As a work-from-home dad, I try not to buy items from the store that I can make at home. And, since the overpriced bread at the supermarket is packed full of ingredients nobody can pronounce, I was naturally attracted to the fun challenge of baking healthy homemade bread.
With my trusty KitchenAid serving as a competent sous chef, I cut my teeth in the baking world with from-scratch bread. Eventually, the weekly bread dough kneading took its toll on the mixer. And, the demands of parenting and work made my old-fashioned methods inconvenient. In order to meet the high bread standards my family had come to expect (along with the delicious odors making bread produces), I turned to a bread machine.
With the most basic bread makers, you spend five to ten minutes loading the machine with ingredients (most machines come with plenty of recipes), you press a few buttons, and away it goes. You simply wait anywhere from one to four hours for the beeping to let you know it’s done.
Appliance makers keep adding features that make these machines the greatest thing since, well, sliced bread —although I’m still waiting for an automatic slicing feature. Depending on how much you are willing to spend, here are some features to consider:
- Automatic dispensers – Some models have automatic dispensers for yeast or fruits and nuts. The fruit and nut option is helpful because you generally want to add these ingredients later in the process, which then adds another time-sensitive step. With the dispenser, you set everything up and go about your day.
- Pre-programmed settings – All of the bread machines in our guide have at least ten pre-programmed settings along with three crust shade alternatives (light, medium, and dark). Some common settings include whole wheat bread, sourdough bread, gluten-free, pizza dough, and jam.
- Quick baking – Many machines offer a quick baking alternative. With this feature, you can have a baked loaf in as little as an hour from start to finish. However, the quality of the bread suffers.
- Collapsible paddle/blade – Machine-made bread loaves usually have a hole in the base where the kneading blade sat during the baking process. Some manufacturers have remedied this problem by introducing collapsible paddles. Of course, if you don’t mind babysitting your machine, you can remove the blade by hand right before the baking phase.
We combed through hundreds of reviews and ratings from home bakers and experts alike as we searched for the best bread machines. The five units we chose to include in this guide can make a variety of different bread types, require minimal user oversight, and have a track record of dependability and performance.
Here are the best bread machines for 2019:
Updated on 07/17/2019 by Les Shu: Updated prices, links, and formatting.