Thanks to the birth of affordable bread makers for the home, it is now easier than ever to make your own bread. You will know exactly what’s gone in it, so you don’t have to worry about additives, and your home will smell great.
Don’t assume the most expensive machines are the best. You might not need all the bells and whistles and we found some of the cheapest machines made the best white and wholemeal loaves.
Our benchmark for the best machines was a nice, thick loaf with a golden crust, even texture and a delicious taste. Some of the machines we tested produced anything but: dense loaves with holes, sunken tops, unmixed ingredients and even burned crusts. They did not make our round-up.
When you’re buying a bread maker, check that it will produce the size of loaf right for you – some are much bigger than others. A lot of machines have paddles that stick in the loaf – while this doesn’t bother some people, others dislike the hole it leaves in the bread afterwards.
Think about whether you want a viewing window to check on your loaf while it is cooking. How fast is the machine at cooking bread? Do you want to experiment with flavours and add ingredients? Do you want to be able to make gluten-free bread? Do you need a delay function, which allows you to load up the machine with ingredients and then have the bread made hours later? Do you want it to have extra settings to do things such as knead pasta, make dough and even jam?
1. Lakeland Breadmaker Plus: £129.99, Lakeland
Speciality bread fans, look no further. Not only does this machine produce great looking, delicious loaves in either medium or large, but the fruit and nut dispenser works a treat, enabling you to experiment with flavours such as feta and olive or onion. The detachable scales and baguette pan are handy and it also makes cakes, dough and jam.
2. Lidl Silvercrest: £40, Lidl
Available from August this year, this easy-to-use machine is a steal at just £40, so we don’t expect them to hang around long. It has three loaf-size options and crust settings, as well as a whopping 11 programmes, including for pasta, dough and gluten-free bread. The viewing window is big and the bread is flavoursome, although you might get a few fails and it is noisy.
3. Russell Hobbs 18036: £44.99, Amazon
Some breadmakers are so big they seem to take up half the kitchen, but this one sits compactly on the countertop. It is great for simple and delicious brown and white loaves, using the three crust colour settings and three loaf sizes. It is less impressive on the delay setting, however, and the control panel isn’t the easiest to see.
4. My Kitchen Compact Bread Maker: £59.99, Lakeland
Here is another smaller machine that works well in more bijou kitchens. It is a doddle to use and clean, producing loaf after loaf of scrumptious and well-textured wholemeal or white bread. They are only small, at 500g, but that is fine if there is only one or two of you. We found it good for gluten-free bread and it is quiet, with a good delay function. The paddle can get stuck, though.
5. Panasonic SD-ZB2505: £139, Lakeland
This brand offers a huge range of breadmakers, but this is easily our favourite. In particular, we found the spelt bread came out perfectly, and the fruit and nut dispenser meant we could make all kinds of seeded and flavoured breads simply and quickly – it is even capable of making jam and compote. It is one of the quietest machines we tested. However, there is no viewing window and the paddle sticks quite often.
6. Sage Custom Loaf Pro: £199.95, Amazon
This feels a cut above the rest as soon as you get it out of the box and it does not disappoint when you get baking, thanks to its ease of use, clear LCD screen, viewing window and umpteen functions that enable you to try out weird and wonderful breads, along with a kneading paddle that never seems to get stuck. This large machine also updates you on progress and there are four different loaf sizes.
7. Cuisinart Automatic Breadmaker: £150, Cuisinart
This is a big machine that has plenty going for it, including 12 pre-programmed settings and a dishwasher-safe bread pan, which saves time on washing up. It is probably not for anyone who strives for perfectly formed loaves as they can be uneven, but they taste great. The controls are clear and easy to use, and the measuring accessories come in handy.
8. JML Make and Bake: £79.99, Argos
You can wave goodbye to loaves that have that familiar hole in the bottom with this machine, as the paddle never seems to get stuck. More importantly, it makes tasty bread, using 10 programmes, three crust settings, a delay timer and keep-warm function, none of which we could fault, except to say that the texture isn’t always completely even. It is easy to store, thanks to the carry handle, and it makes jam and cakes too.
9. Cookworks Breadmaker: £38.99, Argos
This is a bargain for a machine that makes lots of different types of bread in two different sizes, is a cinch to use, and very quiet. Don’t expect as many features as other bread makers – hence the cheaper price tag – but for an entry-level machine, it makes decent bread. The lid does stop the bread rising as much as it could, though, and the paddle sticks.
10. Morphy Richards 48326: £60, Amazon
This is one of the simplest machines we used – you hardly even need to use the instruction booklet as it is so intuitive. Our loaves came out looking as good as any bakery’s bread and the texture was great too, with a superior taste to bread cooked in other much more expensive machines. There was no paddle sticking either, although the delay setting isn’t great and there is no fruit and nut dispenser, which means any extra goodies need to be added by hand.
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