Three best bread makers

By
tech-spanfeller
BestReviews

Depending on how thick you cut it, a two-pound loaf of bread from your bread maker offers up about 16 slices.

Who doesn't love a warm, freshly baked loaf of bread? It certainly beats any bread that you can pick up from the grocery store, but most of us don't try our hand at baking fresh loaves because it seems like too much trouble. But with a dedicated bread maker on your kitchen counter, you can easily whip up a loaf whenever you have a craving.

However, you want to be sure to choose the best bread maker for your baking needs and get your money's worth. That means knowing what size, loaf shape, programs, and other features will help you create the right loaves for your sandwich-making preferences.

Our handy shopping guide has all the tips you need to find the best bread maker for your kitchen. If you're still a little confused, we've also included a few specific product recommendations.

Considerations when choosing bread makers

Size and capacity

A bread maker can take up quite a bit of space on your countertop or inside a cabinet, so you want to choose a model whose dimensions will comfortably fit in your kitchen. You should also consider the capacity of the bread maker's pan, which determines the size of the loaf. For a household of three or four people, a model that produces one- to two-pound loaves usually works well.

Loaf shape

Most bread makers have vertical pans that create long, tall loaves that look different from the loaves you pick up at the grocery store. If you want loaves that resemble your favorite store-bought white bread, opt for a model with a horizontal pan. Mixing and kneading can be more difficult in a horizontal pan, so you might need to do some final mixing by hand. If you prefer round loaves, you can find bread makers with specially shaped round or oblong pans.

Bread maker features

Programs and settings

Most bread makers have settings and programs to make baking loaves of bread or other baked goods even easier. Some that you might want include the following:

Settings for specific bread types, such as white, wheat, Italian, and French

Settings for dietary restrictions, such as gluten-free bread

Settings for light, medium, and dark crust

Setting to keep bread warm

Programs for sweet breads, cakes, and more

Programs for mixing and kneading only (for hand-shaped bread, pasta dough, and pizza dough)

Program for bake only

Fixed or removable pan

Bread makers are fitted with either a fixed or removable pan. Fixed pans don't come out of the machine, which can make cleaning the pan more difficult. A removable pan lifts out of the machine so you can easily wash it. For the easiest cleanup, opt for a model with a removable pan with a nonstick coating.

Lid window

Some bread makers have a solid lid that doesn't allow you to keep an eye on your bread as it goes through the cycles. Other models have a window in the lid that lets you track the bread's progress. You'll probably pay a little more for a machine with a window in the lid, but it might be worth it if you want to keep the crust from getting too brown.

Timer

If you opt for a bread maker with a timer, you can add all the ingredients to the machine and then choose a specific time for the bread maker to start. You can leave the house to go to work or run errands and return to a hot, delicious loaf of bread.

Mix-in dispenser

Some bread recipes call for mix-ins like raisins or nuts, which must be added after the dough is mixed or they'll be crushed. Some bread makers have an automatic dispenser so you can add these items when you add the rest of the ingredients. The machine then automatically incorporates the mix-ins into the dough so you don't have to do it by hand.

Bread maker prices: Bread makers range in price from $50 to $300. Budget-friendly models that just mix and bake bread cost from $50 to $120. Higher-end models that have programs for multiple types of bread and baked goods, as well as other special features, range from $120 to $300.

FAQ

Q. How long does it take to make a loaf of bread in a bread maker?

A. It can vary based on the model and the type of bread you're baking, but a one-pound loaf usually takes about three to four hours to prepare.

Q. Is a bread maker easy for new bakers to use?

A. A bread maker can make the process much easier for beginning bakers. Once you add the ingredients and choose the cycle, the machine does all the work itself, so you can just sit back and wait to enjoy the freshly baked loaf.

Bread makers we recommend

Best of the best: Zojirushi Home Bakery Virtuoso 

Our take: Produces evenly baked bread every time. The best bread maker on the market.

What we like: Stands out for its superior performance. Makes pizza dough, cakes, and other items in addition to bread. Ranks high in satisfaction among owners.

What we dislike: Heftier price tag than many competitors.

Best bang for your buck: SKG Automatic Bread Machine 

Our take: Basic, easy-to-use model that's ideal for novice users.

What we like: Quiet, user-friendly operation. Has 19 programs for making a wide variety of breads.

What we dislike: Produces tall loaves, which some users may not like. Pan has a nonstick coating that requires special washing and maintenance.

Choice 3: Oster Expressbake Bread Machine 

Our take: Popular, basic bread maker that delivers outstanding value for the price.

What we like: Lightweight and easy to store. User-friendly operation and a variety of settings for breads and crusts.

What we dislike: Teflon pan needs special care.

Jennifer Blair is a writer for BestReviews. BestReviews is a product review company with a singular mission: to help simplify your purchasing decisions and save you time and money. BestReviews never accepts free products from manufacturers and purchases every product it reviews with its own funds.

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