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Top Of The Best Bread Machines Reviewed In 2018Last Updated January 1, 2019
№1 – Hamilton Beach Programmable Bread Machine, 2-Pound Bread Maker with Gluten-Free Setting (29882)
№2 – Homgeek Home Bakery Bread Machine 2.2 Pound with 19 Programmable Menus Setting and 15 Hours Preset,3 Crust Colors,White
№3 – Oster 2-Pound Expressbake Bread Machine with 13-Hour Delay Timer, CKSTBRTW20
Kneading paddles come in different shapes. Some machines also have one specifically for dough and a replacement specifically for pasta. Most machines should come with at least one paddle, but two is recommended to knead the bread well. Dual kneading paddles work almost as well as kneading by hand or with a stand mixer. Machines with single kneading paddles may include a spare paddle too. Also, you may want to look at whether you can remove the paddles after the kneading cycle. This is important if you do not want bread that will bake with the paddle and leave a hole at the bottom of your loaf. Some bread machines will notify you to remove the paddles before it enters the baking cycle.
A really nice feature to look for when buying a bread machine is the delayed timer. The delayed timer function allows you to select when you want your bread to start baking. For example, you can add the ingredients to your bread machine just before going to bed and set the timer to start baking at a.m. in the morning. As soon as you wake up, you will have freshly baked bread. How awesome is that?
Since bread machines mix and knead dough, you will be hardpressed not to find one that makes noise. However, the noise level differs between machines. Flimsier ones will make lots of noise. Besides, they will potentially move around your counter and even drop to the floor! Higher end models tend to use better materials and are sturdier, so they make less noise and don’t move around. When buying a machine, make sure you find one that is known to make little noise.
If you plan to bake bread with fruits and nuts, make sure your bread maker will sound an alarm to let you know when to add these ingredients. If you add them at the beginning with the other ingredients, they will be crushed by the mixing cycle. So that’s why you need to add them later and that’s why some machines will “beep” to let you know it’s time to add them.
We found that bread machines don’t differ that much in pricing between the brands or based on the size of bread it bakes, but when it comes to programmable options, the more your machine has the more you tend to pay for it. Programmable options are useful if you want to control, for example, how dark or light you want your crust to be, if you want to knead the dough without baking it, or if you want to bake the dough without kneading it, or how long you want it to rise, knead, or bake. As you can tell, programmable options give you full control. Machines also come with pre-programmed settings such as gluten-free, whole wheat, French, and sweet. So you’d want to choose a bread machine that has the programs you want to easily make the types of bread you want. Higher end models also give you the option to program your own cycle if the machine doesn’t already come with a cycle that suits your needs.
Pre-Programme Options to look out for
The modern day machines come with a wide array of pre-set programmes to make baking bread and other bread products as easy as possible. Take a good note of what programmable features your bread maker has and ensure it meets your requirements before buying it.
The digital programs that are pre-set are easy to follow and are controlled via a digital display interface. All bread makers come with a comprehensive manual and easy to follow instructions so it will be fairly easy to understand how to programs the baking process. To get you started bread makers will also provide you with a range of basic bread recipes.
The Delay Timer
A delay timer is a standard addition to most modern bread makers. This is a great function for the modern household as it allows you to set the baking start time whenever you want and also time the end result to whenever you want. If you plan ahead you can set up the baking so that the bread is ready when you get in from work or even for first thing in the morning when you wake up. Check the product guide for the length of timer delay. The majority of products will provide a 1hour delay however some can go up to as much as 2hours delay if this is what you require.
Delay timers will also allow you to keep the oven on past the completed baking time. This is a good little feature if you want to keep your bread warm for a period of time.
We all lead busy lives and sometimes you will want to make bread at very short notice. Look out for bread makers that will provide a rapid bake programme which can turn around a loaf in to hours as opposed to a standard white bread baking time of around to hours.
A lot of appliances will have the ability to create specific types of dough which can then shaped by hand and finished and baked in a conventional oven. This is particularly useful for products like rolls, croissants, pizzas or buns for example.
It is a little known fact but bread makers are a great utensil for making jams, marmalades and chutneys. The paddle takes all the hard work out of the stirring process and the hot small oven is ideal for making your favourite recipe with the minimum of fuss and mess.
Bread Maker Dimensions
The bread machine products come in all shapes, sizes and weights. Think about where you bread maker will go in your kitchen and measure the space before you buy. Some bread makers can also be very heavy and bulky so if you are going for a larger model find a spot where it can sit in your kitchen and where you don’t need to move it around. If you are limited for space then go for one of the more portable mini bread makers that are available on the market today.
The majority of loaf pans are rectangular in shape which is probably the shape of loaf that you are expecting however you may also find square and also cylindrical ones. Some also come with special pans such as baguette baking pans. For ease of cleaning afterwards ensure the pan is non-stick.
Some machines require a period of time to preheat before you start. Some can be longer than others. This phase warms the ingredients and ensures the yeast activates properly. Softening the flour and allowing early absorption allows for improved gluten development and better tasting bread.
Breadmakers are like any other kitchen product. The vast majority of units will provide years of satisfactory service however from time to time faults do occur and products fail. Although unlikely you should think about factors like :
As you can see there are a lot of features and factors to consider when deciding what machine to purchase. Whether you just plan to bake a small pound loaf each week or the start a regular production line of artisan bread products there is definitely a product out there for you.
Bread Machine Physical Size & Pan Shape
Each and every bread machine is going to be a little bit different. This is because each variation of a bread machine is going to serve a unique purpose. So, you do have to define some of your own needs and then find the best machine that matches what you are looking for.
The first criteria to examine would be the actual physical size of the bread machine. There is a twofold reason for selecting the right size machine. The first is the size of the machine has to be appropriate for the size of the loafs of bread you wish to make. If you only wish to cook a few small loafs of bread, there is no reason to buy an over-sized bread machine.
The other reason you have to select the right size machine is because you do not want to buy a bread maker you simple do not have room for. If the machine is too big for the counter or cannot easily fit away in a cabinet, then it is just not going to be the right match for your kitchen.If you are shy of counter space, you may want to consider one of the smaller machines. As well, some are a bit heavier than others so if you have to lift it into an overhead storage cabinet, you should consider this.
Loaf size is also important. Different machines can accommodate different sizes of bread. Select a machine that can make the size of a loaf of bread you are most likely going to cook.
What size loaves will the bread maker make? 1, 1.5, 2.0, 2.lb loaves. I guess a better way to think of this is in terms of slices. A typical loaf of bread has 20 slices. Roughly and depending on how thick or thin you slice your bread the number of pounds equates like this:
Typically loaf pans are rectangular in shape. They are also available with square pans and also cylindrical in shape. The pan surfaces are normally non stick. I personally prefer the traditional rectangular loaf.
There are a number of performance oriented features a good bread machine will possess. First, it must have a decent Viewing Window. With a clear and sizable viewing window, you can always tell if the bread is cooking fine and the crust is coloring. Burning the bread becomes less likely when all you have to do is look through the window and see how it is coming along. If you are opening the lid frequently this will affect temperature and thus affect the quality of the bread.
Bread Maker Rapid Bake Option
The Rapid Bake and the Fast Bake options are going to be appealing to someone who might not have a lot of time to cook a loaf of bread. As the name suggests, these features are intended to speed up the amount of time it takes to cook a loaf. Look closely at the particulars of this feature when thinking about buying a bread machine because the actual rate of speed is going to vary from model to model.
If you have a big family and you are less concerned with how fancy you can make your bread and are more interested in how many loaves of bread you can cook each day, then make sure you buy one with a rapid bake option.
A bread machine with pre-programmed settings is another good feature to consider. Not everyone is an expert with making bread and pre-programmed settings. A quality bread machine can come with upwards of 1pre-programmed settings. Picking the right settings for selections such as wheat, whole grain, white, french, raisin, or other types of bread ensure they are cooked right.
Bread Machine Delay Timer
A Delay Timer can also be a help. Certain models may have timers that can be set upwards of 1hours in advance. So, if you are stepping out for three hours, you can put the dough in the bread machine and set the timer to turn on in two. When you arrive home at the third hour, the bread will already be cooked.
Of course bread tastes best when it is still warm so if this is important to you look for this feature to keep your bread warm and to determine the delay time for starting the process.
The bread machines make various sizes of loaves, from pounds to pounds. The best bread makers give you options of various sizes. That way, you can bake different kids of loaves for different occasions.
Look at the size of the bread maker and how much space you have in your kitchen. If the is machine large, ensure that you have enough counter space to keep it.
This is purely based on your preference. Do you want the traditional large rectangular loaf of bread? Perhaps you prefer bread that’s round or square.
Do you want bread that stand vertically or lays horizontally? Note that in order to make horizontal loaves, the machine needs to have kneading blades in order to properly mix and knead ingredients.
Programs and Settings
Any bread maker worth your time has to have some degree of programmability. For instance, there are the crust control settings, where you can pick from light or dark options.
Sometimes you can bake dough without kneading, or knead dough without baking (like for pizza dough). In more advanced machines you have pre-programmed settings for different types of bread.
Some machines even allow you to pre-program your own settings. Do you like making bread with additional ingredients like dried fruit or nuts?
There are bread makers that come with indicators to alert you when the time reaches to add them. Some even have trap doors to automatically add the ingredients for you.
There are bread makers that come with time delay settings- some going as long as 20 hours. They allow you to conveniently plan and schedule the baking process.
For instance, you can add the ingredients to your bread maker just before going to bed and then set the timer to start baking at a.m. You can set it to prepare bread in time for an event, or come home from work to find your freshly baked bread waiting for you.
All bread makers mix and knead dough, so they make noise to some extent. How much noise they make depends on the quality of the machine. Low quality ones will be very noisy.
They may also vibrate and move on your counter, and risk falling to the floor and getting damaged. High quality bread machines are made of sturdier materials and make less noise.
Oster CKSTBRTW20 2-Pound Expressbake
213Reviews Oster 2-Pound Expressbake Bread Machine…
This Oster CKSTBRTW20 machine comes with bread settings and crust settings. It can make everything from whole-wheat and sweet bread to gluten-free and French bread.
Conair Cuisinart CBK-100
101Reviews Cuisinart CBK-200 2-Lb Convection Bread…
This bread machine comes with 1pre-programmed menu options, crust settings. Its lid, pan and paddle are removable, which makes it convenient for washing.
Breville BBM800XL Custom Loaf
16Reviews Breville BBM800XL Custom Loaf Bread…
It Breville BBM800XL machine even has custom recipe charts. In addition to the pre-programmed settings, you can manually input selections for preheating, kneading, rising, punching-down, baking and warming phases.
Breadman TR520 Programmable
63Reviews Breadman TR520 Programmable Bread Maker…
This automatic bread maker is fully programmable and comes with crust settings and functions for bread and dough. You can make bread of 1, 1.and pounds.
Bread makers are user-friendly.
In fact, it’s arguably the easiest appliance to use in your kitchen. Simply dump the ingredients into the machine, choose your preferred settings and press start.
You can then forget about it completely until you here the beep indicating your bread is ready to be eaten.
They are convenient.
No one likes the hassle of making bread by hand- all that kneading is tedious and time consuming. The bread machines have automated the entire process, and at the end of everything you get a high quality fresh loaf of bread.
The bread machine can be used in place of many appliances in the kitchen.
Take the cake setting for instance. It allows you to make cake from scratch. Consequently, it has taken the place of the stand mixer, hand mixer and the oven;
About a decade ago, bread machines were only able to produce square shaped loaves of bread, which took many hours to produce and didn’t have the same consistency as bread from a bakery. Today, bread makers produce traditional looking horizontal loaves that taste and feel like they came directly from the bakery.
Internal Computer Chips
One of the newest features implemented in bread makers is the addition of microprocessors to ensure that the bread is baked the same way every time. Differing from old-fashioned bread machines, the new microprocessor removes the unpredictability of old machines that simply has a heating element and a timer. The microprocessor can make small adjustments to the heat over time, to ensure that the bread is baked thoroughly.
Bread makers with microprocessors are pretty common, but they still go for slightly more than a conventional bread machine. Many people say that a small increase in price is worth it, because the processors help remove any inconsistencies in the baking process. The microprocessor also cuts down on the amount of time needed to bake the bread. Many bread machines with internal computer chips come with rapid-bake settings that can decrease the baking time of a loaf of bread to an hour.
Many bread machines come with one or kneading blades, but many users feel that two kneading blades perform better than a bread machine with just one. The difference in cost between a bread maker with a single kneading blade and one with is very minimal, so it’s always a good idea to pick up a two-bladed bread maker.
Oster CKSTBRTW20 2-Pound Bread maker
Along with the main bread-making features, many modern bread machines come with optional extras that make operating the appliance easier than ever. Here are a few optional designs and features:
Top-Loading Machines – The majority of machines load from the top because it offers the user the utmost convenience.
Safety Features – A typical bread machine comes with several internal safety fuses to prevent the device from overloading and short-circuiting. Along with the standard fuses, many bread machines come with power interruption protection, which will protect your device in the event of a power outage. With power interruption protection, the bread machine will continue where it left off after the power comes back on, so you don’t have to throw out the bread it was baking
Baking Pan – After baking a loaf of bread, many people have noticed that the ingredients leave quite a mess on the baking pan, which can be difficult to clean off. This is why many bread machines now come with non-stick baking pans, which help with cleanup. Most of the time, the baking pan cannot be removed, so a non-stick pan is important because it can be very difficult to clean out a pan while it’s still inside the bread maker
Display Screens and Windows
Usually found in high-end bread makers, LCD display screens can be very useful for checking the progress of your bread and changing settings during startup. A feature that’s more widely available is a viewing window that’s built into the bread maker.
All bread makers have a pan where the bread is made and a kneading paddle. If the kneading paddle is fixed, the loaf will contain a small hole in the base, however, some bread makers have a removable kneading paddle which reduces the size of the hole.
Choose a range of crust colour options including very light, light, medium, dark and very dark to suit your personal preference. Some machines also allow you to change the crust thickness and a few come with an inbuilt air circulation system for crispier crusts.
Bread Maker Size
Let’s put aside the varieties of bread and special features for a moment, and talk more about the physical unit. Smaller (and usually less expensive) bread makers will produce tall, square-shaped loaves, while the ones that bake more traditional “horizontal” loaves will take up more space on your kitchen counter and usually come with a higher price tag.
The size of a bread machine also relates directly to the size of the loaf it can make; the benchmarks range from one pound to 2½ pounds. Consider your regular needs before choosing, since a one-pound loaf will be perfect for a small family dinner (with some likely left over for lunch), but you’ll need at least one 2-2½ pounder for a dinner party. Some models let you choose between different sizes for each bake, a handy option.
One Paddle or Two
You’ll also see that some machines have one paddle for kneading, while others have two paddles. As you’d probably guess, the dual paddles are more expensive and do a better job of kneading horizontal loaves, while a single paddle is usually fine for a vertical loaf. There are also models with removable or collapsible paddles, which you’ll need if you don’t want the telltale “bread machine hole” baked into the underside of a loaf.
If this is your first time choosing a bread maker, you might not even be aware that there are different sized loaves to choose from! This isn’t at all surprising – older models generally served up one loaf size only, and some still do.
In comparison, the Breville BBM800XL bread maker and the West Bend 41300 Hi-Rise bread maker let you choose between four different loaf sizes, with the smallest at pound and the largest at 2.pounds. The Conair Cuisinart CBK-100 is marketed as a 2-lb. bread maker, but in actuality, it offers you three size options.
The Pros of Single-Loaf Size Bread Makers
Who doesn’t love an up-front bargain? In most cases, old-fashioned bread makers that offer no loaf size option cost a bit less than the ones that give you several options.
Second, it’s really easy to memorize your favorite recipe and make a quick loaf of bread without giving too much thought to the process. Of course, this is something you can do with any bread machine.
The Pros of Multiple-Loaf Size Bread Makers
Sometimes you want fresh bread for a small group of people; sometimes you need to feed a crowd, or you’d like your bread to last through a few meals instead of just one.
Second, fresh homemade bread doesn’t contain preservatives, so it becomes stale within just a few days. If you’re trying to be conscientious about your health but aren’t part of a large family, you can be in control of what goes into each of your loaves without making so much bread that you’ll feel obligated to overeat. When you have guests or want to share, then you can make a bigger loaf. It’s good to be in control!
If you’re on a budget or aren’t terribly interested in options, then a single-loaf size bread maker will probably work well for you. Then again, you’ll pay about as much for the Hamilton Beach HomeBaker 29882, which makes loaf sizes, as you would for a decent single-loaf size bread maker.
Automatic Fruit and Nut Dispenser
What makes this feature so popular? If you’re a seasoned baker, then you already know that you have to add things like herbs, nuts, and dried fruit at a certain time during the baking cycle, since adding them too soon can alter the finished loaf’s texture and quality. Bread makers with automatic fruit and nut dispensers add these extras at precisely the right time during the baking cycle, making for true automation even when you’re doing interesting things with your bread. The Panasonic SD-RD250 is one of these.
Automatic fruit and nut dispensers are all about convenience. If you’re going to be using the delayed baking cycle a lot, and you tend to like a lot of extras in your bread, then it’s probably worth a few extra dollars to choose a machine with this option.
Also, when the machine adds the extras for you, you know that you’re going to get a good quality product in the end. Some machines do sound an alarm when it’s time to add extras, but that prevents you from making those special recipes when you’re not going to be within earshot of the machine.
Still others leave it up to you to remember to add extras on your own. We recommend that you set an alarm if you want to do this, since it’s crucial that you add nuts, seeds, etc. at a certain time or risk ruining your loaf.
Price is the main detractor here. When you stop to consider that your bread machine – even a top-rated model like the Breville BBM800XL will pay for itself pretty quickly, you might decide to spring for the automatic fruit and nut dispenser.
Buying your breadmaker from a well known, established manufacturer may increase its price tag, but should be worth it in the long run. If something goes wrong with your breadmaker, expect a better after sales service by large manufacturers such as Panasonic, Kenwood and Morphy Richards.
For those that want the bread baked just how they like it, a crust setting option as featured on the Morphy Richards Accents bread maker lets you choose light, medium or dark crusts. It adds flexibility into the baking process and gives you that extra option to experiment with.
Power Interruption System
Baking bread can be an exact science at times, one false move and everything can go wrong. A power interruption system as featured on the Antony Worrall Thompson breadmaker will protect your bread for power failure. If the power is cut during the baking process, the breadmaker will resume where it left off when power returns.
For complete control over the kneading, rising, and baking process, a homemade option lets you customise the times exactly, each step of the way. For example, the Breadman breadmaker by Russell Hobbs has five memory cells for you to store your customised timings. This is great for experimenting.
The Shape of Your Loaf
A vertical bread machine may not be your perfect choice if you have low hanging cabinets over your counter top. The bread machine will need some space overhead for opening up the lid and more for lifting out the bread pan. Do take this into consideration when buying your bread machine.
Sizes of Your Loaf
Other than the space your bread machine is going to take up, look at the size of the loaf it can make too. Some bread machines allow you to choose from several loaf sizes, which is good if you have a growing family.
For singles or couples, a bread maker that bakes a 1-lb loaf will do. On the other hand, a large family will need the largest loaf size at 2.pounds.
Programs are really useful for new bakers or those who like different types of bread. You can bake plain white bread, multigrain, whole wheat, gluten-free, meatloaf and cake in one single machine if your bread machine has all these programs. Some bread machines even have programs for jam, mochi, udon, pasta and chocolate! See the Panasonic SD-BMT1000.
Who should get a bread machine
A bread machine can be a great tool for anyone who likes the idea of having fresh bread at home but doesn’t have the time or the ability to make it by hand. Baking bread takes time and effort: usually you have to mix it, knead it, let it rise, shape it, let it rise again, and bake it. But a good bread machine can do all that for you. Just measure the ingredients into the pan, turn the machine on, and you have a loaf of bread three to four hours later. It’s a great way for busy households to keep a steady supply of bread, and it’s a valuable aid for anyone with physical limitations like arthritis that make it hard to make bread by hand. Making bread from scratch in a bread machine is also likely to be less expensive than buying a nice loaf, and that goes doubly for gluten-free bread, which most newer models can handle with ease.
For most recipes, it takes no longer than minutes to load the machine with ingredients, and it’s safe to leave running while you’re away. Even better for busy people, most machines have a delay timer, so you can set it up in the morning and come home to freshly baked bread after work. Most machines can also be used on the “dough” setting (which does everything but bake the bread) to have fresh dough ready for cinnamon rolls in the morning or for an easy pizza dinner on a weeknight.
Clockwise from bottom left: bread from the West Bend, Zojirushi, and Hamilton Beach machines.
For people with food allergies or restrictions, a bread machine offers total control over what goes into your bread for a fraction of the effort that it takes to make bread by hand. Most newer models of bread machines even include a setting for making gluten-free loaves, so they can be big boon for anyone with gluten sensitivities. More so than wheat bread, store-bought gluten-free bread can be expensive and mediocre quality; a good bread machine will make a fresher loaf for cheaper.
If you already own a bread machine and aren’t happy with the way your bread turns out—if the ingredients aren’t mixed thoroughly, or the crust comes out uneven or dark—consider swapping it out for our top pick. And if you already love your bread machine but are using an inexpensive model, consider moving on to our upgrade pick, which is worth the steep price tag if you know you’ll be using it all the time.
All that said, a bread machine is not for everyone. It’s a big appliance, and though most bread machines do have settings that allow you to make other things like jam and cake, for the most part it’s meant to do one thing: make bread. It’s also not foolproof. Like any other baking project, bread made in a bread machine requires precision. Haphazardly dumping in ingredients without careful measuring is likely to yield an uneven loaf at best (and a rock-like lump of baked dough at worst). Those with a tiny kitchen are probably better off just buying their bread, and those expecting something utterly effortless will likely be disappointed. A bread machine is also not great for making super chewy, crusty, artisan loaves like those in, say, the
Tartine Bread cookbook, which require much slower rising times and hotter oven temperatures. For a relatively easy version of that, you’re better off trying Jim Lahey’s famous no-knead bread (this recipe comes from The New York Times, parent company of Wirecutter).
How we picked
From left to right: the West Bend Hi-Rise, T-fal ActiBread, and Zojirushi Virtuoso.
A good bread machine just needs to do one thing: make bread as good as or better than you could make by hand with less effort. In some ways, a bread machine loaf will always be a little different than what you’d bake in your oven. It will always have a hole in the bottom from where the mixing paddle was. And because the heating element is right up against the bread pan, you should expect the crust to come out a little thicker and tougher than oven-baked bread. But with a good bread machine, neither of these things should matter much. You can still make a sandwich out of the one or two slices with a hole, and the crust will still be tasty.
The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook ) to help narrow down what to test. Hensperger’s book was filled with information on the ins and outs of using bread machines, and numerous discussions on the Fresh Loaf (a popular forum for bread bakers of all types) offered more insight.
Keeping that in mind, and after consulting with experts and reading through bread machine reviews and cookbooks, here are the criteria we used when selecting and testing bread machines:
A lot of bread machines use a single paddle to knead, which means the bread pan has to be taller than it is long to keep the dough contained where the paddle can reach it. This yields a rather odd-shaped loaf and very tall slices of bread. PJ Hamel, the senior digital content editor for King Arthur Flour, prefers something “that is pretty much the shape of a regular loaf of bread.” There aren’t many models like this available, but those that are out there use two side-by-side paddles instead of one in order to reach the dough on both ends of the pan. Two paddles don’t necessarily do a better job of kneading than one (that’s more up to the motor), so the main reason you might want a machine with two paddles is the shape of the loaf pan.
We looked at bread machines with up to 1different settings, each with kneading, rising, and baking times adjusted to suit a particular type of bread (or cake or jam). But not everyone needs salt-free bread or wants to make pasta dough in their bread machine. For anyone who isn’t planning to really geek out on their bread machine, the most essential settings are: basic (or white) bread, whole wheat bread, sweet bread, and dough. A gluten-free setting is also important if that’s what you plan on using your machine for, since gluten-free bread requires more kneading and less rising than any wheat bread. Hamel and Perry both recommend getting a machine that also allows you to program your own cycles, but that may only be useful if you like to tinker with recipes. Another important feature is a delay timer, so you can load the machine with ingredients and set it to start baking a few hours before you wake up in the morning, or as soon as you get home from work.
Most bread makers are two-pound machines, which means they make a two-pound loaf of bread, though they usually also offer the option of making a 1.5-pound loaf. That’s not an exact measurement (obviously the weight of a loaf of bread will vary based on the ingredients) but it’s roughly the size of loaf you’d buy in the grocery store. There are some one-pound and three-pound machines available too, but the former makes a loaf too tiny to be of use to a household larger than two people, while the latter seems unreasonably large for an appliance that already takes up a lot of room in the kitchen. We decided to only test machines with a two- or 2.5-pound capacity.
Slicing a loaf from the T-fal ActiBread.
For best results, it’s important to weigh out your ingredients.
For every recipe, we weighed out both wet and dry ingredients rather than measuring by volume. This ensured precision and consistency across multiple tests, and is a better approach to making bread—and all baked goods—in general (baking pro Alice Medrich has a good explanation of why over on Food52).
Late in the game, we also had to go back and retest several machines after one of our frontrunners (the Hamilton Beach Programmable Bread Machine) suddenly began overproofing bread. This was when we brought in a sixth machine (the Oster 2-pound Expressbake, which is in the same price range as the Hamilton Beach) for testing. We made more loaves of white and gluten-free bread in multiple machines during this second round, ultimately baking 30 loaves in all.
In every test, we also paid attention to how easy each machine was to use. We noted how much noise each machine made (some can be quite loud, and may also jump around on the counter), and how easy each pan was to clean (because all bread machine pans contain greased moving parts for rotating the paddle, none are dishwasher safe).
T-fal PF311E ActiBread Programmable Bread Machine
If you’re looking for a slightly more compact bread machine or are interested in more gluten-free options, the T-fal PF311E ActiBread Programmable Bread Machine has a couple quirks but consistently made evenly kneaded, risen, and baked bread. It’s a single-paddle machine, so it does make a taller loaf than anything you’d find at the store, but it also has a smaller footprint than the West Bend or the Zojirushi. It excels at gluten-free loaves, and while it tends to bake bread on the dark side, using the lightest crust setting yields a nicely golden exterior.
Slices from the T-fal were too big to fit in the toaster: their tops stuck out even when the lever was down.
In comparison to the standard-sized, 9-by-5-inch loaf from the West Bend or our upgrade pick, the Zojirushi BB-PAC20 Home Bakery Virtuoso Breadmaker, a loaf from the T-fal has the odd, extra tall, almost cubelike shape that is actually standard for most bread machines. Slices from it were too tall to fit in our favorite toaster. But the dimensions of the pan, which uses one paddle instead of two, also mean the T-fal takes up fewer square inches of counter space. And the single paddle doesn’t run the risk of shoving all the dough to one side of the pan and leaving you with a lopsided loaf, which is not something we encountered in testing, but definitely a possibility with two-paddle machines.
The loaf from the T-fal (left) is much taller than the loaf from the West Bend Hi-Rise bread machine.
Loaves from the T-fal came out evenly kneaded and risen. They had a fine, even crumb and a smooth domed top, without any of the floury, unmixed corners or the collapsed, overproofed tops that we got from machines like the Oster 2-Pound Expressbake or the Hamilton Beach 2988Programmable Bread Machine. Their only flaw was that, when baked on the medium setting, the crust tended to come out dark––evenly baked, but nonetheless dark. The white loaf was still tasty but at least a shade darker and with a thicker crust than most of the other loaves we baked, while the whole wheat loaf sweetened with honey (which scorches easily) looked burnt. When we retested with the machine on the lightest crust setting, loaves came out a nice golden brown, so it’s not a dealbreaker, but it’s something to keep in mind, especially when baking sweet loaves that can burn more easily.
The T-fal’s regular gluten-free setting passed our testing with flying colors, producing a tall, soft, spongy loaf from the Zojirushi recipe. It’s also the only machine we tested that actually included more than one gluten-free setting. It has three: regular gluten-free bread, sweet bread, and cake. We didn’t test all three, and for anyone not interested in baking gluten-free, it seems excessive, but if you are avoiding gluten, it could be a bonus.
A few of the other settings on the T-fal also seem unnecessary, such as a program for making pasta dough and the one for making salt-free bread. It also has options for making jam and cake, standard for most bread machines. We also haven’t tested these settings, so we can’t say how successful they are, but they probably won’t get much use with most people.
Overall, however, the T-fal has all the settings you’d want in a bread machine: basic, whole wheat, sweet bread, and dough, plus a delay timer up to 1hours. The buttons are clearly marked, the settings menu is easy to navigate, and the backlit screen is easy to read. At the time of writing, it’s comparable in price to the West Bend. It also has a one-year warranty, and T-fal sells replacement pans and paddles on its website.
For serious bread bakers
The Zojirushi BB-PAC20 Home Bakery Virtuoso Breadmaker is a high-end machine that’s worth the cost if you love to bake bread and want more control over the mixing and baking process. It’s a sturdy, reliable machine, and in addition to having a number of pre-programmed settings, it also allows you to customize and save your own. Like the West Bend, it uses two kneading blades, and creates a standard-sized loaf. Every bread we made came out beautifully risen and baked, with a soft crumb and a crust that wasn’t too thick.
Overall, all the loaves we baked in the Zojirushi were great but not significantly better than the ones from the West Bend, which is why it may not be worth the steep price for everyone. But many people swear by Zojirushi machines: Both Marsha Perry of the Bread Machine Diva and PJ Hamel of King Arthur Flour say Zojirushi has been their preferred brand for decades, and it’s a favorite of many of the bread enthusiasts on the Fresh Loaf forum. A few features make it a good investment for anyone looking to upgrade from a less expensive machine or spend a lot of time making bread. For one thing, the Zojirushi allows you to program your own cycle, adjusting kneading, rising, and baking times to the minute. It also allows you to save up to three of these custom cycles.
The control panel on the Zojirushi is easy to navigate.
The settings on the Zojirushi are easy to use, and the digital display lights up, making it easy to read. And, rather than telling you how long the bread has left to bake, like all the other machines we tested, it tells you what time the loaf will be done. That sounds minor, but it’s nice not to have to do the mental math. (Just make sure the clock is correctly programmed first.)
The Breville BBM800XL Custom Loaf Bread Maker was one of the more expensive models we tested. It has some nice features, like an automatic fruit and nut dispenser and the ability to adjust the time on any cycle as well as program your own. But it’s violently loud when kneading, and it overcooked the sides of every loaf we made.
Like the Oster Expressbake, the inexpensive Hamilton Beach 2988Programmable Bread Machine ran hot and overproofed our white bread, leaving the interior spongy and the top sunken in. It also has a gluten-free cycle that goes through two rises instead of one. Gluten-free bread doesn’t have the strength and elasticity to rise again after being punched down, so the Hamilton Beach gluten-free loaves always came out collapsed and dense.
The Black & Decker B6000C Deluxe 3-Pound Bread Maker is another one of very few machines to feature two paddles instead of one. But we chose not to test it because its 3-pound capacity makes it huge and incapable of making 1.5-pound loaves, which is the standard for many recipes.
The Cuisinart CBK-200 Convection Bread Maker is enormous, and
Cook’s Illustrated says it always overheated in their testing, leading to overproofed bread, so we decided not to test it.
The Cuisinart CBK-100 2-lb. Bread Maker is just an older version of the CBK-200. It’s just as huge, and not much better reviewed, so we chose not to test it.
The Zojirushi BB-CEC20 Home Bakery Supreme is an older version of our upgrade pick and doesn’t include a gluten-free setting, so we chose not to test it.
The Zojirushi BB-HACHome Bakery 1-Pound-Loaf Programmable Mini Bread Maker is only capable of making tiny, almost cube-shaped loaves, so it’s not as practical as most other machines.
Help Choosing a Breadmaker
I’ve been thinking for some time about getting a bread machine. It’s just hubby and me, but I really like the idea of making my own bread, especially knowing what goes in it. I recently purchased a bunch of old “Quick Cooking” magazines that had some really good recipes for bread makers. I mostly plan on making whole wheat loaves and buns. Hubby says that we should get one that will last a long time. I figure I’ll be using it once a week. What kind should I get? What do I need to know about bread machines?
First of all thanks for reading my article to the end! I hope you find my reviews listed here useful and that it allows you to make a proper comparison of what is best to fit your needs and budget. Don’t be afraid to try more than one product if your first pick doesn’t do the trick.
Most important, have fun and choose your Bread Machines wisely! Good luck!
So, TOP3 of Bread Machines
- №1 — Hamilton Beach Programmable Bread Machine, 2-Pound Bread Maker with Gluten-Free Setting (29882)
- №2 — Homgeek Home Bakery Bread Machine 2.2 Pound with 19 Programmable Menus Setting and 15 Hours Preset,3 Crust Colors,White
- №3 — Oster 2-Pound Expressbake Bread Machine with 13-Hour Delay Timer, CKSTBRTW20