Automatic bread makers are a great addition to any kitchen. These versatile countertop appliances can bake homemade bread and much more in just a few easy steps: Gather the required ingredients and then select the type of bread, loaf size, and crust color. The automatic bread maker does the rest. Here’s a guide to the best bread makers for making homemade bread and other baked goods from the comfort of your kitchen.
- BEST OVERALL: KBS Pro Stainless Steel Bread Machine
- RUNNER-UP: Oster Expressbake Breadmaker, 2-lb. Loaf Capacity
- BEST BUDGET: Elite Gourmet Maxi-Matic EBM8103B Bread Maker Machine
- UPGRADE PICK: Zojirushi BB-PAC20BA Home Bakery Virtuoso Breadmaker
- BEST FOR BEGINNERS: Hamilton Beach 2 Lb Digital Bread Maker (29882)
What to Consider When Choosing the Best Bread Maker
Basic bread makers have just a few different settings, but more sophisticated models come with programmable options that make it easy to bake up everything from sourdough and pizza dough to French or gluten-free bread. Some of the most popular features you’ll find on bread makers include programmable menu options, custom crust colors, and delay-start timers. These fancy add-ons won’t matter to some home bakers, but others will want every last feature. Before deciding how important these bells and whistles are to you, you should probably first decide what type of bread you want to make and how much space you have for your bread maker. Here are some features to consider when shopping for the best bread maker.
Size and Capacity
Before purchasing a bread maker, consider how much room you have in your kitchen and how much bread you plan to consume—once you know these things, you’ll be able to home in on a bread maker with a size and capacity that’s right for you. Larger bread makers often come with more features, but these appliances can be more difficult to move around and store than smaller bread makers.
Most bread makers can make loaves of different sizes, but each model has a maximum loaf capacity. The average loaf size is 1 to 2 pounds, but some bread makers can make larger 2.5-pound loaves. Trying to bake a large loaf of bread in a small machine or vice versa may affect the quality of the bread.
Bread Type and Loaf Shape
Bread makers come with programmable settings that allow you to make different types of bread including sourdough, French, whole wheat, gluten-free, and more.
Depending on the type of bread maker you buy, the loaf shape will either be tall and vertical or rectangular and horizontal. The latter shape produces more typically shaped bread loaves that are ideally sized to make sandwiches or for warming in the toaster. Unlike bread that you bake in an oven, there’s only one type of loaf pan you can use with each bread maker.
Bread makers come with at least one kneading paddle, but higher-end models usually have two paddles. Some kneading paddles stay in place during the baking process, which means there will be a hole or two in the finished loaf. If the appearance of the baked loaf is important to you, look for a bread maker with paddles that can be removed after the kneading stage.
Bread makers that come with programmable options automatically adjust the kneading, rising, and baking time for each type of loaf for optimal cooking results. Aside from allowing you to choose from among different types of bread to bake, some bread makers have express bread settings or give bakers the flexibility to modify loaf size and crust color.
Convection heating is a feature found in some newer bread makers on the market. This feature works similarly to a convection oven: hot air circulates around the bread loaf, resulting in even heating, precise crust color, and optimal texture.
Baking bread can be time-consuming, which is why a delayed-start timer is such a useful feature. With this feature, you add ingredients to the bread maker and set a timer to start the baking process later. If your bread maker has a delayed timer, you can program it so hot, fresh bread is ready when you want it, whether that is when you wake up in the morning or when you come home from work.
Some bread makers are equipped with alerts, or audible tones, that let you know when the machine reaches certain phases of the bread-baking cycle. There is usually a beeping noise to let you know when the kneading paddles can be removed and another noise when it’s time to add fruits, nuts, or other mix-ins. Some machines also sound an alert at the end of the baking cycle.
Bread makers are versatile appliances that can be used for more than just making bread. Some machines are capable of making pizza dough, cinnamon rolls, or breadsticks; others have jam, yogurt, and cake settings. Some bread makers can even be used to make meatloaf. These multifunctional bread makers are worth considering if you’re a chef or baker who would be making doughs and jams anyway but wouldn’t mind saving some time in the process.
Our Top Picks
The bread makers listed below offer programmable settings, multiple loaf sizes, and other convenient features that justify both their purchase price and the amount of kitchen space they take up. Here are some of the best bread makers for your budget, kitchen style, and baking needs.
This versatile bread maker from KBS has 17 programmable settings (including gluten-free and ferment options). With three options each for loaf size and crust shade, you can customize your bread to your liking. Other features include a one-hour keep-warm function, 15-hour delay-start timer, and convenient digital touch-screen control panel. This bread maker includes a nonstick ceramic pan and detachable fruit and nut dispenser. This machine is constructed of food-grade materials and has a cool window through which you can watch the bread bake.
The Oster Expressbake has 12 bread settings (including bagel dough), three crust settings, and an LCD display with button controls. Though this bread maker has a maximum loaf capacity of 2 pounds, its express-bake setting, which bakes bread in less than an hour, makes this machine a strong contender. It has a 13-hour delay-start timer, which makes it easy to have fresh, hot bread whenever you want it. It also comes with a nonstick aluminum pan and a removable lid for easy cleanup.
This bread maker has 19 programmable settings (from basic white bread to pizza dough), three loaf sizes (with a maximum loaf size of 2 pounds), and three crust colors. It also features a 15-hour delay-start timer and a 60-minute keep-warm function. Use the Elite Gourmet Maxi-Matic to make jam, yogurt, and cake in addition to a variety of breads. This bread maker also comes with a measuring cup and spoon.
Zojirushi’s upscale bread bakes up large, rectangular 2-pound loaves of bread, but it can also be used to make a variety of other foods from jam to meatloaf. (If you’re making whole wheat bread, the machine even knows to give it an extended knead.) There are 10 preprogrammed settings and three crust shades that can be selected using the LCD control panel. It also comes with special settings for gluten-free and organic baking. This bread maker has dual kneading blades, a quick-bake cycle to prepare bread in about two hours, and a 13-hour delay-start timer. It also features an extra heater on the lid for even baking, a removable nonstick bread pan for easy cleaning, and a window to peek at your bread’s progress.
The Hamilton Beach bread maker is basic, but that’s a good thing if you’re just starting out as a baker. This bread maker’s 12 programmable settings include gluten-free, quick bread, jam, and cake options. You can choose between two loaf sizes and three crust settings, and the large digital display and delay-start timer make it easy to keep track of baking time. For those who like add-ins in their breads, an audible reminder will sound when it’s time to add fruits and nuts. This machine comes with a removable nonstick pan and two kneading paddles.
FAQs About Bread Maker
Before you select the best bread maker for your baking needs, take a look at these frequently asked questions and answers about bread makers.
Q. How does a bread maker work?
Bread makers go through phases including preheat, knead, rise, and bake. First, the ingredients are warmed up, and then the kneading paddle moves to form a ball of dough. Next, the dough ball expands to fill up the loaf pan and take shape. The last phase is bake.
Q. Is it cheaper to make your own bread with a bread maker?
Making your own bread at home will save you money in the long run. It is cheaper than buying bread from the store, especially if you have dietary restrictions such as gluten intolerance.
Q. How do I choose a bread maker?
Start by assessing your available kitchen space, setting your budget, and determining the ideal loaf capacity. Then ask yourself what you plan to use the bread maker for (bread only, or bread plus other types of baked goods and foods) and how frequently you will use it. This will help you identify what features are most important to you.
Q. How do you use a bread maker?
Add your dry and wet ingredients to the loaf pan (in the order indicated in your recipe), and place it into the bread maker. Choose the type of bread or bake cycle, loaf size, and crust color. Press start and come back to a freshly baked loaf of bread.
Q. How do you clean a bread maker?
You should clean a bread maker routinely for the best results. Once your machine is unplugged and cooled down, start by removing any crumbs from the loaf pan. Next, clean the loaf pan and kneading paddles with warm water, soap, and a soft sponge or rag. Avoid pouring water directly into the machine. Once everything is dry, your bread maker is ready to use again.
Q. How long does homemade bread last?
Homemade bread typically lasts for three to four days at room temperature, which is less than store-bought bread because homemade doesn’t contain preservatives. You can store bread in the refrigerator or freezer to increase its shelf life. Make the most of bread that’s almost stale by toasting it.
Q. Are bread machines noisy?
It’s normal for bread makers to be a bit noisy during the kneading stage, but if you notice excessive or unusual noise, your machine may be in need of a repair.