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Why spend hours in the kitchen kneading dough to make your own homemade bread when you can cheat with a bread maker machine and just tell all of your friends and family that you made it? In addition to taking virtually all the work out of the often arduous process of bread-making, the best bread machines offer a variety of pre-programmed settings for a variety of doughs, from fancy French breads, to cakes, to fortified doughs that could take you to the Great British Baking Show.
The months spent in quarantine last year has led to a rise in bread-making (no pun intended) with both stuck-at-home pros and amateur bakers alike buying up bread makers to experiment with new crust-able creations. The latest bread makers are designed to be easy to use and portable enough to move around too (say, from your table to the garage, or to your quarantine cabin). Unlike an oven, the best bread makers don’t take up a lot of space either, and are designed for countertop use and easy storage.
What Are the Benefits of a Bread Maker?
There reaches a point at which extra bells and whistles in a bread maker become unnecessary, but here are the ones we like to see.
Bread and Dough Settings: At least half of the appeal of a bread machine is the ability to easily create a wide variety of breads and doughs with the touch of a button. Our favorites usually have around 12 settings, ranging from basic white breads, to gluten-free, to artisan. Each type of dough requires different bread-making techniques, so it’s helpful to have breadmaker that can accommodate. We also like to see adjustable settings for texture and shade, so that you can make the bread exactly as crusty as you prefer.
Timers and Delays: If you want to enjoy your warm, fresh-from-the-oven bread at a specific time — say, with dinner or at breakfast — you might appreciate a model with preset timers and delay settings that automatically start the bread-making process to be finished at a specific time of day. Bread machines might also come with a warm setting, in case your loaves finish a little earlier than you anticipated.
Alarm Settings: Some breads do require some slight participation on your part, which is why a bread maker with alarm settings to remind you when to add the mix-ins like fruit or nuts, or when to remove the kneading paddle.
1. Cuisinart Bread Maker
This bread machine meets all the expectations you’d have from a trusted brand such as Cuisinart. It comes with 12 pre-programmed bread settings, three bread shades, and three loaf size options, as well as helpful alarms to remind you when to take out the kneading paddle or add mix-ins. We especially like this machine’s compact size and attractive appearance.
2. Hamilton Beach Premium Dough and Bread Maker
The Hamilton Beach machine is a good choice for quick and easy bread and dough making. The included manual includes basic recipes and clear instructions on how to use the appliance, and unlike similar products, this bread maker is especially quiet when in use. It has 14 programmed settings as well as the three size and crust color options. And as a bonus, the fruit and nut dispenser adds the mix-ins automatically, say for a blueberry loaf or nut bread.
3. KBS Pro Stainless Steel Bread Machine
This machine has the most bread settings of all our picks — 17 — including specialty functions like the yogurt feature which we particularly like. Users also note that this machine is super-efficient, with a ceramic coating on the bread pan which is more durable and potentially safer than other common materials like teflon.
The digital touchscreen is super easy to use and understand, and the bread maker’s sleek, sophisticated design won’t be an eyesore on countertops either.
4. Oster Expressbake Bread Maker
This is a reliable basic that is easy to both use and clean, though the bread might not come out as crusty as some of our other picks. It has 12 bread settings, as well as a programmable delay timer and warm setting, ideal for set-it-and-forget-it bakers. Track your progress through the see-through lid and the digital screen.
This is a great option for beginner bakers, or those who will just need a simple bread machine for baking up basic loaves.