3 Best Bread Makers & Bread Machines Review & Comparison

3 Best Bread Makers & Bread Machines Review & Comparison
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3 Best Bread Makers & Bread Machines Review & Comparison

 

*Video above shows an older revision of the Zojirushi bread maker.

Making bread at home doesn't have to involve long periods of kneading, proofing, and waiting. Our best bread makers can turn the tricky process of making bread into a set-it-and-forget-it recipe. Bread machines mix, knead, proof, and bake your loaf of bread all on their own –  all you have to do is add the ingredients into the mixing pan and let the bread maker do the rest. In this article, Chef Austin breaks down the results of testing our top bread machines. He compares & reviews loaf shape, crust uniformity, interior texture, ease-of-use, and more to help you decide which machine is best for your kitchen.

We picked our three best bread makers here at Everything Kitchens and put them to the test. We compared the Zojirushi Home Bakery Virtuoso, the Cuisinart Bread Machine CBK-200, and the Breville Bread Maker The Custom Loaf.

 

Shop Best Bread Makers

 

Click here to jump to the summary reviews of our best three bread makers

 


Our Best Bread Maker Test Results


 

Top Bread Maker Review & Comparison

Featured left to right: Breville, Zojirushi, Cuisinart

We tested the same recipe in our three best bread makers using the basic white bread function on each machine with no adjustments. Through our tests, we were looking for the perfect loaf of bread based on the following factors: Crust Browning Evenness, Kneading Paddle Hole SizeLoaf Shape Uniformity, and Interior Uniformity & Texture.

 


Crust Browning Evenness 



Bread Maker Comparison and Review - Zojirushi, Breville, Cuisinart  

Featured left to right: Zojirushi, Breville, Cuisinart

Ideal Results: The best bread maker should bake a loaf with uniform coloring free of dark and light spots. This indicates a good & even heating system in the bread maker.

Zojirushi's loaf of bread was by far the most evenly browned. The bottom, sides, and top were all a consistent light golden color. There was a small white ring around the top of the loaf which was the only inconsistency. Zojirushi is the only bread machine with a bottom and top heating element for even baking and browning, which was an essential feature in baking evenly browned bread.

Breville's was the most unevenly browned loaf of bread with dark areas of crust sporadically throughout the loaf. Breville's Custom Loaf bread maker only has a heating element in the bottom of the bread maker which resulted in a darker color on the bottom of the loaf compared to the sides and top. 

Cuisinart's bread had the most defined crust of all the loaves. The crust color was uniform minus some darker edges at the bottom, which was closer to the heating element. The crust was a bit darker than the other two loaves because Cuisinart's bread maker bakes at a higher temperature (which can be toned down with the crust control feature). Cuisinart is the only bread maker with a convection fan, which blows heat around the inside of the bread maker to bake the loaf more quickly & evenly while providing a consistent browning on the crust.

 


Kneading Paddle Hole Size


 

Bread Maker Hole Comparison  - Zojirushi, Breville, Cuisinart

Above shows the indentations made from the kneading paddle of each bread machine. You can also see the browning differences between each brand. 

Ideal Results: One thing no one likes to mention about bread makers is the indentation in the loaf of bread left from the kneading paddle (which is typically left in the machine while the bread bakes). The ideal loaf will have a small, shallow indentation. A large, deep indentation will result in a few odd slices of holey bread.  

Zojirushi's loaf had two small indentations because this bread machine uses two mixing paddles.

Breville's loaf had the shallowest indentation because its paddle automatically collapses when baking. The wide yet shallow indentation provided the most uniform slices of the three loaves.

Cuisinart's loaf had the largest, deepest indentation.

Also worth noting in the image above is the differences in browning. Both loaves made with the Breville and Cuisinart bread makers cooked more at the bottom compared to the Zojirushi, indicated by the darker crust areas. 

 


Loaf Shape Uniformity


 

 Top Bread Machine Comparison  - Zojirushi, Breville, Cuisinart

Ideal Results: The best bread maker should make a uniform shape, and the top of the loaf should be free of concaves and dips. This indicates proper kneading, proofing, and baking times. 

Zojirushi had the most uniform shape among the 3 loaves. This loaf was the most consistent with a nice rectangular shape & perfectly symmetrical domed top. This was achieved through proper and even kneading of the bread dough followed by adequate proofing and baking times. Zojirushi features two mixing paddles (all other bread makers only have one) that evenly mixed the ingredients throughout the dough. The top and bottom heating elements on the Zojirushi also provided ideal proofing and baking environments for the bread.  

Breville had the most rustic loaf shape. There were many lumps, folds, and creases on the top and sides of the bread. The dome of the bread was uneven. This provided different textures which can be enjoyable for some depending on your preference. I believe the mixing function times and foldable paddle were the main causes of the inconsistent shape. 

Cuisinart had a mostly uniform shape on the bottom and sides, but air bubbles at the top of the loaf created an uneven dome as you can see in the above photo. The Cuisinart's loaf size is noticeably taller in height and shorter in length compared to the other loaves. Each slice is closer to the size of one and a half pieces of normal sandwich bread. While this can be great for big grilled cheese sandwiches or a warm slice fresh after baking, this bread is not ideal for making toast since it will not fit into standard size toasters.

 


Interior Uniformity & Texture


 

 Top Bread Maker Crust & Taste Test - Zojirushi, Breville, Cuisinart

Ideal Results: The best bread maker should create a loaf that's free of large air pockets and air bubbles. The ideal loaf should have small, consistent air bubbles which will indicate proper mixing & kneading functions, cook time, and baking temperature. 

Zojirushi's bread machine baked a loaf with many small, evenly spaced air bubbles. This gave it the classic sandwich bread texture that we all know and love.

Breville's Custom Loaf bread maker produced a few large air bubbles amongst consistent medium air bubbles. The spacing of bubbles varied between the top and bottom of the loaf for a slight texture inconsistency. Overall, I was satisfied with the texture of the bread - it was less soft and pillowy compared to the Zojirushi bread but not unpleasant and still satisfying to eat. 

Cuisinart's bread machine baked bread with the largest air bubbles of all the loaves. There were medium to large air bubbles throughout and especially on the top of the bread. The larger holes were caused by the bread baking faster from the built-in convection oven. This gave the bread an airy, dry texture.

 


Final Score of Test Results



See below for the final scores of our top 3 bread makers. 


Model

Zojirushi

Cuisinart

Breville

Crust Browning Evenness

4 ★★★★

4 ★★★★

2 ★★

Kneading Paddle Hole Size 

4 ★★★★

2 ★★

4 ★★★★

Loaf Shape Uniformity

5 ★★★★★

3 ★★★

3 ★★★

Interior Uniformity & Texture

4 ★★★★

3 ★★★

4 ★★★★

Overall Score

4.25/5

3/5

3.25/5

1 (worst) - 5 ★★★★★(best)

Below are the reviews of our best bread makers and an in-depth analysis of how each bread machine performed. Learn about each bread machine's strengths to find the perfect fit for your kitchen.   

 


Zojirushi Home Bakery Virtuoso Review


 

Zojirushi Bread Maker Review

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Quick Specs: 700-Watt | 2lb. Traditional Loaf Pan | 8 Pre-programmed Settings | Weight: 26 lbs. | 1-Year Warranty

Best For: Home bakers wanting the traditional sandwich loaf shape. The Zojirushi bread maker makes perfectly shaped bread and has a dummy-proof cookbook for easy at-home bread making.

 

Test Results

Crust Browning Evenness 

Loaf Shape Uniformity

Interior Uniformity

4 ★ 5 ★★★ 4 ★★★★

1(worst) - 5★★★★★(best)

Pros:

  • Traditional Loaf Size - No oddly tall slices of bread. Zojirushi's bread pan bakes a loaf of bread close to the size you would buy from the supermarket.
  • Dual Mixing Paddles - Two mixing paddles provide better kneading action and mix ingredients more evenly.
  • 3 Custom Presets - Program up to three of your own presets to make your own set-and-forget bread machine recipes. 
  • Great Recipe Book - The included recipe book is packed with full-color photos, helpful diagrams, and no-nonsense instructions that are easy to follow and understand.
  • Top Heating Element - There is a hidden heating element in the lid of the bread maker that helps to evenly cook and brown the top of your bread loaf. 

Cons: 

  • 2lb Recipes - The recipe book and pre-set programs are almost all for 2lb loaves of bread. Competition is also designed for smaller 1lb loaves.

 

Chef Austin's Thoughts:

The Zojirushi Home Bakery Virtuoso is a well-designed bread machine that has many features the competition doesn't. The Zojirushi is the only bread machine with two mixing paddles to provide better performance when mixing and kneading ingredients. It's also the only bread maker with a heating element in the top lid for even baking and browning. My favorite feature is that the loaf pan is shaped like a traditional loaf of bread, resulting in a perfectly rectangular loaf. Most bread machines will give you a shorter, taller loaf of bread that won't fit into the toaster or make slices that may be too large for a sandwich. All of these are features the competition lacks and make the Zojirushi Virtuoso one of the best bread makers out there.

I also need to mention the recipe book. The one included is one of the best recipe books I've ever found with a kitchen appliance. The layout is easy to understand and there are helpful visual diagrams concerning baking cycles. Best of all, the recipes are measured in both traditional American cups and tablespoons AND in metric weights. I am an absolute believer in baking by weights for a perfect recipe every time, and Zojirushi is too.

 

Bread Results:

Top Bread Maker Review - Zojirushi

Zojirushi's loaf of bread was Pinterest-perfect. The shape of the loaf was consistent and evenly browned for a beautiful loaf. The interior had tiny air holes and was spongy & light with a nice moisture content. This was a great representation of what a loaf of white sandwich bread should be. The Zojirushi Virtuoso's features provided perfect results thanks to the dual kneading hooks, the top and bottom heating elements, and the properly programmed white bread cycle.

 


Cuisinart Bread Machine CBK-200 Review


 

Cuisinart Bread Machine Review

 

Quick Specs: 680 Watt | 2 lb. Squat Loaf Pan  | 16 Pre-program Settings | Weight: 14 lbs. | 3-Year Warranty

Best For: Perfect basic bread on a budget. The Cuisinart is a low-cost bread maker that may not have all the bells and whistles of the competition but makes a great-tasting loaf of bread. 

 

Test Results

Crust Browning Evenness 

Loaf Shape Uniformity

Interior Uniformity

4 ★ 3 ★★★ 3 ★★★

1(worst) - 5★★★★★(best)

Pros:

  • Convection Fan - The built-in fan blows hot air around the inside of the machine while baking. This creates an evenly browned and well-defined crust. 
  • 1-2lb Bread Recipes - Choose between 1lb, 1.5lb, and 2lb bread loaves. The mixing, kneading, and baking time automatically adjusts.
  • Removable Door - The top door is fully removable making cleanup a breeze.
  • 3-Year Warranty - Cuisinart has the longest warranty out of all the bread machines tested.

Cons:

  • Non-standard Loaf Size - While the loaf pan can bake a 2lb loaf, the loaf length and bread slices are much taller than a standard store-bought loaf.
  • No Custom Settings - There is no way to modify any of the pre-set programs and no option to make your own settings for custom bread loaves.

 

Chef Austin's Thoughts:

Cuisinart is a great middle-of-the-road bread maker in terms of price & performance. It's definitely less expensive than the Zojirushi and the Breville but will still deliver bread that matches and in some cases exceeds the quality of the higher-priced counterparts. Thanks to the convection fan, it produced a well-defined crust that was evenly browned around the entire loaf. I think the convection fan is the best feature of the Cuisinart bread maker and sets it apart from other bread makers. The loaf pan has a short length which bakes a taller loaf of bread. It can be hard to fit such a tall slice of bread in a toaster without the top inch peeking out. Another feature you're sacrificing with the lower price point is the ability to customize the settings for your own bread recipes. That might not be a deal breaker for most people who just want to make a few standard recipes in their bread maker. Overall, the Cuisinart was easy to use and delivered a great-tasting product

 

Bread Results:

Cuisinart Bread Maker Review

Cuisinart's loaf was like a bread tower. With a shorter length but taller height, this loaf won't give you as many slices as the other machines. The bread slices were as big as my face which, for a huge grilled cheese sandwich, is a plus in my book. The top of the loaf was a bit uneven and had large air pockets at the top of the crust. The crust was well-defined and had a darker and crustier taste compared to Zojirushi's and Breville's. The interior had much larger air bubbles for a lighter yet drier taste. The convection fan in the Cuisinart is a double-edged sword. It can create a brown and even crust but can also bake the bread hotter than the competition resulting in a slightly drier texture.

 


Breville Bread Maker The Custom Loaf Review


 

Breville Custom Loaf Bread Machine Review

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Quick Specs: 830 Watt | 2.5 lb Squat Loaf Pan | 13 Pre-Programmed Settings | Weight: 20 lbs. | 1-Year Warranty |

Best For: People who live at high altitudes or live in climates that affect bread making. The Breville Custom Loaf offers so much customizability. With this bread maker, you can modify any function on the machine to bake the perfect loaf of bread, even if you live in a hot and humid swamp or at the top of a cool mountain. 

 

Test Results

Crust Browning Evenness 

Loaf Shape Uniformity

Interior Uniformity

2 ★ 3 ★★★ 4 ★★★★

1(worst) - 5★★★★★(best)

Pros:

  • Easy to Control - Breville has a simple-to-use interface. The huge LCD screen clearly displays the functions and cooking process.
  • 1-2.5lb Bread Loaves - Choose from four different loaf sizes. It offers the option to bake a 2.5lb loaf which is the largest size out of all three machines.
  • Customize Presets & 8 Custom Settings - Create up to 8 customized programs to make your own set-and-forget bread machine recipes. Breville also allows you to modify pre-programmed baking cycles to suit your recipes, elevation, and climate.
  • Fruit & Nut Dispenser - No need to remember to add raisins or walnuts to your bread - there is a special dispenser in the bread machine that will automatically add in ingredients.
  • Viewing Light - Just like a real oven, there is a dedicated light to view the progress of the bread so you don't have to lift the lid while baking.

Cons:

  • Non-Standard Loaf Pan Size - While the loaf pan can bake up to a 2.5lb loaf, the length and bread slices are much taller than a standard store-bought loaf which may not fit in your toaster.
  • Uneven Browning - While the bottom and sides of our loaf developed a rich brown crust, the top was pale and light. 

 

Chef Austin's Thoughts:

What I like most about the Breville bread maker is its customizability. It has 13 pre-programmed settings along with space for 9 custom functions, and all of these functions can be modified. You can adjust the kneading time, rise time, and baking temperature to suit your recipe or environment. Baking is highly affected by your altitude and climate. If you live in a dry or moist climate or live in an area high above sea level, your bread recipe and process need to be adjusted to get a properly raised and baked loaf of bread. 

The Breville also has many features you don't see in other bread makers. It has a collapsible mixing paddle that will fold down while baking so that there is only a small indentation in your bread, while the other bread makers have a large paddle-shaped indention running through the middle of it. The Custom Loaf bread machine is a true set-it-and-forget-it experience with its fruit and nut dispenser. There is a latch that you can fill with mix-ins that will automatically dispense during the bread-making process. Other bread makers typically have a beeping alarm that tells you when to open the door to add in your mix-ins which causes the machine to lose heat during the baking process. The Breville bread maker eliminates this issue. 

The user interface is also the absolute best you'll find on any bread machine. Breville is designed with a simple-to-use full LCD screen, push-button control dial, and multiple buttons to easily navigate and setup your bread maker. If you want the most customizable bread maker on the market, the Breville Custom Loaf is the machine of choice.  

 

Bread Results:

 Breville Custom Loaf Bread Maker Review

Breville's loaf of bread was the most rustic. It was taller than your store-bought bread and had some funky folds and uneven shaping around the loaf. There was some inconsistent browning around the loaf. The interior texture was between both the Zojirushi and the Cuisinart - there were some larger air bubbles and more medium and consistent air bubbles too. The bread definitely wasn't dry but had different textures from the bottom to the top of the slice. The Breville Custom Loaf only has one heating element on the bottom - if it had a top element or convection fan like the competition, I think the bread would have baked more evenly. 

 

 


 

1 year ago
Comments
Kevin
1 year ago at 2:36 PM
I live at altitude, so it sounds like the breville would be good. But I like your description on how the zojirushi is easy to use and has the best cookbook. Which should I go with? Is breville only good for altitude because you can save settings?
Everything Kitchens
1 year ago at 11:33 AM
Hi Kevin, that is a tough choice! If you've had issues baking at altitude in the past, you may consider the Breville as it is the easiest to use and customize with its large LCD control pannel. If you've baked before with minimal problems, the Zojirushi would be a great choice and would give a bit better bread product compared to the Breville (there are also options to create your own bread baking program as well, but it may be a bit more tricky to do vs the breville, but it can do it). Both are highly rated machines and I think you'd be happy with either! Please let us know if you have any other questions.
Karen Blackmon
11 months ago at 1:05 PM
I have a very old bread machine that has 3 crust settings. Bakes a 1-1/12 lb loaf. Has 3 settings plus dough. Considering a new baker and looking at these 3 machines. I do wish to be able to move it out of kitchen into pantry when not in use. Only weather condition I have is humid summers.
Everything Kitchens
11 months ago at 1:44 PM
Karen, I think you'd really like the Zojirushi bread maker. It also has dough-only and 3 crust settings (and many more settings) to make bread exactly how you like it. I think any of these models would survive your storage conditions. Currently (August 2023) we are out of stock of this model, but you can signup for an alert to let you know when we get it back in stock: https://evkitch.com/2ZCY0Rv Please let us know if you have any more questions we can assist with. You can even give us a call at 866-852-4268. Thank you :)
Karen
10 months ago at 4:36 PM
Thanks for the feedback. Can I make different size breads in the Zo?
Everything Kitchens
10 months ago at 1:17 PM
The Zojirushi recipe book only has directions for 2lb loaves. However, the loaf shape is similar to that of a traditional store-bought loaf which is very nice. The Breville can do different-sized loaves if you are looking for that feature.

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