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In this guide
If there’s any better smell than freshly baked bread, we haven’t found it. It’s guaranteed to make your mouth water and your home more appealing to potential buyers (apparently, but don’t quote us on that). Once a bit of a niche item, if Instagram is anything to go by it seems like currently we're all whipping up homemade sourdough and banana bread.
Sure, doing it by hand fills those #lockdown hours, gives you bragging rights and boosts your practice for when you can next try out for The Great Australian Bake Off. But the best bread maker helps you whip up a delicious range of bread and dough options, quickly and easily. We’ve spent hours combing through expert testing and real Aussie consumer reviews to bring you Australia’s top bread makers.
How we picked
We started with CHOICE, Australia’s leading consumer advocacy group, which had tested a good range of bread makers. This gave us a good idea of how some bread makers performed in lab conditions.
But we wanted to know what real Australians make of bread makers. To do that, we turned to ProductReview.com.au, Australia’s first consumer review website.
This gave us a shortlist of bread makers that perform well in the lab and in Aussie kitchens. There weren’t that many, mainly because there don’t seem to be many bread makers on the Australian market. When we checked some of Australia’s largest online appliance retailers, like Harvey Norman, they only had a few available.
To find the best bread machines, we considered a range of factors. These included whether they’d been tested by CHOICE (preference was given to those that had) and how many ProductReview.com.au reviews and stars they had (with the highest numbers of reviews and stars getting the bread maker bumped up our list).
We also wanted the bread makers to be easy to use, capable of producing a wide variety of bread and dough and to have a good spread of prices.
Armed with all these criteria, we came up with Australia’s best bread makers.
The best bread maker for most
Choose this if
Easy to use, capable of producing a huge range of bread and dough (including gluten-free and spelt bread) plus jam / compote, a 13-hour preset timer and plenty of customisation, like crust colours and loaf sizes. Did we mention Aussies love it? No wonder we reckon the Panasonic SD-2501 is Australia’s best bread maker.
What we love
15 different programmes
Including 11 bread and dough modes, which allows you to produce a huge range of bread items.
Perfect for anyone with dietary needs.
According to Aussies, this is a big deal and quite rare.
Jam / compote mode
Now you can make the bread and the spread, making this an all-in-1 breakfast / bread making solution.
With 3 crust colour and 3 bread size options.
Automatic fruit and nut dispenser
No more guessing when to add your fruit and nuts, this machine will do it for you.
Which you can set for up to 13 hours in advance, meaning you can walk into the smell of freshly baked bread.
Easy to use
Thanks to the large labelled buttons and programme options printed inside.
10 minutes power interruption
If your power goes off, this bread maker will continue working for up to 10 minutes.
Easy to clean
The Diamond-Fluoro coated-bread pan and kneading blade stop bread sticking to the pan.
Loved by Aussies
It’s a ProductReview award-winner 3 times over and has over 200 reviews, giving it an impressive 4.5 stars.
The not so good bits
Although Panasonic claims it's slimline, Aussie consumers say its height makes it bulky and difficult to store.
There’s no way of seeing inside to check your bread’s progress.
No removable lid
Making a thorough clean of the lid tricky.
For the over $350 price, we’d expect a longer warranty.
Easy to use and clean, capable of producing a huge range of bread and dough plus jam / compote and loved by Aussies. No wonder we reckon the Panasonic SD-2501 is Australia’s best bread maker.
It has 15 different programmes, which includes 11 bread and dough modes. You can whip up basic, whole wheat, rye, Italian, brioche and sandwich bread, plus pizza bases, rolls, buns, croissants and French sticks. There are dedicated gluten-free, spelt and jam / compote modes.
You can customise your bread to your needs, thanks to the 3 crust colour (light, medium or dark) and the 3 bread size options (medium, large or extra-large). It even has an automatic fruit and nut dispenser.
It has an up to 13-hours preset timer, so you can look forward to fresh bread when you get home. Using it is simple, thanks to the large labelled buttons and digital display. The Diamond-Fluoro coated-bread pan and kneading blade stops bread sticking to the pan. Which means it’s easy to remove your bread and easy to clean.
It’s been tested by CHOICE and is loved by Aussies on ProductReview.com.au where it’s currently the most popular bread maker. It gets around 4.5 stars from over 200 reviews and is an award winner 2017, 2018, 2019 and 2020.
Related: The Best Toaster
The best stainless steel bread maker
Choose this if
The Breville the Custom Loaf Pro offers slightly less bread-making options than our Panasonic winner. But it boasts sleek stainless-steel looks combined with a smart LED display. It too can whip up gluten-free bread and jam, has an auto fruit and nut dispenser and timer and is loved by Aussies.
What we love
Giving you a wide variety of bread choices, including pizza and pasta dough.
To make the perfect topping for your bread.
Get creative with this mode and create your own recipe by adjusting the time and temperature.
For best results for those with dietary needs.
Collapsible kneading blade
Which automatically folds in when the bread starts to bake, allowing the dough to expand and avoiding a hole in the bottom of the loaf.
It has 3 crust colour and 4 size options to suit your needs.
Smart LED display
To see what programme is selected and how much time is left.
So you can have it ready when you want it.
Auto fruit and nut dispenser
The machine will choose the best time to add fruits and nuts.
60-minute back-up power
In case of a power cut.
For easier viewing. It can be turned on and off.
So you can see what’s happening.
Good consumer reviews
It has almost 100 reviews on ProductReview.com.au, with happy Aussies giving it almost 4 stars.
The not so good bits
This looks good but needs extra attention to keep clean.
Buttons and a dial
Making it slightly less easy to use than our Panasonic winner.
For slightly more than our Panasonic winner you could get the Breville the Custom Loaf Pro. Sleek stainless-steel looks combine with a smart LCD display to clearly show you the progress of your bread and the time remaining. It has 9 manual and automatic programmes, letting you whip up basic, whole wheat, crusty, sweet, yeast-free and gluten-free bread. You can also make pizza or pasta dough and jam. Its custom mode allows you to get creative by making your own recipes.
There are also 3 crust colour and 4 size options. Like our Panasonic winner, you can delay the start and it has an automatic fruit and nut dispenser. Unlike our winner, it has 60 minutes of back-up power in case of a power cut. It also has a collapsible kneading blade which avoids leaving a hole in the bottom of your loaf.
It’s been reviewed by CHOICE and gets around 4 stars from around 100 reviews on ProductReview.com.au.
You might choose Breville the Custom Loaf Pro over the Panasonic because you prefer stainless steel and you want a smart LED display showing progress and time left, a pasta dough setting, 4 not 3 size options and a viewing window. For your extra investment, you’re getting less bread making options. It’s also slightly less easy to use with its mixture of buttons and dial.
Related: The Best Sandwich Press
Others worth considering
Who says a bread maker should be expensive? Not the Sunbeam BM2500 Compact Bakehouse 750g Bread Maker – its RRP is just $119, making it the most affordable bread machine we reviewed. Because it’s compact, it fits well in smaller kitchens, but it still offers a great range of bread and dough options.
There are 12 programmes, including French, sweet, cake, dough, pasta dough and jam. It offers 3 crust settings (light, medium and dark) but only 1 size option. Its gluten-free mode has been endorsed by Coeliac Australia as suitable for gluten-free recipes – the only bread maker we reviewed that has this mark.
With minimal buttons, bread options listed on the lid and a small display, it’s easy to use. Like our winner, it has a 13-hour preset timer. Unlike our winner, it doesn’t have an automatic fruit and nut dispenser. Instead, it beeps when it’s time to add these.
It’s been tested by CHOICE and it has over 4 stars on ProductReview.com.au, although this is from a limited number of reviews.
The Panasonic SD-ZB2512 is stainless steel and boasts even more baking and dough modes than our Panasonic top pick – 33 to be exact.
As well as the white, rye and French bread plus pizza dough, gluten-free and jam / compote modes of our winner, you can make ‘rustic’ artisan bread full of your favourite ingredients (think cheese, herbs or veg), ‘rustic’ sourdough and ‘rustic’ scones.
It too has an automatic fruit and nut dispenser, but it also has an automatic yeast dispenser to add yeast at the best time. It also has a temperature sensor which adjusts the temperature throughout the process for best results.
Again, it has 3 bread sizes and 3 crust colour options, easy to use labelled buttons and a 13-hour preset timer.
It too has been tested by CHOICE and has good (around 4.5 star) but limited (around 20) reviews on ProductReview.com.au. Even with the high price, it only has a 1-year warranty.
Just call Panasonic the leader when it comes to bread makers - the Panasonic SD-ZP2000 rounds out our picks. Panasonic reckons it delivers an “authentic crusty artisan loaf” thanks to its “next generation kneading, dough-rising and baking technology”.
All we know is that this bread maker is crammed with features. This includes a dough-kneading feature and temperature sensors. These sensors measure the internal bread temperature plus the outside temperature then work together to ensure your dough rises well. It’s got a central heater and reflective inner lid to help create a stable temperature. Most bread makers feature a bottom-only heater. We also rate its sleek black looks.
It’s got a great range of baking programmes (18), including crusty loaf options (like white, whole wheat, white raisin, white stuffed and more) plus brioche, bread and pizza dough and jam. It’s even got a dedicated gluten-free mode. Note that it hasn’t got either a yeast or a raisin / nuts dispenser. You’ve also only got 2 size options (for white bread only) and 2 crust colours (for selected bread only).
The Panasonic SD-ZP2000 is reviewed by CHOICE and racks up almost 4 stars from a handful of reviews on ProductReview.com.au.
The bottom line
Bread makers fill your home with a delicious smell and deliver a variety of freshly baked bread, whether that’s regular loaves, gluten-free ones or artisan creations, like sourdough. They’ll also whip up a range of dough, from pizza and pasta through to sweet treats, like croissants. They should be easy to use and clean and quickly become a kitchen staple.
We think the Panasonic SD-2501 is Australia’s best bread maker. It’s easy to use and clean and produces a huge range of bread (including spelt and gluten-free) and dough, plus jam / compote. With 3 crust colour and 3 bread size options, you can customise your bread to your needs. It boasts an automatic fruit and nut dispenser and a 13-hour delay start timer. It’s tested by CHOICE and is a ProductReview.com.au multi-award-winner.
A good alternative is the Breville the Custom Loaf Pro. Made of sleek stainless steel, it has a smart LCD display for easy viewing and has 9 manual and automatic programmes, including jam and pasta dough. It has a custom mode too, allowing you to make your own recipes. It offers 3 crust colour and 4 size options (1 more than our winner) plus a preset timer and auto fruit and nut dispenser.
Features to consider
From our research it sounds like for the best results, you need to do some trialling and refining of recipes and ready-made bread / dough mixes rather than relying on the features the bread machine is packing.
Here are the most common features of bread makers.
A range of bread types
Every bread maker, regardless of price, should be able to produce a good variety of bread and dough. The most basic bread options to look for include white; wheat, whole wheat or wholegrain; sweet; and French / continental.
A range of dough types
Most bread machines should also whip up dough which you then shape and bake in the oven. This includes pizza dough.
A bread maker usually takes between 3-5 hours to make what you’re after. So, most of them offer at least 1 rapid setting.
Crust colour options
Choose a light, medium or dark crust.
Want your bread to be ready when you wake up or get home from work? A preset timer will do this for you.
By seeing the bread inside, you won’t be tempted to open the lid which can cause heat loss and a less great loaf.
Power failure protection
If there’s a power cut, or you accidentally turn off the machine, power failure protection will keep your bread maker running until power is restored. The bread makers we reviewed offered between 5-60 minutes.
Manufacturers have become far more aware of dietary needs which is why all 5 of our bread machines have gluten-free modes. Only 1 of them, the Sunbeam BM2500 Compact Bakehouse 750g Bread Maker, has been endorsed by Coeliac Australia as suitable for gluten-free recipes. If gluten-free is a big priority for you, look out for this mark.
What you get if you spend more
Pay more, and you’ll get more convenience and more bread / dough options but not necessarily better-tasting bread.
The most affordable bread makers offer 1 loaf size. Pay more and you can choose 3-4 different loaf sizes depending on whether it’s just for you or you’re feeding the fam / flatties.
Automatic fruit and nut dispenser
Let the machine do all the hard work for you – it’ll automatically add fruit and nuts when needed, rather than you manually adding them.
For an all-in-1 solution, look for a bread maker that offers a jam / compote mode. Then you’ll be able to whip up your favourite bread products and the jam to spread on them.
Pasta dough mode
Although pizza dough mode seems to be a standard feature, not all the models we reviewed offered pasta mode.
Spelt bread mode
Because spelt bread uses spelt flour, which is wheat-free, it needs some extra attention for best results. Only our winner, the Panasonic SD-2501, offers this mode and although a step up in price from other machines, it’s still our third most affordable option.
Foldable paddles / blades
To avoid holes in the bottom of your loaf, look for foldable paddles / blades. This is a premium feature that we only found in the Breville the Custom Loaf Pro.
If you want to get creative, look for custom programmable settings which let you adjust the time and baking temperature. Again, we only found this in the Breville the Custom Loaf Pro.
How much does it cost to make bread at home?
A one-off investment in a bread machine should basically get rid of your weekly bread buying costs, right? Well, not exactly.
You’ll be swapping your weekly bread buy for buying quality ingredients or pre-made bread / dough mixes instead. These mixes contain all the dry ingredients, including yeast, which you add water to. There’s a huge range of mixes available, like rye, fruit loaf, sourdough, multigrain and pizza dough.
According to CHOICE, a 1kg loaf of multigrain takes between 3-5 hours to bake and costs just over $3. If you use a pre-made 1kg multigrain bread mix, it takes between 3-5 hours to bake and costs around $2.60.
Note that CHOICE doesn’t explain whether these costs are just ingredients / pre-made mix or if they include the machine’s running costs, like electricity.
In comparison, a loaf of wholemeal bread from the supermarket costs from $1.30 for 750g. But that’s for a basic loaf, not the type of artisanal fresh bread you’ll be whipping up at home.
What can I make in a bread maker?
Don’t be fooled by the name, you can make a lot more than just bread in a bread maker.
First, you’ve got your choice of bread, like white, wheat, wholewheat, wholegrain, sweet, continental, crusty and more. Then you’ve got your choice of size (usually 2, sometimes 3) and crust colour (usually 2 or 3).
Some bread makers offer cake or batter breads (those that don’t need yeast, like banana bread) and special gluten-free modes. In some you can whip up jam or compote, dough, pizza dough and even pasta. Finally, you might have a bake-only setting. Which means your frozen or pre-prepared dough will bake without kneading or rising first.
Is it worth getting a bread maker?
If you’ve got a large family who goes through a lot of bread every few days, a bread maker makes sense. No more frequent trips to the supermarket, simply pop in your ingredients and let it go to work.
But a bread maker works for a lot more people than just big families. If you’re on a special diet, like gluten-free, making your own bread ensures you know exactly what’s going in it. Likewise if you’re health conscious, you control exactly what goes into your loaf - there won’t be any hidden nasties, like added colours, preservatives or sugar.
Plus, a bread maker is a great back-up if you can’t get to the supermarket or bakery easily (#lockdown).
If you're likely to use your bread maker often or are a really keen baker who wants to experiment with a wide range of bread types, go for a higher-end model. These tend to have better materials and warranties, so they last longer. If you reckon you’ll only make bread occasionally, a more affordable model will work best. Honestly, these days we reckon every kitchen cupboard should be packing a bread maker.
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