9 best bread makers
Make your own loaf, baguette and more with the help of a reliable baking machine
Want to wake up to the smell of freshly baked bread? Keen to seriously impress at your next dinner party? Want to be able to make your own gluten-free bread at home? There are a multitude of reasons why a bread-maker is a useful bit of kit to add to your kitchen repertoire. Even if you’re a star baker, a good machine will make light work of kneading and proving, converting even the most sceptical. And you’ll know exactly what’s going into the loaf – with no additives required.
Before you make your purchase, think about what type of bread you’ll be making, how much space you have in your kitchen and the level of sophistication you want it to have. After all, some people are quite happy making quick white loaves using packet mixes, while others want to get busy with experimental loaves.
Although breadmakers are generally quite large, many we tested are capable of kneading pasta, making dough and even creating jam, so bear that in mind if you’re keen to make your machine work harder for you.
And many of these magic boxes come with a delay function, meaning you simply pop the ingredients in and come back to a warm loaf at a time that is convenient for you. We recommend overnight, so you can wake up in the morning to a delicious homemade loaf.
Panasonic ZB2512KXC: £175, John Lewis
This brand is a big player in the world of breadmakers and was the first company to make them. We’re keen on a few of their machines, but this – their top of the range model – is our favourite for those who like to experiment.
It’s smarter and thinner than other machines, as well as quieter, and has automatic dispensers for both fruit (normal) and yeast (so it’s not activated until necessary). Despite the bells and whistles, it’s easy to use and the white bread was the springiest and fluffiest of all those we made, although you’d be a fool to stick to such predictable bread when this machine allows you to do so much more.
Try raisin bread, breads with unusual flours, brioche, pizza dough, just to name a few. It’s durable too, so will last you years.
Morphy Richards Fastbake Breadmaker: £51, Amazon
This is great for beginner breadmakers who want to start with simple loaves, who may or may not want to build up to speciality loaves, doughs, jams and cakes.
If you want your bread in a hurry, it can even produce a loaf in under an hour. It’s easy to set up and use and to clean and despite the low price tag, it’s got features such as delay timer and keep warm.
And it’s also compact and quiet. And unlike many machines at this price, the paddle doesn’t get stuck in your loaf. It makes three sizes of loaf and has three crust settings, with a viewing window that allows the peek factor.
Even the instructions stand out and they have 29 recipes, which have some great ideas to get you going – including gluten-free, although there’s no special gluten-free bread program as with some other machines.
Lakeland Small Space Breadmaker: £99.99, Lakeland
Here’s a smaller machine that works well in more bijou kitchens. But a small machine means a small loaf, although at 500g that’s fine for one or two of you.
It’s a doddle to use, with a nice clear LCD display that’s intuitive to work, and it produces loaf after loaf of scrumptious and well-textured wholemeal bread and the white loaves come in a close second.
As with other machines, the delay function is handy if you want to get it all ready the night before, but as this machine is louder than other machines, you’ll need to make sure you shut the kitchen door if you do. And be warned the paddle can get stuck.
Tower Gluten-Free Digital Breadmaker: £87.99, Tower
Rare is the café that doesn’t cater for the gluten-free these days, and supermarket shelves are stacked with options. But that shouldn’t stop you having a go at your very own homemade gluten-free delights and here’s a machine that has a program dedicated to just that. It’s an affordable and intuitive machine and the results are impressive.
You can delay the loaf if you want to make it overnight and you can keep the loaf warm if you’re not quite ready for it.
You get three loaf sizes and crust finishes, and all the usual settings, including for everything from whole-wheat to French loaf, and even a rapid loaf in under an hour.
But it makes some pretty weird noises and the paddle can get stuck sometimes.
Cuisinart Automatic Beadmaker CBK250U: £129.95, Amazon
Although there’s no special program for gluten-free bread with this modern looking machine, there is a decent recipe and it works well.
There’s lot of other settings too so you can make everything from fluffy white bread using a packet mix to multi-seeded browns – and you can even set your own programs too if you’re feeling experimental.
The paddle doesn’t stick and it’s easy to use, with nice, simple controls and illumination, and it comes with a spoon and a beaker to help measure out ingredients for the recipes.
It’s on the big side, which some might mind, but that means it can make large loaves. Niggles include the brushed stainless steel finish being difficult (but not impossible) to keep clean and it’s quite loud.
Kenwood Bread Machine BM450: £110, Debenhams
This top-of-the-range bread-maker has a convection fan for a controlled temperature, resulting in an even bake.
There’s a handy rapid bake too, which takes just under an hour from start to finish, as well as an all-important dispenser and impressive 15 settings.
There’s a recipe booklet to get you started and it’s all displayed in a reasonably quiet, slick, silver box, with easy to use touchscreen controls.
Lakeland bread-maker and scales: £134.99, Lakeland
One for the keen baker, this model took up the most space in our kitchen, but does come with a couple of extra handy gadgets.
Firstly the stand allows you to get creative with mini-baguettes or rolls instead of your standard loaf, while the detachable scales fit neatly on top and allow for extra precision. There’s a recipe book included if you’re looking for guidance and an automatic dispenser for a more experimental loaf – we tried sundried tomatoes which worked a treat.
There are 12 preset programmes to choose from including an ultra-quick setting – a 700g loaf will cook in 1 hour and 28 minutes. Or if you have longer, there’s the option of a creating a larger 1kg loaf.
Sage the Custom Loaf: £249.95, John Lewis
This clever little machine can make 500g, 750g, 1kg and 1.25kg loaves – the widest choice from any of the machines we put to the test.
The large LCD interface was easy to use, with a turn-dial to make your selection with. Like some of the other premium models, this comes with a chute for adding extra ingredients in at the most appropriate time.
There is also the widest variety of crust settings – with light-to-crunchy available. We were very happy with our simple loaf and the kneading paddle didn’t get stuck once.
Judge Digital Bread-baker: £73.20, Amazon
This basic bread-maker has the ability to make either a 700g or 1kg loaf with a choice of light, medium or dark crusts.
There are 15 pre-set programmes, including gluten-free but unfortunately no recipe booklet. Instead it suggests using a bread mix, which felt like cheating but did result in a beautifully golden loaf without any fuss
With a soft middle and chewy crust, the bread slid out of the non-stick pan easily and the large buttons were easy to understand and programme.
The Verdict: Best breadmakers
The Panasonic ZB2512KXC is the ultimate breadmaker and the sky’s the limit when it comes to experimenting. For beginners, we love the Morphy Richards Fastbake Breadmaker, which is quick and easy to set up and use.
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.