We’re pretty accustomed to making bread by hand, so we were a little sceptical about a machine that replaces our own kneading, proving, knocking back and shaping. But we were quickly converted.
Breadmakers are easy to use, take only a few minutes of preparation and can be left to create magical results, with no human intervention required.
Making bread in a breadmaker is essentially the same across all models.The basic ingredients of flour, water, and yeast, plus other ingredients, are added to the bread pan in the machine in a specific order (in some breadmakers you can also choose loaf size and crust colour). Then all you need to do is press start. You’re not just confined to simple white loaves, either. You can make all manner of breads, from asparagus, sundried tomato and olive loaf to stout and apple wheaten bread. You can even make doughs for dishes like this festive filled brioche centrepiece with baked camembert. Some models have settings for jam and even yogurt.
The cost can vary quite widely from a compact breadmaker with a limited number of programmes to a multi-functional family-sized machine – expect to pay from £60 up to £250. Bear in mind, however, that 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.
Read on to discover which breadmaker stood out in our rigorous tests. For hundreds of buyer’s guides, visit our product reviews section and read about how we test products. Also find reviews of food processors, slow cookers, non-stick frying pans and much more.
Best breadmakers at a glance
- Best breadmaker Panasonic SD-B2510, £129.99
- Best breadmaker for more than loaves Tefal Pain and Delices, £96.99
- Best breadmaker for range of settings Panasonic SD-YR2550, £190.37
- Best breadmaker for spelt bread Panasonic SD-YR2540, £239
- Best basic breadmaker Lakeland Digital Breadmaker, £99.99
- Best breadmaker for fast bakes Russell Hobbs 23620 Fast Bake Breadmaker, £59.99
- Best breadmaker for large loaves Lakeland Touchscreen Breadmaker, £139.99
- Best breadmaker for first-time bakers Tower T11003 2lb Digital Breadmaker, £54.79
- Best-value breadmaker Morphy Richards 502001 Homebake Breadmaker, £73.99
- Best breadmaker for ease of use Tower T11005, £74
- Best multi-tasker breadmaker Gastroback breadmaker, £129
- Best lightweight breadmaker Klarstein Brotilde, £94.99
How to choose the best breadmaker
There is so much to love about the manual bread-making process. It can be a therapeutic cookery experience for many, and it’s a great way to experiment and control what goes into your bread, especially if you have concerns about additives.
But what if you love fresh bread but a busy schedule leaves little time for the many steps of mixing, kneading, shaping, proving and baking your own? In that case, a breadmaker is for you. Plus, if you buy a machine with a timer, the bread can be ready and waiting for you in the morning.
Breadmakers with custom or knead-only functions mean that if you’ve already got a bank of much-loved recipes or you like the sound of some of our loaves, such as focaccia, fig and serrano ham picnic bread, or cheese and pesto swirls, these can all still be made in a breadmaker.
What to look out for when choosing a breadmaker
- A timer function: this lets you wake up or come home to a freshly baked loaf.
- Memory recall: useful if in mid-cycle there is a power loss or the machine is accidentally switched off, as it will pick up on where it left off – within a reasonable time frame.
- Loaf size and crust colour: adds versatility and variety to your baking.
- Gluten-free programmes: for those with dietary restrictions.
- Dough only: these expand the repertoire of the machine with homemade pasta, pizza doughs, French sticks, or to bake your loaf in a conventional oven for more of a home-baked look.
- Non-bread functions: yogurt, sourdough starters and jam functions add even more usefulness.
- Extra features: viewing windows, separate yeast or nut and seed dispensers are handy but not essential.
Tips for using a breadmaker
If you have never used a breadmaker before, or are used to older models, here are a few tips for that perfect loaf.
- Breadmaking is an exact science, so measure carefully and closely follow the instructions for the machine, adding the ingredients to the pan in the correct order. Each model of breadmaker is carefully calibrated electronically, so too much or little of any ingredient, or adding them in the wrong order, will throw off the recipe.
- Use the flour as stated in the recipe; strong bread flour cannot be substituted with plain.
- Keep yeast and salt separate. The recipe should always indicate the order of ingredients, the salt will be earlier on, and yeast usually at the end (or from its own dispenser). Never add the two together as the salt will kill the yeast and the bread will not rise.
- Always put the finished loaf onto a rack to cool down to stop the loaf going soggy.
- Machine-made bread does not have any of the additives, stabilisers or improvers used in commercial production so does not keep as long as shop-bought. To keep the bread fresh, pop it into a large plastic bag and squeeze out the air, fasten tightly and it will keep for a few days, after which it is great for toast. It also freezes well once cooled completely.
Why are there so many Panasonic models on this list?
Panasonic offers a streamlined collection of kitchen appliances: microwaves, juicers and breadmakers. But their specialty is in the latter. The brand continuously advances their breadmaker technologies and they tend to bring out at least one new model annually. Panasonic breadmakers come with a large number of settings – anywhere between 20-40 – and often come with useful additions such as yeast and ingredient dispensers. On the flip side, Panasonic breadmakers consistently take the longest to bake a loaf.
Best breadmakers to buy in 2021
Pros: landscape design, lightweight and easy to move around, large variety of presets, customisable settings
Cons: no viewing window, no automatic dispenser
Star rating: 5/5
The SD-B2510 is one of Panasonic’s more affordable breadmakers. Although it doesn’t come with an ingredient dispenser or the wealth of settings of its more expensive counterparts, this model produced one of the best loaves of all of the breadmakers we’ve tested; well risen, evenly browned and an open and airy texture.
It’s equipped with 21 settings including a range of breads, as well as cakes, jams and gluten-free bakes.
This model is landscape in orientation, which offered a good deal of space in front of the machine for prep.
Like all of the Panasonic breadmakers we’ve tested, this one does take a long time to bake. It took four hours to bake a simple loaf. But, if you’re happy to wait for fantastic results, this model is a must-have.
Read our full Panasonic SD-B2510 review
Tefal Pain and Delices
Best breadmaker for more than loaves
Pros: quiet, very versatile: can make yogurt, good selection of gluten-free recipes
Cons: browns a little unevenly, no viewing window
Star rating: 5/5
Tefal are well known for their impressive pans and air fryers and this breadmaker is no exception. If you’re in the market for a versatile breadmaker, this model is a fabulous choice. Not only does it make a wide selection of classic loaves but it can also be used to make pizza and pasta doughs, as well as a range of dairy products like yogurt and cottage cheese, using the dedicated pot provided.
There’s no viewing window, which was a disappointing omission, but the loaf of bread produced was very good. It was well-risen, with an open and airy texture. The sides and top of the bread were exactly the same colour and both were within the range of the rich, nutty brown we were looking for.
Read our full Tefal Pain and Delices breadmaker review.
Best breadmaker for range of settings
Pros: lots of settings, settings for gluten-free bread and bread mixes, intuitive to use, lightweight and easy to move, yeast dispenser, delay timer
Cons: no viewing window
Star rating: 5/5
If you’re taken by the Panasonic breadmaker at the top of the list, but are after a couple more settings (and are willing to spend a bit more), the SD-YR2550 comes with 31 settings in total, four of which are gluten free. There are settings for a wide range of breads, including six dough settings (including one for a sourdough starter), four sweet settings and three manual settings, allowing you to really make the most of your new breadmaker.
It’s very intuitive to use, so ideal for first-time users and Panasonic loyalists alike. It doesn’t come with a viewing window, but does come with an ingredient and yeast dispenser, which is very useful. The loaf produced was nicely brown and well-risen.
Read our full Panasonic SD-YR2550 review.
Best breadmaker for spelt bread
Pros: automatic dispensers, large range of settings, lots of accessories included, clear and informative manual, setting for bread mixes
Cons: expensive, no viewing window
Star rating: 4.5/5
We tested the SD-YR2540 and the SD-YR2550 (above) side by side and found very little difference between the two models. They’re not quite the same shape, but performance-wise, they produced identical, high-quality loaves.
Unlike the SD-YR2550, the SDYR540 comes with 32 presets, the addition being for spelt bread. Whilst there’s a decent jump in price between the two Panasonic models, if you’re a fan of Panasonic’s design and you’re after a model that can make spelt bread, then it’s worth the investment.
Read our full Panasonic SD-YR2540 review
Lakeland Digital Breadmaker
Best basic breadmaker
Pros: straightforward machine, great viewing window
Cons: initial set-up
Star rating: 4.5/5
For an easy-to-use, good all-round breadmaker, you can’t go wrong with this one from Lakeland, with an impressive 12 pre-programmed recipes for bread, pizza dough, gluten-free loaves and cake in a range of sizes and crust colours.
There’s a generous viewing window to keep an eye on how a bake is progressing, plus a control panel with a clear LED screen and simple, straightforward touch buttons. And, the bread it makes is delicious. All of this for under £100 – it’s no wonder we like this machine.
Read our full Lakeland Digital Breadmaker review.
Russell Hobbs 23620 Fast Bake Breadmaker
Best breadmaker for fast bakes
Pros: quality for a budget price, good fast-bake functions
Cons: no nut and seed dispenser
Star rating: 4.5/5
The Russell Hobbs breadmaker may have been the smallest machine we tested, but its size did not impede any of its many features – it can even make an impressive large 1kg family-sized loaf.
With its soft curved lines and shiny black casing, it’s a machine you’d happily leave out on the worktop when not in use.
There are 12 pre-programmed recipes, and most come in three sizes with three crust colours, plus two fast bakes which will have a loaf of bread out of the pan and cooling in under an hour.
Read our full Russell Hobbs 23620 Fast Bake Breadmaker review.
Lakeland Touchscreen Breadmaker
Best breadmaker for large loaves
Pros: the control panel locks, can make very large loaves, display controls are large and there’s a clear, useful viewing window
Cons: sides get very hot
Star rating: 4.5/5
Featuring the largest control panel of all the models on this list, this breadmaker is ideal for those who struggle with their eyesight or are simply not fans of pokey screens. The touchscreen is very responsive and even locks when the machine has been set, to avoid any knocks or curious fingers fiddling with the controls.
The breads produced by this breadmaker are large, in fact they’re the largest loaves of all the breadmakers we’ve tested, so if you get through a lot of bread or have lots of mouths to feed, this model is a great choice. The bread itself was well risen, if a little paler than we’d have liked on top. Inside, it was soft, with an open texture.
Read our full Lakeland Touchscreen Breadmaker review.
Tower T11003 2lb Digital Breadmaker
Best breadmaker for first-time bakers
Pros: budget friendly, simply designed, bread releases easily from the pan
Cons: medium browning setting still quite light, no accessories
Star rating: 4.5/5
If you’re taking your first steps into the world of breadmakers, this Tower model is a fantastic starting point. It’s simply designed, with 12 uncomplicated settings, including classic white and brown loaves and gluten-free settings. This basic model doesn’t come with all the bells and whistles of some of the advanced models on this list, but it’s a fuss-free model ideal for first timers.
The loaf we made was well baked, light and airy when cut open. We’d have like to have seen a little more browning on the top, as even on the medium setting, we felt the top was still very light. Taste and texture-wise, we couldn’t fault it.
Read our full Tower T11003 2lb Digital Breadmaker review.
Morphy Richards 502001 Homebake Breadmaker
Pros: great quality for price, excellent for beginners
Cons: annoying fold over paddle
Star rating: 4/5
The Morphy Richards Homebake breadmaker is a tall, lovely-looking machine. It has gently curving sides which help to reduce its overall footprint, useful if space is an issue.
There is a clear, large viewing window and 14 programmes, from a basic white loaf through to cakes, jam, gluten-free bread and even yogurt.
The instruction book was the best on the test – it was easy to follow, making this machine a doddle to use. We had a small issue with the folding paddle, but otherwise there is very little not to like.
Read our full Morphy Richards 502001 Homebake Breadmaker review.
Tower T11005 Breadmaker
Best breadmaker for ease of use
Pros: professional-looking machine, easy-to-follow instructions
Star rating: 4/5
The Tower breadmaker is a professional-looking machine with its sturdy stainless-steel casing, good-sized viewing window and straightforward, uncomplicated touch panel on the lid. It has 19 pre-programmed recipes, which vary from bread (including gluten-free and sourdough), to cakes, jam and yogurt.
If that isn’t enough, there’s also a detachable fruit and seed dispenser which clips neatly into the lid when needed. It is a little noisier than some, but nothing that would stop you from loving this machine and the delicious bread it produces.
Read our full Tower T1105 Breadmaker review.
Best multi-tasker breadmaker
Pros: sturdy, well-built machine, ice cream setting included
Cons: recipe measures need converting
Star rating: 4/5
The Gastroback breadmaker is an admirable machine, and even though a little pricier than most we tested, delivers well with 18 pre-programmed recipes for white and wholemeal bread, gluten-free loaves, plus yogurt and jam.
There are, however, a few surprises. This is the only maker to offer a defrost programme, a rice bread recipe and unbelievably an ice cream making function – which does require buying an attachment. The Gastroback is well made, and one we predict could last for many years with careful use.
Read our full Gastroback Breadmaker review.
Klarstein Brotilde Family Breadmaker
Best lightweight breadmaker
Pros: budget price, lightweight
Cons: noisy, confusing recipe book
Star rating: 3.5/5
This reasonably priced, compact, stainless steel breadmaker comes with features found on higher-priced machines, including 14 pre-set programmes, a delay timer and an integrated fruit and seed dispenser.
The control panel is a blend of six touch buttons and a rotary button for the timer, and there’s a good viewing window. The instruction book and wobbly lid did let it down slightly. Even so, the machine does make very good bread.
Read our full Klarstein Brotilde Family Breadmaker review.
How we test breadmakers
On almost all of the breadmakers we tested, a simple white loaf was first on the list of presets, so any breadmaker worth its salt should be able to make one. We used BBC Good Food’s easy white bread recipe to put each model to the test.
We reviewed a representative sample of bread machines and scored them against the following criteria.
Quality of loaf: we wanted an even rise, open and airy texture, evenly browned 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 was essential and other baking options, like different-sized loaves and browning levels, were a plus.
Easy-to-follow instructions: there’s not much to using a breadmaker, 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. We also looked for manuals that told you the order to add ingredients in – this is essential info if you’ve never turned your hand to breadmaking before.
Each individual machine will come with its own instruction manual and recommended recipes, but our easy white loaf recipe can be made in a bread machine.
More advice on buying kitchen equipment…
Bread recipes and tips
Our best-ever bread recipes
Video: how to make bread
Wholemeal bread recipes
Ciabatta bread recipes
All you need to know about bread
Six steps to brilliant bread
21 of the best breadmaking equipment, tools and kit
Top 10 flavoured bread recipes
Five quick bread recipes
10 ways to use left over bread
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