How we test bread makers
By Yvette Fletcher
Our rigorous tests separate the bad bread makers from the brilliant ones. And you don’t need to break the bank to get a Best Buy - we've found great bread makers costing less than £60.
Can a bread maker really deliver that delicious freshly baked smell and make wonderfully textured bread in your own home? We've tested more than 20 models and found some that bake bread so unappetising you'll be forced to head down to the local bakery, and some that bake gorgeous loaves.
Each bread maker bakes nine loaves in our lab, so we can assess the appearance, texture, smell and taste of each. We recreate how you'll use your machine at home, so we also bake wholemeal and white loaves using the basic and delay-setting programs. This means that when you choose a Best Buy, you know it will bake you consistently great bread, whatever setting you use.
Our tests will answer your questions about bread makers from brands including Panasonic, Morphy Richards and Kenwood.
- Will it bake a loaf that looks appetising?
- Can it make bread with a great texture and that tastes delicious?
- Will the paddle stick to the bread, leaving unsightly holes?
- Is it easy to use and clean?
- Will it be irritatingly noisy?
To discover which bread makers give outstanding results, check out our list of bread maker Best Buys.
Will it bake a loaf that looks appetising?
We bake nine loaves in each bread maker: three wholemeal loaves and six white loaves - three of which are baked using the delay timer. Our expert testers then rate each loaf for its appearance.
Best Buy bread makers will make loaves with an even crust that's a beautiful golden brown all the way around it, like the ones below.
Buying one of the top models will help you avoid wasting money on a bread maker that will make bread with an overly dark or really pale crust that's knobbly, has a sunken top or unsightly holes, like the ones you can see below.
Can it make bread with a great texture and that tastes delicious?
We take the bread out of the bread maker within 10 minutes after it's finished backing, then look inside each loaf to rate the crust and crumb texture. We cut them in half, into slices and into chunks so that we can really see what the bread is like throughout.
Loaves should be light and fluffy inside - the bread should spring back when pinched and not be doughy or have large holes. The crust should be the right thickness all the way around the loaf, too. We mark down those bread makers that make bread with an overly thin or thick crust, and that are dense and uneven inside.
Using the same section cut from each loaf of bread to taste, our experts comment on all aspects of taste and smell. Bad loaves will have a burnt or bitter taste, will be saltier or overly sweet. We're looking for anything out of the originally that means you won't get the great-tasting loaf you'd expect.
Will the paddle stick in the bread, leaving a hole?
It's really annoying when you've made a perfect loaf that you'd be proud to show your friends, but the paddle gets stuck in the middle, making a gaping hole in the loaf.
To help you avoid this, we record how many times the paddle sticks to the centre of the loaf to find out which bread makers are the worst offenders.
Is the bread maker easy to use and clean?
As you'll be using your bread maker regularly, the last thing you want is one that's confusing to understand, frustrating to use and a total pain to clean.
So we look at all aspects of your bread maker, from the clarity of the instructions and display to how simple it is to program the machine and take the bread out once it's baked. We also look at what it's like to clean the inside and outside of the machine.
This means you can use the results of our tests to pick a bread maker that makes great bread and is a pleasure to use.
Will it be irritatingly noisy?
Ideally, you want to be able to pop your bread maker on and get on with your day. But if you get one that is distractingly noisy, it's going to become a nuisance that you would prefer not to use. We rate the noise each machine makes, so we can separate the annoying machines from the ones you want to live with.
Visit our bread maker reviews to see our star ratings for noise - the higher the rating, the quieter it is.
Should I buy it?
All the tests above combine into an overall score for each bread maker we review. A Best Buy bread maker needs to not only make a beautiful loaf of bread, but it also needs to be easy to use - otherwise you'll be left frustrated every time you use it.
The test score for each bread maker ignores price and is make up of the following two factors:
- 65% performance
- 35% ease of use
Bread makers need to earn a test score of 70% or more to be a Best Buy. Any model that scores 40% or less is a Don't Buy, and is best avoided.