Do You Need a Bread Maker To Make Bread?

July 14, 2022
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Making Bread the Old-Fashioned Way Without a Bread Machine

Bread makers remain one of the more controversial kitchen appliances. Some consider them a crucial instrument in their cooking arsenal, while others laugh them off as unnecessary gifts. There’s little doubt they can save home bakers plenty of time and energy, but do you need a bread maker to make bread?

You don’t actually need a bread machine to make homemade bread. People have baked bread for centuries without help from appliances, but it is hard to deny that machines make things easier. There is a time and place for everything, including bread makers in a modern kitchen.

What Is the Point of a Bread Maker?

Making bread from scratch can be a time-consuming process that bread makers hope to simplify. Bread machines turn a clump of ingredients into a finished loaf of homemade bread. The bread machine handles all the mixing, kneading, and rising so that you don’t have to spend time constantly checking on the dough.

While they all bake bread, there are several types of bread makers available. Different brands offer unique features that might make one more appealing than another. For example, if you like making different-sized loaves, you might want one with variable loaf sizes. Others include a fruit and nut dispenser for specialty loaves.

Benefits of Using a Bread Machine

It’s easy to draw on the convenience of baking with a bread machine. You add the ingredients to the bread maker, hit a few buttons, and after the bread rises, you extract a finished loaf of delicous bread maker bread.

In addition to being a time and energy saver, bread makers have other great benefits.

  • A bread maker doesn’t heat your kitchen like a full-size oven heats.
  • Clean-up is easier with a bread machine because you don’t have as many pieces to wash.
  • A bread maker uses less energy than a full-sized oven.
  • Machines give you more oven space when cooking food for larger gatherings.
  • People with physical disabilities or ailments can still make fresh bread without physically mixing and kneading the dough.

Additionally, many bread machines have bonus features that allow you to make other things, including dips and jams.

Drawbacks of Using a Bread Maker

Bread makers offer convenience, but not without a few shortcomings to consider.

  • You need space to accommodate these bulky appliances. There’s no such thing as compact if you want a machine that mixes, kneads, and bakes a loaf of bread.
  • Bread makers are louder than you might expect. The motor makes a noise that can be distracting.
  • Beginner-friendly and foolproof are different things, and bread makers demonstrate that point perfectly. It’s still possible to mess up a loaf of bread in a machine.
  • It’s not the same as hand-prepared bread. While the difference might seem negligible, discerning palates might pick up on it.

Finally, these machines don’t come cheap, especially if you want one with all the bells and whistles. Expect to pay between $100 and $300 for a bread machine.

Do You Need a Bread Maker To Use a Bread Mix?

Bread mixes are convenient options for home bakers who want to quickly and easily prepare a loaf of bread. They are easy to use and typically only need standard baking ingredients you should have on hand, like water and oil. If you don’t bake bread often, it saves you from keeping bread flour in your pantry.

Some bread mixes might say they require a bread maker, but that’s not typically the case. Most bread mixes work in other appliances and methods.

How Do You Make Bread Without a Machine?

You can make everything from sourdough bread to fancy artisan bread with your two hands, the right ingredients, and an oven or alternate appliance. While some types of bread might be more challenging, following a good recipe and using quality ingredients can yield a delicious loaf.

Choose a Bread Recipe

Find a bread recipe for the style you want to bake because each uses different ingredients and techniques. For example, white bread or sandwich bread isn’t the same as sourdough or banana bread.

Gather Supplies and Ingredients

Depending on the recipe, you typically need a mixing bowl, whisk, spatula, and a bread pan. Some people might use a food processor or stand mixer with dough hooks to work the bread dough.

It’s equally important to choose quality ingredients, especially the bread flour and yeast. Bob’s Red Mill and King Arthur Flour are excellent options if you want paleo or gluten free bread. They typically work with any bread recipe and offer advice for using the flour alternative in traditional bread recipes.

You'll want to use an instant yeast for your bread machine. It will be named instant yeast, bread machine yeast or RapidRise yeast. You will not be using an active dry yeast - as this type of yeast must be dissolved in water first.

Baking Bread Without a Bread Machine

Not only do you not need a bread maker to make bread, but you also have several alternatives available. Many people jump right to the conventional oven because it’s familiar and easy to use, but there are various other ways to make bread without a bread machine.


A conventional or convection oven is the most common way to bake bread. Most people know how to use traditional ovens and find it easy to toss a loaf of bread in with other food. Plus, baking bread in your oven typically makes your home smell incredible.

Photo of Oven Baked Bread

Not Surprisingly, the Oven is a Great Way to Make Bread

You might have to tent some foil over the loaf to prevent the top from browning too much, but otherwise, you can pop it in, set a timer, and go about your business. You can remove the foil towards the end of the baking cycle to get a nice golden brown crust color. If you don’t have a bread pan, use a Dutch Oven or cast-iron skillet in the oven.

Use a Skillet on the Stove Top

When in doubt, oil a skillet and cook your bread on the stovetop. Cast iron skillets are one of the best options, but any skillet should do the trick if well greased.

Photo of Irish Soda Bread in a Skillet

Irish Soda Bread Made in a Skillet

For the best result, allow the bread to rise in the pan before cooking it over low heat. One of the perks of using a skillet is that the bread gets flipped part-way through cooking to cook evenly.

Grill It

Does it rock your world to know that you can toss bread dough on a grill? Even pro-grillers might need to play around with grilling bread because it’s a little touchy, but you can turn out some hearty loaves or freshly baked buns. Try using a dutch oven or bread pan over low flames, but remember that it heats from the bottom up.

Air Fryer

If you have an air fryer on hand for wings and the like, why not use it for bread? Let the dough rise in the bin, usually about an hour, and then bake it for 15 to 25 minutes. Your result is baked bread with a crispy crust and fluffy inside.

Photo of Bread Made in an Air Fryer

Yes - You Can Make Homemade Bread in an Air Fryer

Slow Cookers

Crock Pots and other slow cooker appliances are versatile enough to bake bread. It takes a few hours to bake bread in slow cookers, and that’s after letting the dough rise, so prepare to wait a bit longer than other methods. However, slow cookers turn out light, airy loaves, and don’t typically brown the bread as much.

Toaster Ovens

Bread baking with a toaster oven is possible. Depending on the bread recipe you want to make, your toaster oven might work wonders. Not all toaster ovens can accommodate loaves of bread, but it’s a good alternative for those with limited space for additional appliances.

Microwave It

Bread making with a microwave? Seriously?Well, it is possible.

If you want a soft, colorless loaf of bread, then use a microwave. You won’t get a crispy crust or much color to indicate it’s fully baked, but the result is a spongy, delicious loaf of bread. Use a greased, microwave-safe loaf pan and let the bread rise for at least an hour before cooking it.

Surprisingly, microwave bread has great texture and works well for people who don’t like crusts on their sandwiches. Plus, it’s possibly the fastest way to make bread since it takes less than five minutes in the microwave.

Is It Better To Make Bread By Hand or Machine?

Neither method is better than the other. The preferred method for baking bread comes down to personal preference. It’s convenient for people with busy lives or physical disabilities because they can still find a way to make homemade bread. Other people like the time and effort that goes into preparing and kneading bread since it can be calming.

Some recipes and mixes work better in a bread machine, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make adjustments to bake them by hand. Of course, it is always nice to know how to make bread without a machine when yours wears down at an inconvenient time.

Is It Cheaper To Make Bread By Hand or Machine?

If money is an issue, you may wonder what’s the cheapest way to get bread. In terms of energy, it’s cheaper to make your own bread instead of buying it, regardless of how you bake it. Plus, you have control over your ingredients and get fresh-baked bread, one of life’s little pleasures.

The difference between bread-baking appliances isn’t as easy to determine. While the bread maker might be cheaper than a conventional oven, it might not be as practical as a microwave or grill. But if you are cooking multiple things in your standard oven, a bread maker may come in handy and be an invaluable investment in the long run.

Frank Salvatore

Hey there - I'm Frank Salvatore. I created this site as a comprehensive kitchen resource. You'll find everything you need to know about everything in your kitchen. From appliances to utensils and layout - it is covered on this site!

About Me
Frank Salvatore
I created this site as a comprehensive kitchen resource. You'll find everything you need to know about everything in your kitchen. From appliances to utensils and layout - it is covered on this site!
Learn More About Me
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