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Baking bread takes time and effort unless you have a bread machine to mix, rise, and bake that bread for you. Bread machines have been around for decades but are making a comeback, thanks to renewed interest in home-baked bread. The latest generation of bread machines can handle a baker's dozen of loaves, from sweet doughs and quick bread to pizza and gluten-free. They've got customizable settings and delayed starts that let you bake on your schedule, and sometimes, even leave the cleanup to your dishwasher.
While bread machines are convenient, there is a learning curve associated with any new kitchen appliance. Start with the recipes suggested by the manufacturer, as these are formulated to work with your specific bread machine, then branch out once you have the hang of your machine.
Here are the best bread machines for every kind of baker.
Best Overall: Zojirushi BB-PDC20 Home Bakery Virtuoso Plus Bread Maker
The Zojirushi Home Bakery Virtuoso Plus Breadmaker is expensive and, at 24 pounds, it's heavy. But if you're serious about making your own bread, you can't do better than this machine.
It’s easy to program and accommodates a range of bread, including whole wheat, gluten-free, salt-free, or sugar-free. Two kneading blades ensure the dough is well mixed with proper gluten formation, while two heating elements ensure all sides of the bread bake evenly, all elements that create a better bread.
Zojirushi's bread machine, which measures 10.5 x 18 x 12.9 inches and has a 2-pound loaf capacity, can produce a 9 x 5-inch loaf in under three hours. It also has a 13-hour delay timer so the bread will bake when you want it to.
Best Budget: Hamilton Beach 29882 HomeBaker 2-Pound Breadmaker
Don't let its affordability fool you: this is a great, easy-to-use bread machine that will take your baking hobby to the next level.
Measuring 10.4 x 14.1 x 12.2 inches, the Hamilton Beach Digital Bread Maker bakes 1.5 or 2-pound loaves of French bread, sweet bread, quick bread, gluten-free bread, and more. There’s even an express setting for a 60-minute loaf and settings for jam and cake. You can also prepare dough, like pizza crusts and dinner rolls, to be baked in the oven.
The machine weighs close to 12 pounds and comes with a backup dough paddle. And the nonstick pan is safe to clean in the dishwasher.
Best Compact: Cuisinart Compact Automatic Bread Maker
The Cuisinart Compact Automatic Breadmaker is the perfect fit for kitchens where every inch is premium. It works by baking the bread vertically to save space.
The 10.25 x 13.25 x 11.25-inch bread machine has settings for white bread, wheat bread, gluten-free bread, and, for convenience, bread made from a mix. You can choose light, medium, or dark crust settings and plan ahead with the 13-hour delay start feature. The machine bakes 2-pound loaves, but its compact design gives them a short rectangular shape, not the long-rectangular loaf pan shape you’re probably used to.
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Best for Sourdough: Cuisinart 2-Pound Convection Bread Maker
The Cuisinart CBK-200 Convection Bread Maker uses multiple rise cycles for the long, slow-proofing sourdough needs. Since it uses convection heat, your loaves will color evenly. You can set the crust to bake light, medium, or dark and choose health-conscious bread settings such as low-carb or gluten-free.
Measuring 19 x 16 x 13 inches and weighing 16 pounds, this Cuisinart bread machine has a 12-hour delay start feature. It also lets you know when it’s time to add seeds, nuts, or other mix-ins. The machine makes sure those are evenly distributed throughout your final loaf.
Best for Beginners: Oster Expressbake Bread Machine
Weighing just 8 pounds and measuring 12 x 11 x 11 inches, the Oster Expressbake Bread Maker is easy and affordable. The large LED display with its 12 different presets will help any beginner learn how to bake with a bread machine.
While there isn't a gluten-free setting, this machine does support many other bread types. There's an express-bake 60-minute setting and a 13-hour delay start function so you can set it and forget it. The 650-watt machine has a capacity of 2 pounds. The nonstick aluminum pan is easy to wipe down, and the lid is removable for cleanup.
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Best Large Capacity: Breville Custom Loaf Bread Maker
With four loaf sizes from 1 to 2.5 pounds, the Breville Custom Loaf Bread Maker has the biggest capacity, making it perfect for large families and entertaining.
This bread machine can handle several loaf styles and includes customizable settings for you to store your own recipes. It also has an automatic fruit and nut dispenser to ensure that those ingredients don't clump together in one area of the dough. The kneading paddle collapses when done so your bread won’t come out with a bottom indentation, a bonus feature that creates professional-looking loaves.
A backlit LCD display and viewing window let you check on the bake at any time, while a 13-hour delay start lets you bake on your schedule.
Best for Gluten-Free: Zojirushi Home Bakery Maestro Breadmaker
Zojirushi Home Bakery Maestro Breadmaker shares many features with its larger cousin, the Zojirushi Virtuoso machine, but measures just 13.6 x 8.9 x 12.5 inches. It comes with a baking guide full of foolproof recipes for gluten-free eaters and those on salt-free and sugar-free diets. Settings are also printed on the lid, which makes this machine easy to program.
This bread machine gets accolades for its Maestro quick setting, which is able to bake a loaf of bread in under 2.5 hours. This machine also features an automatic add-in dispenser for fruit and nuts and has a built-in handle for easy carrying and transporting.
The best overall is the Zojirushi Home Bakery Virtuoso Plus Bread Maker (view at Amazon); its two heating elements bake better bread. If you need to save money, try the Hamilton Beach HomeBaker Bread Maker (view at Amazon), which is versatile and affordable.
What to Look for in a Bread Machine
Most bread machines can handle a range of loaf sizes from 1 to 2 pounds or even 2.5 pounds. Bread only stays fresh for a few days, so think about how much bread you and your family will eat within a week. While you could theoretically halve the recipe to make a smaller loaf, for consistency’s sake, you’re better off buying a bread machine that’s sized just right.
Size and Weight
Some people don’t have the counter space for a big bread machine. Size is important, but so is weight. Some of these bread machines are too heavy to be dragged in and out of cabinets when a carb craving hits.
Most bread machines are versatile, but you’ll find subtle differences among the programmed settings each offers. If you think you want to experiment with a particular style of bread, like a sourdough, or have a dietary consideration (low- or no-salt), you’ll want to make sure the bread machine you choose can accommodate this.
How does a bread machine work?
Bread machines use paddles to mix the dough inside the baking pan, while a heating element maintains the proper temperature for both proofing and baking. You simply put the raw ingredients into the pan, and the machine does all the work. Machines have customizable settings for both the mixing and the bake time so you can achieve the perfect loaf.
Can you use regular (all-purpose) flour in a bread machine?
Bread machines recommend bread flour rather than AP flour because its higher protein count helps dough rise. You can still use AP flour in a bread machine, but the bread will have a different texture.
What kind of yeast do you use for a bread machine?
King Arthur Flour recommends instant yeast for bread machines because it's strong and fast-acting. Active dry yeast will also work.
Why Trust Simply Recipes?
Lindsey Danis is a food writer and former professional cook. She writes about bread and baking for retail and trade publications.
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