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The best bread machines

There’s no denying the taste of a freshly baked loaf of bread. A big advantage of making your own bread is that you get to choose exactly which ingredients hit the mixing bowl. This is a big win for those of us looking to keep preservatives and allergy-inducing ingredients out of our morning toast. The only cat-sized kitchen tool you’ll need to get started is a bread machine.

Many of today’s bread machines are compact, are easy to use, and employ the latest thermal tech to quickly bake your favorite cinnamon-raisin recipe. Read on to see our favorite bread makers of the year, and what we love about them.

Zojirushi BB-PAC20 Virtuoso Bread Maker

This is the machine for those who don’t mind spending the extra dough (pun intended) for top-notch performance, features, and perfect taste. The Virtuoso brings all of the beauties of artisanal bread baking straight to your kitchen counter. Choose from over eight different bread presets, including wheat, gluten-free, sourdough, jam, cake, and three customizable modes for your own delicious recipes.

Just add your ingredients, close the lid, and the Virtuoso will set to work on making your perfectly browned, 2-pound loaf. Choose your crust shade — light, medium, or dark — and you’re good to go. The Virtuoso sports a twin set of kneading blades to take all the toil out of hand-kneading, and when the bread is done, two easy-grab handles make it easy to remove the stainless steel pan. The LCD control panel is simple but responsive, and is the gateway to our favorite feature of the Virtuoso — the 13-hour delay timer. This prolongs the final bread-baking hours. Set it before bed, and wake up to the heavenly aroma of fresh bread in the morning.

Oster BRTW20 ExpressBake Bread Maker

The ExpressBake is one of the best quick-serve options on the market right now. True to its name, the 650-watt maker will whip up a perfect 2-pound loaf of bread in less than an hour. Need to prepare a last-minute fruitcake for your in-law’s forgotten birthday? No problem. Load in your ingredients, then choose from a list of bread presets, including bread, dough, jam, gluten-free, and many more.

The Oster BRTW20 ExpressBake is a solid compact baker too, which makes it easy to pack away in the cupboard when you’re not using it. When you’re done baking, ExpressBake cleanup couldn’t be easier. The internal pan is removable and non-stick. A quick scrub and you’re done … until the next loaf.

Breville BBM800XL Bread Maker

The powerful 830-watt BBM makes our list for a number of reasons. The control panel is LED-backlit. Yes, it’s a simple thing, but many bread makers opt for no backlight at all, making it difficult to read through all the machine presets.

On top of 13 different bread choices and crust options, the Breville BBM also lets you choose from four different loaf sizes. A collapsible kneading blade delivers ingredients to the dough at exact times in the bake cycle. Just load your flaxseed and rest easy. The icing on this machine-tossed birthday cake is that the BBM also sports a top-seated fruit and nut dispenser and comes with an awesome selection of easy-bake recipes.

Cuisinart CK-200 Convection Bread Maker

The beauty of the CK-2oo is all in the convection heating. Convection is nothing more than appliance-produced heat being pushed around by a fan, but that singular design element makes all the difference when it comes to bread. The 680-watt CK-200 produces rustic-inspired loaves of your favorite breads, with hard-crunch crusts and chewy interiors. It’s the way bread should always be. Choose from up to 16 different presets, including cakes, jams, and even gluten-free. The CK-200 is also your own kitchen assistant.

If you’re forgetful when it comes to adding ingredients to your dough at the right time, the CK-200 will automatically chime when it requires specific fixin’s. There’s even a 12-hour delay start, which means you can set the maker to have your bread freshly made for when you get home from work. If you’re after superior bread and don’t mind shelling out the cash, look no further.

T-Fal Actibread Bread Maker

The small Actibread is a mighty 700-watt gluten-free bread maker. Each of the over 16 baking presets, including gluten-free salty, gluten-free sweet, gluten-free cake, whole wheat, and more, are designed for less ingredient-heavy recipes. The compact size means it won’t take up valuable kitchen counter space, and there’s even a top-mounted viewing window so you can watch your dough rise in real time.

The Actibread also sports a 15-hour delay start (the longest delay-start time on our list) and comes with measuring cups and spoons, a hook, kneading blades, and a book of 25 gluten-free recipes.

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