4 Best Bread Machines, Tested by Food Network Kitchen
Make delicious homemade bread quickly and easily with an automatic bread maker.
Our Top Bread Machine Picks
- Best Overall: Cuisinart 2-Pound Bread Maker
- Best Overall (Splurge): Breville Custom Loaf Maker
- Best Budget: Amazon Basics 2-Pound Non-Stick Bread Making Machine
- Best Large-Capacity: West Bend Hi-Rise Bread Maker
Tested by Taylor Murray for Food Network Kitchen
Whether you're looking to make homemade bread every week or want to whip up the occassional loaf of white bread, a bread machine can make the process a lot faster and easier. These machines may remind you of past generations' wedding registries, but they've seen a resurgence in recent years and come with many more bells and whistles. No matter what kind of bread maker you're looking for, we found the top bread machines for any kind of at-home baker.
What to Look For When Buying a Bread Machine
With thousands of bread machines on the market, it can be hard to know where to start or what to look for. There are a few key features that come standard in even the most budget-friendly options we tested. Ultimately, the machine you choose will depend on your baking ability, budget, and aspirations.
- First, any top bread machine should be able to make a decent loaf of standard white bread from start to finish, including kneading, proofing, and baking. Most models come with a 13-hour delay start timer, which is perfect for setting before work or before bed.
- Any good bread machine will come with a range of functions, including standard white bread, whole wheat, sweet and gluten-free, as well as several individual settings, such as knead or bake.
- You should look for a machine that lets you adjust the size of your loaf from several options, as well as a crust darkness setting. This will ensure the most success in your baking.
- Every machine we tested comes standard with a nonstick-coated loaf pan for easy clean-up.
- Finally, some models come with special features such as a viewing window (to observe the bread without opening the machine) and a special chamber that can automatically release mix-ins such as dried fruit and nuts at the correct stage.
How to Clean a Bread Machine
One of the great things about investing in a bread machine is the sheer ease of use, including quick cleanup. Every step, from raw ingredients to finished product is contained in the loaf pan. Almost all bread machines (and every model we tested) come with a nonstick finish that makes cleaning up after a breeze. For most loaves, a quick wipe with a damp cloth should be sufficient to remove any residue. If some stubborn stuff remains, try scrubbing with a soft-bristled brush. Anything rougher could damage the nonstick coating. For the exterior, just wipe with a soft cloth.
How We Tested
We scoured the internet to search for any bread machines that could pass our rigorous testing parameters. We scanned various online retailers for top sellers and favorites among users. Ultimately, we settled on 7 different models, all $300 or less, that were easily available to the average American consumer.
Before baking any actual bread, we read each manual cover to cover to see what kinds of information they included. The best manuals were full of great and unique recipes, as well as tons of information meant to help you be successful at baking bread, even if you’ve never made a loaf in your life. We looked at certain aspects such as size and construction. After all, if you’re going to add another bulky appliance to your kitchen, it should have an efficient (and attractive) design. Using a decibel meter, we assessed how loud the machine was at its peak, which usually came during kneading. If any bread makers promised certain claims or special features, we checked to see if those features delivered. After baking the bread, we noted if the machines and their loaf pans were easy to clean.
After taking notes and making observations about the machine itself and its user interface, we got to baking. For the first test, we opted to make a plain white loaf of bread. By using the same recipe from a trusted source for each test, we were able to eliminate variations in results due to things like ingredients and recipes. Every loaf of bread was made with the exact same ingredients, at the exact same temperature, and, using the exact same recipe. Surprisingly, this did end up yielding wildly different results. After testing the plain white loaf, we chose a recipe from the included recipe book (if there were any). If there were any similarities or differences between this loaf and the white loaf, we noted them. We evaluated the recipe in terms of how easy it was to follow and finally, gave the bread a taste test. The best loaves had a nice open crumb and a tender, chewy texture that’s firm enough to yield a sturdy slice.
If you’re looking for a sleek, compact bread maker that doesn’t break the bank, the Cuisinart 2-pound packs a lot of great features in a tidy package. During our testing, the Cuisinart consistently produced better-than-average loaves and was simple to use. The recipe book is full of great, innovative recipes that are clear and easy to follow. For those curious about bread making, this model comes at a great price point and is so intuitive to use, anyone can make a great, fresh loaf at home.
This loaf maker is the best of the best. It comes with an ultra-thick manual that’s chock-full of amazing and unique recipes, from crusty olive and roasted garlic bread to honey whole wheat cinnamon raisin. It even comes with a recipe for tangy sourdough bread! With a bright LCD display that is clear and easy to read, even the novice baker can make fresh bread in a snap. The Breville can make up to a 2 1/2-pound loaf, yet it has a more compact surface area than some of the other, smaller-capacity models that we tested. The sleek chrome body is beautiful enough to have a permanent place on your counter. This machine passed every test we gave it and churned out loaf after loaf of artisan bread that could rival any hand-made loaf.
This bread machine has the exact same design (I’m talking identical) to the CRUXGG model we tested but is $100 cheaper. It also has the exact same loaf pan design as the (more expensive) Oster and Cuisinart units we tested, but yielded a similar or better loaf of plain white bread. The Amazon Basics bread machine doesn’t have a lot of extra features, but it comes at a great price and can perfectly make a delicious loaf of fresh bread. The manual comes with a small section of simple, tasty recipes that even the baking-averse can pull off.
For super-big loaves, there is no equal to the West Bend. This machine can make a whopping 3-pound loaf, as well as smaller loaves, without breaking a sweat. This machine (unlike many other similar machines) has a custom-shaped loaf pan that mimics a standard bread loaf pan. The loaves we tested in this machine were similar in look, texture, and quality to even artisanal hand-baked loaves. The large capacity of this model does come at the cost of counter space, so take that into consideration when choosing the right machine for you.