The Best Bread Machine for Beginners

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Looking for the best bread machine on the market for your family? If you're a beginner baker who wants help making homemade bread, find your perfect bread maker match in our extensive review of the most popular models available now.

Three bread makers sit on a kitchen counter.

Over the course of four months, our family baked hundreds of bread machine recipes while I wrote The Ultimate Bread Machine Cookbook last fall.

We had five bread machines working two times a day, week after week. We learned all the ins and outs of every quirk and amazing feature of the most popular bread maker models available on the market right now.

If you're interested in buying a new bread machine so you can make warm, fresh, homemade bread and from-scratch dough for baking everything from dinner rolls to pretzels and cinnamon buns in your oven, you need to know which bread maker is the perfect fit for you.

Since every family has different priorities, I've done an extensive review of each bread machine model individually, but here I'm summarizing exactly which model is the best fit for individual needs.

Did I miss a question or concern that your family has? Let me know in the comments and I'd be happy to help you meet your perfect match.

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A Visual Comparison of Breads

Before I start awarding the "Best Of" titles, I think it is important for you to see the difference between the results of each of the main models we tested.

I baked the exact same bread machine Italian bread recipe in all the machines at the same time on the same day.

I measured each loaf exactly the same way with my food scale. Unfortunately, my container of yeast has started to expire so the domes of each loaf didn't get as perfectly round as they usually do, but even that result was pretty consistent across the board.

The Orientation of the Loaves:

In front of each machine, I've placed the bread in the orientation it bakes inside the machine:

A comparison of the same recipe in three different bread machines.
Featured from Left to Right: Cuisinart, Zojirushi, Breville

Notice the bread on the far left: The space-saving Cuisinart bakes the loaf upright while the other models bake the bread in a more traditional orientation.

In the next photo, I've turned the Cuisinart loaf to match the orientation you would use to slice it for sandwiches as you would the other loaves:

Another view of the same recipe baked in three different bread makers.
Featured from Left to Right: Cuisinart, Zojirushi, Breville

For each loaf, I removed the mixing/kneading paddles before the rise cycle so that the loaves would bake without the paddle inside.

Even without the paddles baked inside, you will still get a small hole in the bottom of your bread where the paddle post remains:

The bottom of the loaves show the hole made by the bread makers.
Featured from Left to Right: Cuisinart, Zojirushi, Breville

Then I lined up each of the loaves more closely to one another to give you a better sense of size.

From Left to Right:

4 loaves of Italian bread lined up to show the differences between bread machines.
Featured from Left to Right: Hamilton Beach, Zojirushi, Cuisinart, Breville

Hamilton Beach:

This is not one of the top models I would recommend so it didn't appear in many of the photos above. The top of the bread is sunken in, but I promise that was a problem with my yeast and not the machine. You can still get a sense of the size and shape of the bread from the photo.

You can see why my husband disagrees and read the full Hamilton Beach bread machine review here.

Zojirushi:

The longest and narrowest of the loaves, this 2-pound bread is excellent for slicing.

Cuisinart:

This 1.5-pound loaf has a consistent shape from end to end and is great for slicing. The yeast only caused a problem with the one side end and the mistake is easily hidden. It is a very forgiving bread machine for beginners.

Breville:

This 1.5-pound loaf still ended up close to perfect, despite the yeast causing problems in every other loaf that day.

The Contenders:

With these reference photos in mind, now it is time to help match you up with the bread machine that is your perfect fit.

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Best Budget Bread Machine

If price is your greatest concern, your very best bet is the Cuisinart Compact Bread Machine. The price can fluctuate but, especially during the holiday season, I have often seen it priced at less than $100.

Best High-End Bread Machine

If price is no concern and you want a fancy bread machine with extra features, there's a little bit of disagreement on the winner.

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I would recommend the Breville bread machine, my husband would suggest the Zojirushi bread maker. You'll want to check out the individual reviews before investing to see which one fits your family best.

Best Small Bread Maker

This is no contest. If space if your greatest concern, the Cuisinart Compact Bread Machine is your best option. I love the size and shape of this handy little appliance.

Best at Baking Large Loaves

Go big or go home. If you want hearty 2-pound loaves each and every time, the Zojirushi bread maker is your match.

Most machines can bake up to 2-pound loaves but I have found them to be unwieldy and difficult to slice neatly. The bread pan on the Zojirushi makes a gorgeously shaped loaf that is perfect for slicing.

Best Loaf Shape

Not only does it do excellent large loaves, but the shape itself is definitely a winner. If you want breads from a bread machine that look like they were baked in an oven, the Zojirushi bread machine is your new best friend.

Best Machine for Storage

Don't like having a mess of appliances sitting on your counter all the time? If you want to be able to store your bread maker away in a kitchen cabinet or on a closet shelf, you absolutely want to get the Cuisinart Compact Bread Machine.

The machine is both compact in size and lightweight and easy to carry around. It will fit neatly anywhere you want to store it.

Best Dough Maker

Bread machines aren't just for baking bread. Some people prefer to finish the bread in their oven.

You can also make homemade dough in all the bread machine models we tested.

They all work great, but when we are mixing dough for bread machine pizza or homemade dinner rolls, we tend to grab the Cuisinart compact bread maker because it is small, portable, and less noisy than other models.

Best for Small Families

If you're baking bread for 1 - 4 people, you don't need very large loaves. You're better baking smaller loaves more often so that your bread is as fresh as can be.

While that may sound like more work than it's worth, baking homemade bread in a bread machine only takes about 10 minutes of your time. You could easily pop a loaf in every few days as your family eats it.

For small loaves, I think the Cuisinart compact bread machine is a perfect fit.

Best for Large Families

If you're baking bread for a family of 4 or more and they're using it up quickly on sandwiches, etc, you may need to make a larger loaf more frequently.

If you can consistently use up a 2-pound loaf and want a machine that is sturdy enough to meet high demand, you definitely want the Zojirushi bread machine.

Best for Flexibility

If you want to have the option to make a high-quality small loaf AND a high-quality large loaf AND amazing dough, the Breville bread machine is your very best option.

The texture, consistency, and flexibility of the bread pan makes it my favorite of all the machines. But, as with every model, it does have some cons that should be considered. Be sure to check the full review before you buy it.

Best for Working Parents

If you have a very busy family life and are only home for short periods of time, you need a bread machine that requires a minimum of oversight and produces consistent results.

While not completely perfect, the Cuisinart compact bread machine is your best option because you can keep an eye on it for the first 10 - 15 minutes and then the rest of the cycle is completely hands off.

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    2 Comments

    1. Hi, I recently borrowed a Panasonic bread machine from a friend that is awesome. It is discontinued:(. Anyway, I was trying to find another one I love. One of the things I love about this one is that the recipes do not call for extra gluten in any of the recipes and the bread turns out great. I used bread flour in one loaf and even did a whole wheat loaf that turned out perfect. Do you have to use extra gluten in these machines you reviewed for the bread to turn out well?

      1. I never use extra gluten in any of our machines. We tried it during the recipe testing phase and didn't feel the extra ingredient cost was worth it.

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