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.
We’re pretty accustomed to making bread by hand, so we were a little sceptical 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, with no human intervention required and no additives.
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.
When buying a bread maker, 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.
Read on to discover which bread maker to buy. For over 400 buyer’s guides, visit our product reviews section to read reviews of everything from stand mixers and food processors to slow cookers and chopping boards.
Best bread makers to buy
Russell Hobbs compact fast bake bread maker
Best all-round bread maker
Bonus functions: 13-hour delay, keep warm, gluten-free, dough, cake, jam and compote, fast bake, three sizes of loaf up to 1kg
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 included recipes, à la Kenwood or Panasonic.
Panasonic automatic bread maker SD-ZB2512
Best bread maker for the adventurous cook
Bonus functions: 13-hour delay, gluten-free, dough, cake, jam and compote, added ingredient dispenser, yeast dispenser, fast bake, three loaf sizes up to 1.5kg
If you fancy yourself 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.
Lakeland white compact 1lb daily loaf bread maker
Best space-saving bread maker
Bonus functions: 13-hour delay, 1-hour keep warm, gluten-free, fast bake, dough, cake, one loaf size (500g)
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.
Morphy Richards multi-use fast bake bread maker
Best bread maker for technophobes
Bonus functions: 13-hour delay, 1-hour keep warm, gluten-free, dough, cake, jam, fast bake, three loaf sizes up to 900g
The step-by-step picture guide in the instruction book 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 of all the loaves we baked.
How we tested bread makers
We reviewed a representative sample of bread machines and scored them against the following criteria.
Quality of loaf: We wanted an even rise, great texture, 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 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.
Bread maker recipes
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…
This review was last updated in March 2020. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at email@example.com.
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…