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There’s no doubt that homemade bread is delicious, but not everyone has the time or desire to mix, knead, and babysit a ball of dough while it rises.
While the process of making bread isn’t difficult, it requires being available to work with the dough at different stages. The entire process can take multiple hours, which isn't convenient or practical for many people.
Enter the modern bread machine. By simply adding all of the ingredients and pushing a few buttons, it does the rest of the work for you—making the bread-making process quicker and easier. Plus, you can control what's going into your bread and can try your hand at several varieties, from white bread to artisan loaves.
We looked at factors such as extra features, loaf capacity, and gluten-free settings to compile our list of the top bread machines for every kind of bread lover.
Here are the best bread machines.
Best Overall: Zojirushi Home Bakery Virtuoso Plus Breadmaker
Nearly flawless results
Heated top for even browning
Both fixed and customizable settings
More expensive than most models
Takes up a lot of counter space
Anyone who bakes a lot of bread and takes home baking seriously will appreciate all the features packed into this Zojirushi bread maker. This model makes rectangular 2-pound loaves and is loaded with custom settings so you can bake a variety of breads exactly the way you want.
You can choose a light, medium, or dark crust, and there are pre-programmed settings for basic and rapid white or whole wheat bread, sourdough starter, jam, cake, and homemade recipes. There are also settings for baking gluten-free bread and recipes that use organic ingredients.
This machine has two kneading paddles that make sure the dough is completely kneaded with no bits of flour left unmixed, a rapid bake option for when you want to have the bread done faster, and a 13-hour delay timer. A large window lets you check the progress of your bread as it bakes.
Our product tester tried three basic bread recipes with this model and they all turned out perfectly. Even when she strayed from recipes, the end result was consistent. "I started adding different flours, changing the amount of butter, and even mixing the ingredients in the 'wrong' order to see what might happen. Each time, the finished loaf emerged looking good, and with a nice texture as well," she says.
This is a high-end machine, with a price to match, so it might not be the best option for casual bakers or novices who aren’t sure how much use they’ll get out of a bread maker.
Dimensions: 18 x 10.5 x 12.875 inches | Weight: 24 pounds | Loaf Size: 2 pounds | Timer: 13-hour delay | Electrical Rating: 700 watts
"After testing it, we feel that it’s worth the price, as it produced consistently tasty bread—even when we got creative with recipes." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
Best Budget: Oster ExpressBake 2-Pound Bread Maker
Small footprint saves counter space
No gluten-free setting
Display isn’t backlit
If you like the idea of fresh, easy homemade bread but don’t want to break the bank, this bread machine has a value price tag plus plenty of features.
The Oster Bread Maker can make loaves up to 2-pounds, has 8 bread settings, and three crust settings so you can make a variety of breads. It can also be used to make homemade jam.
If you’re in a hurry, the Expressbake feature can produce a finished loaf in under an hour. Our tester praised the machine's solid overall performance when she followed the included recipes; she does note, however, that the results were less predictable when she used her own.
A large LCD display shows how the bread making is progressing and, like most bread makers, this model has a delay timer that allows you to add ingredients and bake later, as well as a keep warm setting.
Dimensions: 23.3 x 15.6 x 10.3 inches | Weight: 8 pounds | Loaf Size: 2 pounds | Timer: 13-hour delay | Electrical Rating: 1450 watts
"While it’s not super attractive, it’s also not intrusive, so you can tuck it out of sight in a corner. Since it’s lightweight, it’s also easy to move into storage when not in use." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
Runner-Up, Best Budget: Cook's Essentials 1.5-Pound Stainless Steel Breadmaker
15-hour delay start feature
Max loaf size is 1 1/2 pounds
You can choose from ten preset functions: white bread/basic, rapid cycle, whole wheat, French, multi-grain, raisin/nut, sweet, gluten-free, knead, and bake.
There's also a 15-hour delay start option, keep-warm setting that will keep bread warm for up to 60 minutes after baking, and controls to select your preferred crust color.
This bread maker makes 1.5-pound loaves of bread. At under 8 pounds, this model is fairly easy to move on and off the counter. Plus, you can choose from three color options to suit your kitchen's decor.
Dimensions: 11 x 10 x 8 inches | Weight: 7 pounds, 5 ounces | Loaf Size: 1.5 pounds | Timer: 15-hour delay
Best Compact: Cuisinart Compact Automatic Bread Maker
Small countertop footprint
Easy to use and clean
Some find loaves small for 2-pound size
Perfect for kitchens with limited counter space, the Cuisinart Compact Automatic Bread Maker offers everything you need to make homemade bread in a smaller, space-saving design. The stainless steel design measures at 10.25 x 13.25 x 11.25 inches and weighing just over 10 pounds, it's not too much of a chore to take on and off the counter if you want to store it elsewhere.
The Cuisinart Compact features 12 preprogrammed options and three crust shades (light, medium, dark), and it can bake up to 2-pound loaves. Menu options include gluten-free, artisan creations, jams, sauces, cake, and more. There's also a removable kneading pan, which makes cleaning super easy, and a 13-hour delay start function.
Dimensions: 10.25 x 13.25 x 11.25 inches | Weight: 10.75 pounds | Loaf Size: 1, 1.5, or 2 pounds | Timer: 13-hour delay | Electrical Rating: 550 watts
Even if you want to play with different shaped loaves or dinner rolls, you can use a bread machine to knead and rise the dough, then remove to shape by hand and bake in the oven.
Easiest to Use: Curtis Stone 2-Pound Bread Maker
Easy to use
Three loaf sizes to choose from
Recipe specific presets
Some may not like vertical shaped loaves
Bread making is easy with this machine from Curtis Stone. Follow step-by-step recipes in the included instructions book, choose either a 1-, 1 1/2-, or 2-pound loaf, pick from 19 preset programs and three crust colors—and then sit back and relax while you wait for your home-baked bread.
Other features include a timer delay, audible beeps that will let you know exactly when to mix in your fruit or nuts if you so choose, and a removable nonstick pan that cleans up easily.
Reviewers love how user-friendly this machine is and rave about their delicious results. It comes with a measuring cup, measuring spoon, hook, and kneading blade. There's also a manufacturer's one-year limited warranty.
Dimensions: 9.25 x 13.75 x 12 inches | Weight: 8 pounds | Loaf Size: 1, 1.5, or 2 pounds | Timer: 13-hour delay
Best Multitasker: Hamilton Beach HomeBaker 2-Pound Breadmaker
Express bake settings
Easy to use
A bit bulky
With 12-settings that can handle French, quick bread (no yeast), sweet, 1.5- or 2-lb express, dough, jam, cake, whole grain, gluten-free, and bake.
Besides turning out your favorite breads, it can also make pizza dough, dinner rolls, and cinnamon buns—making it a star in your kitchen.
You can also choose a light, medium, or dark crust setting; all of this can be done with a delayed timer so a hot loaf of bread will be waiting for you when you walk in the door.
Dimensions: 12.2 x 14.13 x 10.43 inches | Weight: 11.9 pounds | Loaf Size: 1.5 or 2 pounds | Timer: 13-hour delay | Electrical Rating: 650 watts
"The real surprise with this machine was how well our gluten-free creations came out. Gluten-free bread is notoriously tricky, so we were excited to see decent results on our first try." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
Best for Multi-Size Loaves: Cuisinart 2-Pound Convection Bread Maker
Easy to use
Programmable up to 12 hours in advance
Some say audible tones could be louder
Convection cooking provides even baking in this bread maker, whether you choose 1-, 1 1/2- or 2-pound loaves. An audible tone lets you add mix-ins at exactly the right time while a different tone lets you remove the finished dough to shape it by hand for the final bake with the paddles removed.
There's a pause button so you can stop the cycle and take your time hand shaping the dough, and a delay option lets you schedule the bread up to 12 hours in advance. In case of a power outage, the bread maker can wait up to 15 minutes and continue working when power is restored
This model has a 16-item menu that automatically adjusts the kneading, rising, and baking times to perfectly bake a variety of breads, doughs, cakes, and jams. You can choose from pizza dough to sweet breads, and you can choose a light, medium or dark crust for your loaf. A rapid cycle shortens the time, while the “last-minute loaf” option speeds the process even more.
This bread maker looks good on the counter, too, with a sleek brushed stainless steel surface, embossed logo and large, sturdy handles. A window lets you peek at the bread as it bakes and LED indicators let you follow the process. The lid is removable for cleaning.
Dimensions: 16.5 x 10.25 x 12 inches | Weight: 14 pounds | Loaf Size: 1, 1.5, or 2 pounds | Timer: 12-hour delay | Electrical Rating: 680 watts
Best Programmable: Breadman 2-Pound Professional Bread Maker
Bakes bread evenly
Adjustable loaf size
Kneading paddle doesn't get baked into loaf
Gluten-free and low-carb settings
Takes up a lot of counter space
Gluten-free loaves can come out flat
Hard to see into viewing window
This bread maker has 14 baking functions: white, white rapid, whole wheat, whole wheat rapid, French, French rapid, sweet bread, quick bread, low-carb, gluten-free, dough, artisan dough, jam, and bake only. You can set the crust for light, medium, or dark, and it makes loaves in 1-, 1 1/2- and 2-pound sizes.
There is a 15-hour delayed start option so you can add ingredients and bake later, and there is a 1-hour keep warm option. A top window lets you check the process without lifting the lid. If those options aren’t enough, you can also adjust the settings to your liking.
The machine has collapsible kneading paddles, so you won’t have big holes in the finished loaf—and it makes it easier to remove the loaf from the pan. A fruit and nut dispenser lets you add ingredients towards the end of the kneading process.
A collapsible measuring cup, an adjustable measuring spoon, and a recipe book are also included.
Dimensions: 16 x 18 x 12 inches | Weight: 17.2 pounds | Loaf Size: 1, 1.5, or 2 pounds | Timer: 15-hour delay | Electrical Rating: 850 watts
"I was really impressed with was how easily the loaves came out of the bread pan, [because] the kneading blade is collapsible." — Lindsay Boyers, Product Tester
Best Mini Baker: Zojirushi Home Bakery Mini Breadmaker
Makes delicious bread
Easy to use—no mixing required!
Compact design takes up little space
Small loaf capacity
Doesn’t have a gluten-free setting
Kneading blade gets stuck in the bread
Great for singles, couples, or families who don’t want large loaves of bread, this slim bread maker fits in smaller spaces and makes a 1-pound loaf, yet it still has features you look for in a quality machine.
This bread maker has a viewing window so you can check the loaf, an easy-to-read LCD control panel, and a programmable timer that can delay baking for up to 13 hours.
Menu settings include basic bread (regular or firm), soft bread, French bread, bread dough, cookie/pasta dough, cake, jam, and quick baking. The crust can be set for regular or light, and the quick baking setting produces a loaf of bread in less than two hours.
Our tester notes that the kneading blade tends to get stuck in the bottom of the bread, making removing it from the machine a little tricky—but she thinks it's a minor inconvenience, considering the consistently tasty bread that comes out and how compact the bread maker is.
Dimensions: 8.5 x 11.25 x 12.25 inches | Weight: 12 pounds | Loaf Size: 1 pound | Timer: 13-hour delay | Electrical Rating: 450 watts
"The bread rose beautifully and was perfectly soft and fluffy, although the crust was a little crispier than we would have liked." — Lindsay Boyers, Product Tester
What to Look for When Buying a Bread Machine
Think about how many people you want to feed with your newly made loaf and consider the amount of bread that you can finish before it goes stale. Many bread machines have settings for multiple loaf sizes, but the maximum size varies from machine to machine.
Most bread makers produce loaves that weigh 1 to 2 pounds, but some models are capable of baking larger, 2 1/2-pound family-sized loaves. In theory, you can add more or less flour and water to any bread machine to make a larger or smaller loaf, but if you try to bake a 2-pound loaf in a machine designed for 1-pound loaves, it might be pale, underdone, or rise too far out of the pan. And baking a small batch loaf in a machine designed for larger loaves might result in a very short loaf with a dry texture and crust that is too dark and thick.
Keep in mind that larger, heavier loaves of bread will require more power to bake. Most bread machines have somewhere between 500 to 1000 watts of power. If you plan to bake denser breads or loaves with lots of add-ins, like nuts, seeds, or dried fruit, you'll want to look for a bread machine on the higher end of that wattage range to ensure it can efficiently bake heavier loaves.
Machine Size and Weight
Larger machines are less convenient to move around and store, but they tend to come loaded with more options for bread making. Smaller machines are easier to store out of sight when not in use, but they may have fewer settings and not be able to make large loaves of bread.
Loaf Pan Shape
When you’re baking bread in the oven, you can choose the shape and size of your loaf pan or you can make free-form loaves by hand. When you bake in a bread machine, all of your bread will be the same basic shape since there is only one loaf pan that can be used. Most bread machines turn out either tall/vertical or rectangular shaped loaves.
Budget bread makers will include at least one kneading paddle, but higher-end machines usually come with two paddles. Multiple paddles are preferable for the best kneading results.
If the kneading paddle(s) remain in place during baking, bread loaves will have one or two holes where the paddle was located. Most users accept this aesthetic flaw in the final product as a trade-off for the ease and convenience of enjoying freshly baked bread.
However, if you'd prefer loaves without these holes, look for a bread machine that has collapsible or removable paddles. Machines with removable paddles will beep after kneading so you can take the dough out, remove the paddles, and then place the dough back into the pan for the final rise and bake.
Today’s bread machines come loaded with features, which can be fun to test, but a machine with too many features could be too complicated for your needs. Are you interested in trying different styles of bread, or will you just be making sandwich loaves every week?
The simplest machines offer few variations, but some machines include settings for sweet loaves, whole-grain bread, sourdough, French bread, pizza dough, and more. Each of these settings adjusts the kneading, rising, and baking times to produce the best loaf possible for those types of bread.
Extra settings are handy for people who want to experiment with different types of grains and bread styles, but a simple bread maker will suffice if your goal is to make basic sandwich bread to replace store-bought bread.
You'll also find express bread settings for mixing, kneading, and baking a loaf of dough in under an hour, which may be a convenient feature if you'd like to turn out a quick loaf to serve with dinner.
Most bread machines include the option to knead dough without baking it so you can bake your bread machine dough in a standard oven if you prefer. There's also the option to bake without mixing or kneading if you want to bake cake or muffins in a bread machine. You might come across bread machines with options for making jam or yogurt, but these settings are only useful if you'll actually use them.
Some bread machines have automatic fruit and nut dispensers built into the lid so you don't have to be nearby or remember to add them to the dough before baking. You can fill these dispensers with nuts, seeds, or dried fruit like raisins or chopped apricots at the same time you add the bread ingredients to the loaf pan. Most machines with these automatic dispensers are programmed to release the add-ins into the dough toward the end of the kneading period so the ingredients aren't crushed or chopped by the kneading paddles.
Most bread machines have settings to choose the desired darkness of your crust, from light to medium to dark. While this feature isn't essential for baking a good loaf, it’s nice to be able to control the darkness of the crust when you’re making specialty loaves.
Sweet loaves can brown very quickly, while other doughs might need a little extra bake time to move beyond a pale crust color. How dark you like your crust is also a personal preference, so it can be nice to choose exactly the result you want each time.
If you want to keep an eye on your crust as it browns, consider a bread machine with a viewing window built into the lid that lets you observe the bread-making process from kneading to baking.
If you’ve ever made gluten-free bread, you know that the process is different from making standard bread, and the dough behaves much differently. While many bread machines now offer gluten-free settings, look for one that puts a priority on that function if you’re going to be focusing on gluten-free breads. Some machines have just a single setting for gluten-free bread, and others have multiple options for different styles of gluten-free loaves.
Of course, results will vary depending on the type of flour you're using, so it's best to consult gluten-free recipes adapted for a bread machine. If you’re planning on making gluten-free bread in a machine that has previously been used for regular bread, you’ll need to clean every nook and cranny to remove any leftover gluten residue that could cross-contaminate your gluten-free loaves.
No matter which machine you choose, the best quality breads take about four hours or more to mix, knead, rise, and bake. Some machines have quick-bake cycles that produce finished bread in less time, but even that might not be fast enough if you want your fresh bread for breakfast and you don’t want to wake up extra early to measure flour, water, and yeast.
A delayed start option lets you have your fresh-baked bread ready whenever you want it, whether you want to wake up to the smell of baking bread or want to have the bread ready when you come home from work to serve with dinner.
On average, you can expect to spend somewhere in the range of $100 to $150 for a decent bread machine from a mid-range brand. Some bread makers from budget brands may be priced less than $100, while other high-end brands such as Breville and Zojirushi can cost $300 or more.
The typical warranty for bread machines is one year, usually covering manufacturing defects rather than wear-and-tear or misuse. Specific coverage can vary depending on the manufacturer and model, so it’s always a good idea to check the details before your purchase. Additional warranties are available upon purchase from vendors like Amazon.
Types of Bread Makers
Vertical Bread Machines
When bread machines were first sold, they produced bread loaves that were tall and rectangular in shape. The bread pans were square or slightly rectangular, but the finished loaves tended to be overly tall and vertical-shaped compared to standard bread, resulting in a loaf that was an unusual shape. These vertical bread machines are still popular today. They tend to have a smaller footprint so they take less space on the counter and are easier to store. They are also less expensive and make smaller loaves of bread, so they're a good option for small households or for anyone who doesn't eat that much bread.
The downside to the vertical loaves is that the shape can be odd for making sandwiches and you might need to cut the slices to make them fit neatly into your toaster. Also, because the heating element is located on the bottom of these machines, very tall loaves can bake unevenly with darker browning on the bottom and a very pale top crust.
Horizontal Bread Machines
If tall loaves are too awkwardly shaped for you, look for a bread machine that produces horizontal, rectangular-shaped loaves that look more like bread that was baked in a standard loaf pan. These machines have a longer bread pan and larger baking chamber and tend to be able to bake larger loaves of bread than vertical bread machines. However, the increased baking capacity means this style of break maker tends to be larger overall and will take up more space in your kitchen.
Because there's more room for the dough to move around in a horizontal, rectangular bread pan, machines equipped with just a single paddle may be less efficient at kneading the dough. Sometimes the dough can get stuck on one end of the pan while the paddle spins on its own, which can result in the loaves turning out unevenly shaped with more dough on one end or a tall middle with shorter ends. Higher-end machines might have two paddles for kneading so the dough is kneaded more efficiently and the shape of the finished loaf is more even.
Machines that bake horizontal loaves tend to be more expensive than those that bake vertical loaves. You'll find affordable horizontal bread machines, along with some of the most expensive bread machines on the market.
One of the most well-known brands of bread makers, Zojirushi (fondly referred to as “Zo” by many fans of the brand) makes quality bread machines in a wide range of styles, including both tall-loaf and rectangular-loaf styles that include plenty of options and extras that make bread-making more fun. Some of its models feature innovative designs that have heat sources built into both the top and bottom of the bread machine for more even baking. Zojirushi bread machines tend to be on the high end of the price range.
Breville has just one offering in the bread machine category, but it's worth a mention since it's a high-quality and high-end machine that is consistently rated well by users.
One of the early names in bread makers and still going strong, Breadman makes bread machines in several styles including both tall-loaf and rectangular-loaf machines. While these models don’t include extra features like higher-end options, the company is experienced and manufactures simple, solid quality machines with mid-range prices.
Cuisinart has two bread makers in its product catalog, including a compact model that helps save on storage space and a convection heating model that can make loaves up to 2 pounds in weight. Both come with plenty of pre-programmed settings to play with and a longer warranty than other brands, and they are priced in the mid-range.
Oster sells several models in the bread machine category, and most are on the affordable end of the price range. The Oster bread machines lack the extra features and settings found on high-end machines, but they’re worth considering if budget is a deciding factor since they're very affordable. They're also user-friendly, making them good beginner machines for people who will only bake bread occasionally.
Like Oster, this brand offers a selection of affordable bread machines that won’t break your budget. Most are compact so they're easy to store and won't take up a ton of counter space. Unlike other budget-priced bread machines, you can find Hamilton Beach models that have dual paddles for more efficient kneading.
Do you need to grease the bread maker pan?
Yes, you should grease the pan of your bread maker before putting in your ingredients. Greasing will help you easily remove the baked loaf of bread from the pan. You can use your favorite cooking oil or butter to grease the pan.
How long does homemade bread last?
Homemade bread will last on average 2-4 days at room temperature. Storing bread in the refrigerator isn't recommended, since the cold dries the bread and turns it stale faster.
How do you freeze homemade bread?
If you bake a bunch of bread at once, it's easy to freeze some loaves to have later. Homemade bread loaves can be frozen up to three months.
Let your bread cool completely before wrapping for freezer storage. Wrap the loaves in plastic wrap and then place into an airtight freezer bag. Be sure to mark the bag with the contents and the date you freeze it.
You can also freeze the bread in plastic wrap or a freezer bag, then transfer to a vacuum sealer bag for even more protection from air. Freezing before sealing will help prevent the vacuum sealer from crushing the bread.
How do you clean a bread machine?
Bread machine should be cleaned after each use to keep them sanitary and looking new. After using, unplug the bread machine and let it cool completely before cleaning.
The bread pan and mixing paddles can be removed and washed by hand or in the dishwasher. Check your manual for what's recommended.
The actual bread machine can not be submerged in water since it contains electrical components. If you notice any flour, dough, or crumbs in the bread machine chamber, you'll need to unplug the unit and wipe the residue away with a cloth, similarly to how you'd clean a toaster. Any bits of leftover dough should be left to dry out so they can be easily brushed away.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Donna Currie, a writer for The Spruce Eats, is a bread-making expert: Not only did she review the top picks in our Final Verdict, but she also wrote Make Ahead Bread, which breaks down the bread-baking process for readers. Donna occasionally likes to ditch the recipe book and experiment, and loves that the Zojirushi bread maker was up to the task.
This roundup was updated by Sharon Lehman, a home cook who happens to be a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist. She happily makes space for any gadget that makes cooking faster and easier and specializes in small kitchen appliance testing and reviews for The Spruce Eats.