When you’re craving a thick slice of toasty bread topped with butter, you probably head to the bakery section of your grocery store. If you have a talent for baking you might make the bread yourself but, between the mixing, kneading, and proofing, you could spend a couple hours doing it. A bread machine is a must-have for bread lovers, and it may not be the expensive indulgence you imagine it to be.
The Top Bread Machines
There’s a saying about “the best thing since sliced bread,” which implies pre-sliced bread from the grocery store is the mother of all conveniences. While there’s no denying the fact that being able to grab a loaf of bread at the store is great, you have to ask yourself what you’re really getting.
Most of the bread you find on grocery store shelves is loaded with sweeteners, artificial flavors, and preservatives. If you head over to the bakery section you may find something a little fresher, but you don’t necessarily know how long it’s been sitting out and whether it’s been baked from fresh or frozen dough. The best bread comes from fresh dough baked that day and served hot right out of the oven.
If you want to enjoy the flavor and texture of fresh bread any time you want it, a bread machine is exactly what you need.
Here are the best bread machines on the market:
Award: Best Value
When you want a good loaf of bread, but you’re not interested in paying hundreds of dollars for a complicated machine, this bread maker is just what you need.
You could easily spend hundreds of dollars on a bread machine, but if you just want something simple to use that gets the job done, the Oster Expressbake Break Maker is the perfect fit. This machine handles up to 2 pounds of dough and has 12 programmable bread settings with 3 additional crust settings.
The Oster Expressbake Break Maker is affordably priced under $100 and it is incredibly easy to use. With its generous 2-pound capacity, it works well for larger families and it even has an express bake setting that bakes a simple loaf of bread in under 1 hour. The large LCD screen is easy to read and the controls are intuitive and simple to operate.
In addition to being affordable and easy to use, the Oster Expressbake Break Maker is also easy to clean. It features a removable lid and nonstick aluminum pans. You can even watch your bread bake through the clear window on the top of the machine.
- Affordably priced under $100
- Offers 12 bread settings and 3 crust settings
- Express bake setting bakes loaf in under 1 hour
- Machine may struggle with larger loaves
- More limited options than pricier models
- Price: $70
- Loaf Capacity: 2 pounds
- Settings: 12
- Gluten Free: No
Award: Best Programmable
You don’t have to be a master baker to make a good loaf of bread when you have this stainless-steel bread machine in your kitchen.
Making the perfect loaf of bread is easy when you have this KBS Pro Stainless-Steel Bread Machine. This machine features 17 programmable settings with 3 loaf sizes and 3 crust colors so you can create everything from the perfect whole-wheat bread to delicious quick bread.
The KBS Pro Stainless-Steel Bread Machine features an attractive stainless-steel construction and a sleek, modern design so you won’t mind having it on your counter. It is made with a ceramic pan for an even bake and an intuitive digital touch panel control for convenience. It also has a 15-hour delay timer, a 1-hour keep warm setting, and a 15-minute power interruption recovery feature.
- Large 2-pound capacity with 3 loaf sizes
- Choose from 17 programs including gluten free
- Intuitive controls and digital touch panel
- Buttons are fairly sensitive, can be easy to press accidentally
- Can be a little bit noisy during use
- Price: $160
- Loaf Capacity: 2 lbs.
- Settings: 17
- Gluten Free: Yes
Award: Best for Families
When baking for the family, you need a machine that can keep up with the demand and that’s exactly what this bread maker does.
If you want a bread machine that gives you endless options for customization, look for the KBS 17-in-1 Bread Machine. This machine offers 13 different automatic settings with 4 loaf sizes and 3 crust colors. It even comes with an automatic fruit and nut dispenser.
It’s the perfect choice for families because you can make larger loaves with no issues. If you’re only baking for yourself and your partner, however, it’s just as easy to make a smaller loaf. Bake everything from beautiful multi-grain bread or incorporate your favorite nuts, seeds, and dried fruit with the touch of a button.
- Includes 13 automatic settings and 3 crust colors
- Choose from 4 loaf sizes up to 2.5 pounds
- Automatic fruit and nut dispenser
- May be a little noisier than some bread makers
- Very expensive compared to other models
- Price: $169.99
- Loaf Capacity: 2 pounds
- Settings: 17
- Gluten Free: Yes
Do You Really Need a Bread Machine?
Bread is a dietary staple for many people. Whether you use it daily to build sandwiches for lunch or serve it as a side with dinner, you probably have a loaf or two in your kitchen more often than not.
A loaf of bread may only cost you a dollar or two at the grocery store, but it’s definitely a case where you get what you pay for. Cheap bread is loaded with artificial ingredients including preservatives that keep the bread fresh for days at a time – sometimes even longer. If you want bread made with higher quality ingredients or you want something other than generic sliced white bread, you’ll pay for it.
With a bread machine you can make homemade loaves using only the ingredients you want with nothing artificial. You can make any type of bread you can imagine, paying only for the cost of the ingredients without the grocery store markup (once you buy the bread machine, of course).
Making homemade bread is hard work but, with a bread machine, you simply combine the ingredients and let the machine do the work – no mess and no kneading. You can make delicious homemade bread on a daily basis without eating up your free time.
What to Look for in a Bread Machine
Bread machines come in all shapes and sizes, so it can be difficult to choose. What you need to do is familiarize yourself with the options to get a feel for what makes one bread maker different from another. Once you know how these machines work, you’ll be able to narrow down the options based on the features you do or don’t want. From there, you can make the choice that’s right for you.
Here are some things to look for in a bread machine:
- Loaf Capacity – When it comes to the size of a bread machine, you have to think more about just the size of the machine itself – think about the size of the loaf it makes. Many machines can accommodate different loaf sizes.
- Gluten-Free – Many people who make bread at home do so because they have dietary restrictions. If you have celiac disease or follow a gluten free diet for other reasons, look for a bread machine that has gluten free settings.
- Kneading Paddles – One of the major benefits of a bread machine is that it does the kneading for you and that comes down to the kneading paddles. Experts recommend machines with two kneading paddles rather than one.
- Programmable – If you’re going to use the bread machine, you’ll have to get use to the controls. When shopping, check for features like a delay timer that allows you to add the ingredients and set the machine to start at a later bake time.
- Added Features – Modern bread machines come loaded with all kinds of extra features, but you don’t always need them. Decide if you want a machine with all the bells and whistles or if you just want to make a simply loaf of bread.
- Price – Cost is always a factor to consider when shopping for a new kitchen appliance, but you shouldn’t shop by price alone. Consider your budget range and then decide what features are “must have” and what are optional to help you narrow down your options.
When it comes to buying a bread machine, it’s all about preference. Think about the features that are most important to you and check out our recommendations above to make the best choice.
The Bottom Line
Nothing is better than slicing into a fresh loaf of bread and breathing in the smell of earthy grains baked to perfection. If you want to enjoy the flavor, texture, and aroma of freshly baked bread whenever you like, add a bread machine to your arsenal of kitchen appliances. Buying a bread machine may seem like an unnecessary indulgence, but if you eat bread on a daily basis, you’ll be doing yourself a favor.
No more half-eaten loaves that go stale before you use them, no more sugar-loaded store brands, and no more mess and hassle when you finally break down and decide to make it yourself. With a bread machine, homemade bread is almost as simple as the touch of a button.