Deciding which bread machine to buy can be a daunting task. The costs can vary wildly and the most expensive ones aren't always the best solutions, while the many of the inexpensive ones ones can break down more frequently. This creates a false economy as you end up replacing the machine year after year, costing you more in the long run.
What's a fresh bread fanatic to do?
The following three bread makers are considered by many experts and owners to be the best in their class:
- Zojirushi Home Bakery Supreme
- Panasonic SD-YD250
- Sunbeam 2-pound programmable.
They've been selected for inclusion here by features and price point, but I have noticed some overlap in pricing for the bottom two models. In all, you can expect to pay as little as $ 70.00 for the Sunbeam, and as much as $ 250.00 for the Zojirushi. That's quite a bit of difference in price, but there's a huge difference in features and durability, as well.
Zojirushi Home Bakery Supreme Bread maker
The Zojirushi Home Bakery Supreme Breadmaker is the Rolls Royce of bread makers, and is considered by many to be the best overall bread maker machine on the market.
It makes horizontal loaves, between one and two pounds, valued by most bread machine owners as being the most pretty, and most like those oven-baked in a conventional bread loaf pan or available from bakeries. To handle the mixing challenges a horizontal loaf brings, the Zojirushi bread maker uses two mixing / kneading paddles. Experts agree that this is a serious advantage over the more usual single-paddle machines. More thorough kneading leads to a more consistent rise and crumb.
The Zojirushi has more useful cycles and options than any other bread maker I've come across, including a sourdough starter cycle. I've never seen that in any other bread maker. As a fan of sourdough breads, this is a real plus to me. Owners say that the Zojirushi bread machine is very flexible and can do more than just make bread. There are cycles for jam, cakes and even meatloaf. There are three custom-memory settings and a long, 13-hour delay timer.
The Zojirushi gets solid reviews from owners, with over 300 written reviews at Amazon.com and anthoer 200 or so at Cooking.com. I did find a small number of complaints about durability, but nothing that seemed any different from other high-end bread makers. Some others complained about how large and heavy the machine was, but I think that's to be expected with a bread maker of this quality and capability. If you want nothing but the best in your kitchen, you'll want to pay the extra cash to get the amazing Zojirushi bread maker.
If you don't care about custom cycles, the Panasonic SD-YD250 may be a better option for you. According to reviewers, the Panasonic SD-YD250 Automatic Bread Maker is the best mid-range bread machine on the market. It's a sturdy, easy to use bread maker that makes regularly shaped horizontal loaves, which most people prefer over the more common, vertical ones. I did find it odd that this breadmaker lacks a viewing window, a pretty standard feature on other bread makers. Given how little you can see through the prots of other models, however, I doubt you'll miss it.
Owner's love how durable the Panasonic breadmaker is. Of the more than 350 owner reviewers have rated the Panasonic SD-YD250 breadmaker at Amazon.com, more than 70% give it a top, 5-start rating. It consistently makes good bread. The only cons than reviewers at Epinions.com mention is that now they're eating more bread than ever before.
Many write that say they've used their machines for years. There are only a handful of complaints about breakage problems. While it's not the cheapest model of home bread maker, we often get what we pay for. I've had to replace more than one bread maker simply because I'd worn them out. In such cases, "inexpensive now" creates a false economy as you keep having to replace them. Given the Panasonic's record of durability, however, I'd say it's great choice.
Sunbeam 5891 2-Pound Bread Maker
If the Panasonic is a bit more than you need, or want to pay, the Sunbeam 5891 2-Pound Programmable Breadmaker may be your best option. It's a solid performer at a low price. Home cooks have praised it's ease of use and overall performance, as well as it's affordable price.
The Sunbeam 5891 is packed with all the basics you'd expect from a great bread maker: crust-color selector, regular baking and dough only cycles, you name it. Like most bread makers in it's price range, it makes a vertical loaf, rather than the horizontal one available in more expensive machines. It sports a good, no-frills approach with 12 preprogrammed cycles and, surprisingly, a jam cycle.
To be fair, I found a few complaints about its durability and many owners say the recipes in the manual could be better. A few reviewers have also complained about the LCD screen, saying it can be hard to read. In spite of these complaints, owners of the Sunbeam 5891, posting at Cooking.com and Amazon.com, awarded the Sunbeam bread maker a good over-all rating. It is considered by many to be the best available bread machine in it's price range.
So, whether you're looking for a basic workhorse bread machine on a budget, or you're ready to step up to the best home bread machine available, it will be hard to go wrong with any of these three bread makers.