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Buying a breadmaker: what features to look for

04 February 2022

Breadmakers come with lots of features but figuring out which ones are worth having can be tricky. We help you pick the best breadmaker for your needs.

Loaf of bread in a bread maker
Choose the right breadmaker for you with our handy features guide

If you enjoy the taste of freshly baked bread but don’t have the time to knock up a loaf by hand, then a breadmaker that does the hard work for you is the perfect choice as your next kitchen gadget.

Deciding which breadmaker to buy may be harder – there are lots of models available with a wide range of features. The most important consideration is how well it bakes bread. Check out user reviews to see how each breadmaker fares in this department. There are, however, other features that can help you decide if a breadmaker is right for you.

What to consider when buying a breadmaker


You can pick up a basic breadmaker for as little as £40, but expect to pay around £100 to £150 for one that has plenty of features and produces a wide range of breads. With more expensive models, you’ll typically get delay timers, several loaf size and crust colour options, programmes for different breads, along with the ability to make jams and cakes. Dispensers feature on some, automatically adding in extra ingredients such as fruit and nuts at the appropriate time.

Shape and size

Most breadmakers have a significant footprint that can eat up worktop space. If space is a premium, look for a compact or narrow, tall model – though be aware that may have an impact on the size and shape of the loaves you can make. And if you plan on moving it around, say in and out of a cupboard, look for a model weighing less than 5kg.

Loaf size and shape

Many breadmakers offer a choice of three loaf sizes, although compact models may limit this to two. This means you can bake small loaves for everyday use and larger ones when you’ve guests. If you’re after a shop-style, horizontal shaped loaf, check the interior bread pan before you buy. Many breadmakers produce slightly square loaves.

Programmes and settings

Choose a breadmaker with a dozen or so programmes including standard white, brown and wholemeal loaves as well as French and Italian loaves. If you’ve dietary requirements, look for a breadmaker that works with gluten-free bread mixes and speciality flours such as spelt and rye. Dough-making programmes are worthwhile addition, allowing you to make everything from pizza and pasta to croissants. Some breadmakers offer cake and jam-making programmes too.

The features

Many breadmakers offer a speed setting that produces a white loaf of bread in just under an hour. The result may not be as tasty as bread that takes longer to make, but it’s a handy option when you’ve run out of bread.

Waking up to the aroma of freshly baked bread is one of the pleasures of owning a breadmaker, so if that's something you important to you avoid those that don’t have a timer delay. You can set the breadmaker to automatically start working up to 12 or 13 hours ahead so you can enjoy fresh, warm bread whenever you need it.

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Understanding breadmaker features

From timer delays and automatic dispensers to fast bake modes and jam-making options, there’s a bewildering array of features on offer that makes choosing the best breadmaker for you a challenge.

Typically, the more you spend, the more options you get – but there’s little point paying extra for features you won’t use. We guide you through the must-have features for creating the perfect loaf of bread and other bakes, so you can choose the best breadmaker for you.

Bread pan

All breadmakers have a non-stick coated pan so it’s easier to remove the finished bread. Most bread pans tend to be almost square in shape, so if you want your loaf to resemble a shop-bought one, look for a more rectangular-shaped pan.

Kneading paddle

The kneading paddle mixes ingredients and kneeds the dough. Opt for a collapsible paddle as you want to avoid an unsightly hole left by a paddle that remains in the dough during cooking. Always make sure the kneeding paddle is easy to remove, so you can clean both it and the bread pan easily.

Control panel

All of a breadmaker’s settings are accessed via menus and buttons on its control panel. Look for a control panel that’s easy to view and programme so you can get the best from your breadmaker.

Timer delay

A timer delay lets you set the breadmaker to start working at a predetermined time – essential if you want to wake up to freshly-baked bread in the morning or have bread ready for dinner when you return home from work. Most breadmakers come with a 12 or 13-hour delay start option.

Automatic dispenser

This automatically adds extra ingredients at the right time during the bread-making process – useful if you enjoy making speciality breads with fruits, nuts and seeds.

Viewing window

While a viewing window isn’t a necessity, it’s a handy way to keep an eye on the progress of your bread without opening the machine.

Cool wall

Breadmakers have insulated sides to stop them from getting too hot during cooking, though stainless steel models can still get very warm. Always use an oven glove or tea towel when opening and removing hot bread from the machine.


The best breadmakers have a dozen or so programmes that help you bake a range of breads, everything from white and wholemeal to French and speciality flours such as rye and spelt. A gluten-free mode is a useful option if you’re gluten intolerant, while pizza and pasta modes easily prepare the appropriate dough for use in your own recipes. Some breadmakers feature a ‘bake-only’ setting so you can cook a cake in the bread pane, though you’ll need to mix the ingredients first. Another useful programme is jam and compote making. Making delicious home-made jam safely and easily using your breadmaker is a cinch.

Fast mode

Many breadmakers offer a fast bake option that produces a loaf of bread in around 55-80 minutes – useful if you’re in a hurry. However, this typically works only with white loaves, so this may not be a feature of interest if you only eat brown bread.

Visit our bread recipe section for baking inspiration

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The opinions expressed are those of the author and are not held by Saga unless specifically stated. The material is for general information only and does not constitute investment, tax, legal, medical or other form of advice. You should not rely on this information to make (or refrain from making) any decisions. Always obtain independent, professional advice for your own particular situation.

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