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Imagine waking up early in the morning, dragging yourself to the kitchen, and being greeted by warm, fluffy freshly-baked bread. It’s only been baked in the last hour, thanks to the in-built timer of your bread machine. The smell instantly lifts your mood, and you’re off to a good start for the day.
Sounds good, doesn’t it? Bread makers have become so sophisticated, that in order to achieve what was described, you don’t even need to put in much effort. Simply pour in the flour the night before, set the timer, and voilà, fresh bread in the morning exactly when you want it.
If you’re gluten intolerant, it gets even better. Making gluten-free bread at home is so much more economical. No longer would you have to spend so much in the store for gluten-free bakery items!
In this article, we talk about the uses of a bread machine, our top picks, and how to choose the perfect one for yourself.
If you’re looking for the absolute best model, we recommend the Zojirushi Home Bakery Virtuoso Plus. If you make a lot of bread with nuts or fruits, the Breville BBM800XL might be a better pick due to its inclusion of an automatic nut dispenser.
Table of Contents
Why Use Bread Makers?
If you make a lot of bread at home, or would like to start doing that, bread machines provide an easy and convenient way to do so. Even if you don’t use it every step of the breadmaking process, it is still able to speed up parts of it.
Typically, with a bread maker you’ll be able to choose to start and finish the process in the unit itself, or only utilize it for the dough kneading process. Whichever one you choose, it is certain that it’ll be easier than kneading by hand.
Apart from breadmaking, most bread machines also include other functionalities that allow you to prepare a wide variety of foods, including jams or cakes. Some even include the options to make pizza dough or croissants, which really beefs up the amount of options you have in the kitchen.
The best thing about bread makers is, even with all these advanced features, very little supervision or manual work is needed. Usually, all you need is flour and some fruits or nuts (if you want them), and the machine will do all the work for you. All these can be achieved using a digital display and controls, making it as easy to operate as, say, a blender.
Our Picks of Best Bread Makers – Gluten-Free Friendly!
Here are our top picks of bread makers that you can currently buy. If you have digestive issues and practice a gluten-free diet, you’d be happy to know that all these models include gluten-free settings! Because of this, our list also doubles as the best gluten-free bread machines you can get.
If budget is not an issue, this Zojirushi bread maker is the best you can get, and will last you a long time of use down the road.
FItted with double kneading blades and dual heaters, it is able to both bake and knead dough extremely evenly. The non-stick coating is also a plus, as cleaning up the blades and the baking pan afterwards is easy.
Apart from the basic baking, it also has several unique settings. For example, a European course setting bakes light and savoury breads, and a rapid setting does express baking that completes in just 2 and a half hours. It also comes with crust control, that lets you choose your desired darkness level.
It also has a 13-hour delay timer, so you’re able to set when you want the baking process to start. This makes it easier for you to have fresh bread right when you want it, without having to remember to start baking it at a certain time. Just set, forget, and enjoy fresh bread when the delayed baking is done.
If you ask us, this is pretty much the best bread machine you can get right now. Because of its gluten-free option, it is also the best bread maker for making gluten-free bread. Oh, and it also comes with a recipe book included!
- Double kneading blades thoroughly knead dough
- Dual heaters – one on the lid and one on the bottom – results in even baking
- Non-stick blades and baking pan for easy cleaning
- Rapid setting bakes a whole loaf of bread in only 2 and a half hours
- Includes settings for gluten-free, multigrain, whole wheat, rapid whole wheat, salt/sugar-free, and vegan
- Crust controls include light, medium or dark settings
- Has a viewing window
- 13-hour delay timer
- Includes 3 programmable memory settings
- Includes a liquid measuring cup, nested measuring cups, and a measuring spoon
- Quiet operation
- Includes recipe book
- Outdated controls and user interface
- Resulting loaf is a little tall, and loafs smaller than 2lbs come out a little misshapen
If you need to either bake smaller loaves of bread, or want to have a unit with an automatic nut dispenser, this might be a better pick over the Zojirushi.
While the Zojirushi doesn’t bake smaller loaves of bread very well, this excels at it. It is able to go all the way from 1 pound of bread, to 2.5 pounds. Although the Zojirushi is able to bake 1.5 pounds as well, they tend to be a little misshaped, while smaller loaves from this model come out perfectly.
Another plus of the Breville bread maker is the inclusion of an automatic fruit and nut dispenser. You would know if you make a lot of bread with nuts, that remembering to put them in can be a real pain sometimes. Having this feature, you load up the dispenser with your preferred ingredients, and just let it run. The dispenser will release the ingredients at certain intervals so that they are evenly incorporated within the dough.
If you’re not crazy about these two features though, we have found the Zojirushi to produce better results overall. As long as you’re baking mostly 2lbs bread, the outcome from Zojirushi just triumphs what you get here!
- Handles multiple loaf sizes really well, namely 1lb, 1.5lbs, 2lbs and 2.5lbs
- Includes an automatic fruit and nut dispenser
- Comes with 13 automatic settings
- Adjustable crust colors of 3 settings
- User interface is easy to use
- Includes recipe book
- Comes with a delay timer but would require you to calculate how many hours in the future you want it to be done, instead of keying in the time
- Bread is a little difficult to remove from the baking pan
This Cuisinart bread maker comes with fewer settings than the T-fal model ships with. Yet, it is more than sufficient, and much more manageable at the same time. It has 12 pre-programmed options, including basic/white, gluten-free, French/Italian, whole wheat, sweet, cake, and even for dough and jams.
While it doesn’t have a fruit and nut dispenser like the Breville has, it does have something to make up for it. During the last 8 minutes of the second kneading cycle, 5 audible beeps will be sounded to remind you to add in any mix-in ingredients. At the end of the whole process, there will be another 15 beeps to signal the end of the baking cycle. The bread will be kept warm for 60 minutes thereafter.
Other than that though, it is largely the same experience as with using the T-fal. One significant difference is that this model has audible beeps to signify the different cycles, which can’t be turned off! If you need them and don’t mind the noise, great. If you do though, it will quickly become annoying, especially if you’ve scheduled the baking process to end at, say, early morning.
- 12 pre-programmed settings
- 3 loaf sizes – 1lb, 1.5lbs or 2lbs
- 3 crust settings
- Delay timer of up to 13 hours
- Includes measuring cup & spoon, and a recipe book
- Power-failure backup that allows the unit to pick up where it left off in case of a power disruption of up to 15 minutes
- Pan and kneading paddle are dishwasher-safe
- Audible beeps to signal the different baking stages, and an automatic 60-minute keep warm option at the end
- Instruction manual lacks the time needed for each cycle, so you’d have to be ready for the beeps
- Beeps can’t be turned off, could be a nuisance if you don’t need them anyway
- No indication of how long is left of the baking process, or each cycle for that matter
If the two models above are beyond your budget, yet you want something that’s not too shabby, the sub-premium range might be a better fit. Priced at around a quarter lower, these offer a good balance between long-term quality and affordability. As with all other models on the list, the T-fal is a gluten-free bread machine.
If you have a thing for a wide range of programmable settings, you might enjoy using this one. It comes with 15 options, including gluten-free salty/sweet/cake, rapid or regular whole wheat, French, salt-free, even cake, jam, dough etc. It is sure to keep you busy experimenting with the different settings. Note though, with the plethora of settings, it might be harder to learn to use. The relatively poorly-written instruction manual also doesn’t help a lot!
This model allows you to bake in 3 sizes, namely 1 pound, 1.5 pounds and 2 pounds – one less option than the Breville. However, a plus with this model is its longer delay timer compared to the Zojirushi. This offers a 15-hour delay timer, compared to the 13 hours that the Zojirushi offers.
While not bad by any means, the outer construction doesn’t feel as solid as we would have liked. Still, it is pretty well constructed and will likely last quite a few years of use, it just doesn’t feel as premium as the more expensive models.
- 15 programmable settings
- 3 loaf sizes – 1lb, 1.5llbs or 2lbs
- 3 crust settings of light, medium and dark
- Delay timer for up to 15 hours, plus automatic keep-warm
- Non-stick inner pan for easy cleaning
- Includes measuring cup and spoon, as well as a recipe book
- Outer construction not as premium
- Wide range of pre-programmed settings makes it a little difficult to find the correct one to use
- Instruction manual not very well-written
Bread machines are understandably expensive. If you’re looking to enter the world of breadmaking at home without breaking the bank, this Hamilton Beach model offers that at an affordable price.
Even being the lowest-priced model on our list, it still offers a sufficient range of settings for any typical household. The settings include gluten-free, sweet, French, express, and also jam and cake etc. It produces loaves of 2 sizes, namely 1.5lbs or 2lbs. It also has 3 crust settings as with most other models.
The baking is non-stick and is dishwasher-safe, as with the kneading paddles. While it does have two kneading paddles, one serves as an extra, so you can keep using the unit while the one is in the dishwasher. The unit only fits one paddle at a time, unlike some of the double kneader models.
Some of the cons we have found with this unit includes its overall construction, which in our opinion feels overly lightweight, which does not spur much confidence. Because the baking pan doesn’t fit perfectly in place, it wiggles when in use and produces unwanted clicking noises.
- Comes with 12 pre-programmed settings
- 2 loaf sizes of 1.5lbs or 2lbs
- 3 crust settings
- Has a delay timer of up to 13 hours in the future
- Non-stick, dishwasher-safe baking pan
- Audible reminder for adding mix-ins like nuts or fruits
- Baking pan wiggles around a little on the inside which results in some clicking when in use
- The bread it makes is denser than usual
- Plastic construction feels a little cheaply made
A little pricier than the Hamilton Beach, but also offering a better experience. If you’re able to spend a little more to get this, we recommend going for it. The only reason it’s the runner-up to the Hamilton Beach is because that one is just too affordable to pass as the best value pick!
This bread maker offers 17 pre-programmed settings, which in our opinion is overkill. Because of this, using it has a steeper learning curve. The poorly-written instructions manual doesn’t help as well!
However, once you get the hang of it, it’s not bad. We’ve made gluten-free cinnamon bread in this machine, among many other treats. It offers multiple choices of crust settings as well as loaf sizes, and the built-in fruit & nut dispenser is certainly a plus at this price point!
That being said, it is not comparable to the more expensive models. While it generally does okay, the paddles don’t stir very well sometimes, which is frustrating to say the least when that happens. The bread also comes out denser than we’d have liked.
- 17 pre-programmed settings
- 3 crust settings of light, medium or dark
- 3 loaf sizes of 1lb, 1.5lbs or 2lbs
- Built-in fruit & nut dispenser
- Ceramic non-stick baking pan
- Delay timer of up to 15 hours
- Automatic keep-warm feature of 1 hour
- Poorly-written instructions manual
- Paddles don’t stir very well
- Bread comes out quite dense
The following models are all offered at more accessible prices, so you’re able to get into the world of bread makers without spending too much. Functionality-wise, they offer about as many as the higher-end, and the results are pretty good too.
It has 12 pre-programmed settings, including white, sweet, whole wheat, gluten-free, jam, dough etc. From our experience, this is one of the best bread machines for sourdough, considering it has a specific setting just for it.
As for user interface, it has a large LCD display and program settings that are easy to use. Because of this, it is also one of the best bread machines for beginners, allowing anyone to easily get on the boat of bread-making at home.
However, with the advantages it brings, the model also falls short on other areas. For example, the instruction manual included for our purchase was digital, and the contents were subpar at best. The lid also opens quite high up beyond the unit itself, so if you have a narrow space it might not fit.
- Large maximum capacity of 3.3lbs unlike any other bread machine on the market, offering loaf sizes of 2.2lbs, 2.7lbs or 3.3lbs
- 12 pre-programmed settings
- Dual kneading blades for even consistency
- 3 crust settings of light, medium and dark
- Delay timer of up to 15 hours
- Beeps 10 times at the end of the baking process, and automatically keeps warm for 60 minutes
- Ceramic non-stick baking pan makes cleaning easy
- The smallest loaf size is 2.2lbs, which is admittedly too much for some
- Digital instruction manual and recipe pamphlet included are subpar
- The front cover/lid opens quite high up, requiring space above to fully open
- The beeps are quite loud and cannot be turned off
How to Pick for Your Use Case?
If you’re still not sure which to choose after reading through our thoughts on each model, we’re here to guide you through.
Firstly, if you have a need for making large bread, the SAKI XL bread maker is your only choice here. It’s a pretty good all-around bread machine, but do note that the smallest loaf size it makes is 2.2lbs, which is too much for most.
If you don’t need the large capacity, the choices largely boil down to budget. Are you going for the top-of-the-line, the sub-premium range, or the value picks? For each price range, we offer two recommendations, and his is how you should pick between them:
For the premium range, choose:
- Breville BBM800XL if you need to make smaller loaf sizes like 1lb or 1.5lbs and need an automatic fruit & nut dispenser
- Zojirushi Home Bakery Virtuoso Plus if you don’t need these extra functionalities, and want a really robust and high-grade appliance
For the sub-premium range, choose:
- T-fal bread machine if you want a wider variety of pre-programmed settings
- Cuisinart compact automatic bread maker if you want power-failure backup and dishwasher-safe accessories
For the value picks, choose:
- KBS Pro if you want a wider variety of pre-programmed settings and an automatic fruit & nut dispenser
- Hamilton Beach if an overall better experience which nails the basics
That being said, if you have the budget for it, we definitely recommend going for at least the sub-premium models. Although they’re quite a step up in terms of price, the quality goes up so much more, and are more enjoyable to use.
Bread Maker Bread Too Dense?
If your bread from the machine always comes out too dense, there might be a few reasons. Barring the capability and quality of the bread maker you’re using, here are a few tips to try and improve the results.
Before trying anything extra, make sure you get the basics right. Instead of just any flour or all-purpose ones, use only ones labelled ‘bread flour’. Do note though that it has higher gluten as well as protein contents.
Try adding more water than the recipe called for, as well as more yeast. While the amount varies from model to model, and the size of the bread you’re making, we recommend experimenting until you achieve the preferred consistency.
If you’re using oils instead of butter to make your bread, this could also be a reason why it turns out dense. As a tip, try using a type of oil or fat that is solid at room temperature, you should often achieve better results.
If you’re a bread lover, the idea of having fresh hot bread in the morning waiting for you to wake up and enjoy certainly gets you out of bed. The newest models of bread makers also make this very easy to achieve, requiring almost no intervention on your part.
Ready to grab one? Be sure to skim through our short guide on picking the right one for yourself, and follow through the links to check the latest prices. Whichever model you choose, one thing is for certain. You’ll be making bread at home a lot more, saving you some money from having to run the store, with a lot more added satisfaction!
Since you’re making your own bread, why not get a good yet affordable toaster oven to complement? Or if you also enjoy other types of doughy food, a waffle maker might be a good fit for you, or you might be interested in checking out some of the best pancake makers out there.
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