Life

These Bread Machines Are Perfect For Beginners — & They're Surprisingly Versatile Too

Bustle / Amazon

Making homemade bread can be a soul-satisfying hobby and one that can save you time and money at the store. But, if you're a newbie to the process, bread machines can seem intimidating, especially since some have novel-length instruction manuals. The best bread machine for beginners will do most of the work for you, with presets that make baking a variety of loaf types foolproof enough to outsmart rookie mistakes.

If you see yourself getting a lot of use out of your bread machine (instead of just testing the waters), it's worth spending a little more on a have-it-for-life model with extra bells and whistles that net you even more kitchen mileage. Some units have "Quick-Bake" or "Express" cycles, that bake bread in just and hour or two, or the ability to customize the bread texture to your density preference (think: regular, firm, or soft). Some models will let you make creations beyond just tasty loaves, like fresh pasta dough, jams, or even meatloaf.

Casual bakers who don't plan to use theirs that often might benefit from a budget bread machine with a decent number of programming options. (Even the cheapest bread makers on this list are no slouch where it counts, offering a minimum of 12 presets.) And once you know how to consistently churn out a good basic loaf of bread with your machine, then you can start experimenting with your technique. Over time, you’ll develop your skill set and know-how until you’re making your own bread blindfolded.

To get you started on your bread journey, check out the list below. From a small bread machine that's not going to monopolize your counter space to an industrial-strength horizontal model that bakes even vegan bread with ease, these four bread machines are highly reviewed on Amazon and totally beginner friendly — whether you intend to remain one or not.

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01
The Best On A Budget

This bread making machine is a solid starter pick for beginners because it offers plenty of features at a budget-friendly price point. You can choose from 12 different programs for a variety of breads, and you have the option to bake loaves in two different sizes (1.5- and 2-pounds) with three different crusts (light, medium, and dark crusts). But that's not to say that it's complicated to use; to get started you only need to add ingredients, select a cycle, and hit start.

This popular unit has an alarm that lets you know when it’s time to add fruit or nuts, and you can even use it as a dough starter for pizza and rolls. There's a delayed start function so you can prep in advance, and both its nonstick pan and kneading paddles (there are two included) are dishwasher safe for easy cleanup at the end of the day. Plus, there is an express function that takes a mere 58 minutes to make a 1.5-pound loaf (if you use a quick-rising yeast). "The machine is easy to use and easy to clean. I turn it on and program before bed time. In the morning, I have great nice warm bread for breakfast.. Great machine. Highly recommended," noted one fan.

02
The Best Compact Bread Machine

If space is at a premium, this small bread machine's footprint is no more than a sheet of printer paper and bakes perfect one-pound loaves that might be a better option for small households. It makes a couple different types of basic bread (in three textures: regular, firm or soft), as well as cookies, pasta, pizza dough, and jam. You can program it using the 13-hour delay timer, or use it's "Quick Bake" offering to bake bread in as little as two hours. There’s even a handle and cord keeper for tidier storage (essential in tight spaces).

Although it can’t bake as many different varieties of bread as other options on this list, it’s a solidly multipurpose little machine compared to the square footage. "Very small and very functional entry level bread machine, great for a single or for two people," one reviewer noted, adding, "A little pricey compared with competitors but it is all worth it."

It's not specified if parts are dishwasher safe, but the lid does remove for easy cleaning, and many reviewers commented that it was a cinch to clean — and quiet to operate to boot.

03
The Fan Favorite

Backed by more than 4,700 Amazon reviews, the Oster bread machine can crank out a family-size 2-pound loaf in under an hour on the express setting, making it ideal for busy households and last-minute loaves. There are 12 settings — including bagel dough — and a 13-hour advance timer you can set and forget. And that extra-long 40-inch cord is a godsend if you have awkwardly placed outlets. Although there's no option for gluten-free bread or, say, pasta dough, one reviewer chimed in, "As someone who is new to baking my own bread I would recommend this to anyone who is just starting out. With it's easy instructions and number of options it covers most things a beginner would want to do."

You also get a measuring cup, spoon, and a kneading paddle to make it easier to get up and running. Plus, this unit has a cool "keep warm" setting so that you're always guaranteed a butter-meltingly good slice. The parts aren't dishwasher safe, but the lid does remove easily for cleaning.

04
Worth The Splurge

The Zojirushi horizontal bread maker tops the list with 15 settings, and can turn out traditionally-shaped, 2-pound loaves in about two and a half hours. It has double kneading paddles so everything gets thoroughly mixed, and the lid has a built-in heater for even baking. You can make white and whole wheat loaves with ease, select from three crust settings (light, medium, and dark), and choose options for gluten-free, salt-free, sugar-free, and vegan loaves. It even turns out meatloaf and pasta dough. There's a delay timer option and the ability to set three custom "courses" to memory. The order also comes with a liquid measuring cup, nested measuring cups and a measuring spoon. "I highly recommend this machine, even to beginners, as it is easy to use and turns out great bread. I'm looking forward to using it for other things. (and there are a lot of other things you can cook in this thing)," one shopper raved. The parts aren't specified as being dishwasher safe but the nonstick bread pan is removable for easy cleaning.

05
Also Nice: This Best-Selling Bread Machine Cookbook

This bread machine cookbook by James Beard award-winning author Beth Hensberger is packed with simple tips and hundreds of recipes to make the most of your new bread machine. From traditional artisan loaves to a feta and spinach bread — even stuffed loaves and coffee cake — this book was written for beginners and experts alike. "I knew NOTHING about making bread," one reviewer prefaced. "Now, I can make any of these recipes, substituting any variety of flours or other ingredients, with ease...By starting at the very beginning, Hensperger educates and makes it possible for us to maximize what our machines are capable of."