- The Advantages of a Bread Maker
- The Disadvantages of a Bread Maker
- Other Bread-Making Options
- Quick Pros and Cons Comparison
- So, Should I Get a Bread Maker?
Has the thought of waking up to freshly baked loaves got you considering a bread maker? This is an understandable draw, to say the least. Bread makers are fast, efficient machines that can make simple loaves in as little as two hours or less when using the express setting. But what’s the drawback? Doesn’t every good thing have a downside?
Unfortunately, that old adage “there’s always ” rings true for bread makers, just as much as anything else. Today, I want to walk you through some of the biggest advantages and disadvantages of a bread maker. The list below is based on my experience of using various bread machines over the last decade.
The Advantages of a Bread Maker
What are the benefits of owning a bread machine? There are several actually! Bread makers can save you time, energy, and even money.
If there’s one word to describe bread makers, it would be convenient. All you have to do is add the ingredients to your bread machine, apply the right setting, and walk away. When you return, a freshly baked loaf should greet you.
You can even set a delay timer and preload your bread maker with ingredients, so fresh bread will be ready at the same time as dinner. Many bread makers allow a delay setting to be set as much as 12 hours in advance, so you can even set the bread machine the night before and wake up to be greeted by the smell of baking bread for your morning toast.
2) No Kneading Required
Maybe you genuinely love making bread by hand, but even so, all that kneading can be tiring. A bread machine can do this work for you. In addition, it times the resting and rising times according to the preprogrammed settings so you really can set it and forget it.
And if you don’t trust your bread machine to bake your bread the way you do – you can always use the bread machine to knead the dough. Once kneaded, you can remove it from the machine and bake it in the oven yourself. Do this by way of the ‘dough only’ setting, which kneads the bread and gives it its first rise.
A breadmaker may be a great option for you if you’ve found yourself thinking – darn, I wish store-bought bread was healthier. With a breadmaker, you know exactly what goes into every loaf you make and you can alter it to your liking. You can make loaves with oats, whole wheat, or organic ingredients. The power is in your hands!
In addition to making bread, you’ll find many bread machines that come with added settings to make a variety of other culinary concoctions. Many breadmakers also have settings to make jam, yogurt, and even meatloaf. Additionally, these handy countertop machines can make different dough types, like pizza dough, pasta dough, or bagel dough. Just remove, form, and cook.
If your family goes through bread faster than a deli does, a bread maker might be a more economical option than buying store-bought bread. Yes, you can make those lovely loaves by hand, but that is time-consuming. You have to knead, allow it to rise, and then bake. Bread makers save large families who are heavy bread consumers both time and money.
The Disadvantages of a Bread Maker
As magical as they may sound, there are a few downsides to these breadmaking devices.
1) Different Results From Oven-Baked Bread
We’re not going to lie to you – the results that come out of your bread maker aren’t always perfect. Bread machine bread can be denser or heavier than oven-baked bread. It can come out lopsided and often has a hole in the bottom due to the mixing paddles that truly irks some people (although there are bread makers with collapsible paddles that don’t do this).
Some breads may have a darker crust on the bottom than the top, due to the heat source in bread machines often coming from the bottom as opposed to circulating as it does in an oven.
No new tool comes without its learning curve. Learning new recipes can always have some wonky outcomes – but if you keep trying you’ll learn the ins and outs of your individual bread maker and find an assortment of recipes that do work!
2) Takes Up Space
Another downside for bread makers involves their consumption of precious countertop space. If you’re living in an already cramped kitchen, a bread maker won’t make it any better. There are options for smaller bread machines, however, and you can always store your bread maker below the counter when not in use.
3) Not All Bread Makers Have Multiple Settings
We mentioned all the additional settings available on some bread makers as one of their benefits. That being said, it should be noted that not all bread machines come with these settings. Some basic bread makers have only a few settings and lack advanced features like jam or yogurt-making.
As another example, if sourdough bread is a big draw for you, look for this specific feature when shopping for a bread machine. Not all bread makers have sourdough settings, as this bread requires different rise and proofing times than regular bread using commercial yeast, and not all machines come with this option.
4) Can Be Noisy
Some bread machine owners comment that bread makers can be quite noisy during the kneading process of breadmaking. There can be thumping and whirring as the bread mixes and kneads. Be sure to read the reviews for bread makers that you are considering, as some models are quieter than others.
5) Risk of Purchase and Regret
Arguably, the biggest con of purchasing a bread machine is this potential scenario: you buy your bread maker, use it twice, and never touch it again.
A lot of people bought bread makers as impulse purchases to fill the time during the pandemic. Now those machines are sitting in a cupboard somewhere gathering dust.
If you’re considering purchasing a bread maker, be sure you’re truly interested in bread and loaf-making and not just jumping on the fad bandwagon. If you are, you’re setting yourself up for a ‘purchase and regret’ situation.
Other Bread-Making Options
Before leaping into a bread machine purchase, it’s important to consider the other options. There is, of course, store-bought bread with limited selections, but there are also plenty of local bakeries from which you can source homestyle loaves as well. Consider supporting some small businesses and buying handcrafted bread from these local businesses to fulfill your desire for home-baked bread if you’re not ready to buy a bread maker yet.
In terms of baking your own bread, you have a few more options. Besides oven-baking bread, you can always make bread in an air fryer, toaster oven, or even a slow cooker. But, if you truly prefer the lightest and airiest loaves – oven baking may be your best option.
When you use a breadmaker, you are unable to preheat the machine before adding the bread like you can with an oven. This can result in a darker crust on bread machines, especially on the bottom where the heating element often is. With oven baking – you have air evenly circulating around your bread resulting in a more even bake. There are convection bread makers which combat this issue, but they are pricier than other bread machines, ranging about $200.
Regardless of this fact, you can always use a bread machine to make the dough for you and then bake it yourself in the oven as many bread enthusiasts do.
Quick Pros and Cons Comparison
Here’s a quick review of the pros and cons of bread makers.
Bread Machine Pros
- Convenient – You can dump in your ingredients, hit some buttons, and walk away (alright, be sure to consult a recipe first). But really, bread machines are ultra-convenient, especially for breadmaking novices.
- No Kneading – No more grueling kneading, resting, and proofing. Even if you choose a dough-only setting, a bread machine can still make the dough for you while you bake it yourself in the oven.
- Customizable – You control the ingredients that go in your loaves and can customize them to your liking and health preferences.
- Versatile – More than just bread can be made from these crafty machines. Dough, yogurt, and even jams can be made with many bread makers as well.
- Economical – For heavy bread consumers, a bread maker will save you more money than buying loaf after loaf at the grocery store.
Bread Machine Cons
- Different Texture/Look – bread made in a bread machine will look different than other breads. They may be heavier and denser than oven-baked bread, have holes, and be darker on the bottom.
- Space – Bread makers do take up space. For those short on countertops this machine may be a bit of a hassle, as you’ll have to pull it out from wherever you’re storing it to use it.
- Limitations – Not all bread makers come with extensive settings and options. If you want to use your breadmaker for a specific type of bread like sourdough, check that that machine has a setting for it before buying.
- Noise – Some bread makers are noisier than others. At the very least, most are noisier than an oven.
- Underuse – Are you someone who buys it, tries it once, and forgets it exists? A breadmaker may not be for you unless you’re really invested in breadmaking on the regular.
So, Should I Get a Bread Maker?
Honestly, this depends on the individual, but if you were to ask me, I would say they are totally worth it. Families going through pound after pound of bread may save money after investing in a breadmaker. Additionally, bread enthusiasts who hate kneading and proofing dough can benefit from this machine as well.
Buying a bread machine doesn’t mean forgoing oven-baked bread. Just make use of the dough-only setting!