Best Cheap Bread Makers
Home-baked bread is more than just delicious -- it's also frugal and healthy. The price of a high-quality loaf of store-bought bread can easily top $4, but you can bake your own for about $1 and avoid ingesting the refined flours, sugars, and
What We Considered
Our picks are based on data gathered from reviews posted by experts and consumers, and from manufacturers' product specifications. Research sources include Wirecutter, TopTenReviews, and Better Homes & Gardens, which test products, as well as Amazon, Walmart, Home Depot, Best Buy, Target, Newegg, and Bed Bath & Beyond, which host reviews written by people who use these machines in their own kitchens.
We Looked At
Reviews often use words such as "delicious," "yummy," "flavorful," and "heavenly" to describe the baked goodies and accompanying aromas from the bread makers we picked. Many consumers say they use their machines at least once a week, mostly for bread but also for pizza dough, rolls, quick breads, and the like. Most often they seem to rely on the included manual/recipe book as a guide and stress the importance of following the instructions to a T. Other reviews allow that some experimentation with the rising agent (active dry yeast vs. bread machine yeast), the flour, the proportions, and the crust settings may be necessary.
The best bread makers are a breeze to use. Just add the ingredients in the order specified, choose the appropriate setting, and walk away until the bread is done. (Still, it's a good idea to check in while the dough is mixing -- scraping down the sides is sometimes necessary. Most models have a viewing window.) Some machines offer an audible reminder to add fruit or nuts mid-cycle, and some dispense mix-ins automatically.
Cleanup is a relatively quick affair with our favorite bread machines. Several models we researched come with nonstick loaf pans and paddles, although we read a number of reports about struggling to remove baked loaves and residue left on the sides. The pan and paddle on a couple of models are dishwasher safe.
One minor irritant common among even the best bread makers -- at least in this price range -- is that the paddle remains in the loaf through the baking cycle. Numerous reviews decry the need to dig it out and the unsightly gash that mars an otherwise flawless slice of bread. (Tip: Grease the paddle with a spot of oil or cooking spray before starting.) Some models do come with a hook that helps remove the paddle. Some reviewers say they open the machine and pull out the paddle part way through the proofing, but read the instructions closely to be sure this will work; some users report that the dough deflates if the paddle is pulled out. Rare in the budget range is the model that short-circuits the paddle dilemma with an alert to dislodge it from the dough before the last rise.
Most reviews pertain to products that are relatively new. But a noticeable number contain paeans to the best bread makers of yore, attesting to a life span that sometimes surpassed 10 years and a decision to buy another machine bearing the same brand name. That said, we found a not insignificant number of reports of an early demise for the current crop of bread machines. A handful insist that new models seem flimsy compared with their predecessors. Most cheap bread makers have one-year warranties, although we found a few that are covered for two or three years.
Our Top Pick
This Cuisinart bread maker is a large, sturdy, and versatile machine that bakes bread with a good crust and crumb (the soft inside of the loaf) and turns out other tasty delights. The ability to remove the paddle from the rising dough and reshape the loaf is a big draw.
Well-shaped, horizontal loaves with excellent texture.
Signal to remove the paddle before baking.
12 settings, including gluten-free, dough, pasta, jam, and bake only.
13-hour delay start timer.
2 stay-cool handles.
Measuring cup and spoon included.
3-year warranty exceeds the norm.
Heavy, at 22 pounds.
LCD display is reportedly hard to read.
A user-friendly machine and a hard-to-beat value, this Sunbeam bread maker thrills reviewers with its durability and performance. They report that this little machine has lasted years, even with frequent use, and produced consistently delicious results.
Dependable results and life span.
12 settings, including dough, jam, and cake.
Front-mounted LED display for easy access.
Large and heavy; no handles.
Well-liked by experts and consumers, this Panasonic bread maker delivers loaves that are evenly textured and baked through. The yeast dispenser ensures that the rising agent is added at the optimal moment. Some reviewers were won over despite initial skepticism and others consider it a good value despite a perch at the higher end of the budget price range.
Tasty, high-quality loaves up to 2.5 pounds.
Relatively small footprint.
Automatic yeast dispenser.
6 bread settings and 4 bake modes.
Nonstick baking pan.
No viewing window.
Can be hard to reset if you choose the wrong program, some users say.
Tagged at a true bargain price, the Hamilton Beach HomeBaker 29882 comes with all the important features and, according to users, performs above its grade. Beginners and skilled bakers alike talk up its virtues, most notably the tasty and tempting end product.
Excellent results with a variety of recipes.
12 settings, including gluten-free and dough.
Easy to use and a breeze to clean.
Dishwasher-safe pan and paddles (comes with 2).
End-of-cycle beep is too loud for some users.
Dances off the counter, some reviews report.
Kuissential BMC-001 Review
Reviewers admire the performance of the Kuissential BMC-001 for the price. Bearing the label of a lesser-known brand, it stands on near equal footing with models from the big-league players.
Produces loaves with appealing crumb and crust.
13 settings, including gluten-free, sandwich, and customizable.
Automatic dispenser for add-ins such as fruit and nuts.
No recipe book.
Some auto dispensers don't work, according to reviews.
This Oster bread maker wins praise from hundreds of reviewers for the taste and texture of the breads it produces. A top-selling model on retail sites, it's basic and uncomplicated without any loss of functionality. Many users say it has performed admirably for years.
Good results with no hassles, reviewers say.
12 settings, including keep warm, dough, and jam.
Nonstick aluminum pan.
Relatively compact size.
More or less horizontal loaves, although some users describe an awkward square-ish shape.
Sometimes wobbles, according to reviews.
Some reports of poor mixing.
Mixed reviews for the Breadman BK1050S might make consumers think twice about this bread maker. The appeal of the collapsible paddle, which ideally means no gash in the bread post-baking, is marred by malfunctions. Consumers also report that the inside of the nonstick pan flakes and oil seeps into the pan.
Satisfactory, tasty results, according to reviews.
14 settings, including gluten-free, artisan, and low-carb.
Collapsible kneading paddle.
Comparatively long 15-hour delay and keep-warm mode.
Automatic dispenser for add-ins.
Reviewers observe that the paddle scrapes the bottom of the pan and may fail to mix and knead properly.
Machine oil and flaking bits from the pan's coating may be incorporated into the dough, some users warn.
Other Products We Reviewed
For a modest investment, there's a lot of bread to be had from this small appliance. Hamilton Beach HomeBaker 29881 reviews posted at Sears say the low price makes it a perfect starting point for beginners, as does its user-friendly operation. Just as critically, users are high on the bread it produces. Whether whole wheat or white or maple oatmeal, most reviews at Amazon report an end product with a good rise, proper crust, and consistent texture -- and that goes for gluten-free breads, as well. We found some disagreement in Hamilton Beach HomeBaker 29881 reviews about the need for precisely measured ingredients and the accuracy of the included recipes. But we also found general consensus that loaves pop right out of the pan; a few users happily note that the paddle remains in the pan rather than baking into the bread.
The Hamilton Beach HomeBaker 29881 (starting at $50, Amazon) features 12 settings, one each for six types of bread, including gluten-free. There are also settings for dough (e.g., pizza, pita), jam, bake, and cake, although one Hamilton Beach HomeBaker 29881 review reports unsatisfactory results with this latter setting -- baking time exceeded the usual oven process and the cake fell apart when removed from the pan. Additionally, there are two express cycles based on loaf size, either 1.5 or 2 pounds. The vertical orientation of the pan yields a square-ish loaf that's a bit disconcerting to some consumers who aren't sure just how to slice and serve it. The HomeBaker 29881 offers three crust shades and boasts an audible alert for adding ingredients like fruit and nuts. It comes with two paddles but uses just one; paddles and pan are dishwasher safe.
Despite a smattering of reports about limited durability, the Hamilton Beach HomeBaker 29881 is an appealing deal for novice and experienced bread machine users alike.
Bread lovers seeking high-end functionality in a budget-end bread maker are drawn to the West Bend Hi-Rise 41300 (starting at $79, Amazon). Reviews of the West Bend Hi-Rise posted at Walmart laud the tasty, light, and good looking loaves; dual mixing/kneading paddles; and user-friendly controls. Consumers tell of its time-saving virtues and quiet operation, although a few West Bend Hi-Rise 41300 reviews mention dough clumping at one end of the pan, a minor problem that's remedied by a quick intervention (open the machine and re-position the dough). At Bed Bath & Beyond users' West Bend Hi-Rise 41300 reviews likewise pronounce this bread maker a find, citing the perfect results and clear improvement over the traditional, manual process. A veteran bread machine user deems it one of the best ever in a West Bend Hi-Rise 41300 review at Amazon, and specifically commends its ability to handle dense ingredients. Consumers also like the horizontal orientation of the pan, which yields a loaf that looks suitable for sandwiches.
The West Bend Hi-Rise features 11 settings, including several for different types of bread (basic, French, whole wheat, sweet, quick, and sandwich), one each for dough, jam, and bake, two for faster cycles, and one for "homemade." This latter function, more commonly found on upmarket models, gives users the ability to customize the cycles (kneading, rising, and baking) for a more artisanal touch. Users can also choose among three crust shades and set a delay start for up to 13 hours. The West Bend Hi-Rise produces horizontal loaves weighing 1, 1.5, 2, or 2.5 pounds. It uses two mixing/kneading paddles simultaneously and a dual-loaf pan that's sold separately means two loaves can be prepared at once.
One downside to the West Bend Hi-Rise is the manual. Some users say it's tough going and the recipes don't always work out. But with a little experimentation, even these detractors turn out fresh, flavorful, and high quality loaves. And the others -- their appetite for fresh and healthy bread was sated from the get-go.
Breadman TR520 Review
Here's the rap on the Breadman TR520: a good, basic, no-frills bread maker for a decidedly budget price. In Breadman TR520 reviews at Amazon, users commend the output and operation, saying this machine affords an effortless route to homemade bread and easily bests store-bought loaves in terms of texture and flavor, whether cinnamon raisin, white bread, or gluten-free. One reviewer writes of spurning a high-price model in favor of the Breadman TR520 and has no regrets. Some reviewers note that recipe-tweaking may be necessary and they provide useful tips for optimal results, such as using bread flour, removing the paddle at the end of the last kneading, and oven-baking the loaf. That said, grumbles about performance and the model's design do surface in Breadman TR520 reviews, including some at Target. A number of consumers report dry and heavy loaves with a tough crust and many grouse about a control panel with white-on-yellow lettering that's hard to read. Several users have devised their own work-arounds for this problem: memorize the display layout, cut out labels from the manual and tape on the panel, write over the words with a waterproof pen, use a flashlight.
Despite its square footprint, the Breadman TR520 (starting at $59, Amazon) makes a relatively horizontal loaf, which one review at Wayfair describes as "squat." Options for loaf size include 1, 1.5, and 2 pounds and there are three choices for crust shade. This model has eight functions, including a fast-bake cycle (less than one hour), a one-hour keep-warm cycle, and a 13-hour delay start. It also signals the proper moment for adding nuts and pieces of fruit. The pan and paddle must be washed by hand.
Once you become familiar with the display panel, this is an easy-to-use bread maker that handily meets expectations but may, on rare occasions, disappoint.
A winning kitchen appliance from Cuisinart, the CBK-200 has proved easy to use and reliable. It's a big, rectangular machine with handles on the ends and more than the usual bread-making options. It also costs more than our top picks, but the stretch might be worth it to users who want convection heat and more functions.
Convection technology for better air circulation.
Multiple types of breads turn out as they should, users report.
16 settings, including gluten-free, low-carb, and options for longer and cooler rises.
Alert to remove the paddle before baking.
Horizontal loaf shape.
3-year limited warranty exceeds the category norm.
Fan noise irritates some users.
Crust reportedly comes out dark and thick, even on the "light" setting.
Baking pan rattles inside the housing, some reviewers say.
The T-Fal PF311E deserves a close look by consumers with dietary restrictions. Although other bread machines feature a special setting for gluten-free bread, this model goes further with more targeted settings and arguably tastier and more consistent results.
Excellent results, even with gluten-free recipes.
15 programmable settings, including salt-free and 3 for gluten-free bread and cake.
Intuitive and user-friendly, reviewers say.
Comparatively long 15-hour delay timer.
Wirecutter's runner-up for best bread machine.
Awkwardly shaped loaves -- the height exceeds the width.
It's pricey, yes, but this Zojirushi bread maker is an excellent choice for small households and kitchens. The Zojirushi BB-HAC10 is a dependable, user-friendly bread maker that scores for performance, versatility, features, and slices that fit in a toaster. It comes with an instructional DVD, as well as a manual.
Compact size; 1-pound loaf.
Quiet and stable.
Pan coating may flake, a few users report.