Nothing beats the smell of freshly baked morning bread in your kitchen. But baking bread at home by hand can be a daunting activity. One has to get the proportions of the ingredients right without being messy and knead the dough well enough to achieve a great rise.
For those who don’t have the inclination or patience for it, an automatic bread machine is a godsend. These machines offer a convenient way of baking bread without spending too much time and effort.
All one has to do is add the right quantity of ingredients into the machine, select the preferred baking cycle, and then it bakes the bread automatically. You don’t even have to be a master baker because the bread maker comes with preset functions for baking almost every kind of popular artisanal bread. Whether it be gluten-free, whole grain, or vegan bread, it’s capable of baking them.
There are two types of bread machines in the market today: the vertical and horizontal bread makers. These terms refer to the way the bread loaves are baked. The vertical units produce finished loaves that are smaller but overly tall and vertical-shaped while the horizontal ones produce rectangular-shaped loaves that look more like bread baked in a standard horizontal loaf pan.
Of the two, the horizontal bread maker tends to be more expensive but both types are able to produce well-baked loaves of bread. It really is just a matter of personal preference.
One of the standard features in a bread maker is its built-in timer. These timers usually have a range of 12 hours. This makes it very useful for prepping the bread overnight so that you can wake up in the morning to the smell of freshly baked bread. You can even use the timer to set periods for stopping the kneading to allow the rise or add fruits and nuts later when the bread is nearly baked.
These machines also come with a kneading paddle. Some brands provide a pair of paddles so that you can bake two types of loaves one after the other. Other high-end models actually use both kneading paddles simultaneously to achieve a better quality of dough.
By and large, people find bread makers particularly useful for making bread that’s specific for those people with dietary requirements. For example, the process of making gluten-free bread is different from making your standard, average bread loaf. But with a bread maker that has a gluten-free setting, just about anyone in your household can make it quickly and easily.
In this post, I’ve picked the best horizontal and vertical bread makers that can make a variety of bread loaves including the artisanal types. Here are my top five of the best bread makers on Amazon today.
The Best Bread Machines
- Pohl Schmitt Stainless Steel Bread Machine Bread Maker
- Hamilton Beach 2 Lb Digital Bread Maker, Programmable
- Cuisinart Bread Maker
- KBS 17-in-1 Bread Machine
- Zojirushi Home Bakery Virtuoso Plus Breadmaker
1. Pohl Schmitt Stainless Steel Bread Machine Bread Maker
This bread maker has 14 settings for making bread. From whole-grain bread to cakes, it will make baking easy and quick for you. It’s equipped with 3 loaf size settings and a menu for different flavors.
This is a vertical bread machine that’s made from high quality stainless steel with a removable non stick pan that’s coated with Quantum Two, a ceramic coating usually used in bakeware and cookware.
Its features include a 15-hour Delay Time, a 15-minute Power Interruption Recovery, and a Thermostat that’s good for 1 hour. The Delay Timer is particularly useful for adding the ingredients and choosing the cycle, crust, and size of your loaf. This bread maker will also alert you with a beep to remind you to add additional ingredients, such as cereals, fruits, or nuts, during the final phases of baking.
It also has a viewing window so you can monitor baking process anytime you want. Its DC motor is also designed to reduce noise and vibration during baking.
Polish made, this product comes with a 2-year limited warranty.
- Keep Warm function
- Has a compartment to store nuts or fruits
- Only comes with one kneading paddle
- The DIY function settings can’t be saved; users have to reset the settings each time they use it
2. Hamilton Beach 2 Lb Digital Bread Maker
This digital bread maker has 12 bread settings that include gluten-free, French, whole grain breads, and pizza dough. There are 2 capacity settings (1.5 pounds or 2 pounds) and 3 crust settings ranging from light, medium to dark.
This is a low maintenance horizontal bread maker that’s equipped with a non-stick, removable, dishwasher-safe pan and 2 kneading paddles. The extra paddle is useful for making a second loaf while the other paddle is in the dishwasher.
It’s easy to operate: just add the ingredients, select the desired setting and start the baking cycle. It has a large digital display that’s also equipped with a delay timer and an audible reminder to allow you to add additional ingredients.
The entire machine is housed in a cool touch body with nonslip feet to help stabilize the unit during its operation. This product comes with a 1-year warranty.
- Fairly quiet
- Automatic shut off
- No OFF button
- Some users have reported intense vibrations in the machine during its mixing cycle
3. Cuisinart Bread Maker
This is a vertical bread maker that comes with 12 pre-programmed settings for making a variety of breads. It has 3 loaf size settings (1, 1.5, and 2 lbs) and three options for crust shade (light, medium, and dark).
It has interior lighting and a viewing window on its lid to make it convenient for you to monitor the baking process. Its non-stick baking pan and paddle are removable for easy cleaning.
There’s a large LCD display where you can view the countdown time, current cycle and selected menu. It also has a built-in 13-hour delay start timer. A unique feature is its 15-minute power failure backup memory. It will resume the bread making cycle if power is restored quickly.
This machine will alert you with audible tones to remind you to remove the paddle before baking, indicate the time to add your mix-ins, or signal that the bread is fully baked. There’s also a 60-minute Keep Warm function if you so wish to keep your bread fresh.
This unit is encased in a brushed stainless steel housing. This product has a limited 3-year warranty.
- Interior light
- Back up memory
- Slow bread cycles
- Noisy beeping
4. KBS 17-in-1 Bread Machine
This is a large capacity horizontal bread maker that features 17 pre-set baking cycles that’s ideal for making bread for a family of 4-6 people. It also has 3 loaf capacity settings: 1, 1.5, and 2 lbs; and crust settings for light, medium, and dark.
Its unique feature is the zigzag design of its double heating tubes which allows for a more even baking. It is also equipped with temperature sensors that automatically regulate the baking process. There’s also a detachable fruit and nut dispenser that can be programmed to release the mix-in ingredients at the appropriate time.
An intuitive digital touch-pad control panel allows one to easily operate this machine. It has a built-in 15-hour delay timer with a 1-hour automatic keep warm and 15-minute power interruption recovery features.
Housed in stainless steel, this product comes with a ceramic non stick baking pan and a tempered class clover. The warranty for this product is 1 year.
- Even baking
- Good after-sales service
- Relatively noisy
5. Zojirushi Home Bakery Virtuoso Plus Breadmaker
User reviews cite this product as the best appliance for making gluten-free bread and other healthy organic breads. This is a heavy duty horizontal bread maker that offers 10 pre-programmed baking cycles and 3 crust settings. It can quickly bake 2 lbs of bread in 2 hours with its Rapid Setting Function.
It features dual kneading blades that knead the dough at the same time, resulting in bread that has a higher rise. It also has an extra heating element under its lid to ensure that the bread will be evenly baked.
It has a large viewing window for watching the baking process. The LCD control panel is user-friendly with an “On” indicator light and a start/reset button. It also includes a delay timer that’s good for 13 hours. It also has a Homemade Menu function that includes 3 memory settings.
This product comes with accessories: a 2 lb rectangular baking pan with handles for easy removal, an 8-ounce measuring cup, a double-ended teaspoon/tablespoon measuring spoon, a recipe booklet, and DVD manual. Its warranty is good for 1 year.
- The easiest to use, according to users
- Great for gluten-free bread, vegan bread, sugar and salt free breads
- Menu display does not light up; some might find it hard to read
Buyers Guide To Picking The Best Bread Machine
Bread Maker Type
If kitchen space is a consideration for you, a vertical bread machine may be a better choice. Because they are designed to have a smaller footprint, they’re easy to store and occupy less space on your counter top. They’re best for small families too because they make smaller loaves of bread.
The only downside to it is that vertically baked loaves tend to have pale top crusts. That’s because the heating element is located in the bottom of these machines so that the loaf has a dark browning on its bottom.
Horizontal types, meanwhile, tend to have larger baking chambers so that it can accommodate a standard horizontal bread pan. As a result, they can bake more loaves but also take up more space. They’re also more expensive than vertical ones.
Number of Kneading Paddles
In a vertical bread maker that’s designed for small households, one kneading paddle might be enough to create the right dough for making great tasting bread. Some brands will offer an extra paddle for that extra loaf that needs to be baked immediately after, just so you don’t have to wash your main paddle.
But in a horizontal bread maker, two kneading paddles are better than one. When they are both used simultaneously, the dough is kneaded more efficiently, resulting to a better rise and a more even shape of the finished loaf.
Pre Programmed Settings
The more pre-programmed settings a bread maker has, the better it is. But having a handful of standard ones isn’t bad either especially if all you want to do is make basic sandwich bread at home.
Still, you’ll never know when you’ll find the urge to make whole-grain bread, sourdough or French bread. Some brands even have settings for making pizza or cake dough. Check how useful the extra settings are for you before deciding which product you want.
One feature that you might find practical is the quick express setting which allows you to prepare and bake bread in under an hour. Some brands carry another useful feature which gives you the option to knead the dough without baking it in the bread machine. This is ideal for those who like their bread baked in a traditional oven.
One standard feature among quality bread makers is the ability to choose the color of your bread’s crust. This is useful when making specialty loaves because you can choose from light to medium to dark.
A Delayed Start setting is also an important thing to have. It takes about 4 hours to prepare and bake quality bread. With this setting, you can prep everything before you go to bed at night so by the time you wake up in the morning, you’ll have freshly baked bread waiting for you in the bread machine.
This merits a special mention because some bread maker users generally use their units to bake specialty breads like gluten-free, salt-free or vegan breads. These type of breads have different recipes which make the dough behave differently and require different temperatures and time periods for baking.
If you’re getting one so that you can bake gluten-free bread, pick the one that has a special function to do just that. These models tend to be a bit more expensive but they’ll still save you a lot more than buying gluten-free bread at a specialty store. The more affordable ones have a single setting for making gluten-free and the higher end ones will have a variety of options for making different types of gluten-free loaves.
If you plan to bake more than 2 lbs of bread, you’ll need a machine that has a high wattage range. Most bread makers in the market tend to have 500-1000W of power. So if you like making your breads dense and heavy by putting nuts or dried fruits in it, pick the larger powered ones.
Bear in mind though that some high powered ones will be heavy and large because they’re built for making lots of bread. They will be less easy to move around compared with smaller bread machines.
Bread machines can be noisy ones but not as loud as a blender though. If this is a problem for you, pick the high-end ones since they’re have tolerable noise output.
They will also vibrate and bounce around on the counter. Look for machines with rubber feet to help cushion the vibration.
Like all appliances, the standard warranty for these machines is one year. Some will have two or more.
Read the fine print just so you’ll know what you’re getting.
It also helps if the product has a reliable after-sales service, to make sure that you experience less hassle in having the unit replaced. Check the user comments on its product page to get an idea of how responsive the company is to complaints and inquiries.