess on October 30, 2017

Editor's Note:
To no one's surprise, Zojirushi Bread Machines are our most-recommended bread makers this year, as they are every year due to their superb performance and durability. Still, if you don't want to shell out the dough for one of these high-end bread machines, we found a number of terrific, less pricey, alternatives.

Zojirushi BB-CEC20 Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Weight - 17 lbs. Size (w,h,d) - 17" x 12.25" x 8.5" Viewing window - Yes

Best bread machine

Thousands of happy owners can't be wrong: they make the Zojirushi BB-CEC20 Home Bakery Supreme one of the highest-rated bread makers we spotted. It's versatile, highly programmable, and makes an excellent, horizontal loaf of bread -- which means the slices look like store-bought, better for sandwiches and toasting. It features 10 baking cycles as well as custom settings, delay start and auto shutoff. This bread maker has been around for years, and plenty of users say it's still going strong after almost daily use. See our full review »

Buy for $266.99
Zojirushi BB-HAC10 Review
Also Consider
Specs that Matter Weight - 12 lbs. Size (w,h,d) - 8.5" x 12.25" x 11.25" Viewing window - Yes

Small bread maker

The big downside to virtually all bread machines is that they are big -- some are as large as microwave ovens. But the Zojirushi BB-HAC10 is an exception, offering big performance with a smaller footprint. This 1-pound bread maker is very versatile, with a range of settings, including three bread textures, cookie and pasta dough, and a quick-bake cycle. At just 8-1/2 by 12-1/4 by 11-1/4 inches, it won't take up much real estate on your counter or in a cupboard.

Buy for $233.00
Panasonic SD-YD250 Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Weight - 15 lbs. Size (w,h,d) - 13" x 14" x 9" Viewing window - No

Best value bread maker

The Panasonic SD-YD250 Automatic Bread Maker with Yeast Dispenser offers great performance and a good range of settings at a price that both experienced and new bakers say is a great value. This machine has all the essentials, including three loaf sizes, a delay-start function and an automatic yeast dispenser. It's easy to use and clean, owners say, and results are deliciously consistent. There are seven bake/dough options and five bread options. Indicator lights show when the bread or dough is done. See our full review »

Buy for $169.99
Sunbeam 5891 2-Pound Programmable Breadmaker Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Weight - 20 lbs. Size (w,h,d) - 19" x 13.5" x 14" Viewing window - Yes

Best cheap bread machine

The Sunbeam 5891 2-Pound Programmable Breadmaker is a highly affordable bread maker with some features usually found only in pricier models, such as a viewing window, delay start, three crust preference and three bread sizes. But what really thrills bakers is the dough only cycle, perfect for those who are weary of mixing and kneading. The 5891 is easy to use and clean, and consistently makes delicious, perfectly baked bread. It's durable too, with some owners reporting it's still going strong after several years. See our full review »

Buy for $62.27
Cuisinart CBK-100 Review
Best Reviewed
Specs that Matter Weight - 22 lbs. Size (w,h,d) - 7.5" x 12.5" x 14.5" Viewing window - Yes

Gluten-free bread machine

If you've gone gluten-free, for whatever reason, it's time to rejoice because you now have something to spread your jam on again. Reviewers say the Cuisinart CBK-100 2-Pound Programmable Bread Maker makes gluten-free bread that's light, crusty and delicious. Even those who aren't following a gluten-free diet say they absolutely love the results. Thanks to a dedicated gluten-free setting, owners say it's also super easy to use. The CBK-100 can make any type of bread, but if you need a dedicated gluten-free machine, try this one. See our full review »

Buy for $69.96

Bread makers are a convenient addition to your kitchen

If you like the smell, taste and texture of homemade bread but don't want to spend hours preparing it, a bread machine is a worthwhile investment. This is one machine that does all the work for you: mixing, kneading, proofing and baking -- which is why it's one of the most popular appliances for the home cook. People love being able to make fresh bread without worrying about additives or other fillers that they may not want to ingest. Others like the idea of an artisan loaf without paying artisan bread prices. As an added benefit, some machines can make a range of items beyond white and wheat loaves, such as cakes, jam, baguettes, or even meatloaf or lasagna.

Even with a bread machine, making perfect bread can require some tinkering, especially at the beginning. Some bakers like to monitor the process, adding water if the dough gets too dry or smoothing the loaf before baking to help create a pleasing loaf shape. Many serious bakers buy bread machines only for kneading dough, which saves them time and effort. Once it's kneaded, they remove the dough for shaping, proofing and baking.

However, making bread doesn't have to be that complex. Plenty of bread-lovers just toss in the ingredients, walk away, and are perfectly happy with their results. Many don't even bother with individual ingredients, they just buy mixes. The general consensus seems to be that even a basic bread made in a bread machine is far superior to a supermarket loaf. Most users agree: once you overcome the learning curve, which varies from machine to machine, baking bread in a bread maker becomes second nature.

Bread machine features can include a gluten-free cycle

Most bread makers that cost less than $100 offer several cycles that correspond to different varieties of bread, including white, whole wheat, French or Italian; and many will have a setting for cakes as well as a quick-bake cycle. Many bread machine offer you the option of making bread loaves of different sizes. As you move up in price, bread machines begin to include specialty cycles such as jam, bake only, low-carb and sourdough starter. They also have convenience features that you may or may not consider essential -- for example, a yeast dispenser; audible signals for when to add yeast or other ingredients (such as fruit or nuts); a preheat function; programmable settings; and dual paddles, which experts say do a better job of kneading than single paddles.

As gluten-free bread and bread products become more popular, we've seen a rise in bread machines that offer gluten-free cycles. There are also plenty of recipes and pre-made packages for gluten-free baked goods. One caveat: if you have been diagnosed with celiac, as opposed to just being gluten-adverse or someone who is trying to avoid gluten, we recommend you have a dedicated bread maker for gluten-free bread to avoid cross-contamination.

One of the most popular bread machine features is the delay start, which allows you to add ingredients and choose the settings at night, and awake to the aroma of freshly baked bread the next morning -- or set it in the morning for fresh bread at dinnertime. Even the least-expensive machines usually have that option, so it's not something you'll need to pay extra for.

Once you have your homemade bread, you'll need a good toaster to brown it to perfection. Our report on toasters has some great recommendations. Or, check out our toaster oven report for appliances that can toast, bake, broil and roast.

Finding The Best Bread Machines

We did find one bread machine roundup at TheSweethome.com that involves testing, but, in general bread machines tend to be scorned by professional cooks, who say they simply don't make decent bread. One professional kitchen site, after testing -- and not really recommending -- a handful of bread machines, says "Éyou're more likely to find these appliances at yard sales than on kitchen counters."

Well, we don't like food snobs and we love bread machines, and so do thousands of home cooks. As a result, we rely heavily on owner reviews, and there are hundreds, sometimes thousands, of those for the top models of bread makers. These user reviews are extremely useful because the range of experience is so vast. Experienced bakers can speak to the customizable options of the machines, while first-timers are a great resource for judging initial ease of use and performance.

Because most of the bread machines in this report have been around for years, with no changes in design, users can give helpful input on long-term durability as well. This wide range of knowledge gave us a consensus of opinion by thoughtful, knowledgeable users that was extremely helpful in finalizing our selections. The results of our research are our picks for the best bread machines, plain and fancy.

Elsewhere In This Report
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Bread Machines buying guide

What every best Bread Machines has:

  • Consistent performance.
  • A straightforward instruction manual.
  • Relatively quiet operation.

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