Recommended bread maker

Recommended Bread Maker – The Best Bread Machine For Do-it-yourself

My recommended bread maker is… I have no doubt whatsoever that the Zojirushi bread maker (pictured above and below) is likely the best bread machine out there.

I highly recommend it for anyone who’s serious about making their own bread. Well, the machine makes it (grin), but you add your own ingredients!

Remember, you get what you pay for. Despite the higher cost of this bread machine, 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)

I recently made another delicious bread and just had to post about the attributes of this particular bread machine, and why I like it.

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 makers. 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 maker is on my recommended list. 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.

Home Made 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 recommended bread maker 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 into it. While we still buy store-bought breads from time to time, we’ve been making home made bread for years. Simply delicious…

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

[ Read: Choosing a Hand Grain Mill ]

A few bread maker 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 maker: 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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    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.

  1. Nice,,,
    on the item page on amazon in the pictures it shows meatloaf! What’s not to like about meat in the shape of a loaf

    1. 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 ;)

  2. If too expensive for you can always try eBay. It may not really be a grid down product, but it does help you get more self sufficient. We have a 1903 bread mixer that you crank and it works great.

    1. Now that’s funny… Mrs.J just got a laugh out of that one!

      Wait a minute…………………….now she’s coming after me with a cast iron skillet!

  3. Actually here is a No Knead Recipe that I always use excellent if you have to go out on patrol during shift you can come back to fresh baked bread in the morning.

    3 cups flower 1/2 teaspoon salt in a bowl

    1 1/2 cup water 1 TBS spoon of sugar and 1/4 tsp. yeast mix and let activate.

    Then Add to Flower and mix well….

    Here comes the magic! Cover and let sit overnight.

    In the morning Dump out onto flour board fold about 4 times and coat with rolled oats (anti stick agent).

    Then let it rise in a towel for an hour.

    Dump into your cast iron dutch oven and bake that for an hour or so.

    You get awesome Artisan Bread! make sure to eat in one day. Day two is ok and day 3 not so good.

  4. 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.)

    To Ken: Thanks for the review on the bread machine but my wife and I need to spend more time and money on walking shoes and using them as opposed to a bread machine. My white-colored wife is pre-diabetic and we are trying to keep it that way. I like to cook and eat so my shape has become roundish since I turned 50. We gave away our last bread machine years ago to aid in our diet plan. The temptation of waking up to the smell of fresh baked bread every morning was too much of a temptation every day. We stay thinner and healthier without one.

    White cracker brings up an important point: Bread is relatively easy to make if you have all the right ingredients on hand. My first skilled job upon leaving home was as a prep cook and baker for cafeterias and resorts(it beats digging ditches and it pays more). Having worked in a commercial kitchen was the deal-maker for me getting hired on a rural fire station(someone has to cook for the 20 man crew every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner).

    Knowing what to do with flour, salt sugar, eggs, yeast or baking powder is a survival skill. If you are good and skilled in the kitchen, you also end up meeting a lot of people as well. When I was starting out, no diploma, no professional license, you can still get a job as a prep cook, baker or grill man in the kitchen of a high volume eating establishment. Nobody cares who you are if the food you turn out is good.

    My first couple years working as a Nurse, I took my turn in the kitchen to raise money for certain charity events. People were surprised to see me burning meat when they knew me at work within the Hospital the previous day. Cooking is very much of a survival skill.

    1. 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 :-(

  5. 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.

  6. I bought a Grain Maker Mill, LOVE IT. I make all of my bread now so I can lower my cholesterol without a statin. Refuse to take it. I put lots of oat bran and fresh ground oat flour in the bread. Yes some times it does not rise as well even with added gluten but always taste good. It is working just a slower than a med.
    My daughter in law is wanting a bread machine will consider this one.
    Also prepper folks. Does anyone make their own Hard Tac?

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

    2. 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.

    3. 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.

  7. 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

  8. Hi all, I can put it in perspective for some folks here.
    Between my homestead and my son’s property next door we have 21 people to feed. Just to have a PB&J sandwich at lunch means at least 2 sandwich style loaves of bread and a small jar of peanut butter and jelly gone.
    It’s economy of time and money to have bread makers. We use 4 at a time. Leaves time to do other work and it saves money. As NRP said,way better for you to boot. A win win.
    We also involve the kids in the process seeing they are all homeschooled. We set the bread makers up in the school area. (After all the kids eat most of it.) They learn to follow directions, accurately measure and team work. They get to eat their successes along with their failures.
    I picked up 2 of them at garage sales for $5 each. Never used either. I guess a bread machine was still too much work.
    Point is, we can make bread from scratch and we do. During the week it just makes more sense to use the bread machines.
    I would say that falls under being prepared…

    1. Bill Jenkins Horse
      You sure you don’t want to adopt an Old-Fart that knows all about TP? hehehe

      1. Oh man,don’t get me started on TP!
        You wouldn’t believe how much we went through at the beginning. It’s not easy teaching kids that they don’t need to wrap TP around their hand the size of a catchers mitt to wipe their little bottoms.
        Now, to stay on topic: it is funny how the kids never wanted the heel of the store bought bread but now fight over the heels of the homemade bread!LOL!
        Now as to the old farts. We are in short supply so we need to spread ourselves around for all to benefit from our expertise.
        Kinda like cow manure…:)

  9. 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.

  10. Someday I would love to get a machine. Its on my wish list. lol. I look at yard sales and thrift stores every chance I get. I have not come across one yet.

    1. Texasgirl
      Have you check Good Will, I have seen them in our local store. They do have an online store where you can purchase items and have shipped to your address.

  11. If I had a family to feed I might consider it, but it’s just me so $250 for a bread making is not wise shopping. I try not to eat much bread anyway and if SHTF I could make it by hand.

  12. 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.

  13. To: Texasgirl:
    Try a swap meet or if you know of a couple with no children, My wife and I received a high end bread maker as a wedding gift. We do not have children and we are both working. Recently empty nest parents may also be giving theirs away as well as recently diagnosed diabetics. Keep the faith and keep looking. We hope you are surviving the weather down there.

    To: Bill Jenkins Horse:
    Good to hear from you. I am glad you are including and teaching your children how to cook. Truly is a skill that will last them a lifetime. Your children and grandchildren will not become the helpless Freshman on the college campus when they leave home. The smell of fresh baked goods will make some people tear up in their first year away from home. I was fortunate in that my mom taught me and answered my questions about cooking before I left home.

    1. Thanks CaliRefugee. We are doing well. It has cleared up in our area. No more rain. Lots of people in area seeking help from the flooded areas though. So much help and donations and they are having to tell people they don’t need any more donations right now! Its good to see all the kindness. Sure wish I could help out more.

      We are actually empty nesters ourselves now. hahaha…with several furbabies! That’s a good idea though. I will have to ask around. There is bound to be somebody wanting to get rid of one!

  14. Ok but only learning to make bread in a machine sort of takes away from self reliance maybe trying to make it in a cast iron Dutch oven or in a pizza oven or in the Weber. I understand that everybody has to start some where, but when the lights go out whats the bread maker going to be worth? Ken love your blog wasn’t trying to be nasty .

    1. Seabee
      Welcome back
      Sorry about giving ya such a hard time….
      I do agree that the learning process does not end at dumping a bunch of gunk into a Bread Maker and walking off.
      I believe most participants here are a lot more inclined to have the knowledge to bake bread with a Match and a Styrofoam cup than most.
      But you do bring up a very valid point. Learning many ways to do something is a necessity were we to get a hurricane passing through the neighborhood.
      And if Ken can get just one person into making their own, OMG so wonderful, Homemade Bread, then this article and the numerous comments are well worth the little time involved…..
      And as many have said and I will reiterate the smell of a Baking Loaf of Bread is unlike anything else… Yummmm just all out YUMMMM :-) :-) :-) and yes that required 3 smiley faces LOLOL

    2. Try making the beer bread! It’s easy. You don’t have to let it rise or anything. And you can change it up with herbs or different cheeses and/or beer. And it doesn’t have a beer taste. Very delicious.

      1. Texasgirl
        Thank you for that information, I prefer homemade bread. The easier process from beginning to end works for me. My time is limited on some days, now making sure if do make it..not eat it all in one setting. The alternate step would be gluing it to my back side. rolwl😂

  15. 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.

  16. We used to have a bread maker. Sold it due to the fact the loaf of bread it made was way to small for our family.

  17. We have a bread maker but I no longer use it. It was okay for mixing gluten bread and then baking in the oven but sucked when DH had to go gluten free. Turns out that the gluten free cycle isn’t long enough nor is the machine strong enough to correctly hydrate the flours. For gluten free breads, you can’t beat a stand mixer. It does take a good 10-15 minutes of mixing but you get a far superior product.

    These days I just need to make gluten bread for myself so I just go old school. Kneading that bread is a good release for tension. Better than beating on the old man, at least that’s what he says. :-)


    1. I got my pressure cooker and mixer at a Thrift store. I keep checking our local Goodwill’s and Salvation Army stores. I haven’t gotten good luck yet there. It’s in the timing perhaps, lol. I am sure I will stumble upon one someday.

  18. To. SeaBee:

    Point taken about reliance upon electronics or machinery when the grid goes down. When I left home, rice was always cooked in a rice cooker (This brand also makes those too.). To that I have to say: make bread from scratch a year or 2 and then you can truly appreciate the bread machine.

    I must say that making bread by hand is excellent workout for your forearms. Also good to work out frustrations when you punch the dough down. ( I do it twice- let rise and punch down.)

    I now make white rice in a nonstick pot with lid, a gas range and a kitchen timer. I have my system down now though the recipe does need to be tweaked for high-altitude cooking. I leave the high-tech rice cookers and bread machines for those with busy schedules and multiple children.

  19. 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.

  20. 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.

  21. Decided that I would forgo the

    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.


  22. To Texasgirl and Ken:

    Texasgirl brought up a point with her Beer bread recipe: There is a whole other world out there in making quick breads using self-rising flour/ or adding baking powder, baking soda and salt to regular flour. From a labor and logistics viewpoint, quick breads using self rising flour are much easier and faster to produce edible bread products for large numbers of people in a short amount of time with some mixing and no kneading. Pancake and waffle batter are the simplest form of quick bread rumored to be invented in the gold mining camps.

    To SeaBee:
    Self rising flour or the use of baking powder is the basis for: Banana nut breads and other fruit + nut combo loaves, Frozen Pizza crust. (because it can be frozen and rise in the oven after freezing). Bisquets and dumplings, Any quick bread batter can be poured into muffin tins and baked in less time than 2 loaves. By making muffins using your favorite quick bread recipe, you can make your own portable, good tasting trail snacks in less than 2 hours using an oven, mixing bowl and a sturdy wooden spoon (+ the muffin tin and shortening to grease the muffin tin)

    Years ago I helped a friend of mine get her turnkey coffee shop off the ground by making a variety of muffins to sell with the coffee. The most popular were the blueberry muffins, orange-walnut muffins and the dark chocolate biscotti. These were all quick-bread recipes.

  23. 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.

  24. The Hamilton Beach Homebaker bread machine is a very good one also if you can’t afford the high dollar machine right now . Wife bought one about a year ago and it is still kicking out a great whole grain loaf two or three times per week . Around 40 bucks new from WallyWorld .

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