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Breadmakers? Which ones are the good ones?

I'm looking at the Zojirushi BB-PAC20 bread machine and was wondering how it compares to other machines. I'm thinking that this might be a better value then the $100 machines because they seem to break down in a year or two though this one hasn't been on the market that long. It's predecessor was highly rated and this machine has a heavier duty motor and a heating element in the lid for more even baking.

What bread machines do the Chowhounder's recommend?

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  1. Zoshi is the best IMHO.
    I have had bread machines since the origional Panasonic I had to import from Japan in the early 80's (US model cale out soon thereafter). I have always been satisfied with the Zoshi models. The one I replaced the Panasonic with (28?) years ago is still going strong.
    The Panasonic (national) units are good as well.
    If you are wondering about a zoshi, check your salvation army stores. I picked up a spare
    BB20 for $5 in one. Zoshi customer service is wonderful.
    If you do not think that you will be using a bread machine a lot, or want to try one out for a low cost - hit a thrift store. When I drop off clothing, etc I walk around and always see many of them on the shelves. The west bend dual loaf size seems to hold up quite well if just doing white breads.

    1 Reply
    1. re: exvaxman

      Can you just add room temp liquid or do you have to warm the milk or water? The first machine I had warmed the liquid to the right temp but the 2nd machine didn't. I'm now in the market for a new machine.

    2. i can't speak to other models but we've had the Zo mini for about four years. We run it about three times a week to make bread or dough. We haven't had a problem that wasn't the human's fault. It bakes evenly and gives a nice even browning on top except sometimes the yeast is a little over-zealous and the bread rises so high that it doesn't brown where the little oval window up top is.

      1. I have the Zojirushi too. I got it to replace a wonderful National that I had for more than 30 years.

        The pluses of the Zojirushi are that it makes a horizontal loaf. It uses 2 paddles to knead so the dough is thoroughly worked. It has all the bells and whistles like a jam making function and an alert for adding things you don't want kneaded out of existence like fruit. It has 3 cycles that you can customize. It begins by preheating your ingredients.

        The negatives are that the controls aren't very intuitive and the machine is more complicated than it needs to be. If I could get my old National rebuilt, I'd prefer it to the Zojirushi even tho it didn't have *any* bells or whistles. My Zo has gotten one of the paddles welded onto the spindle somehow and that makes it very difficult to clean thoroughly.

        I've only baked in mine when I am using the bread as an ingredient as for stuffing or bread pudding. To my mind, the crust comes out pale and uneven. I would never bake in the machine if appearance was an issue (and it's *always* an issue for me). I use the machine most for creating and fermenting a sponge on the "Sourdough" cycle and then I finish with a customized cycle followed by hand shaping and baking. However, it does a great job of making up to 3 pounds of dough and the customizable cycles will allow you to do it any way you want.

        1. I have the Sunbeam. Usually run the dough cycle twice to get close to the "window pane" for Japanese/chinese style buns then bake in the oven.

          1. Hi Sid,

            We owned the Panasonic. It was ok. I gave it away via freecycle.com. A few years back a friend introduced us to how he makes bread and there is just no comparison at all. His bread is "food of the gods delicious". Seriously amazing bread.

            He uses those enameled cast iron pots or dutch ovens. Mine is just plain cast iron. Either can be used. I promise you that the results will be vastly superior to any stand-alone electric appliance.


            Have fun!


            1. I currently don't use a bread maker. I was gifted one a few years ago. A cuisinart. At first I thought it was great but then it started to really wear down. It did this in just a few batches. I also noticed grease coming out from under paddle. It would get in the dough. I called cuisinart and they claimed it was a defect. They replaced the arm and the pan. Well it happened again and I just returned the unit.

              Did a lot of research and found out this is a very common problem.

              I got really into making bread and just got a Bosch compact mixer instead.

              1. I got a Zojirushi Mini a few months ago and I love it (other than I'm eating way too much bread), really easy to use and clean. No experience with any others.

                1. Absolutely a better value if you use it a lot. I've had my Zo since 1990 and it's still going strong. It was packed away for a few years, but other than that it's gotten regular use. I always prefer the loaf baked in the regular oven, so I mostly use it to just mix the dough. It does bake a loaf well, just not as good. Oh and I use it for pizza dough a lot.

                  4 Replies
                  1. re: chipoltay

                    A mirror image reply to chipoltay's post regarding Zojirushi:

                    My wife and I also purchased our S15 model in the same year in the United States. We chose this model as it will mix and knead whole wheat seeded bread. It too was used for a few years , then packed away, then finally unpacked and brought out again. Of course we lost the instruction guide while packing, but found it again on the Internet when we returned. A copy has been printed, and a copy with recipes also is available on one of our Asus tablets.

                    We make bread very early Sunday mornings, the family tradition in our Canton. It used to be that the local community wood oven was fired up for each family's bread while you attended church service. Your bread loaves were scored or marked on the top to tell them apart from bread belonging to others. We keep the tradition going, but bake at home without scoring as there is no need. The communal oven is fired only for a few special occasions these days.

                    Today, I use a stand mixer to mix and knead most of our our bread, but on holidays or for large meals, the Zojirushi machine returns to the countertop (with a voltage converter). It will handle any of our mix recipes ( Whole grain, French, Spelt, Rye, Chive, Nut & Raisin, Polenta, etc. ) and produces a good amount of bread dough to about 3-4 pounds per batch. One can run it from the START setting or DOUGH MIXING, before letting the dough knead / rise once or twice.

                    Gros Pan, or large country loaves here are usually made for the week, using a Brotform, Banneton, or bread basket to mould each loaf of bread. This can be rectangular, triangular, or the round Boule shapes, all mixed in the Zojirushi. The machine continues to run very well, and the results are always excellent.

                    1. re: SWISSAIRE

                      Thank you SWISSAIRE! Your description and pictures makes me wish I wasn't on travel and was home to bake some bread. Great pictures too. With a new oven and a Kitchenaide mixer, I'm rethinking the bread maker but not the homemade bread!

                      1. re: Sid Post


                        Congratulations on your new appliances !

                        For large amounts of bread ( Holidays or parties ) 4 pounds or more, we use a standmixer with a dough paddle. Not a Kitchenaide, but a unit made in France. Unlike the benefit of the Zojirushi, the kneading for such large amounts is done by our hands.

                        We place the kneaded dough in Banneton or Brotform baskets to rise, and cover each with a the bottom half of plastic storage containers. That keeps the dough somewhat warm and allows it to rise without worrying about cold air or a breeze coming in from outside.

                        I have made 8 loaves at one time ( four boule and four baguette ) using both racks in the oven, but find that the oven has to be heated to 220 C (425 F) at least 30 minutes before placing the bread inside.

                        But nothing beats fresh, warm bread and butter with a little good coffee in the morning !

                        1. re: SWISSAIRE

                          Pick out a decent breadmaker, then decide which shelf you will put it on. If it looks good on the shelf in your mind, get it. Cause in 6-12 months it will only be a decoration on the shelf