Is there a better smell in the world than freshly baked bread? With a bread maker, you could have this smell to accompany beautiful fresh fluffy bread every day, with only a few minutes prep time, and also get to delete store-bought loaves from your shopping list for good!
Bread makers used to be a highly niche appliance only for the flashiest kitchens, but since the advent of smart appliance homes and better nutritional information, demand has made the supplying market more affordable and user friendly for those of us who don’t have the time or experience to knead our own dough.
If you usually buy bread with every shop anyway, this makes a bread maker a no-brainer. It’s simple and fun even for kids, it smells amazing, and best of all, you’re in charge of the ingredients, so if you like extra raisins or are concerned about too much butter or salt, you can take ultimate control of what goes into the family loaf.
However, if you’re new to bread makers, the options can be overwhelming! Did you know these machines can make jam? Some have automatic dispensers for fruit and nuts, and each has quite a different kneading blade and run time that can make a big difference to your final product.
We’ve combed through all the latest and greatest bread makers out there to bring you our list of the best bread makers, from top-of-the-range machines that make 33 types of bread, to slim and simple makers that consistently produce the perfect basic loaf, followed by a guide on how to choose between these modern magical makers.
1. Breville The Custom Loaf Pro Bread Maker
The best top-tier bread maker in Australia for custom and preset recipes
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Breville’s The Custom Loaf Pro is taking our pick for best bread maker of 2021 because it’s a dream to use for beginners and pros, with full stainless steel, smart LCD display, and consistently perfect bread every time.
This is the ultimate smart bread maker so far, with an informative LCD screen that is easily the most user friendly feature on any bread maker to date. The screen clearly illustrates your settings, time remaining, programme progress, and even an icon to show silent mode, a small feature we’d like to see more of in coming years.
A manual dial satisfyingly scrolls through the 13 automatic programmes, including whole wheat, gluten free, crusty loaf, sweet, yeast free, pizza and pasta. 3 crust colours and 4 loaf sizes allow a great range of preset programming, but if that’s not enough, there are also 9 memory spaces for your customised settings, where you can fine tune your recipe to perfection.
For fruit and nut breads, there is an automatic fruit and nut dispenser that will release fruit and nuts at the correct time during the kneading phase. A unique collapsible kneading blade then thoroughly mixes your ingredients and self-collapses into the base of the unit to avoid marking your bread, making it easy to remove from the pan at the end of the cycle.
This machine is also the largest of the bunch, able to make a whopping 1.3kg loaf for the whole family. In combination with the easy to use LCD screen, this is a great way to have fun with your kids and give them an insight into what they eat.
It’s large and it’s pricey, but if you seriously love bread, the simple automated settings and custom modes for more experienced bread makers makes the Custom Loaf Pro the ideal bread maker for just about anybody.
Best For Sourdough
2. Panasonic Automatic SD-ZB2512
Sensors automatically finetune temperature to result in the most consistent loaves
For a bread maker that is both super simple to use but also has the widest range of programmes and options, Panasonic’s top-tier SD-ZB2512 is the best bread maker for sourdough and other temperamental recipes for bread enthusiasts to experiment with.
The real winning feature of this bread maker is the automated temperature sensor that controls for ambient temperatures and adjusts the machine temperature to stay even and constant, resulting in consistently great results for your loaves.
33 programmes in total cover a huge range of breads including specialty rustic artisan and sourdough, whole wheat, raisin, rye, and sandwich loaves, but also a range of dough options and other special modes like scones, pizza, brioche, jam, and compote.
While many top-tier machines have an automatic ingredients dispenser for fruit and nut bread, this model’s compartment is extra generous and very easy to remove and clean. There is also a unique dispenser for adding yeast at the optimal time to get perfect results from even the most fickle recipes.
This machine is the latest update to Panasonic’s excellent series that continues to impress us with better modes and well designed anti scratch pans that don’t mark the loaf on removal.
However, if the price seems a little steep and you can do without the automated yeast dispenser and extra features, the mid-tier model is just about as good as this one for about $100 less.
3. Panasonic Crusty Loaf Artisan SD-ZP2000
Perfect specialty artisan crusts without a conventional oven, every time
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While this bread maker is competitive with top-tier models across a range of outcomes, the Panasonic Crusty Loaf Artisan is the only machine to rely on for thick, crunchy crust that comes out perfectly every time. However, as one of the most expensive bread makers on the market, only crust lovers will really get the best value from this specialty bread maker.
Part of the justification for this investment is in the central oven heating technology for getting those perfect thick artisanal crusts like you can make in an oven. Rather than heat from the bottom as bread makers usually do, the SD-ZP2000 has an internal lid that reflects its central heating surrounding the ceramic pan, to mimic the stable temperatures of a traditional oven.
Ambient sensors also measure this temperature against the ambient temperature in your room and adjust it to the perfect temperature to ensure consistent bake and rise through each stage of baking. This is really the ultimate way to get gourmet rustic breads without any further oven baking after the bread maker finishes its cycle.
18 programmes will cover the bulk of desired crusty recipes, including white, whole wheat, white stuffed, and raisin loaves, and other non-crust options such as soft bread, brioche, gluten free bread and cakes, and pizza dough. No manual kneading is required, and each programme offers three crust colours and sizes.
For crust lovers who want to skip the oven, this is the ultimate dream machine. For everyone else, the price of this oven-emulating tech may not be worth the cost.
4. Panasonic SD-2501
Simple to use with a generous range of preset options for consistently great loaves
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The best bread maker in the mid price range is the SD-2501 from Panasonic. This slim machine is the ultimate fusion of simple operation with excellent range of features, with a reputation for reliable consistent loaves that has made this compact Panasonic the Amazon’s Choice winner for several years now.
A great feature of this bread maker is the range of easy options for different types of bread, including a fibre rich spelt bread option. Spelt bread is just one of 12 bread programmes available, including gluten free, whole wheat, and rye, with rapid modes for basic and whole wheat breads.
There are also 9 programmes for dough making, and 3 types of jams and compote, so whether you’re after a pizza or specialty fruit loaf there’s an option for you. The programmes can’t be adjusted, but each option comes with three choices of size up to a generous 1.2 kilogram loaf, and three choices of crust colour from dark to light.
Part of being super easy to use is that the programmes are not customisable, so you won’t be able to add a little extra time, or adjust for ingredient list tweaks. However, a menu so large is likely to satisfy most needs and allows fewer user errors.
The automatic fruit and nut dispenser is a nice large capacity, that will add your raisins and other mix-ins at the correct time, evenly dispersed to avoid fruit sinking to the bottom of the loaf. The mixer paddle and non stick pan are well designed to be easy to clean, and allow smooth removal of your loaf without holes or sticking.
Best For Gluten Free Bread
5. Sunbeam SmartBake BM7850
An intelligent bread maker packed with features for customising your bread
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If you’re looking to customise your bake and experiment with your own unique style, the Sunbeam SmartBake is the best bread maker for gluten free bread and other specialised recipes, with the most flexible range of settings and setting tweaks to make your bread perfectly yours. The SmartBake also has our favourite blade on the market right now, a thin and upright paddle that barely marks the bread at all on the way out.
The preset menus start you off with 12 different recipes for the classic favourites, with your choice of 7 crust settings and 3 loaf sizes, 750g, 1kg, or 1.25kg. There are also modes for jam, pasta dough, and pizza dough included in this highly customisable menu, and the gluten free mode has been given the tick of approval by Coeliac Australia. In addition to these, the SmartBake also offers memory for up to 8 of your own custom recipes, where you can fine tune the settings for each stage of bread making.
The viewing window is well proportioned to see as much of your bread baking as possible, and the display will also keep you informed where the process is up to for each stage, from preheating, to kneading, to rising, and baking. After the bake is finished, the machine will automatically keep bread warm for an hour to avoid messing with the delicate yeast.
For fruit and nut breads, the automatic dispenser will allow slow release of ingredients into the dough during the kneading phase, without crushing the whole pieces or requiring guesswork to decide when to interrupt the bake.
Anyone who has had a bread maker before will be very impressed with the features and functionality of this mid-tier smart bread maker, but so many settings and choices can be overwhelming for absolute beginners. The layout and instructions aren’t the simplest around by a long shot, and we would recommend starting with the more reliable basic presets for newcomers.
6. Breville The Bread Maker
A quality mid-tier option for simple bread making, with a couple of bonus features
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For a reliable bread maker that can produce consistent basic loaves with some fancy features like automatic fruit and nut inclusion, the (rather redundantly named) Bread Maker from Breville is a quality machine for simple and smooth breadmaking.
The Bread Maker looks great in brushed stainless steel, and is accompanied by all the useful accessories including 900g non stick bread pan, kneading blade, measuring spoon and cup, and kneading blade hook.
There are 12 automatic programmes including French loaf, whole wheat, gluten free, and two express options that will bake either a 680g or 900g loaf in under two hours. Pick from dark, medium, or light crust, and three sizes, 450g, 680g, and 900g, to really have a nice range of options. There’s also a bake mode for when you’ve already made your dough, and a jam mode so you can enjoy a full breakfast that’s truly homemade.
The information screen is a nice quality-of-life feature at this price point, and it tracks the progress of your baking cycle in an intuitive and easy to understand way.
This bread maker also features a 15 hour delay start timer so you can wake up to the smell of freshly baking bread, and will automatically keep your bread warm for an hour after baking, in case you can’t get to it right as it finishes.
7. Sunbeam Bakehouse BM4500
An affordable bread maker with fruit and nut dispenser
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If you like the idea of fruit bread without the complications of guessing when to stop the baking cycle to add your ingredients, the Sunbeam Bakehouse is the most affordable “serious” bread maker that will take care of that process for you.
The automatic fruit and nut dispenser is a clever compartment at the top of the unit that will hold whole ingredients and automatically gradually release them into the dough during the kneading cycle, without crushing the pieces or pausing the machine to stop the dough’s movement.
The kneading blade however, has had some problems, as the collapsible blade is designed cleverly to retract and avoid marking holes in your baking bread, but can be a little flimsy and fail to retract in dough that’s been made too thick.
14 bread settings let you choose from a good range of options from white, wheat, French, sweet, rye, and gluten free – the only brand with a gluten free programme to be endorsed by Coeliac Australia. There’s also a turbo mode for basic, wheat, and French breads that will punch out a basic small loaf in only 70 minutes, great for having enough time to make bread with your friends.
Two bonus dough and artisan dough modes will also knead your ingredients into dough for you, if you prefer to bake them in a conventional oven for that classic rustic style. There’s even a jam programme so you can make tasty homemade preserves to go on your homemade bread!
8. Breville The Bakers Oven
The easiest bread maker to understand and operate for beginner bakers
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For beginner bread bakers that want a simple machine that’s easy to use, the Breville Bakers Oven is an inexpensive option that reliably makes fantastic small loaves in a small range of varieties.
The 9 automatic programmes include basic, rapid, sweet, French, gluten free, yeast free, whole wheat, and dough, and their progress is trackable on the LED screen at the front. The screen could be larger and brighter, but more than does the job for intuitive controls. 3 crust settings control light, medium, or dark crust.
A glass viewing window allows you to see the progress on your bread, and this is thankfully a little higher to avoid bread pushing up against it. That said, this is a machine designed for small loaves, and pushing the quantity limit is easy to do with small batches.
The Rapid Bread programme will be a fast favourite for new users, with three easy steps for a consistent basic loaf in under two and a half hours. There’s also a 13 hour start delay timer, if you fancy the idea of waking up to the smell of freshly baking bread!
While it doesn’t have an extensive range of options, this bread maker does perform for its nine programmes exceedingly well. If fruit and nut capabilities aren’t important to you, this is an affordable way to get beautiful fresh bread daily.
9. Sunbeam Compact Bakehouse BM2500
The best budget bread maker with great range in a small footprint
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This compact bread maker won’t take up too much space in your kitchen, yet is an incredibly versatile and inexpensive bread maker that also makes pastries, pastas and jams. That combination makes this one the perfect choice for newbie bakers who don’t want to risk another expensive machine collecting dust on the kitchen counter.
12 programme settings include French, wheat, buttermilk, gluten/yeast free, and cake, along with modes for pasta, pastry, and jams. The gluten-free mode has been endorsed by Coeliac Australia, the only brand they have given endorsements to.
For fruit and nut breads, there’s a loud beep mid-cycle when it’s the perfect time to add those ingredients. This loud beeping seems to be automatic whether you want it or not, probably the main drawback of this otherwise fairly quiet machine.
The small size, simple instructions, and minimal buttons make the Sunbeam Compact Bakehouse a very easy maker to operate. The machine works in three easy steps, no matter what kind of bread you want, and the settings are even across the top to avoid you having to keep a cheat sheet.
How to choose a bread maker
Choosing your bread maker can be quite overwhelming, as there are so many great features on these modern machines and very few seem to be “the standard” or common amongst all brands. You likely have a favourite type of bread, or dietary requirements for certain ingredients in your bread, and checking the bread maker has that setting will be your first port of call. But after that, here are the most common features you will want to consider.
The first question to answer is how many people you’d like to feed with your loaf. Of course the number of slices you get from any loaf will depend on how thick you cut them, but for a standard sandwich cut, you can expect about 16 slices for a 1kg loaf.
Large bread makers often have up to about 1.25kg, or 20 slices, but it doesn’t take much effort to make a small 500g loaf for 8 slices every day or two. Smaller loaves are also easier to cut and less likely to have consistency variation between the (softer) top and (denser) bottom.
Fruit and nut dispensers
Many mid- and high-tier bread makers have a dispenser that will automatically add fruit and nuts at the perfect time during the kneading process, for raisin bread or fruit loaf. Ideally this compartment is spacious to avoid the ingredients clumping together, and easy to remove and wash.
A screen is more useful than you might expect, as programmes run hours and if the bread doesn’t turn out well, it can be hard to know where you went wrong without one. The screen should tell you what settings you have chosen, track the stage and progress of the bread, and tell you how much time is left.
This feature is basically to help quell the great temptation to open the machine to check on your bread! Opening the bread maker mid-cycle can lose heat and ruin the quality of your loaf, but if your machine has neither an information screen nor a viewing window, it’s hard to know if your programme is still running correctly. You definitely want at least one or the other.
Power outage protection
Most bread makers come with the ability to stay on for several minutes if you experience a power outage, so that if your power blinks the cycle can continue uninterrupted. Expensive machines may have protection for well over 10 minutes, but it’s a good idea to at least have a minute or so, to protect against something simple like turning on your kettle.
An extra feature just for the lovely experience of waking up to the smell of freshly baking bread, or coming home from work to some freshly made pizza dough just waiting for toppings. Unfortunately, only useful for the basic doughs that don’t need milk or eggs that can go off at room temperature.