As seen in:
Zojirushi
Home Bakery Virtuoso
Oster
2-Pound Expressbake
Sunbeam
2-Pound Programmable
Cuisinart
2-Pound Programmable
Panasonic
Automatic w/Yeast Dispenser
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Good

Off the charts performance. High customer satisfaction rate. Extremely versatile - can make pizza dough, cake, etc.

Lightweight and easy to use. A good number of bread and crust settings.

White plastic is easy to keep clean. Twelve baking programs.

Gorgeous stainless steel. Many settings, including pasta dough and gluten-free.

Steel construction. Easy-to-clean surface.

Bad

On the more expensive side.

Teflon-coated baking surfaces require extra care.

Non-stick baking pan must be hand-washed. Has a tendency to "walk" across counter during use.

Stainless steel requires more aesthetic upkeep than plastic.

No viewing window to check on bread as it bakes. Fewer settings than some other machines.

Bottom Line

Bakes bread evenly. Consistent quality results. The best on the market.

A low-priced, basic model with decent performance.

A basic machine with a few practical extras and a few known flaws.

A deluxe machine with an array of helpful, user-friendly options.

A quality machine from a reputable company.

How we decide
BestReviews is committed to providing comprehensive and trusted reviews for products that matter to consumers. We do the research to help you save time and money.
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Products received from manufacturers
98
Models Considered
31
Hours Spent
2
Experts Interviewed
151
Consumers Consulted

Best Bread Makers

If you've been thinking about getting a bread machine, there's never been wider array of choices on the market. You don't have to spend a lot of money, either. Even budget-priced bread makers provide enough options to satisfy the majority of owners. We've avoided some low-cost models because they can be a bit noisy, and long-term reliability can be an issue. However, it's not hard to find a good product on a budget.

We've also included one or two advanced models that provide greater flexibility and produce all kinds of bread to a very high standard. Which machine you choose will depend on how much you want to invest, but all of the following are excellent examples of what you can expect from a modern bread-making machine. They are:

Products we Considered

Zojirushi
Home Bakery Virtuoso
Oster
2-Pound Expressbake
Sunbeam
2-Pound Programmable
Cuisinart
2-Pound Programmable
Panasonic
Automatic w/Yeast Dispenser

Considerations

Design & Controls

Appearance may not be the most important aspect of a good bread maker, but if your kitchen is small, the size and weight of a bread maker could impact your decision. You also want controls that are easy to operate and a machine that's easy to clean.

Loaf Size & Bread Programs

Most machines offer a choice of loaf sizes, allowing you to prepare just the right amount of bread, whether for a single, a couple, or a family. As for "bread programs," these options allow you to make different types of specialty breads, including gluten-free bread.

Other Features

Any good bread maker will provide you with a variety of extra features. Most are associated with making different foods, such as cakes or jams, but other features are available, as well. In this section of our ratings, we delve into the details.

Price

A budget bread maker could theoretically pay for itself in a relatively short period of time. Higher-end bread machines often offer more functions and more consistent results, but are they worth the extra investment? We review each package as a whole and draw value-related conclusions that will help you choose the right machine to suit your needs.

Considerations

Design & Controls

Oster CKSTBRTW20 2-Pound Expressbake Breadmaker

If you're looking for a machine that's light and easy to tuck away when not in use, the Oster CKSTBRTW20 Breadmaker, at 14 x 14 x 13 inches and 8 pounds, could be your ideal. Not surprisingly, there's a fair amount of plastic in the construction, but the machine doesn't seem particularly flimsy. In fact, it's quite a neat little unit with one of the best viewing windows we've seen. We think other manufacturers could learn from the design of Oster's straightforward control panel and clear LCD screen! The baking tray is coated in Teflon and should be reasonably durable, but to protect its surface, users should avoid metal implements, heavy detergents, and the dishwasher.

Sunbeam 5891 2-Pound Programmable Breadmaker

At roughly 14 x 14 x 19 inches and 18 pounds, the Sunbeam 5891 Breadmaker isn't as compact as some, but it's small and light enough to move from cupboard to counter with ease. The white exterior is easy to keep clean, and there's a good-sized window that allows owners to clearly see how the bread is coming along. The control panel on the front is a bit haphazard in its layout, the various colored buttons won't be to everyone's taste, and owners will need to wash the non-stick baking pan by hand to preserve its coating. However, the all-important digital display is clear.

Cuisinart CBK-100 2-Pound Programmable Breadmaker

At 18 pounds and 12 x 15 x 18 inches, the Cuisinart CBK-100 Breadmaker can be stored relatively easily when not in use. The body is stainless steel, which many will prefer to plastic. However, the stylish and durable finish requires consistent attention to keep it looking its best. As with almost all bread machines, there's a viewing window on the top, but this one could perhaps be a bit bigger. The control panel is understated in appearance, and we admire its simple clarity. Some owners would have preferred actual buttons to the touch-sensitive pad, but the pad makes the whole machine easy to wipe with a rag. Care should always be taken with non-stick surfaces, but unlike many competitors, the Cuisinart's non-stick pan can go straight into your dishwasher after use.

Panasonic SD-YD250 Automatic Bread Maker with Yeast Dispenser

The Panasonic SD-YD250 Bread Maker is relatively compact at 9 x 14 x 13.5 inches and just a little over 15 pounds. It's constructed of steel and finished with a tough, epoxy resin coating that's easy to keep clean. The control panel is a bit unusual in that it looks like it would be touch-sensitive, but you can feel the buttons beneath the surface. This is the only model on our shortlist that doesn't have a viewing window. Panasonic claims that this ensures an even spread of heat, but given that everyone else incorporates a window, we're not entirely convinced. In our opinion, the layout and colors of this machine are visually a bit confusing. We couldn't find conclusive information one way or the other, but it seems that the bread pan is not dishwasher safe.

Zojirushi BB-PAC20 Home Bakery Virtuoso Breadmaker

Although the Zojirushi BB-PAC20 Breadmaker is not huge (10.5 x 13 x 18 inches and 22 pounds), it's still a hefty machine that you probably wouldn't want to move very often. Visually, it certainly makes an impact, although we suspect that not everyone would love its design. The bulky lid is made more for practical purposes than aesthetics. It does have a decent-sized viewing window, but while the control panel is easy to read and operate, it probably wouldn't win a prize for style. Many owners have said that the bread pan is a breeze to keep clean, but potential buyers should note that it must be washed by hand. Overall, the Zojirushi has many strengths -- many of which we'll cover later in this review -- but for us, looks aren't one of them.

Care should be taken with all non-stick surfaces, but unlike many competitors, the Cuisinart CBK-100's non-stick pan can go straight into the dishwasher.
Considerations

Loaf Size & Bread Programs

The key to good bread making is to use the proper ingredients. Bread flour is different from other kinds of flour and should not normally be substituted. There are also different kinds of yeast, and while machines can cope, you must use the type your model recommends. You also need to measure ingredients carefully and add them in the order given. In most cases, a few moments of extra care will produce an excellent, tasty loaf. If you choose to go our own way, be prepared for mixed results!
The Oster CKSTBRTW20 Breadmaker provides you with a choice of 1, 1 1/2, and 2-pound loaves in a number of different styles. The manufacturer says there are nine settings for bread, two of which can be used to produce a loaf in under an hour. If you count the dough setting, however -- ordinary and bagel -- there are ten. In addition, there are three crust settings, each progressively darker and crispier. Owner opinions of the final bread product vary; some were disappointed, but most were thrilled. The Oster does not have a dedicated gluten-free setting, but a few owners did have some success with their own gluten-free recipes after a little experimentation.

You have a choice of two loaf sizes with the Sunbeam 5891 Breadmaker: either 1 1/2 or 2 pounds. There are 12 baking programs, eight of which apply to bread products. These programs include rapid baking options for both bread sizes. Like the Oster, there are three settings for crust color/crunch, and there is no specific gluten-free setting. The vast majority of owners compliment the quality of the bread produced by this machine.

Like the Oster, the Cuisinart CBK-100 Breadmaker offers three loaf sizes: 1, 1 1/2, and 2 pounds. There are 12 programs and three crust settings, and each loaf size can be baked on a rapid cycle. Cuisinart offers some interesting settings which we'll cover in more depth later on in our ratings, but perhaps the most important setting is the one for gluten-free bread. The manufacturer states that one percent of the population is gluten intolerant, so this will be a vital feature for many. The CBK-100 is a very popular machine, and although our research turned up a few complaints about poor rise, most owners are very pleased with the loaves they produce.

Panasonic describes the loaf sizes produced by the SD-YD250 Bread Maker in terms of small, medium, and large. We know that the largest loaf it will make is 2 1/2 pounds -- the biggest offered by any of our finalists. The manufacturer doesn't state the number of programs this machine offers, but we counted six. (There is no dedicated gluten-free option.) There are two crust options, as well. While the Panasonic sounds like a lower-specification machine than some others, this does not seem to bother owners. Most are very complimentary of their baking results.

Rather surprisingly, the big Zojirushi BB-PAC20 Breadmaker claims to offer one loaf size of 2 pounds, but many owners report being able to make smaller sizes as well. Thanks to the long baking tin, owners can make their bread in the traditional shape that so many people prefer. When it comes to programs, the Zojirushi provides ten settings and three crust alternatives. This number does not include the Zojirushi's gluten-free setting for some reason, but it's definitely a part of the package -- a plus for many potential buyers. The "Homemade" setting is almost infinitely variable, so you can create up to three of your own presets. When it comes to owner comments, only a small percentage have anything bad to say about the Zojirushi. Most people think it's just about foolproof, and quite a few agree that it makes "the perfect loaf, every time."

Owners think the Zojirushi Home Bakery Virtuoso Breadmaker is foolproof. Many say it makes the "perfect loaf, every time."
Susan T.
Expert Consultant
Susan T.
Chef, Food Entrepeneur

Susan Sano Tuveson has been cooking for people for five decades. Educated in music, law, and languages, she left her legal practice to establish Cacao Chocolates in Kittery, Maine. A three-time Best of Seacoast New England winner, the shop was popular for its high-quality artisanal truffles flavored with unusual local ingredients.

Considerations

Other Features

Oster CKSTBRTW20 2-Pound Expressbake Breadmaker

For a low-cost machine, the Oster CKSTBRTW20 Breadmaker offers a lot of great specifications. (Though with modern bread machines, many of these features are common.) In addition to the bread cycles, there are settings for dough, bagel dough, and jam. You can also set bread to be baked up to 13 hours in advance, although this might not produce the best results if the dough gets cold overnight. Usefully, there's an audible tone that lets you know when to add extra ingredients (for example, the extra ingredients you would add to nut bread).

Sunbeam 5891 2-Pound Programmable Breadmaker

Like the Oster, the Sunbeam 5891 Breadmaker is another basic machine with some practical extras. You have up to 13 hours of timer function, additional options for dough, sandwich bread (bread with a softer crust), jam, and cake, and an included recipe book. A couple of owners were a bit critical of the recipe book, but if it's not to your liking, you could also find some good recipes online.

Cuisinart CBK-100 2-Pound Programmable Breadmaker

The Cuisinart CBK-100 Breadmaker features a 13-hour timer and some interesting additional presets that don't quite follow the norms. On top of the gluten-free setting we've already mentioned, there are the settings for dough and jam that you get with most machines. You also get a pasta dough setting and a "packet mix" setting that is specifically designed for prepackaged mixes. There's an alarm that tells you when to add any additional fruit, nuts, or other ingredients and another series of beeps to tell you when your bread is done. If it's ready and you're not, no problem; the Cuisinart will keep your bread warm (without going soggy) for up to an hour. Finally, while none are particularly cumbersome, this is the only one of our finalists that includes lifting handles.

Panasonic SD-YD250 Automatic Bread Maker with Yeast Dispenser

Like all of the models on our shortlist, the Panasonic SD-YD250 Bread Maker provides a 13-hour timer. There aren't a huge number of presets, but you do get pizza dough and bake-only functions, and there's a recipe book included that covers over 50 different breads, doughs, and pastries. (No gluten-free options are included.) The main selling point of the Panasonic is its automatic yeast dispenser. According to the manufacturer, the machine produces consistently better results by adding yeast to the mix at precisely the right moment. It's for this reason that a viewing window is not included, so buyers will need to make a decision as to which feature they see as more important. There's also what Panasnoic calls "power interrupt protection." In the event of a power outage, the machine will carry on where it left off once power is restored. Unfortunately, this is good for only around 10 minutes, so its usefulness depends on how long you lose power.

Zojirushi BB-PAC20 Home Bakery Virtuoso Breadmaker

The Zojirushi BB-PAC20 offers the usual 13-hour timer. You also get a range of additional settings that will give you pizza dough, sourdough, jams, cakes, and even meatloaf. The elongated baking pan ensures even mixing by providing two paddles. (Owners point out that for best results, it's important that both paddles face the same direction when starting.) Baking temperature is guaranteed by an additional heating element in the lid; this explains why the Zojirushi lid is so much more substantial than other models. Interestingly, the manufacturer manages to retain the viewing window in spite of the bulky lid. Like some other products on our shortlist, the Zojirushi gives a series of beeps when it's time to add extra ingredients.

The Cuisinart CBK-100 Breadmaker offers many desirable settings: gluten-free, pasta dough, packet mix, sweet bread, French/Italian, and more.
Considerations

Price

Oster CKSTBRTW20 2-Pound Expressbake Breadmaker

The Oster CKSTBRTW20 Breadmaker currently costs $53. That's not very much for a compact, entry-level bread machine which, as one owner said, delivers "ridiculously good performance for the price." If you want a bread maker but you don't want to make a large investment, the low-priced Oster offers a decent range of functions. Provided you follow the instructions carefully, you'll get good results. It's not of the most durable construction, it does vibrate a bit, and some users have had trouble with the seal at the bottom of the baking pan leaking (which unfortunately means trying to find a replacement pan or ditching the whole machine), but our research turned up many, many satisfied customers. For the money, it's tough to beat.

Sunbeam 5891 2-Pound Programmable Breadmaker

Although visually quite different, the $49 Sunbeam 5891 Breadmaker has many similarities to the Oster -- including price. We're not keen on the control panel layout, but it is functional and offers a decent range of presets. It's perhaps a little better built than the Oster, and considerably heavier, but owners report that this machine has a tendency to "walk" across the work surface during operation. Our research turned up a few complaints about poor baking results -- from bread not rising to loaves burning -- but while some flaws may be attributed to the occasional faulty machine, there's also the question of whether users have followed the instructions carefully. People who bought the Sunbeam suggest that you buy a good bread recipe book, as the one supplied is poor. However, most customers are complimentary about baking results.

Cuisinart CBK-100 2-Pound Programmable Breadmaker

List price on the Cuisinart CBK-100 Breadmaker is $64, which is a remarkably competitive price considering its capabilities. It looks good, it's put together well, and it's the only one on our shortlist with handles. (Handles are a small detail, but they're an indication that some sound thought has gone into the machine's manufacture.) The control panel is clear and easy to use. The Cuisinart offers numerous preset options (including a gluten-free setting) that aren't available on the Oster, Sunbeam, or even the more expensive Panasonic. One or two people received faulty machines, and while that's frustrating, we're happy to note that they were replaced under warranty. Several customers also complained about poor quality loaves. These few, however, are far outnumbered by the majority who say the Cuisinart turns out perfect bread every time.

Panasonic SD-YD250 Automatic Bread Maker with Yeast Dispenser

The Panasonic SD-YD250 Bread Maker costs $104. As you would expect from a company with Panasonic's reputation, this is a quality machine. While it may not, at first glance, have all the easy-to-use, preset features of some other bread machines, it's still very capable. Much is made of the precision timing of the yeast. In exchange for this benefit, however, you do lose the viewing window. The challenge there is that if you're tempted to peek, you'll likely let all the warmth and humidity out by lifting the lid, thus spoiling the loaf. However, if you have doubts about the Panasonic, you should perhaps talk to some of the hundreds of happy customers who use this machine. Many have owned this bread maker for years and simply wouldn't look at anything else.

Zojirushi BB-PAC20 Home Bakery Virtuoso Breadmaker

The Zojirushi BB-PAC20 Breadmaker is currently on offer for $284. That's quite a lot of money, but this is more than simply a machine for making bread. Zojirushi products have an outstanding reputation and seldom, if ever, go wrong. It may not be the prettiest of designs, but everything is there for one reason: to turn out a wide variety of the very best bread products (including gluten-free) possible. The only drawback we're aware of is that only one loaf size (two pounds) is available. Complaints are remarkably few, but the praise is tremendous. Even at this higher price, most owners think the investment is "100 percent worth it."

Zojirushi products have an outstanding reputation for quality. Even at its higher price, most owners think the Zojirushi Home Bakery Virtuoso Breadmaker is "100 percent worth it."

Best of the Best

Although we'd happily give kitchen space to any of our finalists, the best bread maker is the Zojirushi BB-PAC20.

The Zojirushi may not be the best looking product ever, but if you're a serious home bread maker -- and that's who this machine is aimed at -- you'll definitely want to find space for it on your work surface, because its performance is spectacular.

The control panel gives you the first clue as to its capabilities, providing you with ten different preset programs and three crust options. However, that's just scratching the surface; much of this breadmaker's real power is only revealed upon further investigation. We admire this product for elements like its gluten-free setting, the fact that it can make meatloaf, and the "homemade" button which allows you to store your own menu presets. Want to make pizza dough? The Zojirushi can do that. Want to make Jam, cakes, rye bread, nut bread, pretzels, or bagels? The Zojirushi can help you with these cooking projects, too.

It's nice to know that the Zojirushi offers 1 and 1 1/2-pound options in additional to the traditional 2 pound size. In general, it's difficult to find fault with this bread machine. One or two owners might tell you that the bread doesn't rise adequately, but the cooking pan has two paddles to ensure proper mixing, so we can only put this down to operator error. The overwhelming majority think that the Zojirushi is quite simply the best bread maker on the market, and we tend to agree.
Best of the Best
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You'll definitely want to find space in your kitchen for the Zojirushi Home Bakery Virtuoso Breadmaker. Its performance is spectacular!

Best Bang for your Buck

While the Oster and Sunbeam are both excellent entry-level machines, the Best Bang for Your Buck bread machine is the Cuisinart CBK-100.

Cuisinart's CBK-100 is a handsome bread maker with a contemporary stainless-steel finish, a nice viewing window so you can keep an eye on your bread's progress, and a clear, easy-to-use control panel. It's also the only one of our finalists with handles. Handles might not seem like a particularly important feature, but they allow you to lift and carry the Cuisinart with ease. The fact that the Cuisinart includes them shows just how much thought and care the manufacturer has put into this product.

In terms of baking flexibility, only the Zojirushi out-performs the Cuisinart. (The Cuisinart actually beats out the Zojirushi for standard loaf sizes, offering 1, 1-1/2, and 2-pound loaves.) It also has three crust settings, a gluten-free option, and a number of intriguing settings like pasta dough, jam, and cake. We especially admire the innovative setting that accommodates all-in-one bread mixes. It will beep at you when it's time to add extras like nuts or fruit, and it will even keep your bread warm for you for up to an hour if you can't remove it from the machine right away.

And you can get all of this for just $64! No wonder it's so popular. A few owners have encountered faulty machines (which were replaced under warranty), but the overall reaction to this product is a positive one. Most say that it's easy to use, produces tasty bread, and offers an outstanding quality for the price.
Best Bang for your Buck
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The Cuisinart CBK-100 is one of the most popular bread machines on the market today. It makes a variety of delicious breads and offers outstanding quality for a reasonable price.
The team that worked on this review
  • Bob
    Bob
    Writer
  • Melissa
    Melissa
    Editor
  • Ann
    Ann
    Operations
  • Jimi
    Jimi
    Product Analyst
  • Ben
    Ben
    Operations