Recommended bread maker

The Best Bread Machine After Several Years Of Use

I am updating this article for those landing here while searching for what may be the best bread machine. I originally posted not too long after purchasing this particular brand. We have also owned several other brands throughout the years.

It reached a point where I wanted the best bread machine available, sort of like “one and done”… A bread maker that reliably and consistently gets the job done (with lots of programming options for different breads), and will stand the test of time. (As well as the features listed below, including the ability to make a 2 pound loaf).

Although we have made our bread in a variety of ways (from scratch), a bread machine is a nice-to-have appliance. Sometimes we have used it just to knead the dough. Other times specifically to make pizza dough.

Whether we use the machine to process all the way to final product, or partially, it sure is convenient.

You might already know what it is from the picture above. It’s the Zojirushi brand bread machine. I highly recommend it for anyone who’s serious about making their own bread with the assistance of a bread machine. I believe it’s the best brand out there in this category.

Remember, you get what you pay for. Yes, it’s expensive compared to your typical mainstream appliance bread machine. Despite the higher cost, trust me – it’s worth it!

Why do I say that? I have one…and have been completely satisfied with it’s outstanding performance for years.

I have the Zojirushi Virtuoso. Now there’s the Virtuoso Plus:

Zojirushi Virtuoso Plus
(view on amzn)

While there are lots of good bread machines to choose from, many are less than great. If you’re looking for the best, look no further… In my opinion the Zojirushi brand is subjectively the best.

Here’s why:

Longer Tub For ‘Normal’ Size Loaf

First of all, while the loaf size is not the same as store-bought, it is longer and more rectangular than most typical bread machines. You are able to make a bigger loaf (2-pounds).

Additional Heater Element On The Lid

Most bread machines have one heater element. Rather than baking in an uneven way, this Zojirushi has an additional heater in the lid for even baking.

Gluten Free and Custom Menu settings

For those who are sensitive, there is a gluten free custom menu.

Multiple Preset Bread Menus

Basic bread, wheat bread, sourdough starter, dough, jam, cake, quick bread… I like the setting for extended kneading time which helps knead heavier flour such as whole wheat and rye flour thoroughly.

Dual kneading blades

Another reason this bread machine is on my recommended list for the best bread machine. It has two kneading blades. It enables thorough dough kneading and a higher rise. Paddles remain in the pan, not the bread, and separate easily after briefly soaking the cooled pan in warm water. Mrs.J likes how this bread machine kneads, and will sometimes use this feature for the dough and then bake in the oven.

Quick baking cycle

Need a loaf fast? This particular baking cycle makes bread in about 2-hours.

Homemade (Custom) Cycle

If you don’t like the way the presets bake your bread (perhaps baking it longer than your liking), you can use the Home Made cycle. This allows you to program the knead, rise and bake times to create your own perfect bread just the way you like it. We regularly use this feature.

Delay start timer

Set it and forget it. Want some fresh bread just before dinner time or first thing in the morning?

Zojirushi BB-PAC20
Best Breadmaker

The Best Bread Machine For The Bread Lover’s Kitchen

There are additional features too, but in conclusion those listed above were important and part of the reason I chose their bread machine. An important part of general preparedness is one’s abilities in the kitchen. While this is not baking bread entirely from scratch, it is a step in that direction while using all of your own ingredients to make a healthy and delicious bread.

Note: The health aspects of controlling the ingredients that go into the bread may be significant in today’s world of preservatives and ingredients that you can’t pronounce… I truly enjoy knowing every ingredient that I choose to put in that bread machine and therefore a healthy bread!

Note: The following bread machine recipe book is a great resource:

The Bread Lover’s Bread Machine Cookbook
(view on amzn)

Note: I know this bread machine is way expensive, and consequently will not fit everyone’s budget. I get that. I’m just putting my opinion out there for those who are searching for the ultimate.

[ Read: An Electric Flour Mill For Your Own Homemade Breads ]

[ Read: Choosing a Hand Grain Mill ]

A few bread machine tips:

Bread machine flour or bread flour. Is it different from regular flour? A little… it simply has more gluten than all-purpose flour. It helps with the overall rise and texture. If you’re using all-purpose flour, consider adding a product called vital wheat gluten. The rule of thumb is to add 1 tablespoon of vital wheat gluten for every cup of low gluten / regular flour.

Bread machine yeast and rapid-rise yeast. They are specially formulated for the bread machine. They also become active more quickly than active dry yeast. Active dry yeast should ideally be dissolved in water before being used, but bread machine yeast can be mixed in with other dry ingredients. This is particularly important when using the timed mixing function on your machine.

How much flour for a loaf of bread? Bread machine recipes vary. Recipes often refer to weight rather than cups. The weight of flour varies. The best way to measure for a given recipe is to use a digital kitchen scale for exact measurements – after you ‘zero out’ the weight of the container (we use this one). A good rule of thumb is about 2.5 cups flour for a normal loaf. A 5 pound bag of all purpose flour contains about 18 cups by volume. So figure about 6 loaves per bag if recipe calls for 3 cups (a slightly larger loaf).

Alternate use for bread machine: Wonderful Wife uses the bread maker to make pizza dough that we then bake in the oven. Basically a pizza dough maker.

~ a reader commenting on MSB

I have a Zojirushi and I love it. Most of the time I let it mix the bread and rise it twice. Then I shape it, let it rise and pop it in the oven. If I am lazy I let it go all the way. It has 2 paddles instead of 1, mixes better. Don’t Touch My ZO!

said “old lady” here on the blog

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35 Comments

  1. @Seabee, Hopefully it’s an inspiration for others to get into making their own home made bread. The more one knows how to make their own foods, the more self sufficient they become. While a bread machine is sort of cheating, it’s a start in the kitchen in that regard…

    Not only that but it makes for easy do-it-yourself home made healthy bread.

    1. I agree with Ken. It will give folks a taste of homemade bread and will jumpstart them to learning to make their own bread. It is the way I got started! I have a kenmore machine and I love it. I don’t bake mine in the machine, I just let it do all the work then bake in my oven. It’s also a great way to make homemade pizza dough!

  2. Well, if you got a good genset or solar setup, after the SHTF, you may be the only person who can easily crank out fresh bread for eating or barter. Otherwise, you will be spending a good portion of your day doing the work that the machine does freeing your hands up for other tasks.
    A loaf of bread every 2 hrs. with minimal work on your part could be a gold mine post SHFT.

    1. Right on, that’s one reason I started fooling around with rustic tortillas,,, there’s something about a nice soft thick rustic flour tortilla filled with a nice veggie salsa,
      Onions, tomatoes, cucumber, zucchini, a little parsley or cilantro, celery, hot peppers, chop it all fine and mix it up with some salt and pepper…

    2. Very true, Jon. The first major project that I undertook when we moved here to the retreat was to integrate solar power and an adequate battery bank. It will be a HUGE asset if the SHTF to that extent.

  3. Really Seabee? If you’re in the thinking that there is no value in this sort of article, welllllll ok than.

    FYI, I have had a Bread maker for many MANY years, I do NOT buy that carcinogenic, chemical laced, poisonous ‘store bought bread’ at all anymore…. Ever wonder why a loaf of Store Bread can sit in the Frig for 3 months and not go bad????????

    1. Quote, “Ever wonder why a loaf of Store Bread can sit in the Frig for 3 months and not go bad????????”

      YES! I swear, just the other day I was wondering that same thing. It seems like store bought bread is even more indestructible than ever before. I recall in the past that even store bought bread would start to mold after a period of time. Now it seems to just sit there, same as when it was purchased. Kind of like the Twinkie. What the heck is in there?

      1. Note on store bought,,,
        Something to consider here, with the heavy use of GMO corn and grains one thing they do is splice fungicides into the plant to prevent typical fungal and bacterial problems, stands to reason that if the farmers are having trouble with crop residues not going away because of this the same would happen on the consumer end

    2. I agree with you NRP. We were recently given a whole bunch of hot dog and hamburger rolls, more than we could possibly use. So we decided to dry them and turn them into bread crumbs. Well it took 2 days in the oven at a low temperature before they were dry enough to turn into bread crumbs. My homemade bread dries out in 3 to 4 days if we don’t eat it fast enough. That is storing the bread in a container so it doesn’t dry out. Now I am afraid to use those bread crumbs.

  4. We have used Zojirishi’s for years. Great bread machine. Probably the greatest invention since sliced bread.

    We use the Zojirishi for kneading only though. The pan is big enough to knead a double batch of dough then after the first rise we take out the dough and separate it into two equal sized round bread loaves and put them in a double perforated French bread pan for the second rising then bake them in the oven.

    Granted, the loaves are not shaped like a standard loaf but the finished round loaves are 4 – 5 inches in diameter and about 10 -11 inches long. I’m not saying one loaf style is better than the other, but we have found that the bread bakes better in the oven, and in a perforated bread pan than in a solid pan or in a bread machine. Just saying.

  5. Hey Ken,
    Do you have a specific recipe for this machine using whole wheat flour you could share?

    1. @Helmet, Most often we use this bread recipe for general purpose:

      1 1/4 cups milk
      4 tsp butter
      3 cups flour
      4 tsp sugar
      2 Tbsp wheat gluten
      1/2 tsp salt
      2 tsp yeast

  6. We haven’t tried making meat loaf in there! Will stick to the oven and a meat loaf pan for that… But then again, maybe it’s worth a try ;)

  7. CaliRefugee

    “To NRP and Nailbanger: To those who refer to colored people: Reminder that white is a color too. To those that talk of getting in shape: Round is a shape. (currently my shape and I struggle to change that every day.)”

    Not to sure where that came from, but ok.

    I also am working on my “roundness” one pound a week is my goal, seems to be working so far, down 18 pounds in as many weeks. and staying off.

    I will agree 1000% cooking is a skill, being able to cook without a Kitchen is not that easy……
    Try canning Pickled Beets while doing a Lights Out” weekend. I did 53 pints last weekend. Even hauled the water from a nearby lake and filtered 80% of what was needed.

    1. Congrats on the weight loss. Ironically, given that this article is about our bread machine, fact is that when I eat less bread it helps in the weight loss department. I’m almost down to my goal weight.

      But………. fresh baked bread sure is good! (A treat once in awhile)

      1. Ken
        Even better when ya grind the flour fresh from stored Wheat Berries….. AHHHHH Man, there goes the diet for this week, THANKS Ken :-(

  8. I have been making an easy beer bread recipe.

    3 cups of self rising flour, 1/2 cup sugar (or less depending on taste), 1 can of beer, 2 tablespoons butter. Mix all ingredients except the butter. Then melt the butter and put it on top. Bake for 50 minutes at 350 degrees.

    If you don’t have self rising flour you can use regular flour just add 3 teaspoons of baking powder.

    You can use different beers too. Angry Orchard Apple Cider add some mozzarella cheese and onion powder. Or pumpkin beer bread.

    Use:
    2 cups of white flour
    1 cup whole wheat flour
    1 tbsp baking powder
    1 1/2 tsp cinnamon
    1/4 tsp all spice
    1/4 tsp ground cloves
    1/2 tsp ginger
    1/4 tsp nutmeg
    1 1/2 tsp salt
    1/4 cup honey
    1 cup pumpkin puree
    1 12-ounce bottle pumpkin ale
    Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

    In a large bowl, combine flours, baking powder, spices and salt. Add the honey, pumpkin and beer and stir everything until just combined.
    Pour into a non-stick sprayed loaf pan. Bake 55-65 minutes, until a toothpick inserted comes out clean.

    So easy and very delicious. Our favorite is take the simple beer bread recipe and add 1/4 pickled jalapenos and 1 cup shredded cheese.
    So easy and you don’t have to let anything rise. But it is hard to eat just one slice. lol.

  9. I have owned a Mini Zo for the past 10 years and LOVE it! We are a small family, so the smaller loaf is perfect for us.

    Also bake bread by hand, or cornbread, but when you’re pressed for time, or not feeling well, it’s nice to just add ingredients, set it and forget it.

    Replacement parts are easy to find too.

  10. My “ZoJi” is at least 12 years old, maybe more. Model BBCC-X20.
    Still totally reliable. Can’t even estimate how many loaves it has baked.

  11. Mrs. USMCBG,
    Are you talking about Hard Tac candy? If so, I make around 5 gallons a year for presents. I make all flavors.

  12. No bread machine yet but I have got a Mock Mill that attaches to my Kitchen Aid mixer and a closet full of hard white and hard red wheat berries along with a pail of dent corn. And I love making bread from scratch. The taste of fresh ground flour can’t be beat and the nutrition is miles above the store bought stuff. And yes, once upon a time I did make some hard tack if you’re talking about the 19th Century military bread ration. ‘Hard’ is the operative word. It’s one of the few food items that has the potential of being weaponized-shatter it with a sledge and load it for grape shot.

  13. Ok I’m going to throw this out there. Ken is on the right track with this article. I started making bread with a bread machine. (Didn’t even know what prepping was.) Wasn’t an expensive model. I used it until it died. I now know how to make bread from scratch. To include grinding my own flour with a Grain Maker mill my husband got me just for this. (LOVE IT!) It is the baby steps that count. I started making our own bread cause it just tastes better than store bought stuff. It is a skill that I developed over time. It is also one I’m passing on not only to other family members but also anyone who asks. Sometimes we just have to think outside the box cause everything I have read on here has always connected to being prepared in one way or the other. Love this site. Thanks for all the hard work Ken and comments from everyone.

  14. I have a ZO and I love it. I know how to make bread, rolls etc. from scratch but the older I get and the more my shoulders hurt, the more i enjoy Zo doing the hard work of kneading. I think using a bread maker also introduces you to homemade bread, how the dough is supposed to look, the steps involved in making bread. I had the first bread maker that came out, it looked like R2D2. – Still have it.
    It sure helps at Christmas when I had to make 300 rolls!
    So until the power goes out, ZO and I are best friends.

  15. Decided today I would forgo the ZoJi and do everything by hand, and bake a loaf in my solar oven. Perfect day, totally clear. I do that every once in a while just to keep in practice, and punish myself with the hand-kneading. The Solar Oven bakes excellent bread.

    zoi

  16. Mrs. USMCBG
    When you are grinding your wheat berries up for bread add barley to the mix. I did not know this until I was offer a few pounds of barley & oats. Oats I knew what to do with but the barley only eaten it in soup mixes.
    Decided to do a little research this item, we all assume barley is a grain, it is not, it is a grass seed. Discovered it is good for your cholesterol, blood pressure, helps with weight control. Decided that I would start adding this into the food we consume here at home for dh an myself. Like you not a fan of statins, and can not take them, which was discovered when problems started occurring.

  17. If this bread maker is of the same quality as the Zojirushi rice maker I have, it is well worth whatever the cost is. I’ve had my rice maker for so long, I’ve forgotten just when I did buy it, over 20 years ago for sure, and it still works like a champ, and I use it several times a week for making rice and for steaming vegetables and other similar uses.

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