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How We Decided
  • 98 Models Considered
  • 31 Hours Spent
  • 2 Experts Interviewed
  • 151 Consumers Consulted
  • Zero products received from manufacturers.

    We purchase every product we review with our own funds — we never accept anything from product manufacturers.

    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. We consulted a kitchen and food expert, Francois, to help you select the best bread maker for you and how to get the most use out of it.

    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
    • SKG
      Automatic Bread Machine
    • Zojirushi
      1-Pound Mini Breadmaker
    • Panasonic
      Automatic w/Yeast Dispenser


    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 — Francois recommends checking product dimensions to make sure it fits where you want to use it. 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. For example, Francois says machines can hold mix-ins and add them at the right time in the mixing process, which is a huge time-saver. In this section of our ratings, we delve into the details.


    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.

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    Some machines don’t keep your loaf warm after baking. Keep that in mind when picking a model.

    Kitchen Expert

    Design and 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.

    Owners think the Zojirushi Home Bakery Virtuoso Breadmaker is foolproof. Many say it makes the "perfect loaf, every time."


    Loaf Size and Bread Programs

    Oster CKSTBRTW20 2-Pound Expressbake Breadmaker

    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.

    Panasonic SD-YD250 Automatic Bread Maker with Yeast Dispenser

    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.

    Zojirushi BB-PAC20 Home Bakery Virtuoso Breadmaker

    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."

    Expert Consultant

    Born and raised in Paris, the land of unapologetic butter, Francois has spent the last 20 years shaping the American culinary world behind the scenes. He was a buyer at Williams-Sonoma, built the Food Network online store, managed product assortments for Rachael Ray's site, started two meal delivery businesses and runs a successful baking blog. When he's not baking a cake or eating his way through Europe, Francois enjoys sharing cooking skills with cooks of all levels. Rules he lives by: "Use real butter" and "Nothing beats a sharp knife."

    Francois  |  Kitchen Expert

    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).

    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.

    Always use room temperature ingredients, not cold, for the best results.


    Oster CKSTBRTW20 2-Pound Expressbake Breadmaker

    The Oster CKSTBRTW20 Breadmaker currently costs $59. 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.

    Panasonic SD-YD250 Automatic Bread Maker with Yeast Dispenser

    The Panasonic SD-YD250 Bread Maker costs $109. 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 $293. 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."

    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.


    Because the mixing arm is at the bottom of the heating bucket, most loaves will have a hole in the bottom. Consider that this will give you a few uneven slices.

    • Bob
    • Melissa
      Senior Editor
    • Ann
    • Jimi
      Product Analyst
    • Ben

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