Finishing close to the top of the group, the Sunbeam Programmable Bread Maker is a good overall bread machine that distinguished itself from the rest of the group by being a solid value. It isn't quite the best bang for the buck that we have seen so far, but it is pretty close, earning it the Best Buy Award. Essentially, we would recommend checking the price on all of our Best Buy Award winners and going with whichever one is the cheapest at the time.
Sunbeam Programmable Bread Maker Review
Pros: Good value, decent baking abilities
Cons: Front interface is annoying, no gluten-free preset
Our Analysis and Test Results
If you are on the hunt for a new bread machine that isn't going to bust your budget, then the Sunbeam Programmable model is definitely worthy of your consideration. This is an excellent all-around bread machine that won't disappoint and retails for much less than many of the other models that we have tested. It makes good bread, is relatively easy to use, and has a solid set of features for being a budget option.
The white bread came out quite well in appearance, with a crust that is decently consistent in color — although the top of the bread is just a tiny bit lighter than the sides and the bottom. It seemed the majority of the dough was mixed sufficiently, but there were a few spots with unincorporated flour on the sides of the loaf after it had finished baking.
The Sunbeam didn't do as well with the wheat bread, with the loaf rising extremely unevenly. The very top of the loaf collapsed in the center, but the sides bulged out enough that it resembled a muffin instead of a loaf of bread. It rose so much that we couldn't get the handle past the bulging sides and had to break off part of the bread to remove the bread pan from the machine.
This bread maker also didn't do amazingly well with the gluten-free bread, with a significant amount of cornstarch remaining unincorporated and the top of the baked load caving in quite a bit. The crust was also a bit on the lighter side.
Ease of Use
The Sunbeam Programmable isn't an incredibly difficult kitchen appliance to use, but it did have a few quirks that we found to make it slightly more of a hassle to operate than some of the other models. This is the only machine we tested that has the interface on the front, which we found made it much less convenient than other models that have the interface on the top.
The Sunbeam weighs about 13.7 lbs. and has a footprint of 10" x 15", while being about 13" tall. This puts it on the larger side for these products, but still isn't too bad to move if you don't plan on storing it on your counter.
We did like that the handle can lock down on the side, making it easier to remove the finished bread.
The Sunbeam Programmable has a moderate feature set, but is missing a few critical ones that some of the best models have — like actually being programmable. While the Sunbeam does have a programmable delay timer that you can set for up to 12 hours, it does not offer the option to create customized profiles for knead, rise, and bake times for your own personal recipes.
The Sunbeam does have 12 preset baking profiles — basic, French, whole-wheat, quick, sweet, express bake 1.5 lb., express bake 2 lbs., dough, jam, cake, sandwich, and bake — but does lack a gluten-free setting. For our gluten-free test, we ended up using the whole-wheat setting. As you can tell from the different profiles, you can make either a 1.5 lb. loaf or a 2 lbs. loaf.
The Sunbeam is a good value option, earning it the Best Buy Award, but there are a few other models that are comparably priced, so you might be able to find a better value depending which models are being offered at a discount when you are getting ready to buy.
The Sunbeam might not be the best bread machine that you can buy, but it is one of the more budget-friendly options and should bake bread just fine for most people.
— Austin Palmer and David Wise