The Best Bread Maker – Consumer Reports
Bread makers enable you to enjoy freshly baked loaves at home. Also known as “bread machines,” these kitchen appliances provide an economical way to prepare numerous recipes without having to knead dough or use a conventional oven.
Benefits of Making Your Own Bread
There are numerous benefits to making your own bread at home. Foremost, it is one of the most economical ways to enjoy a variety of recipes. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, a family can pay over $2 per loaf of store-bought wheat bread and over $4 per loaf of specialty bread. In contrast, basic bread costs less than a dollar to make at home, and specialty bread averages around $1 per loaf if you buy the ingredients in bulk. As a bonus, making bread at home can be much more environmentally friendly since you do not have to worry about the disposal of plastic wrap used to package store-bought loaves.
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Using a bread maker is also remarkably versatile. In addition to bread for breakfast toast and lunch sandwiches, you can make sliced bread for the dinner table, snack time, or tea parties. Start a wholesome family tradition of freshly baked bread during holiday gatherings, or fill the whole house with wonderful aromas during birthday parties or sleepovers. Since a bread maker is portable and compact, you can also use it to make specialty bread for housewarming presents, office parties, picnic baskets, and potlucks.
Bread makers are diverse enough to use for plenty of custom recipes. Whether you prefer your bread light and fluffy or hearty and robust, using a bread maker means freshly baked goods without the extra fillers or preservatives. Great bread dishes you can bake in the same bread maker include the following:
- Whole Wheat Bread
- Low-Carb Almond Flour Bread
- Keto Bread
- Paleo Bread
- Gluten-Free Bread
- Potato Bread
- Pumpkin Bread
- Cranberry Oat Bread
- Wholesome Banana Walnut Bread
- Fluffy White Bread
- Rustic and Hearty Pumpernickel Bread
- Sourdough Bread
- Ciabatta Bread
- Brioche Bread
- Rye Bread
- Healthy Flax Seed or Sunflower Seed Bread
- Asian Rice Bread
- Irish Soda Bread
- Bread Maker Bagels, Dinner Rolls, Soft Pretzels, or Doughnuts
In addition to custom bread with lower risk of allergens or preservatives, baking your own bread may have mental health benefits as well. An independent study at the Bethlem Royal Hospital in London found that mental health residents who participated in baking bread reported greater relaxation, less anxiety, and a renewed sense of purpose. Additionally, schools like Boston University and various culinary institutes now offer programs in therapeutic baking. The cultural significance of bread (ingrained in everyday expressions like “daily bread,” bread and butter,” and “breadwinner”) means that a bread maker is a great way for your family to enjoy this food staple at any time.
Top 10 Best Bread Makers – Consumer Reports
Features and Benefits: The Hamilton Beach programmable bread maker is a top choice for those who want an economical and versatile bread machine. Known for its large digital display, this bread maker multitasks with 12 baking settings and two kneading paddles. Use the machine’s three simple steps to produce two-pound express loaves, or bake nut breads and cakes with audible reminders for adding fruits and toppings. This bread maker also includes a delayed start timer to bake bread while you sleep as well as the choice of up to three crust settings. Best of all, the bread maker includes a removable, non-stick, dishwasher-safe pan and two dishwasher-safe kneading paddles.
- Large digital display that is easy to use and read
- Works in three easy steps: add ingredients, choose cycle, and press start
- Contains a removable, non-stick, dishwasher-safe pan and two dishwasher-safe kneading paddles
- Features 12 baking settings, including gluten-free bread, French bread, whole-grain bread, and unleavened bread
- Includes express baking option for up to two-pound loaves
- Programming options include delayed start timer and audible reminder for dispensing fruit and nuts
- Crust-control setting lets you select light, medium, or dark bread crust
- Lightweight, sleek design to match modern kitchens
- Some users reported inconsistent results for loaves over 1.5 pounds
Features and Benefits: For many food experts, the Oster bread maker is the best recommendation for absolute beginners. It is also a reliable choice for those interested in baking a loaf of bread within an hour. As the name implies, the signature feature of this bread maker is an express cycle that produces two pounds of fluffy bread in under 60 minutes. In addition to the fast cycle, there are also 12 other settings as well as a 13-hour programmable baking timer for warm baked goods any time. Using the large LCD display, you can select up to three crust settings and set easy indicators for adding optional ingredients. With its compact design and 40-inch cord length, it is simple to find the best place for this Expressbake bread maker in your kitchen.
- Features express cycle that bakes a two-pound loaf of bread in under an hour
- 12 additional settings for different types of artisan bread, pizza dough, dinner rolls, and even jams and jelly
- Includes 13-hour programmable delayed start timer
- Warm setting keeps bread the right temperature until you are ready to eat
- Large LCD display and button controls for easy use
- Three simple steps: add ingredients, select cycle, and press start
- Three crust-control settings: light, medium, or dark
- Large top viewing window to monitor baking if desired
- 40-inch cord length for easy counter placement
- Comes with measuring cup, spoon, and kneading paddle
- No gluten-free setting
Features and Benefits: For households with limited counter space, the Cuisinart CBK-110 compact automatic bread maker is one of the most user-friendly choices on the market. It features a vertical baking pan with removable kneading paddle that operates under 12 automatic menu settings. Simply add your ingredients, select one of the 12 pre-programmed options, and press “start” to begin baking. In addition to the 12 settings, you can also choose the 13-hour delayed start timer for freshly baked bread at any time during the day. The CBK-110 model features an illuminated LCD panel that clearly displays baking cycle, countdown time, and options like crust control. If desired, you can also use the top viewing window and interior light to monitor your bread every step of the way.
- Small countertop footprint ideal for kitchens with limited space
- 12 pre-programmed options on the CBK-110 model
- Includes 13-hour delayed start timer for bread any time of day
- LCD display panel shows bread cycle and countdown time
- Crust-control settings include light, medium, or dark
- Top viewing window and interior light to monitor bread if desired
- Removeable kneading paddle for easy cleaning
- Recipe booklet included
- Some users reported inconsistent results for loaves over 1.5 pounds
Features and Benefits: If any bread machine lives up to the claims of its name, it would have to be the Breville “custom loaf” bread maker. Known for its companion booklet of 46 recipes and charts, this machine enables you to make custom artisan bread from scratch. The bread maker features an automatic fruit and nut dispenser that gradually releases ingredients during the knead phases to produce balanced incorporation throughout the dough. In addition, Breville’s patented collapsible kneading paddle thoroughly combines ingredients and then collapses before bake phase for more professional-looking bread. Select automatic settings for bread or pasta, or use the smart LCD screen for nine additional custom settings, three crust options, and up to four loaf sizes.
- Ideal for custom bread options such as basic white, whole wheat, gluten-free loaf, crusty loaf, sweet bread, and yeast-free loaf
- Features automatic fruit and nut dispenser that gradually releases ingredients during the knead phases to ensure well-balanced distribution throughout the dough
- Patented collapsible kneading paddle combines ingredients and then collapses before bake phase for more professional-looking bread
- Horizontal orientation
- Smart LCD screen allows you to select from among 13 settings, three crust options, and up to four loaf sizes
- Companion booklet includes 46 step-by-step recipes and charts
- Kneading paddle can be harder for novices to clean
Features and Benefits: If you need a bread machine that makes custom loaves without a lot of messy cleanup, then the Pohl Schmitt is a great option for you. This bread maker is a 17-in-1 machine with 14 settings and a removable, nonstick baking pan for easy cleaning and upkeep. The custom bread maker includes a digital display panel for choosing settings like delayed start, crust color, and bread cycle. If desired, use the audible reminder tool for adding ingredients like nuts or fruit during the final working bread cycle of your choice.
- 17-in-1 bread maker with 14 settings and a removable, nonstick baking pan for easy cleaning
- Digital display panel and intuitive buttons let you choose settings like crust color, loaf size, bread cycle, and audible reminder tool
- Delayed start timer option for homemade bread throughout the day
- Great for gluten-free and artisan bread
- Top window does not display as clearly as other brands during the baking process
Features and Benefits: While the previously discussed Cuisinart CBK-110 compact model is great for individuals with limited counter space, the Cuisinart CBK-200 convection model is ideal for bakers serious about preparing a host of professional-looking bread. It features 16 pre-programmed menu choices to create over 100 types of bread, dough, or cake. For example, you can use the preset panel to bake low-carb bread, gluten-free bread, or even slow-rise bread with a chewier texture and rustic crust. Additional options include bake-only bread (no machine kneading) or a 15-minute pause option to remove unbaked dough and knead by hand. For whatever bake setting you select, the convection oven circulates air to create the perfect texture for everything from soft pretzels to doughnuts. In addition, the convection bread maker includes an audible reminder for when it is time to add optional ingredients like nuts or fruit.
- 16 pre-programmed menu options to create over 100 types of baked goods
- Features convection oven that circulates air to create the perfect texture for bread, cake, rolls, pretzels, or doughnuts
- Two audible reminder options: one that indicates when it is time to add optional ingredients and one that allows you to remove kneading blade or shape unbaked dough by hand for your recipe
- Choose from among three crust colors, three loaf sizes, and various specialty bread like gluten-free, low-carb, or rustic
- Includes 12-hour delayed start timer option
- Attractive stainless-steel finish
- Stay-cool handles for easy bread removal
- Some users report that the audible reminder tool is too low in volume
Features and Benefits: If you are looking for a noiseless bread machine with an intuitive design, the KBS bread maker fits the bill. This brand features an extra-large ceramic interior that bakes up to three different loaf sizes and crust shades. In addition to 17 different bake settings, the bread maker includes a detachable fruit-and-nut dispenser to easily disperse ingredients at the best time. You can use the touch-pad control panel to program settings like the 15-hour delayed start timer or one-hour automatic “keep warm” feature. The bread maker’s tempered glass lets you view the process every step of the way.
- Features an extra-large ceramic interior for up to three different loaf sizes and crust shades
- Includes a touch-pad control panel to program up to 17 different settings
- Signature noiseless design
- Contains a detachable fruit-and-nut dispenser to easily disperse optional mix-ins and ingredients
- Includes 15-hour delayed start timer and one-hour automatic “keep warm” feature
- Stainless-steel finish and tempered glass viewing window
- Recipe manual can be harder for beginners to follow
Features and Benefits: Those interested in an easy home bakery to prepare professional-looking bread need look no further than the Secura bread maker. It includes 19 pre-programmed settings with three loaf and crust-color options. In addition, the display panel allows you to set a 15-hour delayed start timer and one-hour automatic “keep warm” feature for freshly baked bread whenever you want it. With its horizontal orientation and sleek design, this intuitive bread maker is great for specialty baked goods.
- Intuitive, professional bread maker for specialty baked goods like gluten-free bread
- Spacious interior easily bakes 2.2-pound loaves
- Includes 19 preset options, three loaf-size options, and three crust-color options
- Display panel lets you select 15-hour delayed start timer and one-hour automatic “keep warm” settings
- Horizontal orientation and attractive design
- While great for making specialty bread, basic white may come out too dense for some individuals’ tastes
Features and Benefits: Bakers interested in the “set it and forget it” approach to making bread can discover the perfect fit in the MOOSOO bread maker. This bread machine comes with 25 preset options along with a 15-hour delayed start setting for scheduled mealtimes. The bread maker features a spacious, nonstick ceramic interior for making everything from sweet bread to yogurt. With its large viewing window and intuitive display, this horizontal bread maker is a great addition to modern kitchens.
- “Set it and forget it” approach features 25 preset options along with a 15-hour delayed start setting for scheduled mealtimes
- Spacious, nonstick ceramic interior for producing quick bread, gluten-free bread, sweet bread, jams, and yogurt
- Removeable ceramic agitator and pan for easy cleaning
- Tempered glass viewing window and horizontal design
- Comes with three extra kneading paddles, measuring cup, measuring spoon, and cookbook
- Some recipes (such as ice cream) require the purchase of additional parts
Features and Benefits: The CROWNFUL automatic bread maker is customary for those who want evenly baked bread each time. It features an exclusive five-layer heating system for even baking of a variety of baked goods. The intuitive display panel lets you select both 13-hour delayed start timer and one-hour automatic “keep warm” settings upon completion. The bread pan and kneading paddles are dishwasher-safe, and the unit comes with all baking accessories needed for both basic and specialty treats.
- Features exclusive five-layer heating system for even baking
- Includes 12 preset menu items for baked goods like basic white bread, gluten-free bread, milk bread, and pizza crust
- Intuitive display panel lets you select 13-hour delayed start timer and one-hour automatic “keep warm” settings
- Spacious, nonstick interior that is easy to clean
- Dishwasher-safe bread pan and kneading paddle
- Comes with bread hook, measuring cup, measuring spoon, and recipe pamphlet
- Recipe pamphlet comes in metric measurements only
What to Look for When Buying a Bread Maker
Whether you are a bread-making novice or have been baking for years, there are several important factors to keep in mind when shopping for a bread maker. Keeping this list handy can ensure that you get the most out of your machine as you bake all of your favorite recipes.
Many of the standard bread makers bake loves between 500 and 1800 grams (roughly one to three pounds). If you have a larger family, you may want to get a medium or large bread maker. In contrast, if you plan to use the bread maker daily for a variety of baked goods, a smaller bread maker might be more manageable.
Depending on your lifestyle, you should consider the bread maker’s automated settings and programming options. For example, a bread maker with a delayed timer setting allows you to add ingredients and set the start time for your convenience. Whether you want to wake up to freshly baked bread or come home to steamy dinner rolls, a set timer is a practical option for meals.
Similarly, some bread maker models also have alarm options that notify you when it is time to add nuts, fruits, or toppings to your bread recipe. Other possible programming options include crust darkening range, fast-bake or express settings, and custom dough kneading or rising times.
In addition to all types of breads, some bread makers have custom settings for cake, pizza crust, and even homemade noodles from scratch. Be sure to consider your bread maker’s list options and available internal dispensers if you are interested in baked goods beyond bread dishes.
In its most basic design, a bread maker should include a non-stick pan, kneading paddle or blade, and a compact oven. Other good features include a large viewing window and well-labeled display buttons with indicator lights for easy use.
Beyond the standard design, you can also consider what type of bread you wish to prepare. Individuals baking bread with thicker or harder crusts may need to select a bread maker with a bread pan made of thick cast aluminum. If you prefer lighter, thinner, or flakier crusts, then you might prefer a bread maker with a thin aluminum pan. In addition to aluminum pans, some brands opt for nonstick ceramic pans due to their purity and ease of use. As far as accessories, you may be delighted to find that some bread makers come with matching measuring cups and cookbooks.
The bread maker’s orientation can determine loaf shape. Vertical bread makers can produce a tall, brick-like bread loaf with a fluffy top. These bread makers often use only one kneading blades, and many owners like the fact that these bread makers take up less storage space. In contrast, horizontal bread makers produce conventional loaves that more closely resemble store-bought bread. Horizontal bread makers usually include two kneading paddles or blades, and many owners refer these machines for making a huge range of specialty baked goods.
How to Make Bread Using a Bread Maker
Basic bread preparation requires flour, leavening, and water. Once you perfect the process, you can begin to explore dozens of popular bread recipes from around the world. The following recipe is a great way to practice baking a one-pound loaf of bread.
Easy Bread Maker Loaf Recipe
- 3.0 Cups Bread Flour
- 0.25 Ounce Bread Maker Instant Yeast (for leavening)
- 1.0 Cup Warm Water (heated to 110 degrees F or 45 degrees C)
- 0.25 Cup Pure Vegetable Oil
- 2.0 Tablespoons White Sugar
- 1.0 Teaspoon Salt
1. Make sure your bread flour is bread-machine ready by sifting, fluffing, or whisking it well. Divide it into 3 cups and remove any excess flour with a knife.
2. Place water and oil into the pan of the bread maker.
3. Add salt and sugar to the oil-water mixture.
4. Add the flour.
5. Make a small indentation or “well” into the flour and make sure that it does not reach the wet ingredients.
6. Place yeast into the indentation so that it does not yet touch the wet ingredients (instant yeast immediately activates upon contact with water or salt, so it is important to keep it in the dry flour only until baking starts).
7. Insert bread pan back into the bread maker securely. Close the lid.
8. On your bread maker’s interface, select the “basic” or “white bread” setting.
9. Press start. Depending on your bread maker model, allow to cook for 2.5 to 3 hours until ready.
10. Once the bread is ready, carefully remove from the bread maker using oven mitts. Allow to cool on a wire rack for up to 30 minutes before serving.
The Bottom Line
Owning a bread maker is much like having private bakery in the comfort of your own home. Instead of heading to the grocery store each time you need bread, simply add the right ingredients to your compact machine to bake loaves that are guaranteed fresh. Whether you want to nourish your family with wholesome recipes or start a new household tradition, a bread maker is a great addition to any kitchen.