CNET’s Best Tested Bread Machines of 2024

While all the bread machines I tested can produce a decent loaf of basic bread, they come in various shapes and sizes with a range of additional features and price points. If size or price are limiting factors for you, the decision is going to become very easy, with just a couple of compact models that are less than $100 to consider. If not, it will probably be a matter of which additional features are most important, depending on the kinds of bread you anticipate making the most. As you start the process of choosing a bread machine, you’ll find they vary significantly in shape, size and price. There are a few factors that contribute to these differences in bread machine options and you’ll want to consider which features are most important for your baking needs.

You too can have daily fresh bread for about 25 cents a loaf. 

Pamela Vachon/CNET Bread machine size

First, automatic bread makers come in different sizes. This not only refers to the physical space of the appliance for baking bread (which can be substantial), but also the loaf size it can bake. Common bread maker sizes include 1- and 2-pound loaf models — if you’re only baking a loaf of bread for yourself, a smaller bread maker might work just fine, while larger families might need larger loaves to keep everyone satisfied with comforting carbs.

The Hamilton Beach is compact, budget-friendly and turned out some of the best bread of the bunch.

Pamela Vachon/CNET Bread machine shape

You’ll also want to think about the shape of the appliance’s inner bread pan, as this will determine the shape of the loaf of bread. Many bread-making machines have square pans, which yield square loaves, but you can also find bread machine models that make horizontal loaves that are closer to what you’d buy in the store.

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Types of bread it makes

Some are better equipped to produce a thicker, more consistent crust, some have built-in settings for gluten-free loaves, while others allow you to pre-set mix-ins such as fruit or nuts, which will add them at the appropriate moment along the way. Want to make different kinds of bread? Bread makers can only churn out specific types of bread depending on the bread flour and settings, so if you want to make wheat, whole grain, French bread, white bread, sourdough bread or other varieties, you’ll need a machine that has the appropriate settings for your bread machine recipe. If you want gluten-free bread then you should go for a gluten-free bread machine. Some fancier bread machines even have nonbread settings, such as ones for cake.

The Zojirushi was my favorite bread maker to use but its hefty price keeps it out of the #1 spot. 

Pamela Vachon/CNET Bread machine features and settings

Most bread machines produce a standard, 1.5- or 2-pound loaf, and they come preprogrammed with various settings, including those for white, wheat and quick bread, among other common bread types, as well as dough and jam settings. All have the option of choosing a light, medium or dark crust, and also include a delayed start feature, meaning you can assemble ingredients in the morning, and come home after work to the warm and cozy aroma of freshly baked bread. (Throw a soup or chili mixture into a slow cooker while you’re at it, and your evening self will be very pleased with your morning self.) Alternatively, you can set it at night and wake up to freshly baked bread.

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