Can a machine make your life (and loaf) easier? The BBC Good Food on-test team put electronic bread makers through their paces – discover our best buys.
Best… for ease of use
Kenwood BM260 bread maker
Bonus functions: 15-hour delay, 1-hour keep warm, gluten-free, dough, cake, jam, fast bake (‘eco’), 3 loaf sizes up to 1kg
Comments: This machine gets full marks for practicality. The instructions are very easy to follow and recipe book offers a broad variety of options for all the different functions, with photographs. The functionality and display are simple but sadly there’s no viewing window for that sneaky, impatient peek. Texture, appearance and taste of the loaf were very appealing.
Buy from Kenwood
Russell Hobbs compact fast bake bread maker
Bonus functions: 13-hour delay, keep warm, gluten-free, dough, cake, jam and compote, fast bake, 3 sizes of loaf up to 1kg
Comments: This is the second smallest machine we tested yet we were impressed it could still produce a 1kg loaf. Smart black appearance, clear instructions, a variety of functions and good baking results – it ticked all the boxes. If we were going to be picky, we’d ask for a bigger selection of recipes, à la Kenwood or Panasonic.
Available from Russell Hobbs
Best…for the adventurous cook
Panasonic automatic bread maker SD-ZB2512
Bonus functions: 13-hour delay, gluten-free, dough, cake, jam and compote, added ingredient dispenser, yeast dispenser, fast bake, 3 loaf sizes up to 1.5kg
Comments: If you fancy yourself as a bit of a pro then this is the machine for you. With 33 functions and a huge range of recipes, including a sourdough starter, it certainly kept us entertained. The machine bakes an ‘XL’ loaf with a real textbook finish. The yeast dispenser is a helpful addition, negating any risk of the raising agent being activated too soon. It looks slick too, reminiscent of professional kitchen equipment.
Buy from John Lewis
Best... for space-saving
Lakeland white compact 1lb daily loaf bread maker
Bonus functions: 13-hour delay, 1-hour keep warm, gluten-free, fast bake, dough, cake, 1 loaf size (500g)
Comments: The smallest kitchen footprint out of all the bread makers we tested, this diminutive machine is the ideal choice if you’re short on space and don’t have a houseful of mouths to feed. Baking a fabulous 500g loaf, it’s one you could keep on the side and use daily. Simple in function, we’d recommend it for those who want a simple, reliable bake without fuss or frills.
Buy from Lakeland
Morphy Richards multi-use fast bake bread maker
Bonus functions: 13-hour delay, 1-hour keep warm, gluten-free, dough, cake, jam, fast bake, 3 loaf sizes up to 900g
Comments: The step-by-step picture guide in this instruction booklet meant using the machine was quick and easy from the outset. It has a big viewing window so if you’re doubtful about handing over the reins to technology, you can check on progress at any point. The results were also exceptional, our white seeded loaf was the best out of all the loaves baked.
Buy from Morphy Richards
We’re pretty accustomed to making bread by hand, so we were a little skeptical as to the need to replace our own kneading (…proving, knocking back and shaping). We were quickly converted. Bread makers are easy to use, take only a few minutes of preparation and can be left to create magical results, no human intervention required and no additives.
What should I buy?
Our testing proved you don’t need to spend all your dough to get a good loaf, and more functions don’t necessarily equate to a better machine. Consider what’s important to you. A longer time delay and keep warm mode gives more flexibility if you’re always on the go. Some machines also make cake and jam, although avid bakers may prefer traditional techniques. Size is a big consideration and it’s worth thinking about room to store versus number of mouths to feed.
What we looked for:
Quality of loaf: We wanted an even rise, great texture and appearance, and to state the obvious… a delicious taste.
Ease of use: We preferred machines that had easy to use functionality and display. A viewing window was a bonus.
Versatility: A good range of bread types were essential, other baking options, a plus.
Easy-to-follow instructions: There’s not much to using a bread maker but if you get it wrong, the machine can quickly be left to gather dust. Simple, clear guidelines were important.
Broad recipe selection: We marked up machines with a good range of recipes. You may want to get creative after a while but a good starting selection was essential.
More advice on buying kitchen equipment…
This review was last updated in October 2016. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Do you have a bread maker or do you prefer to go back to basics and trust your natural instinct? We’d like to hear your thoughts…