In this guide, we are going to briefly take a look at the things you should be aware of when seeking out the best bread machine to buy. Then we are going to suggest five products that are pretty impressive and what we believe deserve to be among the top rated bread machines.
We cover the small and large bread makers plus an overall best value bread machine.
Who doesn’t love the smell and taste of freshly baked bread? I used to enjoy baking bread by hand and now I love using my favorite bread machine. I may be called a philistine by purists who hand craft artisan bread into artistic shapes but I don’t care. Sometimes there’s not the time and it can be pretty hard work for an old git.
Yes, we all love the idea of fresh baked bread, but there’s a reluctance to producing bread because bread making is a long process and not too many people have the inclination (or the patience) to do it.
Thankfully these days we have awesome bread machines that can make the perfect loaf of bread time and time again for a fraction of the cost as a store bought loaf.
And not only that but a surprising variety of different loaves can be made simply with little mess from a standard white, whole-wheat and rye to more exotic sweet, vegetable and fruit breads.
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Best Small Bread Machine
Best Large Bread Machine
Best Bread Machine For The Money
What To Look For In A Bread Machine
A bread machine is going to be a fantastic addition to any kitchen, especially if you enjoy baking and you want fresh bread. Before you make your decision of which bread maker to buy, take these things into consideration:
When you’re looking for a bread machine, you can find cheap ones and expensive ones. Typically, the more expensive machines will have programmable settings (more about that in a bit), and other features. With that said, you can find affordable options with an adequate variety of bread making settings as well.
There are bread making machines that will only have one kneading paddle, while others may come with two. Some machines will have a certain paddle that allows you to make pasta, as well.
Look for machines that have removable paddle(s) and even see if they are able to notify you know when it's time remove the paddle to avoid the unfortunate large hole in the bottom of your freshly baked loaf of bread.
This is a really nice feature if you don’t want to make the bread right away and would rather have it begin the process when everyone is asleep.
With this feature, you can put all of your ingredients inside the machine and set the timer before going to bed.
You can set the timer to start about 4am and your bread will be ready when you wake up. Forget waking up to coffee, why not wake up to freshly made bread instead?
There is a lot going on in your bread maker, as it is making and kneading your dough. There is always going to be an amount of noise so check the bread maker you like is not going to sound like a jumbo jet taking off, especially if you’re going to be using it overnight.
Generally, the heavier machines are going to be more sturdy and they’ll make less noise. So check the bread machine reviews here for approximate noise levels.
The usual programmable cycle settings are for ...
Some programmable options include gluten free, pasta, cakes and even jams. There are usually options where you can choose how light or dark the crust gets as well.
Some people aren’t particular about the viewing window, but we like being able to check out the progress of our bread.
Some manufacturers will tell you that the lack of a window means less heat escapes and so the bread bakes better. But really it’s more about personal preference.
When you’ve taken these things into consideration, you can then start looking for your new favorite bread making machine. We’ve broken these mini reviews based on size (small bread machines and large machines), but also based on the most affordable bread machine.
Best Small Bread Machine
If you’re short on space or baking for one but still want a good bread maker, perhaps one of these two machines will suit your needs.
Oster Express Bake Bread Machine
The Oster Bread Machine has the ability to make 2 pound loaves of bread whenever you want it with very little effort. If you’re not a baker, don’t worry! You can throw your ingredients into the bread pan, set a few settings, and forget about it.
The machine will combine your ingredients, knead and proof your bread, as well as bake it. Not only can you make bread, but you can also make jam and cakes in it as well.
What really makes this bread maker stand out is that it can bake your bread in an hour, whereas other machines require more like 2 to 3 hours of bake time!
Other notable features of the Oster Express Bake Bread Machine include:
- Up to a 2.0 lb. loaf capacity, ideal for larger families
- 12 bread settings and 3 crust settings for variety of breads, dough and jams
- Expressbake setting bakes bread in under an hour
- 13-hour programmable baking timer allows for fresh breads anytime
- Large LCD display - easily indicates each stage of the bread making process
We found the lid to be loose and came off a little too easy but with no averse problem.
The footprint is 12 x 11 x 11 inches which is really compact. This however meant that it produces a more cube shaped loaf. Some might prefer a rectangular shaped bread.
The noise level was fine and not an annoying pitch.
The machine is durable and feels sturdy and built to last.
A large proportion of the buyers of the Oster Bread Machine left excellent ratings. Customers said they love the timer on this machine. They like being able to set the timer at night and wake up to the aroma of freshly baked bread in the morning.
Most negative comments seemed to concern the bread not rising well in the machine. We found the rise to be pretty normal although between this model and the Zojirushi bread maker the crust was quite as crispy.
Other buyers weren't keen on the single kneading arm but the density and texture of the bread was as good as any comparable machine with 2 blades.
Zojirushi BB-HAC10 Home Bakery Mini Bread Maker
If you’re looking for a small automatic bread maker, then you may want to consider the Zojirushi Home Bakery Mini Bread Maker. This small machine is perfect for those who don’t need a big loaf of bread and a small 1 pound bread loaf is sufficient. The bread pan for this machine is narrow and the final product is going to result in a narrow loaf of bread.
When you’re removing the bread, you’ll want to make sure that you clean the paddles, baking chamber, and the paddles very carefully because the nonstick coating could get scratched.
The LCD display screen will help you monitor the bread throughout the entire bread making process, but you can also adjust settings to so you can make other dough recipes like cookies and pasta.
The size of this dinky machine is 8.5 x 11.25 x 12.25 inches.
And although I wasn't too fussed with the design it's undoubtedly well made out of stainless steel and a substantial weight of over 13lbs.
Other notable features of the Zojirushi Home Bakery Mini Bread Maker include:
- 1-lb. bread ideal for singles and smaller families
- Compact and slim design takes up minimal space in the kitchen
- Three bread textures to choose from: Regular, Firm or Soft
- Cookie/Pasta Dough setting to prepare homemade cookies and pasta
- French bread, dough, cake, and jam settings
- Quick baking cycle prepares breads in under 2 hours
- Crust control function allows you to select Regular or Light
- Durable non-stick baking pan and kneading blade
- Viewing window to watch the baking process
- 13-hour delay timer
- Includes an easy-to-follow instruction video, manual and recipe booklet
- cULus listed
Most buyers of the Zojirushi Mini Bread Maker agreed with us and gave it a 5 thumbs up. Customers said that they were able to make bread on a regular basis and they hadn’t had any problems with their machine at all.
One customer purchased their machine in 2009 and it still works as well as when they first purchased it. Others said that they can adjust the settings to get the perfect loaf of bread.
Of the remaining customers who left lower ratings, the common complaint was that they didn’t like that the machine didn’t have customizable functions and they felt that the time needed to warm up the ingredients was too long.
Those buyers who wished it had more functionality were those, we believe who were more experienced bakers.
Both of these machines are going to be great additions to any home. However, the real deciding factor is the price that you are willing to pay. The Oster brand is currently priced very reasonably, whereas the Zojirushi is nearly three times the price.
Best Large Bread Machine
For those who are big into homemade bread and will get a lot of use out it, then you may want to check out this unit.
Panasonic Bread Maker
If you’ve looked at some of the other top rated bread machines on the market, it might be a little difficult to tell one from the other when you compare features. That is, until you come across the Panasonic bread maker. With this machine, you’ll find that it has some features that you can’t find on other devices.
For example, you can make 3 different sized loaves: 1.5 pound (small), 2 pound (medium), 2.5 pound (large). You can also use the rapid cook cycle so that your fresh bread will be ready in two hours. Or, you could use the 13-hour timer to make the bread start baking when you want to eat it, ensuring the bread will be the absolute freshest (and warm!).
The machine also has three crust settings: light, medium, and dark. You can also make a variety of bread and doughs, and there is also a feature that will notify you when you can add other ingredients like fruits or nuts to your bread.
Other notable features of the Panasonic Bread Maker include:
- 3 choices of loaf sizes and up to 2-1/2 pounds loaf capacity, ideal bread machine for modern family
- Settings for white, whole wheat, multigrain, French, quick breads/cakes
- 13-hour delay start timer and programmable menu options make meal planning easier
- Automatically adds yeast at the optimum time to ensure perfect bread
- With non-stick inner bake pan and build-in handle, finished bread is easily removed from the unit
When looking at the reviews for the product, most customers left an excellent rating, since the machine exceeded their expectations. They like that they can create great tasting bread without the preservatives that you’d normally get with store bought bread.
Customers like that the bread doesn’t stick to the bread pan or the kneading paddle, which makes getting the bread out of the machine much safer and easier to do. People who made bread often with this machine have said that they were able to get consistent results every time.
This is one of our favorite bread making machines and produced consistent results although there seemed to be Panasonic bread machines that were made on Friday afternoons as some buyers who left lower ratings complained that their machine stopped working shortly after purchasing the device.
They said that when they tried contacting customer service, they had to pay to speak to a representative. We didn't test that out.
A few people said that they weren’t able to make a decent loaf of bread with the machine—either the bread never rose and it was a brick, or it would make loaves of bread that collapsed. Who knows!
Best Bread Machine For The Money
Just because you want a bread machine, that doesn’t mean you have to break the bank to do so! Here are two affordable options worth considering!
Cuisinart CBK-100 2 Pound Bread Maker
The Cuisinart 2 Pound Bread Maker is a sleek device that allows you to make different sized loaves of bread: 1 pound, 1.5 pound, or 2 pounds. The device features 12 settings that have already been programed into it. While you do have the option of just making your basic bread, you could use some of the more unique settings like gluten-free or pasta dough.
Not only that, but you can also choose the option to use the prepared bread mixes and just throw it in the unit. You do have the option of adjusting the darkness of the crust, be it light, medium, or dark. And of course, you do have the option to start the bread making process right away, or you could set the delay timer up to 13 hours.
Other notable features of the Cuisinart 2 Pound Bread Maker include:
- Programmable bread machine bakes 1-, 1-1/2-, and 2-pound loaves
- 12 preprogrammed menu options; 3 crust settings; 13-hour delay-start timer
- Viewing window; removable lid, pan, and paddle for quick cleanup
- Stay-cool handles; measuring cup, measuring spoon, and recipes included
- Product Built to North American Electrical Standards
We love the sleek appearance of the Cuisinart 2lb Bread Maker although it takes up quite a space on the work top at 18 x 12.5 x 15 inches if that's an issue.
Penny, my fellow reviewer is heavily into gluten free food at the moment - whispers, she has some digestive problems at the moment, more about that later - so she was very keen to give this bread maker a chance to shine.
And it did. One of the best results for gluten free bread we have tried. A real nice texture and taste. For those Celiac sufferers things are looking up.
When looking at the reviews for the product, like us most buyers felt the overall quality of the Cuisinart Bread Maker and the resulting loaves were top class.
Of these reviews, customers said that they were able to make many (many!) loaves of bread since they’ve purchased the bread maker and every time, the bread comes out perfectly.
When the machine is on, customers have said that they were thankful that the unit doesn’t get too hot because they have children or they are short on space and they don’t want to accidentally get burned should they brush up against it.
Again like us, customers liked the sleek look of the metal finish. Of the remaining customers who left a bit lower rating, the common complaint was that when they try to make bread, it has a tendency to fall after it rises.
A small handful of people experienced problems with how the unit cooked. They claim that only one side would work, while others said their unit never got hot enough to actually cook the dough. Hey sometimes problems occur and then go away again.
Hamilton Beach 29882 2 lb Programmable Bread Machine
Another well-known small appliance brand, Hamilton Beach brings us the programmable bread machine. With this machine, you get all the same features that you’d expect in more expensive models, but this unit is a fraction of the price.
Unlike other bread makers that only supply you with one kneading paddle, Hamilton Beach provides you with two—one to use and one to keep safe, just in case you should misplace the first one.
The bread pan of this machine is nonstick, which is great because you never have to worry about not being able to get your bread out after it’s done cooking.
Another nice feature of this bread maker is that it features 12 settings that you can choose from, all from a press of a button. You can also control the color of the crust with a press of the button.
Notable features of the Hamilton Beach 29882 Programmable Bread Machine include:
- Makes homemade bread without preservatives or trans fats including Gluten Free Bread.
- 12 settings include: French, gluten-free, quick bread, sweet, 1.5-lb express, 2-lb express, dough, jam, cake, whole grain and bake.
- Light, medium or dark crust settings.
- Non-stick pan for easy cleanup in the dishwasher.
- Delay timer lets you add ingredients and begin the baking process later.
When looking at the reviews for the product, most customers left great ratings. Of these reviews, customers said that it makes gluten free bread very well and it turns out amazingly.
Customers have also said that they stopped buying bread at the grocery store altogether because the bread that comes out of the machine is far better than the store bought bread.
Customers have also said that the machine isn’t too loud when it is running, which we can confirm and means running the machine overnight means you will sleep through it.
Of the remaining customers who left less notable rating, the common complaint was that their bread didn’t turn out very well in this machine, even when they followed the instructions and recipes to a T. Some people mentioned that their product stopped working shortly after they received it.
Either the paddle would seize up and stop spinning, or the unit continues to beep, regardless of what setting the machine is on. People feel that the overall quality of the machine is cheap and it’s not worth the money they paid for the product.
Money plays a big role on our decision making, so it’s to be expected that you want to make sure you have the best bread maker that your budget will allow for. When we looked at these two products, we feel that Hamilton Beach wins out over the Cuisinart, only by a small margin.
Both are great products, but more people have reported better results with the Hamilton Beach bread maker over the Cuisinart machine.
Deciding that you want to begin making bread at home can be quite exciting. However, it’s a long process that not too many people have the time for. Fortunately we have access to the best bread machines right at our fingertips.
When you are looking through all of the bread machines for sale, it’s understandable that you may feel overwhelmed by all the possibilities and even wonder what is the best bread maker.
To answer your question, of these five products, we feel that the Zojirushi Home Bakery Mini Bread Maker is going to be your best bet.
While it is more expensive than others on the list and it is smaller, it is consistent and easy to use. If you do need a larger bread maker, the Panasonic SD-YD250 Bread Machine is a great choice too.
Whether you decide to purchase one of our suggestions or you’d rather read more bread maker reviews you want to make sure that you’re choosing a device that has all the features that you need and its within your budget!