The Virtuoso Plus by Zojirushi is our favorite bread machine that we have tested to date by far, earning it an Editors' Choice Award. This appliance is the only model that we tested that have a pair of kneading blades, leading to more consistently mixed dough and an overall more even finished loaf of bread. This top-notch appliance affords you the most freedom to control how the dough is kneaded and baked, letting you create custom cycles to perfectly match your preferences. In addition to custom homemade bake times, it also has a variety of preprogrammed bake times for a ton of different types of bread, as well as for cake and jam. It made some of the best bread out of the entire bunch in our tests and we highly recommend this product to anyone who is a bread machine connoisseur.
Zojirushi Virtuoso Plus Review
Pros: Customizable memory settings, pair of kneading paddles, even crust
Cons: Large, pricey
Our Analysis and Test Results
The Zojirushi is definitely the best baker of the bunch — something we can attest to after baking dozens and dozens of loaves of bread in these products — but it is also one of the most expensive machines out there, so we wouldn't really recommend it to anyone who doesn't use their bread maker a ton or isn't searching for the absolute best of the best.
The main reason that you would buy one of these products is that you want a quick and easy way to make fresh bread that tastes great and in this regard, the Zojirushi doesn't disappoint. In our three baking tests — white bread, whole-wheat bread, and gluten-free — the Virtuoso Plus made some of the most even and best-looking loaves of the group. It has dual heaters for even baking and a keep warm setting so your bread has that freshly baked feel even if you weren't quite ready to eat it when it finished. The white bread has a crust that was a bit lighter in color than some of the others, but it was exceptionally consistent in color and texture.
The crust on the wheat bread also came out very evenly, but it didn't look quite as nice as the white bread load, as the wheat dough rose a little unevenly. The gluten-free load also came out very nicely, but did have the patch of unincorporated cornstarch on the bottom of the load.
Ease of Use
As mentioned above, this machine stands out from the rest of the group by having dual mixing paddles and a bread pan that is longer than many of the other products that we have tested. This means that the Virtuoso Plus is a true maestro when it comes to mixing, doing the best job of the group at incorporating the raw ingredients into the dough and almost never having any residual dry goods leftover. However, the dual paddles mean that your finished bread loaf does have two cavities in the bottom of it but the longer loaf pan does produce bread that is much closer to appearance to something that you would purchase in a store compared to many of the other machines.
It can be a bit more cumbersome to remove though. It has a capacity for up to a 2-pound loaf.
The final thing that sets the Zujiroshi Virtuoso Plus apart from the rest is its easy to use and intuitive interface, as well as its preset baking functions — particularly its customizable ones. The Virtuoso Plus has settings for white, whole wheat, European, multigrain, gluten-free, salt-free, sugar-free, vegan, rapid white, rapid whole wheat, dough, sourdough starter, cake, jam, and homemade. It also has a 13-hour delay timer, so you can get everything ready in the morning and have it automatically kick on so your bread is finished right when you get home.
The homemade preset is where you can create up to three different profiles where you set the knead, rise, and bake times to match your own personal preferences. This is also the only bread machine that has a clock as well. However, we did wish that it included a backlight for the display.
Unfortunately, while the Zojirushi is a fantastic bread machine, it is a terrible value. This machine is far more expensive than the other machines in the rest of the review and you can definitely get bread that is almost as good from other machines that cost a fraction of a price.
All in all, the Zojirushi Virtuoso Plus is our top recommendation for someone who wants the best bread maker of them all, easily earning the Editors' Choice — provided you can afford it.
— Austin Palmer and David Wise