We have researched and compared over 60 different bread machines since 2019. This year, we bought the 7 most compelling appliances currently on the market for hands-on testing to determine which contender is the best baker. We made hundreds of loaves of white, wheat, gluten-free, and yeast-free bread to see how each machine kneaded different doughs and how evenly they baked. We evaluated how well these machines distributed solids like chocolate chips and how customizable they are to make your own recipe. Whether you want the freshest white bread to make a sandwich, an easy way to make banana bread or cake, or are looking for a way to cut down on gluten in your diet; there's a bread machine we've tested that can fit your lifestyle and budget.
Dimensions (H x W x L): 13" x 18" x 10" | Weight: 22.7 lb
REASONS TO BUY
Great with all types of bread
Consistently good crusts
Excellent sandwich size/shape
REASONS TO AVOID
Very large and heavy
Only makes 2 lb loaves
The best all-around breach machine is, without a doubt, the Zojirushi Virtuoso Plus. This model consistently makes great bread, no matter what recipe we choose from its book of 51 options. While several others make good white and wheat bread, this model is the only one that churns out a gluten-free loaf we actually want to make a sandwich with. It also makes the best yeast-free pound cake around. In all four types of bread we made, the Virtuoso produced loaves with even, medium-brown crusts and tasty yet supportive interiors. These 2-pound loaves are a great shape for making sandwiches as well. Its magazine-style recipe booklet includes color pictures and easy-to-read charts that make using this machine that much more enjoyable.
Excellence like this comes with a price. Out of all the models we tested, this is the only one that produces 2-pound loaves without any option to change the size. And at this cost, it may be overkill for many folks just looking to make fresh white bread for a sandwich. But if you love baking and eating all kinds of breads and cakes and need a good gluten-free option, the Virtuoso Plus will not let you down.
Dimensions (H x W x L): 11.5" x 10" x 14" | Weight: 8.0 lb
REASONS TO BUY
Delicious wheat bread
Small and lightweight
REASONS TO AVOID
Poor chocolate chip distribution
Limited recipe variety
The Elite Gourmet Maxi-Matic Programmable is not only one of the least expensive bread machines in our lineup, but it also does a solid job making the basics. It produced some of our favorite wheat bread and pretty solid white bread, too. It's convenient, easy to use, and has a slim design that fits on just about any kitchen counter. It features 19 pre-programmed functions and is one of the few models we tested that offers a yogurt setting.
When it came to our yeast-free or gluten-free bread testing, the Maxi-Matic was lacking. It didn't do great at mixing in our mini chocolate chips; instead it left them all clumped together at the bottom of the loaf. Though this bread machine has the most functions of any model we tested (19!), it offered some of the fewest recipes — just 18. However, if you're making just the basics and shopping on a strict budget, we think the Maxi-Matic is a solid value buy with plenty to offer.
Dimensions (H x W x L): 13" x 13.5" x 8.5" | Weight: 13.6 lb
REASONS TO BUY
Superb wheat and white bread
Loaves look fantastic
REASONS TO AVOID
Gluten-free and cake recipes aren't good
Interface is crowded
Ready for the best white and wheat breads for making sandwiches? The KBS Large MBF-010 scored well across all measures of making these two loaves. They turned out beautiful in color and shape and were both our blind taste-tester panel's favorite to eat. Their densities were soft but with the structure needed to hold a sandwich together and crusts that were both perfectly browned and matched the taste and texture of the breads. The KBS Large is one of just two models to have an automatic fruit and nut dispenser, which proved itself incredibly effective.
The KBS Pro has been rebranded to the KBS Large. Despite this name change, there are no updates to the product itself.
Unfortunately, the KBS Large let us down with its gluten-free bread. Its yeast-free bread wasn't that much better, either. It had a severely sunken top that was extremely doughy. But if you love an information-rich display screen, this might be the perfect fit. Some of its text is small, but it is still readable at the right distance. Despite the impressive 17 functions, we like this model best for consistently making delicious traditional sandwich bread. If that's what you're after, you can't go wrong with the KBS Large.
We spent hundreds of hours baking dozens of loaves of bread in every one of these bread machines. It's hard to overstate just how many loaves of wheat bread, white bread, gluten-free bread, and yeast-free bread and cake we made in these machines. We bought unconventional ingredients, followed recipes to a tee, made adjustments as deemed necessary, and repeated the process again and again to ensure consistency. We enlisted a team of our coworkers, friends, and peers to engage in blind taste testing to evaluate how good each loaf of bread tasted and felt. We compared breads over multiple trials to see how they improved — if they improved — and gauged the user-friendliness of each product. We cycled through functions and programs, moved these appliances around our kitchens, and scrutinized the recipes and troubleshooting tips. A bread machine should make your life easier, and we put these through the wringer to learn which ones are up for the job.
Our in-depth testing process involved dozens of tests of performance, product quality, and functionality across five mutually exclusive metrics:
White Bread (30% of overall score weighting)
Wheat Bread (30% weighting)
Gluten-Free Bread (15% weighting)
Convenience (15% weighting)
Yeast Free Bread (10% weighting)
Our testing team is led by Review Editor Jessica Riconscente with additional support from Senior Research Analyst Austin Palmer. Jessica's background in product development and engineering methods makes her perfectly poised to tinker with and test complicated machines like these. She keeps a critical eye for detail and what makes a product easy to use. Austin has been testing home goods and kitchen appliances for over eight years with GearLab. He has had his hands on thousands of gadgets designed to make your life at home better or easier. His experience testing bread machines for several years, as well as countless other electronics, gives him a critical eye for spotting which products are actually worth the cost. Jessica and Austin are avid home bakers and cooks who love a good loaf of delicious bread.
Analysis and Test Results
When scoring these bread machines during our testing, we compared each device on its functionality and also on the bread produced by each machine's respective recipes. In this way, our scoring reflects not only each appliance's overall performance but also how well it does compared to the others in our lineup. In what follows, we break down these bread machines and dissect each one's individual performance in detail.
Identifying the product that has the best value for your needs is more complex than looking at its price tag. Among bread machines, the more affordable Elite Gourmet Maxi-Matic offers solid performance in making white and wheat bread in a convenient, easy-to-use appliance. If you're after an easy way to make yummy sandwich bread at home without shelling out hundreds of dollars for functions you don't want or need, the Elite Gourmet is the best value model we tested. On the other hand, if you love trying new recipes and have a soft spot for a kitchen appliance that adds variety to what you can make at home, the Zojirushi Virtuoso Plus is an excellent investment. It's more expensive than most, but it consistently made delicious bread in all our testing and comes with a ton of recipes to help you get the most out of your investment.
To adequately test each bread machine's ability to make a good loaf of white bread, we used each one's recommended recipes. We made them not once, not twice, but several times in a row to make sure we were giving them all a fair chance and to make any necessary tweaks that would result in a better loaf. We followed the recipes to a tee, adding ingredients in the suggested order, making adjustments for elevation (as recommended by the manufacturers), and following all the time and temperature programming. We gauged results across all aspects of the loaves, including color, texture, and consistency. And we pulled our friends and colleagues in for blind taste testing.
The best white bread we made during our testing came from the KBS Large MBF-010. Across the board, this white bread was fantastic. It had a remarkably even, appealing color, a crust with just the right amount of resistance to it, and a very even density. It's a great shape for making sandwiches and was a consistent favorite among our panelists for the blind taste test. Not far behind is the white bread made by the Zojirushi Virtuoso Plus. It was pretty even in overall color, with a delicious golden brown crust. It had a few larger air pockets inside than optimal, but still brought forth top-notch flavor our taste testers loved.
The Elite Gourmet Maxi-Matic Programmable also produced pretty good white bread. It wasn't flawless, with a slightly lopsided dome, a little too dense around the bottom and edges, and a chewier crust. But we still think this makes a pretty solid option for your sandwiches. The Hamilton Beach HomeBaker white bread was tasty to eat and with a good colored crust but a little lacking in density, evenness, and consistent coloration on the outside. The white bread from the Breville the Custom Loaf wasn't bad. It looked wonky on the outside, with its lumpy dome, but the inside was more promising, with fairly even color and a good mixture of air pocket density. It scored about average in our taste testing from our blind taste testing.
Here again, we tested many rounds of each bread machine's included recipe for wheat bread. We made adjustments we thought would help and compared the best loaves in a blind taste test, judging each one's appearance, feel, texture, density, and taste. We also considered their shape and ability to hold sandwich ingredients.
The KBS Large once again makes our favorite bread, this time wheat bread. It's very close to perfection, with a uniformly golden, sloping dome on top and a nice crispy crust. It's evenly dense throughout and has a fluffiness and taste our panel loved. The Elite Gourmet Maxi-Matic made our second favorite wheat bread. Its shape and color were less consistent than the KBS but still above average for this group. The interior was impressive, though, transitioning almost straight from crust to fluffiness with very even air pocket distribution. And it ranked very highly in our taste testing.
Not trailing too far behind, the Zojirushi Virtuoso makes one of the best-tasting wheat breads of any we tested. Its overall look, texture, and color suffered some compared to the best loaves of wheat bread, but it's still well above average in our lineup and makes a great sandwich bread. None of the other four models we tested made wheat bread that we liked. The Breville crust was like eating a cracker, while the Cuisinart Compact Automatic had even more crunch and less flavor. The Hamilton Beach was too dark and had an odd — though not unpleasant — nutty flavor. And the Oster ExpressBake 2-Pound made a loaf so dense and chewy that many of our taste testers couldn't finish it.
Gluten Free Bread
Most of the models we tested came with at least one recipe for gluten-free bread. We had to hunt down some uncommon ingredients, but we followed every recipe exactly as printed, only making the recommended adjustments for altitude. And just like all the others, we then gauged texture, color, and fluffiness and put them through a panel of blind taste testing.
The bread machine that churned out our favorite gluten-free loaf by a wide margin was the Zojirushi Virtuoso. Its crust came the closest to a glutenous loaf of bread, its color and texture were excellent, and its flavor was the only one our panel of testers asked for more of. The Cuisinart Compact came in a distant second, with a good crust and soft but even air pockets inside. However, it had an odd taste and an even odder mouth texture that took us some getting used to. The Hamilton Beach gluten-free loaf looked good but underwhelmed us with its bland, slightly vinegary taste and off-putting egg-like texture.
The Elite Gourmet Maxi-Matic gluten-free bread turned out like a slightly dry, dense cornbread. We're not big fans of the gluten-free loaf of the Breville either, which — though its flavor is nice — consistently came out rubbery and on the verge of being undercooked. But the worst was the KBS Large loaf, which contained too much flour and not enough water, resulting in an unmixed, entirely inedible loaf. The Oster doesn't even present a gluten-free bread recipe.
We considered a lot of things in each machine's convenience score. First, we evaluated available functions and customizability to adapt to tinkering with recipes or using your own. We played with every setting to test each machine's interface's ease of use. We then looked at size and weight, comparing that to average cupboard height over kitchen counters and moving them around to see how readily they could be stored when not in use. We poured over their manuals and recipe books, looking at how many recipes they offer, what tips, tricks, and troubleshooting advice they give, and how user-friendly they are. We also took into account additional features like automatic fruit and nut dispensers.
When it comes to the user interface and sheer customizability, the Breville Custom is by far the best. It's the only model we tested that lets you alter both the temperature and the time spent in each part of the cycle. While it may require more tinkering than anyone looking for an easy set-it-and-forget-it option, it's a great choice for those who love experimenting with recipes. The Breville and the Zojirushi have larger-than-average screens, making it easier to see what's happening in your machine. All models we tested have at least 12 different functions — aka pre-programmed timetables designed for specific types of recipes — but the Elite Gourmet Maxi-Matic has the most, with 19 functions, including pizza dough, jam, and yogurt. The KBS Large is the only other that offers a yogurt setting and has 17 total functions.
None of the bread machines we tested are particularly small. However, the Cuisinart and Elite Maxi-Matic offer the best size and weight ratio for easy storage. They're both lightweight and slender, thereby taking up less space on your countertop. Most of the bread machines we tested let you choose different loaf sizes, most commonly in 1, 1.5, or 2 pound sizes. The Breville also has a 2.5 pound option, while the Zojirushionly makes 2 pound loaves. However, the Zojirushi comes with an impressive 51 different recipes specifically designed for this machine. The Breville and Cuisinart have the most recipes — 47 and 43, respectively. This is in stark contrast to the models that include just the bare minimum of roughly one recipe per function — like the KBS Large and Maxi-Matic, which have just 17 and 18 recipes.
Yeast Free Bread
For this metric, we again turned to each bread machine's recipe book. We looked for some sort of cake or sweet bread without any yeast. We made these recipes with and without mini chocolate chips, to see how well each device handles distribution within the loaves. As these recipes were more different-tasting than the other types of bread we baked, we based our taste testing more on how they tasted compared to how that particular recipe should taste. These recipes ranged from boxed cakes and pound cakes to fruit loaves and nut breads. We did the same thing for gauging the bread crusts, densities, and overall textures.
The Zojirushi Virtuoso pound cake recipe turned out beautiful and delicious. It doesn't have an automatic fruit dispenser, though. While this wasn't an issue for this highly viscous pound cake recipe, it certainly makes a difference in runnier cake recipes. The Hamilton HomeBaker takes the unique approach of simply baking any box cake recipe you feel like picking up at the store. In our testing, it worked like a charm and created cakes exactly as we hoped they would be from the picture on their boxes. The Breville machine cranberry orange loaf didn't look all that appealing, yet its taste and texture were excellent. It's also one of just two machines we tested that has an automatic fruit and nut dispenser, which worked amazingly well to distribute the cranberries in this recipe evenly.
The other model we tested with an automatic nut dispenser was the KBS Large. This feature worked very well in distributing mini chocolate chips around the loaf. However, the actual bread portion of this yeast-free recipe was unevenly cooked, with some parts too dry and others almost raw. Both the yeast-free options from the Elite Maxi-Matic and the Cuisinart Compact Automatic were underwhelming and unappetizing. And once again, the Oster failed to offer a recipe for a cake or sweet bread.
There are a lot of options, functions, and recipes when it comes to bread machines. We did our best to put them through rigorous but realistic tests to determine which ones do best and for what types of bread. Whether you want a machine that will make you sweetbread while you're at work or fresh white bread for your kid's sandwich lunch, we hope that our in-depth testing and side-by-side comparisons have helped you identify the best bread machine for your kitchen.
Jessica Riconscente, Austin Palmer, and Maggie Nichols
GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.