- 1 Advantages Of Having A Bread Machine
- 2 Common Features And Variations In Bread Machines
- 3 Useful Tips When Using A Bread Machine
- 4 Product Reviews of the Best Bread Machines 2019
- 4.1 1. Zojirushi Virtuoso Bread Machine – Best Overall To Buy In 2019
- 4.2 2. Breville Custom Loaf Bread Machine – Best Programmable
- 4.3 3. Cuisinart Bread Machine – Best Convection Oven
- 4.4 4. T-fal Actibread Bread Machine – Best Priced For Gluten-Free
- 4.5 5. Oster Expressbake Bread Machine – Best Express Model
- 4.6 6. Zojirushi Mini Bread Machine – Best Compact 1 Pounder
- 4.7 7. Sunbeam Bread Machine – Best Budget
- 5 Top-rated Bread Machines Comparison Chart
- 6 Conclusion
Making bread is a great family activity. People come together, get their hands dirty, and the best part is when those wonderful aromas fill your house. But, let’s be honest. How many of us have the time, patience and dedication to master the art of bread making, not to mention providing enough for the daily table? That could change if you got yourself the best bread machine to do the weekday job for you.
The first bread machine was introduced by Matsuhita (Panasonic) in 1986, and by 1999, one in five American households had one. After that, their popularity plummeted because of average job performance and limited functionality.
Recently though, due to rising health awareness and an increased demand for salt-free and gluten-free choices, bread machines are making a big come back.
They are a lot more compact, better at actually baking bread and can do other things like making jams and meatloaves.
Advantages Of Having A Bread Machine
- Manufacturers will always do what they must to promote their products, but one truth about making your own bread is that you choose what goes into it.
- For people with dietary restrictions such as allergies or gluten sensitivity, bread machines make it a whole lot easier and less expensive to get what you need.
- If you have a family that goes through a loaf or more a week, even a more expensive bread machine is going to make things cheaper in the long run.
- People with physical disabilities and mobility restrictions also benefit from bread machines. Kneading dough for some can be really painful and making quick trips to the store is not something everyone can take for granted.
And it’s not just about these practicalities or conveniences. As appetizing as store bread looks or even tastes, there have been detrimental changes to how that loaf eventually makes it to your table. Furthermore, it could be that these changes are more to blame for health issues that the much maligned gluten.
Common Features And Variations In Bread Machines
Whatever bread machine you choose to buy, these are the key features you need to know about to make the best informed decision.
This is the container into which you put all your ingredients. The shape of the pan determines the size and shape of your bread. Most are square and vertical, producing a taller loaf than the ones you get at the store. A few models are more horizontal and rectangular – this produces bread that is a better size for toasting.
A Paddle Or Two
This little flipper-like tool is detachable and connects to the bottom of the pan. The paddle is what will knead your dough and mix things around. Most machines use a single paddle, but a double paddle found in horizontal type pans is more effective.
The paddle is also what always creates that hole at the bottom of any machine-made bread. Some models try to minimize this ‘defect’ by having the paddles fold up, while others will stop and beep, giving you the option to take it out before baking starts.
Higher-spec models may also have two different types of paddles—one for bread and the other for jams.
The Paddle is the most wearable part of your machine and may need to be replaced after a couple of years. If these parts aren’t available on a commercial site, then check the manufacturer’s homepage.
Well, you’re not going to be baking bread without a lid, but some lids are better than others! All models come with a viewing window in the lid so you can see how your bread is doing. A few models incorporate a push button light so you can see better, and the Zojirushi actually has an extra heating element for better crusting.
If you want to make bread with nuts, seeds or fruits, this little tray will automatically do the job for you. Not many models have a dispenser. Instead, a beep will let you know when it’s time to open up the machine and drop in the load.
A Control Panel
There will always be an LCD screen with push buttons and sometimes a dial. There is often a numbered legend with all the preset options such as basic white, French, whole wheat, or gluten-free. Some LCDs are backlit which makes it easier to read.
These are accessible from the control panel, but the important thing to consider is whether the settings can be modified. Be aware that many makers try to hype up their models. Programmable means to be able to adjust preset courses in terms of kneading, rising and baking times. Either that, or there’s an option for you to enter in and create your own baking courses. The only programmable models reviewed here are the Zojirushi and the Breville.
In the settings, you’re basically going to choose which preset course you want, the loaf size, the type of crust and then the starting time. Check to see if there are special courses you may require such as fast bake or gluten-free before you buy your bread machine. You also usually have the option to choose cycles independently to either just knead or bake something.
Last but not least, the timer is also quite essential. Almost all models have delayed start-up times of up to 13 hours or sometimes more. This allows you to have your bread done, piping hot and aromatic, just when you need it. Many models also have an automatic keep-warm function for an hour after the bread is done.
Useful Tips When Using A Bread Machine
- Instructions – Always follow the instructions precisely because bread machines are quite specifically designed appliances.
- Ingredients – Put your ingredients in the exact order recommended. Usually liquids followed by dry ingredients and lastly yeast. Buy the best and freshest ingredients, and measure them carefully. A scale is often recommended.
- Climate and weather – Most recipes are designed for sea-level dwellers. If you live at a higher elevation, lessen the yeast content as advised in the manual. More humid days or places may require slightly less water, drier slightly more. Room temperature liquids are best.
- Monitoring – This is something you can’t always do, but it does help to just check and see if all of the ingredients are mixing in from the sides and corners. You can use a spatula to scrape them in. If your dough is too dry or wet, add a little water or flour before the second kneading.
- The pan and paddle – If the paddle gets stuck in the bread, remove it carefully and always soak it and clean well. It is best to spray it with non-stick cooking spray before putting it back in. Wash the pan gently as pans are often made from non-stick material and check for any dishwasher instructions.
Be patient and take some time to get to know your machine. Stick to the recipes in the manual before venturing off with your own creations or recipes from other sources. If your bread flops, make sure to check the troubleshooting section of your manual as most good makers have solutions there.
Product Reviews of the Best Bread Machines 2019
- Zojirushi Virtuoso Bread Machine – Best Overall To Buy In 2019
- Breville Custom Loaf Bread Machine – Best Programmable
- Cuisinart Bread Machine – Best Convection Oven
- T-fal Actibread Bread Machine – Best Priced For Gluten-Free
- Oster Expressbake Bread Machine – Best Express Model
- Zojirushi Mini Bread Machine – Best Compact 1 Pounder
- Sunbeam Bread Machine – Best Budget
Here’s our picks for the best bread machines 2019:
1. Zojirushi Virtuoso Bread Machine – Best Overall To Buy In 2019
In competitive bake-offs and user comparisons, the Zojirushi Virtuoso consistently comes out with the best, all-round quality bread and scores the highest customer rating.
We chose this model over the cheaper Zojirushi Supreme for two reasons– first, it has a dedicated setting for gluten-free bread and second, the lid incorporates an additional heating element for the best even browning and crusting.
The Zojirushi is one of the few models that can put out a traditionally-sized, 2-pound loaf suitable for toasting. It can do this because of its horizontal pan design. This design incorporates not one, but two kneading paddles which are particularly useful for gluten-free flour which requires more kneading and less rising time.
The lid of this newer model has a unique heating element, so it is able to get consistently good crust browning– something that usually only the convection type models can achieve. It does the three standard types of crust– light, medium, and dark.
Bread makers have three functional cycles– kneading, rising, and baking. With this model you can select a single function to knead any kind of dough or use it as the perfect proofing or rising chamber.
The baking cycle can be used to make bread cakes, cinnamon rolls, jams, and even meatloaf.
Its 15 preset options include not only the popular and gluten-free breads, but also salt-free, sugar-free and vegan options. Many users find the recipe book very useful, especially the gluten-free alternatives.
This Zojirushi also has three memory slots for you to program in your own baking course. Preset courses, however, are not adjustable. The timer can be set up to 13 hours for a delayed start-up.
Users should be aware that the paddles will wear out after a year or so depending on the usage. However, replacement paddles are easily available.
This model is somewhat large at18”L x 10.5”W x 13”D, and is the heaviest machine on the list, weighing some 22 pounds (10kg). While it is the best model for baking great bread and in good quantities, it’s not going to suit people on a budget or kitchens with limited space.
One major drawback is that this machine can only bake one size of bread— the 2-pound loaf.
It is also much better at regular breads using active dry yeast rather than the quick breads using rapid rise yeast.
There is no dispenser in this model, so you will have to add fruits, nuts, or seeds at the appropriate beep.
One thing they could easily improve on is the LCD lighting. The display isn’t backlit and some people find it rather difficult to see.
This machine offers the best baking results by far, especially when it comes to gluten-free bread. It only produces a 2-pound loaf so it is ideally suited for serious bakers or a larger family set-up.
2. Breville Custom Loaf Bread Machine – Best Programmable
While the Breville Custom does not match the Zojirushi nor the Cuisinart for quality and evenness of crust, it comes at a slightly more affordable price tag. It has quite a few thoughtful design features that put it in a class of its own.
The Breville stands out with its top quality, all stainless steel body and the user interface is easily the best designed, most intuitive, and pleasurable to use. It measures 16.25″L x 10″W x 16.25″D and weighs about 17 pounds.
One of its most appreciated features is the Modify button that allows you to adjust knead, rise, and bake cycles for any of the 13 automatic presets. You can also enter up to 9 of your own custom courses.
Compared to the one-size Zojirushi, this bread machine is able to produce four different sizes— 1lb, 1 ½ lb, 2 lb, and 2 ½ lb – so it is much more versatile in the quantity and size of breads that it can make.
While it only has one paddle and not two, the paddle collapses into its hold before the baking cycle in order to minimize the hole at the bottom of the loaf. It also has a swivel, which helps a lot with kneading compared to other one-paddle pans.
Unlike the Zojirushi and the Cuisinart, the Breville has a dispenser tray, so you can leave it and not have to do anything until the end of the course.
Something unique to this machine is a 60-minute back-up power function in case of an outage. Another useful feature is the pause button, which allows you to interrupt any cycle if you want to open it up and do something, such as add designs to the top of your bread.
Other extras include a convenient light-up button in the lid window, a sound mute button for overnight baking, a specialized paddle for stirring jams, and a cord wrap at the back.
More critical reviewers who have tested the Breville against the Zojirushi, find that the Breville, as nice as it is with its high tech options, tends to be more inconsistent at producing the best results.
The main issue is with the crust which tends to be darker on the bottom and sides, and often doesn’t dome so nicely. .
Although they were very thoughtful about all sorts of extra finishes, somehow or other Breville missed outside handles, so many users find it a hassle to move around.
Whereas the Breville doesn’t always deliver the most perfect loaf, it has a range of convenient and unique features which add extra value. With this model, you can modify all settings, save on the price tag and get a bunch of extra cool features.
3. Cuisinart Bread Machine – Best Convection Oven
There is not as much competition in this convection oven category, but the Cuisinart is by far the best and is also very reasonably priced. It makes a lovely, evenly browned loaf and its overall results are second only to the Zojirushi.
The most obvious advantage is the convection fan system that spreads the heat evenly and rapidly all around the baking bread. This produces a perfect crust that not many home bread machines can accomplish.
It also comes with 16 preset options including low-carb and gluten-free. Many users appreciated the packed recipe book which includes 6 recipes for both low-carb and gluten-free breads.
It has a special Last Minute option which you can use for faster baking recipes which take about an hour. You can find examples in the recipe booklet that come with the machine.
Like the Breville, you have a choice of loaf sizes, but the Cuisinart just has three: 1 pound, 1 ½ and 2 pounds. You can also choose from the standard three crust choices.
It has an up to 13-hour delayed start-up and a power failure back-up, but this only backups the memory for 15 minutes.
What sets this model apart is that it comes with a 3-year warranty and under heavy use, most of these larger models generally have a lifespan of 5 years or more.
While the model description advertises itself as programmable, the only thing you can actually adjust is the time– by 10-minute increments. There is no fine tweaking like the Breville nor the option of entering your own courses.
Its display is also very basic, but functional nonetheless. It emits various rather loud beeps at different stages such as when to take out the paddle or to add in ingredients, but it’s kind of difficult to remember what they all mean.
One main reported issue is that when using the dark crust and sometimes the medium crust option, the crust tends to overcook. It seems that the heating element heats a little too much.
If all you want is a simple machine that bakes good quality bread, then this Cuisinart convection oven is a much more affordable option than either the Breville or the Zojirushi. Its 3-year warranty is an extra plus.
4. T-fal Actibread Bread Machine – Best Priced For Gluten-Free
If you are looking for a bread maker with high-quality features but at a much more affordable price, then this T-fal is what we recommend. Its suggested retail price is generally less than $100 and is usually cheaper than the Cuisinart.
The T-fal looks good with its brushed stainless steel body and modern, black top—the Zojirushi looks like it came from a previous decade.
It has comparable features to the top three models reviewed above. There are 15 preset courses, three crust types, a 1-hour warming function and a 15-hour delay start function (two hours more than other models), plus a 7-minute memory protection function in case of power loss.
This machine also has a dedicated focus on the gluten-free setting. It has a lot of gluten-free recipes and also gives advice on the process, for example, sifting flour for gluten-free recipes and scraping the bowl during the mixing phase. The delayed start function doesn’t work with gluten-free though, so do keep that in mind.
As with the Cuisinart, what you get is what you have and you cannot program or tweak anything.
It has a similar over-cooking problem with some flours when you use the medium or dark crust settings. Also, if you use the cook cycle independently, it only goes for 70 minutes so it often doesn’t work well for longer bakes.
This cooker has good value for what you pay and it works very well with gluten-free and salt-free breads. If you don’t need a programmable model, this is a good, affordable alternative to both the Zojirushi and the Breville.
5. Oster Expressbake Bread Machine – Best Express Model
The Oster Express Bake is probably one of the most popular models and comes at a very reasonable price. Reviewers testify to its hardiness and durability and there are many repeat buyers of this brand whose previous models lasted up to 10 years.
This model’s niche is, as the name suggests, fast and easy baking. It can cook a standard loaf with its express mode in under an hour— 58 minutes to be exact.
With the Expressbake™ setting, you cannot use delayed start-up, but it’s good for those who like to wake up early and do things before breakfast. It features three easy express recipes and has an additional rapid-bake button which you can use with basic, wheat, and French bread that will shave an hour off the usual time.
It has 12 pre-set options and it can do the usual pizza or bagel doughs, cinnamon rolls, and jams. You can also use the bake function independently of the other functions.
The delayed start-up timer is the usual 13 hours and it automatically goes into the keep warm mode right after finishing the bake.
With this machine, recipes cannot be tweaked and there are no programming options.
The Oster doesn’t have special settings for health breads like gluten-free. There is a country cousin model though that does, but it retails for more or less the same as the T-fal, which is a much better gluten-free maker.
Like other models, this one will beep to alert you to put in fruits, seeds, or nuts, but there is no convenient beep to alert you to take out the paddle before baking— if you wish to do so. However, the manual has detailed timings for each cycle and you can easily see where you are in a cycle on the LCD screen.
A number of user comments say that this one is a bit of a ‘walker’– so it’s best to situate it further back on your counter, especially if the surface is very smooth.
This is a great affordable choice for busy families and every day ‘breadders’, but if you have special dietary needs, this is not for you.
6. Zojirushi Mini Bread Machine – Best Compact 1 Pounder
If you want a no-fuss, easy-to-use machine then maybe you should consider this Zojirushi Mini. This tall, slim one-pounder is unique for its compact size and ability to do consistently good bakes.
Most bread machines are quite large and bulky, but this Zojirushi Mini manages to compact things a bit by adding extra height. It measures 12”H x 11” D x 8” W.
It only bakes a 1-pound loaf which is typically more square-shaped and tall. If you have limited counter space, or live on a boat as quite a few reviewers do, then this is a good choice. It bakes enough for singles, couples, and smaller families. Some people use it as a back-up supply for regular bread or to have occasional hot, fresh loaves.
With this model, you don’t have to think about12 or more pre-programmed options. What you see on the LCD is what there is– you can choose basic bread, quick bread, or French bread. For basic bread, you choose regular– firm or soft and then one of two crust choices– regular or light.
The Mini also does the usual doughs and jams, and comes with a quick bake function, but not nearly as fast as the Oster.
Like the Oster, it only beeps before the second rise if you need to add ingredients and once again at the end. It also goes automatically into the 1-hour keep warm mode, and the delayed start-up is 13 hours.
Two nice extra features are the carrying handle and a cord clip at the back of the machine for easy storage.
For some, the price may be a little excessive. The suggested retail price is generally over $200– pretty much the same price range as the Breville. However, it bakes well and lives up to Zojirushi standards.
If you’re looking for programmable options or more preset choices, this is not for you. It also doesn’t work with gluten-free breads which require more kneading and only one rising.
If you have limited space and don’t care for complexity, this Zojirushi Mini will suit you fine. For the price there could be a few more frills, but it is a very sturdy and durable product.
7. Sunbeam Bread Machine – Best Budget
The Oster, reviewed above, is actually a sub-brand of Sunbeam, so these two models are similar. The Sunbeam often retails at a more competitive price and both use Expressbake™ technology?
This model also has 12 programs, 3 loaf sizes, 3 crust choices, a 13-hour delay start-up timer, and an automatic 1-hour keep-warm function. It can do doughs and jams, so all pretty standard.
It has the same 58-minute quick bake setting, but the Oster has more versatility when it comes to quick bake options.
This is a well-reviewed product and customers are, by and large, happy with it and there are many positive comments on its durability.
This bad boy likes to say he’s programmable, but this is just a selling line because if you read the fine print, only the timer is programmable.
A lot of bread machine makers do this, so don’t be fooled. Timers don’t count because programmable means you can change the kneading, rising, or baking times as you see fit.
This one also seems to be a bit of a walker, so keep it away from counter edges. Some users think it’s a bit bulky (15”W x 10”H x 13”D), but it weighs slightly less (18.6 lb / 8.5kg) than the Zojirushi Virtuoso.
If you can pick up one of these Sunbeams for less than $60, then it is well worth having because it has all the basic functions and is reportedly pretty durable. If it is retailing at the same price as the Oster, then don’t bother.
Top-rated Bread Machines Comparison Chart
|Maker||Bin and Paddle||Loaf Sizes||Key Features|
|Zojirushi Virtuoso||Horizontal |
|2 lb||3 custom settings
Lid heating element
|Breville Custom Loaf||Vertical|
|1lb, 1.5 lb, 2 lb, 2.2 lb||9 custom settings
All presets adjustable
|Cuisinart Convection Oven||Vertical|
|1lb, 1.5 lb, 2 lb||Convection fan 3-year warranty|
|1 lb, 1.5 lb, 2 lb||3 gluten-free settings|
|1 lb, 1.5 lb, 2 lb||58 min Expressbake™
Extra rapid bake options
|1 lb||Small and compact
|1 lb, 1.5 lb, 1 lb||Tough and durable|
If you are looking for a fresh start with more wholesome bread and savings in your pocket, one of these recommended bread machines should get you on your way. Bread machines are now more versatile, offering an easy and hassle free way to healthier living. Happy baking!