We may receive a commission if you click and make a purchase through links in this post.

How Does a Bread Machine Work and What Can Bread Makers Do?

How do bread machines work, what is there to know about bread makers so that you can make delicious loaves every time with minimal effort?

In this post I will include everything I know about bread makers in order to answer to those questions.

Making homemade breads by hand is a skill that not many possess.

It requires knowledge and experience and all this can be simply put like this: it takes a lot of time to learn how to make bread.

It’s definitely not a common topic among young people like me.

When I go out for drinks with my friends, no one is going to say all of a sudden that they’ve baked something. Or cooked something for that matter.

If it weren’t for my mother, I would be the same.

My mother actually introduced me to bread makers, which, after many years and with the creation of this blog, led me to even using an oven for bread baking, though my machine makes the dough.

Even so,

I still rely heavily on my bread maker for day-to-day loaves.

My Top 3 Bread Machine Picks

1. Cheapest: Oster CKSTBRTW20

The Oster CKSTBRTW20 is a basic bread machine, small, easy to carry from place to place if you don’t use it often you don’t have to keep it on the counter permanently, and capable of making amazing breads and great dough. It doesn’t have a gluten-free cycle but you can adapt gluten-free recipes to make them in the Oster, too. It’s a very easy to use bread maker that has a very good price.

2. Best Gluten-Free: Hamilton Beach Bread Maker 29882

If you’re looking for an affordable bread maker that has a gluten-free cycle, the Hamilton Beach should be your first choice. It’s another basic bread machine that’s light and easy to use, with the addition of that gluten-free cycle. Another model for making all kinds of recipes without you doing much of the work.

3. Overall Best: Zojirushi Virtuoso

The Zojirushi Virtuoso is in a league of its own regarding many aspects: its capability of making rectangular loaves (the shape that a loaf pan offers), its very many 15 settings, the high quality, the amazing crust, the fact that it does have many cycles but it’s still pretty easy to use, and its rather big size. Well, let’s not forget that it’s also one of the most expensive bread makers.

What Is a Bread Machine

preprogrammed menus on bread machine

From what I’ve said above, you’ve probably inferred the answers to what is a bread machine and how do bread machines work.

It’s all in the name.

A bread machine:

  • is a kitchen appliance that can make many (so many) different type of loaves from scratch
  • it also makes excellent dough for things like pizza, pasta, pretzels, and whatever other recipe you might think of
  • and jam, as well
  • you get the satisfaction of eating delicious homemade bread and you know precisely which ingredients went into making it but you didn’t do any work

The Zojirushi even has a meatloaf recipe. You’ve read that right, the Zojirushi Supreme and the Virtuoso can actually make meatloaf.

The simplified process is like this:

  • you gather the ingredients stated in the recipe
  • add them in the pan in the order specified by the user manual
  • put the pan in the bread machine
  • select the program that you’ll use (white/basic, whole wheat, French, gluten-free, dough, and so on), the size of the loaf (some only include the 1.5 and 2 pounds options, while other models even have recipes for 1 pound or 2.5 pounds loaves), and the crust type (light, medium, dark)
  • those are only loaf sizes, which are not applicable for the dough cycle
  • press Start and with that all your work is done

I usually make white bread, 2 pounds, medium crust. The second most used setting is the dough.

How a Bread Machine Works

To better answer the question how do bread machines work, let’s talk about the phases of a bread machine:

  • preheat (the ingredients are warmed so that the yeast can perform the way it should, no movement occurs at this point)
  • knead (it starts really slowly by distributing the yeast and moistening the gluten in the flour and then the kneading paddle will move faster and faster to form the dough ball)
  • rise (the dough ball will expand until it fills the bread pan and taking its shape, the kneading paddle will just move for a few seconds during the rise phase, also known as punch down in order to release the trapped carbon dioxide)
  • and bake
  • bread makers also have a keep warm phase for up to 60 minutes but, after that, the loaf will become soggy if it’s left in the pan inside the machine
  • if there is no preheat phase (not all models have it) then you should add the ingredients when they’re at room temperature, don’t add cold water/milk or butter/eggs directly from the fridge, you can use the microwave to warm them up (except the eggs)
  • the machine beeps when you can add other ingredients like nuts, fruits, chocolate chips, seeds and those will be incorporated in the dough during the knead phase, slightly before the knead phase is complete, and then baked together with the dough (some haveĀ an automatic fruits and nut dispenser so you can just put the ingredients there at the start of the process and the machine will incorporate them when it’s time)

When it’s done, unplug it, remove the bread from the pan, let it cool on a rack for 30 minutes and fill your kitchen with the smell of homemade bread, and that’s it.

Your work is minimal, the enjoyment is inversely proportional.

That’s my short answer to how do bread machines work.

You can understand so much more if you read the user manual.

What Does a Bread Machine Do

bread machines bake bread

To better answer the question how do bread machines work, we should talk about what does a bread machine do.

What are the possibilities when you use one.

Short examples of what a bread machine can do:

  • basic white, whole wheat, French, sandwich, gluten-free breads
  • banana bread (fruits breads), chocolate breads, cakes (there is a cake cycle on many bread makers), blueberry loaf, pumpkin bread
  • cheese breads
  • sourdough breads
  • dough, pizza dough, pasta dough, pretzel dough
  • dough for sweets
  • jam

A bread machine cookbook is the perfect tool to show you how many answer there are to the question what does a bread machine do.

How Do Bread Machines Work? Useful Tips

how does a bread machine work


When you decide to get the perfect bread maker for you, you need to read the user manual with attention.

You will notice that there is an order in which you have to add the ingredients.

The idea is that the yeast/baking soda/baking powder shouldn’t come in contact with the liquids.

What order do ingredients go in bread machine?

The order is:

  • liquids
  • fats
  • dry ingredients salt, sugar, flour
  • yeast

Or the reverse.

If you find bread machine recipes that you want to try or you get a cookbook, you just need to remember that order of ingredients and you’re ready to go.

The user manual will also tell you about the different types of flours and each recipe specifies which type you should use.

Accurately weighing and measuring ingredients is essential.

It’s the most important step.

Using weighing scales is best, they provide better accuracy than measuring cups.

Don’t scratch the bread pan, if it gets scratched the bread will stick to the pan and it won’t come off as easily.

Silicone spatulas won’t damage the coating of the pan.

The same goes for the kneading paddle, that’s why it’s not recommended to wash it in the dishwasher.

Generally, they’re easy to clean up, there’s not a lot of maintenance at all.

For some models, you can find replacement pans. Those for the Zojirushi are the most expensive, a Zojirushi pan is more expensive than a cheap bread maker.

Smaller bread makers, like the Oster or the Hamilton Beach are light and can be easily stored away if you don’t use them frequently but others will need a permanent spot on your kitchen counter.

So, that’s about it.

Did you find the answer you were looking for to how do bread machines work or is there something more you need to know?

My Top Pick: Zojirushi Virtuoso

Where to Buy?

Check Price and User Reviews Here

After reading this post on how do bread machines work, if you’ve decided that a bread maker might be perfect for your, check out one of the best, the Zojirushi Virtuoso, although if you want much more affordable choices there are the bread machines from Hamilton Beach and Oster.