Wondering what bread machine to buy or give as a gift? I’m a big fan of Zojirushi bread machines. I use my Zo to make all the bread, hamburger buns, hot dog buns, dinner rolls and more for my household.
Last Updated on December 10, 2023 – Originally posted July 14, 2019
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The short version of the story is that Zojirushi bread machines are well built and make great bread. I tested most of the bread recipes on this blog with Zojirushi bread machines.
Here’s the longer version of why I recommend the Zojirushi breadmaker . . .
I make all the bread, hamburger buns, dinner rolls, pepperoni rolls and hot dog buns for our household. Rarely, I’ll run out of time and I’ll need to pick up a bread product from the grocery store. That happens about twice a year. Other than that, I make everything with the help of my Zo.
That means that I use my bread machine two to three times every week. In my experience, Zojirushi bread machines will last four to six years under those conditions.
I do need to buy new paddles every few years. Paddles and other parts are available on Amazon or from Zojirushi.
Let’s talk about the quality of the bread. You can look through this website to see the sort of bread this machine is turning out. The bread recipe that I make most frequently is sour milk bread. It turns out great every time.
Sometimes people tell me that they use their machines to make the dough, but they bake the bread in the oven. This is often because people want their bread to be traditionally shaped. Two-pound Zojirushi machines have a horizontal loaf pan, so your bread comes out of the machine looking like a “regular” loaf of bread.
The two-pound loaves will yield about 12 slices of bread per loaf. I slice and freeze any bread that we don’t eat within about 24 hours.
What Bread Machine Do I Own?
I have the BB-PAC20 Home Bakery Virtuoso. I bought it in 2013 and it’s still going strong. I love it and It’s the longest lasting bread machine I’ve ever owned.
Sadly, this machine is no longer offered.
I also own a Home Bakery Virtuoso Plus (BB-PDC20). I bought it in August of 2021. You can learn more about that machine below.
Last, but not least, my mother gave me her Welbilt dual loaf bread machine. I’m not sure when this machine was made, but the manual is copyrighted in 2000.
Pick the Zo That’s Right for You
Both are good machines. Let’s get into the positives and negatives of each one.
BB-CEC20 Home Bakery Supreme
I think the BB-CEC20 Home Bakery Supreme is a good choice for most people.
Pros of the Home Bakery Supreme:
- Less expensive
- Has a quick dough setting
Cons of the Home Bakery Supreme:
- No gluten-free setting
BB-PDC20 Home Bakery Virtuoso Plus
The BB-PDC20 Virtuoso Plus machine is really popular. However, I have several questions about this machine. I’ve tested it and you can see the results below.
Note that if you order this from Amazon they may give the product number as “BB-PDC20BA.” The “BA” stands for is the color code for the model. In this case it signifies that the color is black.
Here are the pros and cons of the Virtuoso Plus:
Pros of the Virtuoso Plus:
- Gluten-free setting
Cons of the Virtuoso Plus:
- More expensive
- No quick dough setting
Keep reading to learn more about the Virtuoso Plus.
Virtuoso Plus – The Yeast Issue
One concern I had with the Virtuoso Plus is that the recipes in its manual don’t use active dry yeast. Most of the recipes call for rapid rise yeast.
I’ve used Zojirushi machines for years and this is an enormous change. In the past, the recommended yeast was active dry yeast.
Would my recipes work as-is in the Virtuoso Plus or would the yeast amount have to be updated?
To test this, I made one loaf of sour milk bread in Virtuoso Plus and one in the Virtuoso. I used active dry yeast on both.
The loaves were the same size. The only difference was that the loaf from the Virtuoso Plus was darker and the crust was slightly thicker.
If you own the Virtuoso Plus, you’ll want to experiment with the crust settings. Tried and true recipes that used the medium setting in the past, may now need the light crust setting.
Special Bread Machine Courses in Virtuoso Plus
Do you really need sugar-free, salt-free, multigrain bread settings and all the rest? I’ve tested some of them and you can see the results below.
In most cases that I’ve tested, the special settings are not needed.
The setting issue matters because the Virtuoso Plus is more expensive than the Home Bakery Supreme. I don’t want people to pay more for these special settings, when they could just use these recipes in the Home Bakery Supreme.
Also, there’s only so much room for special settings on the control panel. So Zojirushi removed the quick dough selection to make room for the settings that I don’t think are needed. I use the quick dough setting once or twice a month. For me, it’s not a good trade-off.
Salt Free Setting – Virtuoso Plus
I tested the usefulness of the salt free course.
I made two loves of bread. One loaf was made in my older machine using the basic setting and the other was made in the Virtuoso Plus using the salt-free bread setting.
As you can see, the loaf of bread made with my older machine (the loaf of the left) looks fine. It is a little smaller, but I think the loaf is better formed.
My conclusion is that a salt free course is not needed to make salt-free bread in the bread machine.
Full disclosure, I made one adjustment to the recipe because of the yeast issue.
I made the loaf in the Virtuoso Plus using 1 teaspoon of rapid-rise/instant yeast. Again, that’s the loaf on the right.
My older machine usually calls for active dry yeast. So I converted the 1 teaspoon of instant yeast that original recipe called for to 1.25 teaspoons of active dry yeast. That’s what I used for the loaf on the left.
Vegan Setting – Virtuoso Plus
I first made vegan-friendly bread using a traditional bread setting years ago. Check out my recipe for dairy-free eggnog bread for more details on that.
To make sure that it’s possible to make vegan, dairy-free bread without a special vegan setting I made milk bread in my older machine. I’ll be adding that recipe soon.
The bread looks and tastes great.
It is a little poofy. So the next time I make it I’ll add a little less yeast. However, this is another case where a special setting isn’t needed.
European Setting – Virtuoso Plus
I also tested the European bread setting on the Virtuoso Plus. I made an herb bread using basil. I was going to share the recipe, but I really don’t like the bread. It’s a recipe from the Zo manual and it has way too much basil.
The loaf on the left was made with the basic/white setting and medium crust on my old machine. The loaf on the right was made with the European setting on the Plus.
As you can see, the Plus made a better formed loaf with better color. My older machine produced a loaf that was a little smaller, pale and the top has an uneven crust.
The loaves tasted identical.
I would imagine that using the dark crust setting and slightly tweaking the recipe the same quality loaf could be made without the European setting. But sometimes a person just wants to make bread and not tweak recipes. So I could go either way on this one.
Full disclosure, I did make one change to the recipes used with the different machines. I adjusted the type of yeast used for each machine just as I did when I tested the salt-free bread setting.
My older machine usually calls for active dry yeast. So I that’s what I used there. I used instant yeast in the Plus as that’s the yeast type mentioned in the instruction booklet. I used the formula on my yeast page to calculate equivalent amounts.
Gluten-Free Setting – Virtuoso Plus
I haven’t tested the gluten-free setting on the Virtuoso Plus. However, I did test this setting on my older machine, the Virtuoso.
The loaf on the left was made with the gluten-free setting of the Zojirushi. The loaf on the right was made with the instructions from the King Arthur Flour website that recommended using the home made cycle.
The loaves of bread tasted about the same, but the loaf made with the Zo’s gluten-free setting had a much better texture.
So if you make gluten-free bread, it makes sense to get the Virtuoso Plus.
Learn more about my gluten-free bread test, including where I got the gluten-free bread mix.
Want Something Smaller?
If you want a smaller machine, you might try Zojirushi’s one-pound machine, the BB-HAC10.
It even has a cookie/pasta dough setting. Intriguing!
I’ve always used Zojirushi machines and been happy with them. However, if you can’t find a Zo that meets your needs, Amazon has an article on the best bread machines.
In short, any bread machine is better than no bread machine at all.