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Bread is an inherently simple product, requiring little more than flour, yeast, salt, and water. But anyone who’s attempted making fresh bread at home knows that it’s so much more than the sum of its parts. For those who have grown to love the art of breadmaking, investing in some additional tools will almost certainly elevate the quality of your final products, and make working with your dough a little easier.
This is a collection of tools that will help you from mixing your dough, through proofing, shaping, and finally baking your favorite loaves.
Best Bread Maker: Zojirushi Home Bakery Virtuoso Plus Breadmaker
Bakes nearly flawless loaves
Heats the top of bread for even browning
Has customizable settings
Needs its own dedicated counter space
Anyone who takes their homemade loaves seriously will appreciate this Zojirushi bread maker, and its test performance make it our best bread machine. This model is loaded with custom settings so you can bake a variety of breads exactly the way you want, including crust doneness. It comes complete with programs for basic and rapid white or whole wheat bread, gluten-free bread, sourdough starter, jam, cake, and homemade recipes. Our home tester used this to bake up three basic bread recipes and each turned out perfectly. The end result was great when she began experimenting. "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 reported.
Our Lab tests had the same findings! The Virtuoso produced great fluffy and tasty bread with a real crust, a feature that's hard to achieve with bread machines. Its features also stood out from the pack—from the unobtrusive alerts to the countdown timer to the easy-to-clean nonstick bread loaf pan.
Dimensions: 18 x 10.5 x 12.875 inches | Weight: 24 pounds | Loaf Size: 2 pounds | Timer: 13-hour delay | Fastest Bake: 2 hours, 25 minutes | Electrical Rating: 700 watts
Best Stand Mixer: KitchenAid Artisan Series 5-Quart Tilt-Head Stand Mixer
Easily handles tough doughs
Impressive variety of attachments
Heavy-duty bowl with handle
Enamel-coated attachments could chip
The iconic KitchenAid stand mixer can do many things, including kneading up to four entire loaves worth of bread in one go. This model has a 5-quart mixing bowl and comes with a standard paddle, whip attachment, and most importantly, a dough hook that will make it easy to work your dough, aiding gluten production for a better rise. We purchased this machine to test out just how well it could handle mixing dough and were very impressed with the results. Our tester made both bread dough and pasta dough, without any difficulty from the mixer. The stainless steel bowl, whisk, and dough hook are all dishwasher-safe for easy cleanup. It is available in over 30 colors, so you can color-coordinate your mixer to your kitchen decor.
Number of Speeds: 10 | Power: 325 watts | Bowl Volume: 5 quarts | Attachments: Beater, dough hook, wire whip
"[T]he mixer did an excellent job kneading bread dough, and it didn’t complain one bit. Lighter-weight tasks, like mixing cookie dough and cake batter were a breeze..." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
Best Mixing Bowls Set: FineDine Premium Stainless Steel Mixing Bowls
Non-reactive stainless steel for any ingredients
Flat bottoms for stable measuring and mixing
Safe for oven and stovetop use
Doesn't come with lids
A good set of mixing bowls is essential to bread baking. Whether you're making a long-ferment sourdough or the simpler quick bread, you will often need more than one bowl for mixing the ingredients. This set by FineDine includes six sizes (ranging from 0.75-quart to 8-quart bowls) made from lightweight stainless steel. The flat bottoms offer great stability when mixing and are easy to clean by hand or in the dishwasher. Our home tester liked that this can also be used as a double broiler or can be chilled for delicate ingredients, meaning you'll use them for more than just bread.
Material: Stainless steel | Number of Bowls: 6 | Lids: No
Best Bread Lame: Breadtopia Bread Lame
Includes replacement blades
Packaged for safe storage
Small learning curve
Ever wonder how bakeries get those beautiful, raised-edge designs baked into their loaves? It's all in the scoring. While you can certainly use a sharp knife to slash your dough's surface—crucial for allowing proper expansion while baking—using a bread lame gives you greater control over the angle, depth, and design of your cuts. This lame by Breadtopia is simple to assemble and has an easy-grip resin handle (shaped like a baguette) for steady control and accurate scoring. It comes with five replacement blades and a storage box for when it's not in use.
Length: 7.3 inches | Includes: 5 blades, storage box
Best Bench Scraper: Norpro Grip EZ Chopper Scraper
Heavy-duty stainless steel scraper
Soft non-slip grip
Measurements may wear off with use
A bench scraper is a must for shaping and moving slightly sticky pieces of dough around on your work surface. This inexpensive model from Norpro is designed to easily scrape or portion out dough, but it can also be used for crushing ingredients or measuring and cutting pasta or cinnamon rolls, thanks to the blade's measuring guide. Made from durable stainless steel, this scraper features a Santoprene handle that helps you grip the blade comfortably for better control. Cleanup is easy—just hand wash with a gentle scrubber and mild dishwashing detergent.
Dimensions: 6.5 x 64 x 1.5 inches | Blade Length: 6 inches | Blade Material: Stainless steel
Best Proofing Basket: Bread Bosses Banneton Proofing Basket
Great size for many breads
Includes linen basket liner
Additional bowl scraper is handy
May need to purchase an additional basket for larger projects
If you're trying to create the shiny, chewy crusts that are a favored characteristic of artisanal bread loves, this 9-inch rattan basket is a game-changer for home bakers. Traditional bakeries use this type of proofing basket, known as a banneton, that allows air to pass through and creates a skin on the surface of the dough as it rises and makes it easier to score. The ridges also leave a beautiful spiral pattern on the dough that shows up during the final bake. Also included are a bench scraper—a must-have for shaping—and a cloth liner to use for high-moisture doughs.
Material: Rattan and wicker | Dimensions: 9 x 9 x 3.35 inches, 10.24 x 5.91 x 3.35 inches | Includes: Plastic bench scraper, washable linen cloth, instructions, recipe book
Best Pastry Brush: OXO Good Grips Silicone Basting and Pastry Brush
Doesn't shed bristles like classic pastry brushes
Designed to keep countertops clean
Silicone brush doesn't absorb as much liquid
Some breads, like soft dinner rolls or brioche, require a final coating before baking. For this, you'll need a pastry brush to paint loaves with butter, milk, or an egg wash before the loaf goes into the oven (useful for getting poppy or sesame seeds to stick and to encourage a golden finish). This silicone brush by OXO has heat-resistant, easy-to-clean bristles that won't shed and a comfortable grip handle. The tapered outer bristles allow for brushing more delicate doughs and pastries, and the angled brush head keeps the bristles off the countertop. When you're done, you can just place the entire brush into the dishwasher for easy cleaning.
Handle: Plastic | Bristles: Silicone | Size: 1.5 x 8 inches
Best Zester: Microplane Classic Stainless Steel Zester and Cheese Grater
Strong stainless steel zests almost anything
Countless pastry and savory uses
Available in 21 colors
Nothing, it's perfect
Lemon poppyseed cake and cranberry orange bread are just two examples of quick bread that require citrus zest to add a boost of flavor that holds up through the baking process. This classic handheld grater from Microplane makes it easy to finely zest oranges, limes, lemons (and any other citrus), and also works well on hard cheeses like Parmesan to use in homemade breadsticks and gougères. The ultra-sharp blade is made from surgical-grade stainless steel which resists rust and maintains its sharpness well. You'll also be able to use this for grating nutmeg and cinnamon into your favorite recipes for ultimate freshness.
Length: 12 inches | Material: Stainless steel blade, plastic handle
Best Wooden Spoon: OXO Good Grips Large Wooden Spoon
Solid wooden spoon feels substantial
Several styles and sizes available
Hand wash only
May stain or absorb odors
Wooden spoons are essential for hand mixing bread dough—they're more durable than plastic spatulas and aren't reactive like metal spools. This basic yet sturdy wooden spoon from OXO is made from a solid piece of beechwood with an oil finish and features a large handle that fits comfortably in the hand. Use it to gently mix dough, from this basic bread recipe to this vegan challah. To clean, hand wash the spoon and dry completely before storing.
Dimensions: 12.4 x 2.6 x 1.2 inches | Material: Beech wood | Dishwasher Safe: No
Best Rolling Pin: J.K. Adams FRP-1 Maple French Rolling Pin
More rolling control
Solid wood lasts years
Slight learning curve
Hand rinse only
Whether you're making sticky buns or cinnamon swirls, you’ll need a good quality rolling pin to roll out the dough. This French dowel-style rolling pin from J.K. Adams is made with slightly tapered ends, making it lighter than traditional pins for easier maneuvering. It is made from a slightly textured, sustainably harvested North American hardwood that holds a dusting of flour to prevent dough from sticking. This solid wood rolling pin is incredibly sturdy and will likely last for decades, but it is also backed by a lifetime warranty from the manufacturer.
Dimensions: 20.75 x 1.75 x 1.2 inches | Material: Beech wood | Dishwasher Safe: No
"It takes a little getting used to, but once you get accustomed to the curve of a French rolling pin, you have so much more control when rolling out doughs. I use this rolling pin for most doughs, including sugar cookies, pies, cinnamon rolls, and pretzels." — Jenny Kellerhals, Baking Expert for The Spruce Eats
Best Loaf Pan: Chicago Metallic Commercial II Traditional Uncoated 1-Pound Loaf Pan
Helps form perfectly shaped, evenly browned loaves
Sturdy stainless steel prevents warping
Great size for gifting
Coating may cloud if washed in dishwasher
Loaf pans are wonderful for making homemade sandwich loaves or baking decadent chocolate babka. This heavy-duty loaf pan is made from aluminized steel and features a reinforced rim that helps to prevent warping. This pan measures 7.75 x 3.75 x 2.75 inches and can comfortably fit a 1-pound loaf. Our home tester baked banana bread and vanilla pound cake in this and both were evenly cooked and browned. The steel interior did need a generous amount of baking spray but when properly greased, both cakes slid out of the pan with no issues.
Baking Dimensions: 7.75 x 3.75 x 2.75 inches | Material: Alloy steel | Pieces Included: 1
Best Bread Knife: Mercer Culinary Millennia Wide Wavy Edge Bread Knife
Long-lasting serrated blade
Not especially attractive
Once that fresh loaf of bread cools, you’re probably going to want to immediately slice into it and enjoy the fruits of your labor. You don’t need to spend big bucks for a reliable bread knife. This 10-inch bread knife from Mercer is both cost-effective and high quality. Used in professional kitchens and culinary schools, Mercer makes this serrated bread knife with a high-carbon stainless steel blade that’s evenly sharpened on both sides so it can easily be used with the left or right hand. The blade extends into the handle for the most stability and longevity, and the handle itself is ergonomically shaped for comfortable handling, even through the thickest sourdough crusts. A combination of texture, Santoprene, and polypropylene makes for a nonslip handle to keep a good grip when cutting through extra oily breads like focaccia. Hand wash this knife to keep it in the best shape.
Blade Length: 10 inches | Blade Material: Carbon Steel
What to Look for in Bread Making Tools
The Right Tool for the Right Job
As with any other task, when it comes to bread making you’ll need the right tools for the job. Not only will this make baking easier, it will help improve the overall quality of your bread. For example, a linen-lined banneton–or proofing basket–helps to create smooth, chewy, shiny crust and is used by traditional artisanal bakeries. A lame will score bread with greater accuracy and control than a knife. If you plan on baking bread regularly, it’s worth investing in proper bread making tools.
Durability and Properties
We all want our tools to last for a long time. However, some materials are more durable than others. There are also pros and cons to each type. Plastic is shatterproof and long-lasting, but may crack or melt when exposed to too much heat. Glass is aesthetically pleasing and easy to clean, but could break or chip if dropped. Stainless steel is durable and strong, but food can stick to it and it tends to be pricier.
Ease of Cleaning
Bread making is a lot of work. After you’ve put the effort into making your tasty loaf, the last thing you want to do is struggle with cleaning your tools. Not to mention certain types of dough can be really sticky and cling to your tools and bowls. Easy to clean items are ideal–whether that means they’re nonstick, dishwasher safe, or respond well to simple soap and water.
How does a bread making machine work?
Bread making machines are great for those who love bread but don’t have the time to make it the old-fashioned way. Many bread makers have settings for different varieties of bread. Make your choice and simply add the dough to the container. The paddles inside will knead the dough to the consistency. The maker will then allow the dough to rise a bit before kneading again. After proving, the heating will kick on and start cooking your bread. In a little while, you’ll have warm, fresh bread to eat.
What is proofing?
If you’re new to bread making, you may be wondering what exactly dough proofing is. The proof is the final rise, or final fermentation, of the dough before you bake it. Proofing activates the yeast in the dough and causes it to rise, roughly doubling it in size. Without proofing, the yeast won’t make air pockets that result in light and fluffy bread.
Unfortunately, you can under-proof or over-proof your dough. If you poke under-proofed dough, it will immediately spring back into its original shape. This means the yeast hasn’t produced enough air bubbles yet and gluten bonds haven’t formed. Let it rest a little longer.
Over-proofed dough has been sitting for too long and the air bubbles have deflated. If you catch it quickly, there might be time to save it. Give it a few folds with wet hands, reshape it, and let it proof for a tiny bit before baking.
It may take a few tries to get the science of proofing down, but it’s well worth the effort when the result is a tasty loaf of bread.
Why should I use a wooden spoon when making bread?
This is ultimately more of a preference than a hard rule, but there are many benefits to using a wooden spoon when cooking (anything, not just bread). For one, wood is durable yet soft enough to not leave scratches behind. It has a very high tolerance for heat, so you don’t have to worry about it melting or cracking.
You may see instructions calling for the use of wooden spoons in old bread recipes. Back in the day there was concern for ingredients reacting poorly with silver. For example, silver is naturally antimicrobial and could interfere with the yeast in bread dough. Additionally, some ingredients (like the sulfur found in eggs) would cause taste issues. All that said, modern cutlery–like stainless steel–doesn’t have this problem, so the preference for wooden spoons is likely a holdover from those older recipes.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
This piece was written by Bernadette Machard de Gramont, an LA-based writer who specializes in global food and wine content. After a two-year stint at Williams-Sonoma Headquarters in San Francisco, she now researches and tests a variety of cookware, bakeware, and wine tools and interviews field experts for their insight. As an avid baker, she personally owns several of the above products, including the KitchenAid mixer, Bread Bosses banneton proofing basket, and the Breadtopia bread lame.
Allison Wignall, who updated this article, is a writer who focuses on food and travel. She’s always in the kitchen trying to recreate recipes from around the world. She's also more than slightly obsessed with focaccia bread. Her work has been featured in publications such as Food & Wine, Travel + Leisure, and Southern Living.