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3 Best Bread Makers & Bread Machines Review & Comparison

By About Chef Austin Chef Austin

 

Making bread at home doesn't have to be 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 its own - all you have to do is dump the ingredients into the mixing pan and the bread maker does the rest. But which bread machine will make the type of loaf I want? Do you want a more rustic, tall loaf? Or do you want the traditional shorter sandwich style loaf? Chef Austin at Everything Kitchens has compared and reviewed the top bread machines so you can find the perfect addition to your kitchen. 

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


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 want the perfect loaf of bread from our bread machine. We tested the same recipe in our three best bread makers using the basic white bread function on each machine with no adjustments. We judged the finished 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 

Featured left to right: Breville, Zojirushi, Cuisinart

Ideal Results: The best bread maker should make a uniform color loaf, free of darker and lighter spots. This indicates a good heating system in the bread maker.

Zojirushi's loaf of bread was by far the most evenly browned bread. 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 - I think that feature is perfect for evenly browned bread.

Breville's loaf was the most unevenly browned loaf of bread. You can see much darker areas of crust sporadically throughout the bread loaf. The bottom of the bread cooked much hotter than the other areas of the loaf. This is because Breville's Custom Loaf bread maker only has a heating element at the bottom of the bread maker. 

Cuisinart's bread had the most defined crust out of all the loaves. The crust color was uniform around the loaf minus some darker edges at the bottom which was closer to the heating element. The crust was a bit darker than the other two because Cuisinart's bread maker cooks a bit hotter (which you can tone this down with the crust control feature). Cuisinart is the only bread maker with a convection fan. This fan moves heat around the bread to bake more evenly (and a little faster). We would say this feature definitely helped the bread for mostly even browning. 

 


Kneading Paddle Hole Size


 

Bread Maker Hole Comparison

Above is showing the holes made from the kneading paddle of the bread machine. You can also see the browning differences between each brand. 

Ideal Results: Very small holes. The hole is created from the kneading paddle baking inside of the bread. The indention and can give you a few odd slices of holey bread.  

One thing no one likes to mention about bread makers is the hole made from the kneading paddle. Breville had the smallest indention because its paddle actually automatically collapses when it's time to bake, making a small, flat hole. Cuisinart had the largest hole and Zojirushi has two small holes because it uses two mixing paddles. Also, worth noting in the image above is the differences in browning - Both Breville and Cuisinart cook a bit warmer at the bottom indicated by the darker crust areas. 



Loaf Shape Uniformity



 Top Bread Machine Comparison

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

Zojirushi for sure had the most uniform shape among the 3 loaves. Admire the square shape and perfectly domed top with beautiful symmetry. 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) making it mix much more evenly. The top and bottom heating elements on the Zojirushi also provides even 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 does provide different textures while you're eating you bread which can be enjoyable. I believe the mixing function timings and foldable paddle included with the Breville Custom Loaf were the main causes of the non-uniform shape. 

Cuisinart had a mostly uniform shape on the bottom and sides. The top did have some air bubbles form making an uneven top as you can see in the above photo. The Cuisinart's loaf size is non-typical - it's a tall height and short length. Each slice is like eating one and a half pieces of normal sandwich bread. This is great for big grilled cheeses, but this bread will not fit into the toaster.



Interior Uniformity & Texture


 

 Top Bread Maker Crust & Taste Test

Ideal Results: The best bread maker should create a bread free of too many large air pockets and air bubbles. Many small, consistent air bubbles indicate proper mixing & kneading functions, raise times & temperatures, and baking temperature. 

Zojirushi's bread machine created many small, evenly spaced air pockets. This gave it a classic sandwich bread texture that we all know and love - just with ingredients, you can pronounce. 

Breville's Custom Loaf bread maker produced some larger air bubbles and more medium and consistent air bubbles. There were different spacing of bubble from the top and bottom of the bread making different textures while eating. I was satisfied with the overall texture of the bread, it was a bit less soft and pillowy compared the Zojirushi's bread. 

Cuisinart's bread machine had the largest air bubbles of all the loaves. There were medium to large air bubbles throughout the loaf and especially on the top of the bread. This gave the bread a much more airy and dry texture. The larger holes are caused from the bread baking faster from the built-in convection oven. 

 


Final Score of Test Results



See the final score of the test results from our top 3 bread makers side by side. 


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 in-depth analysis of how each bread maker performed. Find out what each bread machine is best at to find the perfect one for your kitchen.    

 


Zojirushi Home Bakery Virtuoso Review


 

Zojirushi Bread Maker Review

Shop Top Bread Makers

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

Best For: Home bakers wanting the traditional sandwich loaf shape. The Zojirushi bread maker makes perfect 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 strange tall slices of bread. Zojirushi's bread pan bakes bread close to the size of a loaf you would buy from the supermarket.
  • Dual Mixing Paddles - Two mixing paddles give better kneading action and mixes ingredients more evenly
  • 3 Custom Presets - Create up to three of your own programs to make your own set-and-forget bread machine recipes 
  • Great Recipe Book - The recipe book is packed with full-color photos, many helpful diagrams, and no-nonsense instructions that are easy to follow and understand
  • Heating Element up Top - There is a hidden heating element in the lid of the bread maker that helps more 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 may have the most specific and long name ever, but it is a well-designed bread machine that has many features the competition doesn't. The Zojirushi is the only bread machine to features two mixing paddles to provide better performance when mixing and kneading ingredients. This is also the only bread maker with a heating element in the top lid for more even baking and browning. And my favorite feature is the bread loaf baking pan is shaped like a traditional loaf of bread, a long rectangle. Most bread machines will give you a shorter and taller loaf of bread that won't fit into the toaster right or make too big of a sandwich. All these things are features that the competition lacks and makes 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, there are helpful visual diagrams concerning baking cycles, and best of all the recipes are measured in both traditional 'Merican 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 a Pinterest perfect loaf of bread. It was so beautiful, the shape of the loaf was consistent and evenly browned. The interior had tiny air holes and was spongy, light and had a nice moisture content. This was a great representation of what a loaf of white sandwich bread should be. All the features of the Zojirushi Virtuoso made this bread perfect - the dual kneading hooks, the top and bottom heating elements, and properly programmed white bread cycle.

 


Cuisinart Bread Machine CBK-200 Review


 

Cuisinart Bread Machine Review

Shop Top Bread Makers

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 - Built-in fan to move hot air around baking bread. This creates an even, brown, and well-defined crust 
  • 1-2lb Bread Recipes - Choose between 1lb, 1.5lb, and 2lb bread loaves. The mixing, kneading, and bake time is automatically adjusted based on your choice 
  • Removable Door - The top door is fully removable making cleanup easy
  • 3 Year Warranty - Cuisinart has the longest warranty out of all the bread machines tested

Cons:

  • Non-standard Loaf Size - The loaf pan does bake a 2lb loaf, but the loaf length and bread slices much taller than a standard store-bought loaf
  • No Custom Settings - There is no way to modify any of the pre-set programs and there is no way to make your own setting for custom bread loaves


Chef Austin's Thoughts:

I feel like Cuisinart is a great middle-of-the-road bread maker in terms of price in performance. It's definitely less expensive than the Zojirushi and the Breville but still delivers a 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 evenly brown around the entire loaf. I think the convection fan is the best thing about the Cuisinart bread maker and sets it apart from other bread makers. The loaf pan has a short length, and this causes the bread to naturally be tall. It can be hard to fit such a tall slice of bread in a toaster without the top inch peeking out. Another feature you are sacrificing with the lower price-point Cuisinart is the ability to make my own programs for my 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 delivered a great tasting product and was easy to use. 


Bread Results:

Cuisinart Bread Maker Review

Cuisinart's loaf of bread was like a bread tower. The shorter length loaf also 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 did have large air pockets at the top crust. The crust was well defined and definitely had a darker and crustier taste compared to Zojirushi's and Breville's bread. The interior had much larger air bubbles making 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 cook a bit warmer than the competition making a slightly drier bread.



Breville Bread Maker The Custom Loaf Review


 

Breville Custom Loaf Bread Machine Review

Shop Top Bread Makers

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 effect bread making. The Breville Custom Loaf offers so much customizability to where you can modify any function on the machine to make the perfect loaf of bread, even if you live 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 an iPhone-easy interface. The huge LCD clearly displays the functions and cooking process
  • 1-2.5lb Bread Loaves - Choose from four different loaf sizes for the perfect bread experience. 2.5lb is also the largest loaf size out of all three machines
  • Customize Presets & 8 Custom Setting - Create up to 8 of your own 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 having to remember to add in raisins or walnuts to your bread - there is a special dispenser in the bread machine that will automatically add in ingredients to your baking bread
  • 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

Con:

  • Non-Standard Loaf Pan Size - The loaf pan does bake a 2.5lb loaf, but the loaf length and bread slices much taller than a standard store-bought loaf
  • 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 these functions can be modified. You can adjust 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 an only a small hole in your bread, while other bread makers will have a large paddle-shaped hole 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 will beep and yell at you telling you its time to open the door, lose your heat, and add in fruits, nuts, etc. The Breville bread maker eliminates this issue. 

The user interface is also the absolute best you'll find on any bread machine. Breville gives a simple to use full LCD, 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 reminded me of a more rustic loaf of bread. 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 was in 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 feel like the bread would have baked more evenly. 

 

 

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About Chef Austin

About the Author: 

Chef Austin Merath is Everything Kitchen's Culinary Wizard, Kitchen-Gadget Reviewer, and New-Product Tester. He studied under chefs in College of the Ozarks' Culinary Program. It's his job to make sure you choose the kitchen tools that are right for you by testing the best we have to offer. When not cooking, Austin is tinkering with computers or exploring the Ozarks with his wife Amy. Click here for his full bio.