The Best Bread Machines in 2021

eHow may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story.

If you're really into bread, buying bagged loaves at the supermarket just won't cut it. You can make better bread at home, and if you have a bread machine, it's surprisingly easy (and convenient) to do so. The question, then, becomes ... which bread machine? There are scores of them on the market at varying sizes, price points and combinations of features. No single machine is perfect for everyone, so we've compiled a useful buyer's guide to help you narrow down the one that's right for you.

Advertisement

The Cuisinart CBK-200 brings convection baking to the bread maker category.

Video of the Day

Key Bread Machine Features

Before you start comparing features, it's helpful to review what some of the main bread machine features actually are. Some of the most important you'll encounter are:

Advertisement

  • Loaf size:​ Most machines will make loaves of 1.5 or 2 pounds, and some go as small as 1 pound or as large as 2.5 or 3 pounds. A big 2- to 3-pound loaf is suitable for families, a 1.5-pound loaf is enough for couples and a 1-pound loaf is enough for one person.

  • Pan orientation:​ Most small and midsize machines have a vertical pan that makes a tall, skinny loaf. Larger machines have a horizontal, rectangular pan that makes "normal-looking" bread.

  • Timer:​ Being able to set up your machine in advance and then having fresh bread ready when you wake up (or get home from work) is a pretty big convenience.

  • Crust control:​ Most machines give you some degree of control over the color and texture of your crust, so you can make it dark and crunchy or pale and tender. Some do this better than others, of course.

  • Size and weight:​ If you have physical issues or limited space, you might opt for a compact and lightweight machine.

  • Number of cycles:​ Even the cheapest machines offer custom cycles to give better results with sweet or whole-grain breads and not just white. Higher-end units can handle recipes like dessert loaves or specialty breads, such as gluten-free or sourdough loaves.

  • Ease of use:​ This is subjective, but even the best-made machine can be frustrating if its buttons or menus are confusing. This doesn't show up on a product brochure, but reading user reviews will tell you whether others have struggled with a given machine.

Advertisement

Best Budget Bread Makers

It's relatively easy to get everything you want when money is no object, but most of us don't have especially deep pockets. If you're looking for a competent bread machine on a tight budget, these two are well worth considering.

Hamilton Beach Bread Maker

The simply named Hamilton Beach Bread Maker is Amazon's top seller for a reason. It turns out perfectly acceptable loaves at a remarkably wallet-friendly price point, and its express bake function will let you crank out a simple loaf in as little as an hour. Although it's a low-end machine, you couldn't fairly call it bare bones. It has 12 cycles, including settings for jam and cake, for making dough to bake conventionally in your oven and even for gluten-free bread. Other nice touches include a dishwasher-safe, nonstick bread pan and a backup paddle in case you should lose or misplace the first one.

Advertisement

Product Specs:

  • Voltage:​ 120
  • Weight:​ 5.4 kilograms/11.9 pounds
  • Dimensions:​ 10.43 x 14.13 x 12.2 inches
  • Material:​ Plastic
  • Capacity:​ 2 pounds
  • Number of Cycles:​ 12
  • Timer:​ N/A

Pros:

  • Outstanding value at the (very budget-friendly) price point
  • Quick express bake feature
  • Gluten-free cycle
  • Great for dough prep

Advertisement

Cons:

  • Struggles with denser (whole-grain) and wetter (gluten-free) recipes
  • Sometimes bakes unevenly
  • May leave small quantities of unmixed flour in the corners of the pan

Best Breads to Make:​ Light sandwich loaves, sweet breads

Available on Amazon – $75

Advertisement

The Hamilton Beach Bread Maker offers a winning combination of features at a budget price.

Elite Gourmet Maxi-Matic Programmable Bread Maker

The Elite Gourmet Maxi-Matic sells for about the same price as the Hamilton Beach and goes toe to toe with its better-known competitor in the bang-for-the-buck category. If anything, it brings even more features to the table, with 19 cycles to the Hamilton Beach's 12. There's even a setting for yogurt making, which you'd ordinarily only find on costlier machines.

Advertisement

Product Specs:

  • Voltage:​ N/A
  • Weight:​ 2 pounds
  • Dimensions:​ Approximately 15.4 x 13.46 x 11.26 inches
  • Material:​ Aluminum
  • Capacity​: 2 pounds
  • Number of Cycles:​ 19
  • Timer:​ Yes, 15-hour delay start, plus 60-minute Keep Warm functions

Pros:

  • Excellent bang for the buck
  • Makes a 1-pound loaf as well as the more common 1.5- and 2-pound sizes, which is great for singles or couples who don't eat as much bread
  • Yogurt-making setting is rare at this price point
  • Very lightweight

Advertisement

Cons:

  • Loaves brown unevenly
  • Sometimes struggles to mix the ingredients thoroughly, especially with denser loaves
  • The manual includes just one recipe for each cycle, and they're not especially good recipes

Best Breads to Make:​ White sandwich bread, light European-style loaves, extra-small loaves (and try the yogurt!)

Available on Amazon – $75

The Elite Gourmet Maxi-Matic can bake an extra-small 1-pound loaf, making it ideal for singles.

Best Compact Bread Makers

What if your biggest constraint isn't budget but sheer physical space? For apartment dwellers especially, finding room to put a bread machine can be a real challenge, and some of the larger and heavier machines are awkward to bring down (or up) from the cupboard. These two machines both deliver for space-constrained buyers, giving high-quality bread in an unusually small footprint.

Cuisinart CBK-110

This tiny, stylish Cuisinart is second only to the Hamilton Beach among Amazon's best-sellers despite the difference in price. It's a big upgrade over the budget machines and still comes in at a pretty reasonable price point despite its superiority. It's seriously small at just over 13 inches deep and just over 10 inches wide, and it's over a pound lighter than the Hamilton Beach. More importantly, it bakes really good bread. The 12 presets include a gluten-free cycle and one for just-add-water bread mixes if you're all about the convenience. It also includes some really thoughtful features: There's an internal light so you can see how your bread is doing and an audible prompt to remove the paddle before your bread bakes.

Product Specs:

  • Voltage:​ 110
  • Weight:​ 10.8 pounds
  • Dimensions:​ 10.25 x 13.25 x 11.25 inches
  • Material:​ Stainless steel
  • Capacity:​ 2 pounds
  • Number of Cycles:​ 12
  • Timer:​ Yes, 13-hour delay start

Pros:

  • Very small and fairly lightweight
  • Sleek, stylish design and thoughtful features
  • Three-year warranty

Cons:

  • Doesn't handle dense, whole-grain loaves as well as some costlier machines
  • Louder than many other machines while operating

Best Breads to Make:​ White breads, sweet breads, gluten-free loaves

Available on Amazon – $129

The Cuisinart CBK-110 is small enough and stylish enough to fit in any kitchen.

Zojirushi BB-HAC10 Mini Bread Maker

Zojirushi makes some of the best bread machines on the market, and despite its somewhat dated design – this model premiered in 2001 – this tiniest member of the product line still packs a punch. It's even smaller than the Cuisinart at 8 by 11 inches, though it weighs more because of its solid construction (it has a carry handle, a convenience that may offset the weight for many users). It also makes really good bread with an excellent crust, and you have the option of choosing regular, firm and soft textures. Its biggest limitation is that it only makes a 1-pound loaf, so plan on baking every day or two unless you live alone.

Product Specs:

  • Wattage:​ 450 watts/120 volts
  • Weight:​ 14.7 pounds
  • Dimensions:​ 11 x 8 x 12 inches
  • Material:​ Stainless steel
  • Capacity:​ 1 pound
  • Number of Cycles:​ N/A
  • Timer:​ Yes, 13-hour delay start

Pros:

  • Very high-quality bread
  • Solid steel construction for exceptional durability
  • Better than average documentation and recipes

Cons:

  • Makes only a small-sized loaf
  • Interface and design are dated
  • Relatively costly

Best Breads to Make:​ Whole-grain loaves, sandwich bread

Available on Amazon – $178

Bread machines don't come any smaller than this little Zojirushi, at less than a square foot.

Bread Machines With Interesting Features

It's rare to find two bread machines with exactly the same set of features, but some models take that to an extreme and pick one or more cool, unusual features to differentiate themselves. If they happen to pick a feature you care about, it can make your purchase decision an easy one.

Cuisinart CBK-200 Convection Bread Maker

High-end ranges and countertop ovens almost all offer convection baking now, but Cuisinart's CBK-200 brings convection to the bread maker market. Why does that matter? It's because convection baking – circulating hot air around the loaf – makes for a better crust with a crisp texture and more even browning. That's especially valuable when you're making specialty loaves, like gluten-free or sourdough, that are fragile and need delicate handling. The Cuisinart doubles down on its artisan-baking chops with specialized cycles that give the long, slow, low-temperature rises you need for high-end loaves.

Product Specs:

  • Wattage:​ 680 watts
  • Weight:​ 16 pounds
  • Dimensions:​ 19 x 16 x 13 inches
  • Material:​ Stainless steel
  • Capacity:​ 2 pounds
  • Number of Cycles:​ 16
  • Timer:​ Yes, 12-hour delay start, plus 15-minute pause options

Pros:

  • Sleek styling, fits well in a kitchen with other stainless steel appliances
  • Convection baking for superior results
  • Specialized cycles for artisan bread making

Cons:

  • Convection makes this model louder than most when it's operating
  • At 19 by 16 inches, it's pretty bulky (it needs extra room so the hot air can circulate)
  • Like a convection oven, you may see over-browning on some recipes (so you'll know to change the settings next time)

Best Breads to Make:​ Gluten-free loaves, sourdough and artisanal breads

Available on Amazon – $170

The Cuisinart CBK-200 brings convection baking to the bread maker category.

Breville Custom Loaf

If you're the kind of baker who loves challenging recipes with lots of add-ins and carefully managed baking times, Breville has the bread machine for you. Sure, it'll make simple recipes too, but the Custom Loaf lives up to its name with a ton of settings you can tweak. There are nine (nine!) programmable settings you can create for your own recipes, and you can even adjust the preprogrammed ones. There's also a built-in dispenser for add-ins, like raisins, seeds or nuts, so you don't need to hover and listen for a beep to tell you when it's time. The interface is state of the art as well, with a backlit LCD screen, dial and button menu selection and even a status indicator to show you where you are in your baking cycle.

Product Specs:

  • Wattage:​ N/A
  • Weight:​ 17.8 pounds
  • Dimensions:​ 16.25 x 16.25 x 10 inches
  • Material:​ Stainless steel
  • Capacity:​ 2.5 pounds
  • Number of Cycles:​ 9
  • Timer:​ Yes, 13-hour delay start

Pros:

  • Unmatched levels of customization
  • Paddle folds out of the way before baking begins
  • Built-in dispenser for add-in ingredients
  • Modern, high-tech display
  • Bakes loaves from extra small (1 pound) to extra large (2.5 pounds)

Cons:

  • It's near the top of the price range for bread machines
  • The collapsing paddle isn't as durable as it could be (a common complaint with this model)

Best Breads to Make:​ Breads with lots of add-ins, artisan loaves

Available on Wayfair – $300

Breville's Custom Loaf bread maker lives up to its name.

The Best Bread Machines (No Compromises!)

If you're the kind of person who gravitates toward buying the best tool for the job, there are definitely bread machines to fit that niche as well. The top machines score highly on the quality of bread they produce, on their range of features and also on their overall quality of construction.

Zojirushi Virtuoso Plus

If you're shopping for a bread machine right now, you'll see this name a lot. Zojirushi's flagship bread machine is an absolute beast, and it makes genuinely superior bread. At first glance, you'll notice that the machine's lid is oddly bulky, but there's a good reason for that: It has a second heating element mounted in the lid for superior baking and even browning. The oblong rectangular pan turns out a normal-looking loaf and has dual paddles for better, more consistent mixing. Its presets include multiple specialty-loaf options (gluten-free, salt-free, sugar-free, vegan), and you'll have three memory slots to program your own custom cycles. Just be aware that this thing is built like a tank. It weighs 24 pounds and is over 18 inches wide, so it calls for strong arms and lots of counter space.

Product Specs:

  • Wattage:​ 700 watts
  • Weight:​ 24 pounds
  • Dimensions:​ 10.5 x 18 x 12.88 inches
  • Material:​ Stainless steel
  • Capacity:​ 2 pounds
  • Number of Cycles:​ 15
  • Timer:​ Yes, 12-hour delay start

Pros:

  • Unmatched bread quality
  • Durable, heavy-duty construction
  • Excellent features and ease of use
  • Quieter than most when operating
  • Gluten-free, salt-free, sugar-free and vegan options

Cons:

  • Priced at the very top of the category
  • Large and heavy

Best Breads to Make:​ Artisan breads, gluten-free loaves, whole-grain breads​,​ specialty breads

Available on Amazon – $340

The Virtuoso Plus is as good as bread machines get.

Zojirushi Home Bakery Supreme

If you can't quite bring yourself to pay the price of a Virtuoso but would still love to have a high-end, high-quality machine, then Zojirushi's Home Bakery Supreme might be your best bet. Its price is still on the high side, but you'll save enough to keep you supplied with flour and yeast for a long time. The Supreme lacks five of the Virtuoso's specialized cycles, but it does give you the same three memory slots for "rolling your own." You won't get the top heating element either, but even without it, the machine's heavyweight baking pan and solid engineering will give you results that are ​waaaay​ above average.

Product Specs:

  • Wattage:​ 700 watts
  • Weight:​ N/A
  • Dimensions:​ 12.81 x 13.56 x 18.88 inches
  • Material:​ Stainless steel
  • Capacity:​ 2 pounds
  • Number of Cycles:​ 10
  • Timer:​ Yes, 13-hour delay start

Pros:

  • Superior bread baking
  • Rectangular loaf and twin-paddle design like the more expensive Virtuoso
  • Very quiet when operating
  • Excellent construction quality
  • Includes instruction DVD, manual and recipe booklet

Cons:

  • Price is still higher than most other machines
  • Lacks the Virtuoso's in-lid baking element
  • Fewer presets (no gluten-free cycle, for example)

Best Breads to Make:​ Artisan loaves, whole-grain breads​,​ sweet breads

Available on Amazon – $268

The Home Bakery Supreme offers almost all of the Virtuoso's features but at a (somewhat) lower price.

KBS Pro MBF-011

It's a bit of an oxymoron to ask for "no compromises but at a budget price," but here we are just the same. If the proverbial champagne taste on a beer budget is how you roll, a KBS Pro might be just the machine for you. It has twin heating elements for even heating (they wrap around the pan rather than being top and bottom like the Zojirushi), has a built-in dispenser for add-ins like the Breville and like both Zojirushis, it has a powerful, low-noise kneading motor. It even matches the Virtuoso's full suite of preset cycles, including gluten-free, sugar-free and vegan settings. As a bonus, the pan's nonstick coating is ceramic rather than a conventional polymer coating, which should make it extra durable (and eliminate any worries about the nonstick coating getting into your bread).

Product Specs:

  • Voltage:​ 120 volts
  • Weight:​ 14.7 pounds
  • Dimensions:​ 13.7 x 8.6 x 11.8 inches
  • Material:​ Stainless steel
  • Capacity:​ 2 pounds
  • Number of Cycles:​ 17
  • Timer:​ Yes, 15-hour delay start, plus 1-hour automatic Keep Warm function

Pros:

  • Outstanding range of features for the price
  • Bakes very good bread that is better than many higher-priced machines
  • Has a smaller footprint than the Zojirushi machines and weighs substantially less

Cons:

  • User interface is a bit confusing compared to some competitors' machines
  • Getting the paddle out of the machine after baking can be a real struggle, and you'll probably need to soak it for a while
  • Price is at the higher end of what could be called a "budget" machine

Best Breads to Make:​ Gluten-free loaves, breads with add-ins, specialty breads

Available on Amazon – $119

The KBS Pro is a feature-rich, good-performing machine at a surprisingly low price point.

Advertisement