The Fresh Loaf

News & Information for Amateur Bakers and Artisan Bread Enthusiasts

Can anyone suggest a very basic bread machine for a beginner?

millironk's picture

Can anyone suggest a very basic bread machine for a beginner?

I am looking to purchase a bread machine for my very busy, but health concisous, daughter.  She would be most interested in baking whole grain recipes.


Doc Tracy's picture
Doc Tracy

My mother is really afraid to try making bread so I'll be interested in the answers to these questions. She also wants to bake whole grains, which I imagine will be difficult to have come out well in the bread machine.

To me, learning some basic skills or perhaps learning how to use the no-knead refrigerator method is so simple, how does it get any easier than that?

davidg618's picture

Neither of you mentioned wanting low price, so I'll make my recommendation : Zojirushi X20. This is based on using an earlier version for more than a decade, with heavy use the past eight years. It's intuitively easy to use for the novice, and has features advanced home baker's will appreciate, and most novices will grow to like.

At an average price, online, of $214.95, its a bit pricey, but in my opinion a good value.

David G

althetrainer's picture

I have two cheap ones; bought them for my husband in a garage sale.  The Zo is a very good bread maker but I was not sure if my husband was really serious about bread making so I thought I would buy him a couple of cheap ones to start.  These days, he bakes himself a loaf of black (rye) bread once a week!  He does prefers one machine over the other so I was glad that I bought two of them. 

If you know the person you're buying the machine for is very serious about it, by all mean, go ahead and buy the best machine in town.  If not, do what I did, buy them a cheap one to see how long they will stay excited about it.  Most people thought they would bake bread more often if they had a machine.  Unfortunately, most of these people are short term enthusiasts and their machines ended up in a garage sale.  If after a while they're still baking and wanting to try more recipes, then a Zo will make a nice Christmas/birthay present.  But of course, not everyone likes buying second hand gifts so here are a few basic things you need to know:

1) weight/size: how large a loaf is desired?  I remember the first machine I saw only had one size: small.  My very first machine had 3 settings: 1-lb, 1.5-lb, & 2-lb.  I always used 1.5-lb because it was the perfect size for my family.

2) Shape: horizontal vs. vertical; some old machines only do vertical so you get tall round loaves.  If you want the long square ones like store bread, get the horizontal type.

3) Setting options: most machines have different setting options for various types of breads: white, grains, dough, cake, even dessert.

4) Timer (programmed) features: some machines have a timer that allows you to bake at a pre-set time.  You can put all ingredients in the bread maker before going to bed; the machine will bake at the time pre-set i.e. 3 a.m. and the bread will be ready by 6 a.m. when you wake up.  My husband never uses the timer but it's a nice feature to have if one wants to have a loaf of fresh bread for breakfast or when they get home from work. 

5) Easy to understand manual: a lot of people don't think it's important.  But for people who have never baked a loaf of bread before, an easy-to-follow manual is a plus.  A basic manual should have good diagrams to illustrate all parts and how to use the machine.  It should also have basic recipes that will use ALL the features that come with the machine.  Check the recipes to see if the ingredients listed are meausred by weight or volume.  There's no right or wrong measurement but people do have preferences.  My husband will not use a manual if ingredients are measured by weight i.e. grams and oz.  He preferres volume i.e. cups & spoons that suits his style.  By the way, a friend of mine once had a machine made and manual printed in Japan.  The translation was so bad that she couldn't understand the manual.  Guess where her machine ended up? Garage sale!

Having a bread machine should make bread making a positive experience.  It's not important what other people's machines can do.  Pick one that will serve the purpose and your needs; it will stay in your kitchen many years and not heading toward the next garage sale.


joaninha's picture

A few thoughts. first some times it's possible to buy high-end bread machines  for a great price at garage sales,  on Craig's List,  etc.  About 6 years aog, I got a  like-new Hitachi for $15  at a moving sale. The manual had been lost, so I spent another  $10 to buy a copy from the regional distributor, a  worthwhile investment. I use the machine at least 2-3 times per week, and it's still going strong.

Also, using a bread machine and baking bread in the oven are not mutally exclsuive ventures.  I use the machine to to make starters,  and to mix & perapre the dough using the dough cycle,  then go through the steps to  shape, rise, and bake in the oven.  I had been wanting to get back to bread-making, but a health condition in one hand which I now have, makes hand-mixing and kneading difficult.  Other people make bread dough in the machine simply for ease of preparation. Also, a machine can be used for mixing only.

Beginners  can find good tips & bread recipes in the book  Rustic European Breads from your Bread Machine. by Linda W. Eckhardt & Diana C. Butts.  Published in 1995,  it's now out of print, but available in libraries and from online booksellers. Almost all standard  bread recipes can be  mixed in a bread machine.

Enjoy your first loaf of bread!


Joana in Seattle





Aussie Pete's picture
Aussie Pete


10 years ago I purchased a basic bread machine. It bakes white, W/grain and W/meal without any problems. All bread machines should handle whole grain without difficulity.

These days as I have learn't and understood more about home bread baking I just use it for kneading only.  The cooking element is totally wasted although it works fine. When it comes to a new machine for myself in the future I will be purchasing a mix master that can knead instead.

The point I am making is if you want to grow in bread making and do a Ciabattas, Baguattes, pizza bases(all can be done on whole grain) or a plain pan sandwich loaf or maybe bread roll/buns you will be better of with a mix master  machine with a kneading hook instead. This will give you to make more varities and styles with your w/grain. I have made a heavy German Grain loaf from my mother's in law mix master and baked it in a sandwich loaf pan. It worked better than my bread machine as it will also knead a larger capacity of dough.

The other thing to think about with the bread machine is you can only do one loaf at a time. With a mix master you can knead up a couple of loaves, bake and freeze to store with the same amount of effort and time for a single loaf. If time is valuable one loaf a day or 2nd day may be a grind rather than a weekend pleasure.

If you want the same shape and style of bread over and over a bread machine is great. If the bread making becomes an enjoyable hobby for you  a mix master and kneading hook/paddle will take you further. So think about your future needs  as the pleasure of bread making as a hobby does get to you. You only have to look at this site to discover the enjoyment it brings to so many people.

Happy choices......................Pete.



rftsr's picture

I've had dozens of bread machines over the years and if you don't mind smaller loaves (1.5 max) the discontinued Breadman TR800 is the only one that bakes really good bread in the machine. You can still find them for a good price on Ebay.

Otherwise the Panasonic SD-YD 250 is good and so is the Zo. They're more expensive than the Breadman. The Panasonic has much longer cycles which makes for better, more flavorful bread. I've had to use the Sandwhich Crust setting to get the best crusts, ie not overdone. The Zo, T-Fal, and Emerals have a more horizontal pan and 2 mixing blades. There also a 2 blade Welbilt you can find used on Ebay that mixes great dough.

That said, after having all these machines the best thing is to let the machine mix the dough and bake it yourself in the oven. No machine other that the retired Breadman will give you ideal 2 cents.

diverpro94's picture

Wolfgang puck's bread machine is the best I've ever owned!

stream26's picture

 Otherwise the Panasonic SD-YD 250 is good and so is the Zo. They're more expensive than the Breadman. The Panasonic has much longer cycles which makes for better, more flavorful bread. I've had to use the Sandwhich Crust setting to get the best crusts, ie not overdone.

Hi , I m new here and have same dilema. I’m a newbie at baking so I din’t really know how to decide…After this review I chooce beetwen Panasonic SD-YD and Sunbeam 5981 I am appreciate receiving your expert advice about Panasonic

dabrownman's picture

is at Goodwill.  There are 3-4 there every week and sell for a dollar o dollar Thursdays with the right colored tag.

synthacide's picture

thats where i found mine... and brought me into this hobby... cuisinart bk200, makes a decent loaf, im no longer buying bread im buying flour, which is cool to me, no more some artisan bread :)