There are few things more wonderful than warm fresh baked bread. The smell of rising dough wafting in the air can bring many of us back to our childhood. And while you can walk into a supermarket and grab a loaf, it’s hard to control the ingredients in mass-produced bread. (You’d be surprised how much supermarket bread contains corn syrup.) Enter the modern bread maker, which takes the hard work — aka kneading — out of making a fresh-baked loaf of bread. The best bread makers let anyone feel like a master baker, and these bread machines are cheaper and easier to use than many people realize.
With just a few simple ingredients and the push of a few pre-programmed buttons, you are well on your way to making something worthy of sopping up your favorite gravy or acting as a vessel for a tasty shmear of jam.
The only thing standing in your way is acquiring the knowledge, ingredients and tools you need to visit carb heaven. Below, we’ve shared all the information you need to start making your own bread at home. In addition to tips for baking beginners, we’ve also included a list of the best bread makers for sale right now from brands like Hamilton Beach, Oster and Cuisinart.
Breadmaking for Beginners: How To Get Started
Remember that three- or four-week period at the start of quarantine when it seemed like everyone was making bread? This popular hobby definitely captured the public’s attention in 2020, and baking is no less popular in 2021. However, if you don’t have much experience in the breadmaking world, it can be an intimidating hobby.
What’s the best way to get started? There are thousands of instructional videos on Youtube and cooking websites. However, we always like to start with a good book. For total beginners, we would recommend the popular cookbook Flour Water Salt Yeast. This cookbook has all the knowledge a novice baker needs to learn how to create delicious artisan bread and dough at home. Soon, you’ll be baking your own sourdough and creating your own pizzas like a pro baker.
While the best bread machines are an indispensable tool for serious bakers, some people aren’t quite ready for that kind of commitment. If that’s the case, then we recommend starting with a simple hand mixer instead of a bread machine.
While a hand mixer can’t replace the best bread makers, it could be suitable for those who want to test their skills before going all-in on baking. The basic Black + Decker five-speed hand mixer is a versatile kitchen gadget that’s been designed to mix thick ingredients. It includes two dough hooks and one chef’s whisk, which will allow you to mix and knead with ease. Priced at just $20, it’s a much more economical way to bake your first loaf of bread.
The Best Bread Machines for 2021
As evidenced by their names, bread machines are dedicated ovens that are designed to help you make the best possible bread. Bread machines allow you to place all the ingredients into the machine rather than making a mess of your entire kitchen (Although, that might still happen anyway.) The machine does all heavy lifting, including automatically kneading the dough and shaping it into a loaf tray to then bake for you. It’s that easy. There are even gluten-free settings for those who need them. The entire breadmaking process becomes much, much easier.
If you love fresh homemade bread more than anything else, a bread machine is a must-have for your kitchen. Below, we’ve selected the best bread machines for you to invest in right now.
1. Zojirushi Home Bakery Virtuoso Bread Machine
It is not every day that the words “double kneading blades” gets us so excited. Even among the very best home bread machines, the Zojirushi Home Bakery Virtuoso Bread Machine reigns supreme. With settings for gluten-free baking, organic ingredient input capabilities, and custom settings, the sky is the limit for your rectangular-shaped, two-pound loaf of bread. The large baking window allows you to get a quick glimpse of what’s happening inside, while the machine’s dual kneading blades allow all the flour to be completely folded into the mixture. Finally, for those times when you are in a hurry, you can whip up a white or whole wheat bread in less than 2.5 hours.
While the price might be a bit steep for beginners, it’s well worth the investment for a machine that’s going to last you a long, long time while also providing all the options you could need or want all at once.
Editor’s Note: Unfortunately, the popular Zojirushi Virtuoso is sold out following the holiday shopping season. The only ones we could find for sale online are being sold by third-party sellers at a significant markup. We will update this post as new inventory becomes available.
2. Oster Expressbake Bread Machine
Priced under $100, this affordable bread machine from Oster is a fantastic entry-level maker for those who want to get their feet underneath them when it comes to breadmaking. With 12 different settings, you’ll be able to make a two-pound loaf in under an hour thanks to the machine’s express bake setting. Furthermore, the large LCD display and easy to use button controls make it easy and intuitive to understand. Great price and great performance? Easy as sliced bread.
3. Cuisinart Bread Machine
BEST COMPACT BREAD MAKER
If you are tight on space — apartment dwellers we are talking to you — but are a baker at heart, then we have just the thing for you. Imagine coming home after a long day of work to the smell of freshly made bread. Well, the 13-hour delay feature on the Cuisinart bread maker allows you to walk in the door to fresh loaf of bread. Better yet, you can wake up on Sunday morning to the smell of fresh cinnamon-raisin bread. Compact and countertop-friendly at 9 inches wide and 11.5 inches tall, Cuisinart’s Bread Machine doesn’t skimp on features despite its petite size. Capable of baking up to a 2-pound loaf, the maker comes with 12 different pre-programmed settings to make baking as simple as can be. Finally, like all of the best bread makers, the removable kneading paddle makes cleanup a breeze.
4. Breville Custom Loaf Bread Machine
For seasoned bakers who want to take full advantage of a bevy of different features, the Breville Custom Loaf Bread Machine has automatic and customized (hence its name!) program settings, pause functionality, and the ability to set 9 different recipes. Here, the freedom and flexibility make it particularly useful to seasoned bakers who will be making lots of different kinds of loaves of bread at a time. With the ability to make up to a 2.5-pound loaf, there’s even a fruit and nut dispenser if you want to great really creative with your bakes. And you’ll be able to keep a close watch on the process thanks to its included window.
Best of all? This bread machine also makes pasta. Carb lovers of the world, we see you, and you’re welcome!
5. Breadman Professional Bread Machine
If you’re already familiar with baking bread (either in an oven or in a smaller breadmaker), the Breadman Professional Breadmaker is sure to raise quickly (pun intended) your experience. With an impressive 14 different baking functions, this breadmaker also has a collapsible set of kneading paddles to ensure you don’t have holes in your loaf. Furthermore, it has a measuring cup, an adjustable measuring spoon, and even a recipe book to help you get up and running with ease and speed.
6. Hamilton Beach Artisan Dough & Bread Maker
The popular Hamilton Beach line of bread makers can be hard to find in stock. Right now, you can only find previous generation models available on like Amazon. If you can find the Artisan Bread Maker for sale, it’s a great bread machine for beginners. With an affordable price tag and the trusted Hamilton Beach brand name, this is a handy kitchen gadget for bakers of all skill levels.
This front-loading bread maker is basically the little engine that could. While it is exciting that it does pizza and bun style rolls, the Hamilton Beach, Artisan Dough & Bread Maker has a feature that might make you squeal. You can bake a 1 1/2-lb. loaf in 1 hour, 20 minutes; in other words, you can serve warm bread in about the same amount of time it takes you to make the lentil soup you can have it with.
7. Cuisinart Convection Bread Maker
BEST CONVENCTION OVEN
Equipped with a power failure backup, the Cuisinart Convection Bread Maker has 16 preset options, allowing you to create low-carb bread or take recipes through long slow rises for chewier textures and rustic crusts. Also, before baking, you can remove the paddle and take out and shape the unbaked dough. And don’t forget to add fruits, nuts or other “add-ins” as you create the perfect loaf.