When we went into lockdown last March, some of us became Instagram clichés by jumping on the bread-making bandwagon – in fact, nearly a billion loaves were made in the first six months of the pandemic, according to statistics from Lakeland.
And if our social media feeds are to be believed, the trend doesn’t seem to be slowing down, with many of us still looking for new hobbies or ways to impress our friends online.
So if you’re a novice to the bread-making trend and you don’t know your kneading from your rising, then a bread maker can be one of the best investments – just pop the ingredients in and press the right button and you’ll have delicious warm bread in just a few hours.
Bread of course comes in all shapes and sizes, with different crusts, ingredients and flavours. Some bread makers even make pizza dough and gluten-free options, while others can make cakes, jams and even ice cream.
We tested the bread makers on how easy they were to use, how many settings they provided, the finished result and, of course, their value for money.
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The best bread makers in 2021 are:
- Best overall – Russell Hobbs compact bread maker: £60, Dunelm.com
- Best easy-to-use bread maker – Lakeland touchscreen bread maker: £129.99, Lakeland.co.uk
- Best small bread maker – Judge digital bread maker: £130, Horwood.co.uk
- Best for number of settings – Panasonic SD-2511WXC bread maker: £129, Ao.com
- Best for customising your loaf – Sage custom loaf pro: £249.95, Sageappliances.com
- Best for a quick baking time – Morphy Richards home bake: £59.99, Amazon.co.uk
- Best for extra settings – Tower T11005 bread maker: £99, Ao.com
- Best multi-functional bread maker – Gastroback bread maker: £119.90, Amazon.co.uk
Russell Hobbs compact bread maker
- Power: 600W
- Dimensions: 29cm x 32cm x 30cm
- Capacity: 1kg loaf
- Settings: 12
At just £60, it was one of the cheapest models we tried out – but that didn’t show in its appearance. This shiny black bread maker, with a curved top and easy-to-use buttons, complemented our other kitchen appliances. As the name suggests, it is one of the most compact models, without compromising on quality. A large viewer window also means you can watch all the action as it happens. It also has an average 12 settings, including breads, jams and doughs.
We started with the whole wheat setting and it made well-risen, soft and tasty bread, while we also baked banana bread in the model under the cake setting. We loved the fast bake programme too, which took just 55 minutes. We later got a bit creative and made jam, and we loved watching it whizz our fruit around while it created an amazing smell. However, we didn’t like the mess it made – it splattered jam all over the lid and inside of the bread maker. Simple to use, we loved the handy pictures on the model, which indicted bread and crust size, while the timer counted down how long the bread had left to cook. When it was mixing and kneading, we did find the model quite loud, but nothing too obtrusive. For the price, the bread maker is really impressive and a great size too – you’ll barely notice it in your kitchen.
Lakeland Touchscreen bread maker
Best: Easy to use bread maker
- Power: 850W
- Dimensions: 44cm x 26cm x 30cm
- Capacity: 1.5kg
- Settings: 12
This black and silver LED touchscreen bread maker is really simple to use with the help of the guide that gives you step-by-step instructions on how to make every type of loaf. Depending on your mood, it makes three different sizes (1kg, 1.25kg, 1.5kg), has 12 settings including basic loaf, pizza dough and gluten free, and it also gives you the option to make jam and yoghurt. Once you’ve chosen your setting you can watch the bread being kneaded, rising and baking through the window at the top – which we found quite therapeutic.
We successfully made bread on the quick setting, which was near perfect, but when we started to add other ingredients our bread became too dense. Thankfully the model’s booklet has a troubleshooter section and we found the answer to our baking problems quickly. We also found the reminder beeps to add in ingredients handy, while the keep warm function and the delay timer were a plus. However, it was slightly noisy when kneading. It’s quite a hefty machine so you’ll need lots of storage, but luckily it’s also attractive so it will look great on your kitchen worktop. With a price tag of over £100, however, you’ll have to be a serious baker to consider it.
Judge digital bread maker
Best: Small bread maker
- Power: 600W
- Dimensions: 29cm x 28cm x 33cm
- Capacity: 800g
- Settings: 12
One of the best parts about this bread maker is its size – it’s smaller than most of the other models we tried so would fit well in a little kitchen. With 12 settings, from a basic white loaf to gluten free, we loved making pizza dough in it, which took just over an hour – meaning after we’d filled the bread maker with the right ingredients, it was one less thing to prepare for dinner. If you’re baffled by which button creates which breads, the guide gives you handy hints and tips.
The white loaf also came out perfect, but the gluten-free loaf was a bit disappointing – it didn’t mix the ingredients as well and felt gritty when we tasted it. As the pan was non-stick we found the cooked loaves really easy to remove, but on several occasions, the paddle became stuck in the bread and we found we had to wait until it cooled to remove it – even with the hook they provided. Cleaning, however, was a breeze, with both the pan and paddle becoming sparkling after a quick soak. In the mid-range price bracket for a bread maker, it’s good but we’d love to see more consistency.
Panasonic SD-2511WXC bread maker
Best for: Number of settings
- Power: 550W
- Dimensions: 38.2cm x 25.6cm x 38.9cm
- Capacity: 600g
- Settings: 33
This large white bread maker is as tall as it is deep, with a fruit and nut dispenser that gives it a curved top. We were impressed with the 33 settings available, with 18 for bread or cakes and the others for different doughs. Unlike most, it comes with two bread paddles, two measuring spoons and two large measuring cups, which can be stored easily and even used when you’re not making bread. The digital display was very informative during the bread-making process, showing us when it was kneading, rising and baking along with how much time it had left. This compensated, slightly, for being the only model we tested without a viewing window.
It feels odd to not be able to have a sneak peek at how your bread is cooking and this may tempt some to open the lid – which is not normally advised. Saying this, in its place is the fruit and nut dispenser – which we used to add some seeds into our wholegrain bread. It’s timed so it releases them during the bread-making process when it’s appropriate, which we thought was clever.
However, the instructions in the booklet weren’t exactly accurate, which meant for novices like us, we were going to get things wrong. The first attempt at wholemeal bread was as flat as a pancake and gooey in the middle. Another attempt later for a simple white loaf, with our own recipe, came out slightly better, but we still weren’t impressed with how it had risen. If you ignore the booklet’s instructions and recipes it’s a great model, but with a price tag of over £100, you should perhaps be getting more for your money.
Sage custom loaf pro
Best for: Customising your loaf
- Power: 830W
- Dimensions: 35.2cm x 24.8cm x 39.9cm
- Capacity: 1.25kg
- Settings: 9
This attractive-looking brushed stainless steel bread maker is a rectangle shape, with a black handle and a digital display that counts down to when your loaf is ready. As well as a non-stick bread pan it also comes with two paddles – one which is fixed, for jams, and another which is collapsible – which is perfect for making different types of bread and dough. We used the basic rapid setting to make a white loaf and the result was well-risen and fluffy bread that slipped out of the bread pan with ease. Other settings include yeast-free, dough for pizza and pasta and also a bake-only option, if you like to mix and knead your own bread.
One downside is just how loud this bread maker is – you could hear every step of the process, so it wouldn’t be great for nighttime use. The great part, however, is that, along with the nine pre-programmed settings, you can customise your loaf – so once you’ve done some experimenting and know exactly how you like your bread cooked, you can programme in the heat, time, loaf and crust size. It’s got some great settings and would be an attractive addition to your kitchen, but at nearly £200, it is a big investment.
Morphy Richards homebake breadmaker
Best for: A quick baking time
- Power: 600W
- Dimensions: 36cm x 26.5cm x 28.5cm
- Capacity: 1kg
- Settings: 14
This Morphy Richards bread maker was the most aesthetically pleasing to look at, with its curved sides and a white and silver finish. It was much slighter than other models, so would be easy to slot into a cupboard after use or not look out of place on your worktop. It comes with a measuring cup, tablespoon and teaspoon as well as a booklet giving you recipes on how to make most breads.
The bread maker has 14 settings, which is quite average for most of the models we tested, including more advanced options such as a malt loaf or corn bread. It also has three different crust settings, as well as loaf-size settings.
Most loaves take around three to four hours to make, while if you’re short on time the fast-bake setting takes just 90 minutes. One aspect which we loved was the overnight bread function – we tried it once and woke up to the smell of bread baking – there really is no better scent. We were also feeling adventurous and so we made bagel dough and then baked them in the oven. They came out a little flatter than we would have hoped, but they tasted great.
When working it was quieter than some of the other models but did give us a few bleeps throughout – mainly to tell us the bread was ready or to add more ingredients. For just £85 we think it’s a great investment and it’s a plus that it’s one of the most attractive models on the market.
Tower T11005 bread maker
Best for: Extra settings
- Power: 600W
- Dimensions: 36cm x 26.5cm x 28.5 cm
- Capacity: 1kg
- Settings: 19
The stainless steel bread maker, which has a black surface, reminded us of a bread bin, with a rectangular shape and a well-placed handle at the front of the machine to open the lid. With 19 settings it boasts more than some models, while it also has different crust and size settings. We were also impressed with some extra options – one for sticky rice and another for mixing soybean with peanut for a stir fry. Like most of the other bread makers, it comes with one rigid paddle, along with a small cup to measure ingredients.
While a detachable fruit and nut dispenser is also part of the model. The instruction booklet could have been more detailed – it gave the basics on the settings but recipes would have been handy too. We tried sourdough in the model, which took nearly seven hours due to the resting period. However, it was worth the wait and provided us with tasty soft bread. The model does have a viewing window to watch the bread-making process, however, as it mixed the bread and started to heat up the window steamed up – so we couldn’t see anything. A light machine, it wasn’t overly noisy and provided some good results.
Gastroback bread maker
Best: Multi-functional bread maker
- Power: 500W
- Dimensions: 36cm x 28cm x 34 cm
- Capacity: 1kg
- Settings: 18
Even though it’s quite large, the Gastroback model is multi-functional – it’s able to make bread and ice cream. This well-built machine has a clear design, detailing the programmes down the left side of the lid and with large buttons on the right for the menu and to change the kneading or time settings. The lid also has a large viewing window and a fruit and nut dispenser, which is easy to add to.
With an impressive 18 settings, you can make basic bread, such as white and French, along with sweet and fruit bread. Other more unusual programmes include the defrost function and the ability to make ice cream – although the required ice bucket is sold separately.
We tried out the French bread setting, which provided bread that was fluffy in the middle and had a crispy crust. We were also impressed with how quiet it was, with just one beep at the end to tell us our bread was ready. The instruction book is very thorough, providing tips on how to get the best results and some recipes. The only information it lacked was how long each bread or food would take to make. Even though a little pricier than some of the other models on this list, this product’s multiple uses are handy and its bread-making ability is spot on.
Bread maker FAQs
What should I look for when buying a bread maker?
There are a number of things to consider when buying a bread maker. Firstly, the shape and size you want your bread to be – when baking bread in the oven, you can choose your loaf tin, but when you bake it in a bread maker, all your loaves will be the same shape, so it’s important to think about how big or small you want them to be.
Secondly, consider how many settings you require. Some machines have the standard settings to make white, brown and wholemeal loaves, while others have the capabilities to make a whole range of additional foods, including ice cream.
Thirdly, a timer is a deal-breaker for some because delaying the start time can mean you can make sure there’s a loaf of bread waiting for you when you’re home from work or when you wake up in the morning. Similarly, an automatic dispenser is useful if you do want additional ingredients, such as nuts and seeds, to be incorporated midway through the bake. Finally, you may want to keep an eye out for additional accessories, for example measuring cups and spoons, to make it easier to follow recipes.
What else can I make in a bread maker?
When you think of a bread maker, you might think it only makes bread, but it can also make a range of other foods. A cake is probably the most common item, but you can also make jam, pizza dough, rice dishes, scrambled egg and even yoghurt and ice cream.
Is a bread maker worth it?
A bread maker is convenient, useful and a very worthy purchase – it lowers the cost of producing your bread by up to half, you can customise your recipe however you like and you can cook in batches so your household always has plenty of fresh bread.
Is bread made in a bread maker healthier?
It’s thought that the bread makers are healthier than shop-bought bread, simply because you can choose exactly what goes into your loaf in order to suit your dietary preferences. For example, you can cut the amount of salt and your loaf won’t contain additives. Similarly, you can add seeds into your homemade bread, giving it added fibre.
The verdict: Bread makers
We loved how compact the Russell Hobbs bread maker was – it really wowed us with fluffy, tasty bread and all for just £60. It is a small investment that reaps tasty rewards. If you have more cash to spare then Gastroback’s design is great for multi-functional use and has some great results.
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For more kitchen appliance upgrades read our guide to the best microwaves
IndyBest product reviews are unbiased, independent advice you can trust. On some occasions, we earn revenue if you click the links and buy the products, but we never allow this to bias our coverage. The reviews are compiled through a mix of expert opinion and real-world testing.
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