We Tested the 5 Best Bread Machines for Home Kitchens

The Zojirushi Home Bakery Virtuoso Plus ranks best overall by ensuring piping hot loaves of varying sizes and styles.

We independently research, test, review, and recommend the best products—learn more about our process. If you buy something through our links, we may earn a commission.

Zojrushi home bakery virtuoso plus breadmaker test

Food & Wine / Will Dickey

Few simple things yield more joy than a fresh loaf of bread. A slice of still-warm bread (but not too warm, bread should be allowed to properly cool!) with a slick of salted butter is nothing short of delightful under any circumstance — but doubly so when you’ve baked the bread yourself.

Despite what the intricate scoring patterns you see on sourdough boules across Instagram may lead you to believe, baking bread doesn’t have to involve a complex understanding of fermentation. There’s nothing wrong with using fresh or instant yeast instead of tending to a sourdough starter, and you don’t have to invest in a costly baking vessel either — especially if you’re working with a proper bread machine.

When looking for the perfect machine, the loaf size and the overall size of the machine are where many home bakers will start, but the features don't stop there. Some bread makers seem to perform better with particular types of flour; others keep the bread warm until you're home from work and ready to have it with a big bowl of soup for supper. To help you along on your baking journey, we recently put several of these appliances through their paces to determine the best bread machines available, and the Zojirushi Home Bakery Virtuoso Plus tops our list.

Best Overall

Zojirushi Home Bakery Virtuoso Plus Breadmaker

4.8
Zojirushi Home Bakery Virtuoso Breadmaker

Amazon

Pros: This is an easy-to-clean machine with versatile features.

Cons: It’s pricey.

Zojirushi’s Virtuoso Plus is our pick for the best overall bread machine thanks to its versatility and ease of use. With a large LCD screen, viewing window revealing a “beautiful, lightly bronzed, domed top,” according to our testers, and features that support baking of far more than just your basic load of white bread, this is a great choice for beginners and experienced bakers alike.

Our testers found the presence of two dough blades valuable for thorough mixing, which helps develop gluten structures for an airy crumb. The programmable cycles of the Virtuoso Plus make controlling each stage — kneading, rising, baking — nice and simple to adapt from one recipe to the next. This Zojirushi also excels at the process of baking itself, turning out evenly baked loaves with lovely golden crusts. The nonstick pan makes for easy clean-up across the board.

Price at time of publish: $328

  • Dimensions: 10.5 x 18 x 12.88 inches
  • Loaf size: 1.5 and 2 pounds
  • Settings: Multigrain, whole wheat, rapid whole wheat, gluten-free, salt-free, sugar-free, vegan
Bead machines test Zojirushi home bakery virtuoso plus

Food & Wine / Will Dickey

Best Value

Hamilton Beach HomeBaker 2-Pound Breadmaker

4.2
Hamilton Beach HomeBaker 2-Pound Breadmaker

Amazon

Pros: This machine has dishwasher-safe components and produces lovely loaves. 

Cons: Most suitable for entry-level home bakers.

Our testers enjoyed their time with the Hamilton Beach HomeBaker, repeatedly citing how easy it is to clean and use. While the HomeBaker reliably turns out loaves that “slice cleanly” to reveal a “beautiful, soft interior” and offers 12 baking modes, testers consider this machine best suited to beginning bakers. 

“I would recommend this for someone who wants a basic bread maker, but not for someone who wants something with more bang,” said one tester. We noted that while the recipes included with the machine work well, we wouldn’t reach for the Hamilton Beach HomeBaker for more advanced baking projects. 

Price at time of publish: $132 

  • Dimensions: 10.43 x 14.13 x 12.2 inches
  • Loaf size: 1.5 or 2 pounds
  • Settings: Basic, French, gluten-free, quick, sweet, 1.5-lb express, 2-lb express, dough, jam, cake, whole grain, bake
Hamilton Beach homebaker 2lb test

Food & Wine / WillDickey

Best Automatic

Cuisinart Compact Automatic Bread Maker

4.4
Cuisinart Compact Automatic Bread Maker

Amazon

Pros: An easy-to-use machine that reliably turns out 3 sizes of bread, so it adapts nicely to your baking whims.

Cons: Dough tends to stick to the paddle.

As its name implies, Cuisinart’s Compact Automatic bread machine makes quick (and simple) work of turning dough into beautiful loaves of bread. Designed to produce loaves in a variety of sizes, this machine offers additional flexibility by including 12 preprogrammed options, a 13-hour delay-start timer, and options that allow you to bake various types of bread and control whether the crust is light, medium, or dark. Its slim vertical baking pan, with easy release, makes use and cleaning simple and keeps the machine slim and suitable for counters in smaller kitchens. We found the instructions to be very easy to understand and the machine itself easy to program.

Our lab tests resulted in white bread that “smells amazing” with a “beautifully rounded top” and a soft, fluffy banana bread. 

Price at time of publish: $130

  • Dimensions: 10.25 x 13.25 x 11.25 inches
  • Loaf size: 1, 1.5, or 2 pounds
  • Settings: White, French, whole wheat, ultra-fast, sweet, gluten-free, artisan dough, dough, jam, package mix, cake, bake-only
Cuisnart compact automatic Test

Food & Wine / Will Dickey

Best Custom

Breville Custom Loaf Bread Maker

4.5
Breville Custom Loaf Bread Maker

Amazon

Pros: A thorough, versatile bread machine with the largest loaf size on our list.

Cons: The viewing window fogs up during kneading and proofing cycles.

Our testers found Breville’s Custom Loaf machine to be true to its name — it was the favorite for customization. A comprehensive booklet is included that specifies which type of paddle needs to be used (there are two included for collapsible and regular kneading), with one tester noting, “I can’t stress enough how detailed and thorough this machine’s instruction and recipe booklet is." A progress indicator lets you know how things are going along the way. An intuitively placed basket, oven light, and backlit buttons add to the Breville’s functionality. The design is easy-to-use and attractive; the bread basket is simple to put in, and the outside handle stays comfortable to the touch while in use.

Furthermore, everyone was pleased with the outcome of the bread from this machine. Loaves were fluffy, tender, and evenly baked with minimal effort. And with 100+ recipes in the included instructions, you won’t get bored with this Breville!

Price at time of publish: $300

  • Dimensions: 7.17 x 16.22 x 10.75 inches
  • Loaf size: 1, 1.5, 2, or 2.5 pounds
  • Settings: Custom, basic, whole wheat, rapid, gluten-free, crusty, sweet, yeast-free, dough, pizza, pasta, bake, jam
Breville Custom Loaf Test

Food & Wine / Will Dickey

Best Compact

Zojirushi Home Bakery Mini Breadmaker

4.6
Zojirushi Home Bakery Mini Breadmaker

Amazon

Pros: A super-quiet, comprehensive bread machine with a small footprint.

Cons: No dishwasher-safe components.

Our testers loved Zojirushi’s Home Bakery Mini, enjoying everything from its comprehensive instructions to the delicious bakes it produced. Despite having no dishwasher-safe parts, this little machine is easy to clean, and storage is no problem thanks to its diminutive size. 

“This machine made the best banana bread load of the machines I tested,” notes one of our lab experts, adding that the Zojirushi “was very quiet throughout the process and evenly distributed ingredients.” This is an ideal bread machine for small spaces or anyone who wants fuss-free baking on a small scale.

Price at time of publish: $194

  • Dimensions 8.5 x 11.25 x 12.25 inches
  • Loaf size: 1 pound
  • Settings: Basic bread, soft, French, dough, cookie/pasta dough, cake, jam, quick
Zojirushi home bakery mini Test

Food & Wine / Will Dickey

Our Favorite

Not all bread makers are created equally, and since home bakers want different things from their machines, that may be okay. The machine that delivers 10-pound gluten-free loaves a year may not be the same bread maker that makes the best 2-pound whole wheat loaf once a week. The best bread maker overall, the Zojirushi Home Bakery Virtuoso Plus, is on the pricey side but worth it for a person who will use their bread maker with some frequency. Some of our test kitchen staff really favored the Cuisinart models as well.

The Tests

All bread machines tested in our lab underwent a series of experiments and inspections, including white bread, banana bread, and ease of cleaning. Testers used the recipes that came with each machine to evaluate as fairly as possible.

To determine the best bread machines, each machine was first evaluated on its ease of use — noting how complicated it was to use and if the pre-programmed settings were easy to work with for producing different kinds of bread. We also looked at how well it performed and how versatile it was when it came to handling various breads (as well as noting things like, does the machine knead for you? Are there additional helpful features, such as a “keep warm” or “gluten-free” function?) Finally, we noted its ease of cleaning, considering how complicated it was to disassemble and if any components were dishwasher-safe.

Factors to Consider

Choosing the best bread maker is a matter of knowing yourself and your needs.

Size

How big do you need your loaves to be? Oftentimes, machines only produce loaves of one size, whereas others produce them of various sizes. Knowing how big (or small) you prefer your bread size is important.

Features

Are there specific automatic settings you'd prefer your bread maker to provide, or do you want to be able to tweak the kneading and baking period to meet the needs of your own recipes? Does your family prefer white bread to whole wheat? Do you want the bread machine to do the kneading for you? Do you care if the kneading paddles leave marks on your loaves? These are all features to take into consideration when choosing the best bread machine for you.

Ease of Cleaning

Lastly, how hard is it to clean the machine and all of its accouterments? Does it require disassembly, and are all of the pieces hand-wash only? Knowing how much time and effort you wish to commit to cleaning your machine is important when looking to make an investment in a countertop bread machine.

Frequently Asked Questions
  • Is it worth getting a bread maker?

    Like our favorite air fryers, waffle makers, and pasta machines, bread machines are universally convenient; even the less-than-ideal versions save time and effort over working from scratch. All-in-all, bread makers are less dependent on the ambient temperature of your home (or the weather outside) to rise dough successfully, which takes some of the chance out of being the baker of your family's daily bread. They also mitigate mess and tend to be very efficient. They can also save you money over time (see Is it cheaper to make my own bread? below). Then there's the timeless and hard-to-quantify reward of a home filled with the warm, yeasty scent of freshly baked bread and the satisfying taste of melting butter against a warm slice just from the oven.

  • Can you use regular flour in a bread maker?

    Bread machine flour has a higher protein content, which means it also has a higher gluten content. The increase in protein strengthens the dough and allows it to rise more easily, and the increased gluten creates a chewier loaf. If you do choose to use all-purpose flour, you may need more of it to reach the percentage of protein (and gluten) necessary to make perfect loaves. While many people prefer bleached all-purpose flour, the increased finer and protein of other forms of flour produce tastier and healthier loaves. Be sure to examine your bread maker's manual or contact the machine's manufacturer if you have additional questions.

  • Why is my bread maker bread so hard?

    This can be a result of not kneading bread thoroughly enough, but most often, it is from not using the proper kind of flour. Higher protein flour produces taller, lighter, and chewier loaves. Also, keep in mind that allowing your bread to rest for three hours after baking gives the starches in the bread a chance to settle in a bit and can produce tastier results.

  • Is it cheaper to make my own bread?

    Depending on flour prices, the average loaf of homemade can cost around $2. When compared to high-quality store-bought loaves, this can represent solid savings over the course of a few months. What baking your own bread doesn't save, however, is time. For busy people who cook at home daily, this won't feel like a pinch. But for people who opt for convenience due to habits and busy schedules, making a staple like bread at home can quickly become a frustrating task.

What Didn't Make the List

Strong Contenders: 

  • Breadman 2-Pound Professional Bread Maker ($180 at Amazon)
  • CUSIMAX 3-Pound Bread Maker ($150 at Cusimax)
  • KBS Large 17-in-1 Bread Machine ($190 at Amazon)

Results Still Simmering:

  • Cuisinart 2-Pound Convection Bread Maker (CBK-200) ($215 at Amazon)
  • Zojirushi Home Bakery Maestro Breadmaker ($358 at Amazon)
  • Neretva Bread Machine ($160 at Amazon)
  • KITCHENARM 29-in-1 SMART Bread Machine ($140 at Amazon)

Low Performers:

  • Amazon Basics Non-Stick Bread Making Machine ($75 at Amazon)
  • Panasonic Bread Machine (SD-R2550) ($302 at Amazon)
  • Oster ExpressBake 2-Pound Bread Maker ($110 at Amazon)
  • Pohl Schmitt 14-in-1 Stainless Steel Bread Maker Machine ($120 at Amazon)
  • Dash Everyday Stainless Steel Bread Maker ($100 at Amazon)
  • West Bend Hi-Rise Bread Maker ($140 at Amazon)
  • CROWNFUL Automatic Bread Machine ($77 at Walmart)

Our Expertise

Contributors and food writers Christa Glennie and Summer Rylander wrote this piece using our expert testers' findings. While sampling and examining the loaves, our expert testers learned a lot about each machine's strengths and weaknesses above and beyond operation. They evaluated each machine on its ease of use, performance, versatility, and ease of cleaning. When combined with the test results, our contributors' longstanding devotion to all things gluten and culinary backgrounds easily determined which of the bread makers stacked up.

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