Five great reasons to use a bread machine: beyond bread

Do you have a bread machine?

If you do, read on.

If you don’t – read on anyway. By the end of this blog post you might just be convinced you need one – even if you have no intention of using it to bake bread.

Bread machine tips loaf

Fact: your bread machine bakes bread.


Fact: your bread machine kneads dough, too.

Even if you prefer to make bread by hand most of the time, the bread machine can help if you’re A) time-challenged, or B) dealing with physical limitations (e.g., arthritis). Let your yeast dough mix, knead, and rise in the machine, before taking the dough out to shape and bake yourself.

Now, depending on the various settings on your particular machine, it can also make jam and cake, or a loaf of banana bread.

But beyond that, there’s a whole wide world of treats you can prepare using your bread machine. At least if you have a Zojirushi, the brand we’ve been selling here at King Arthur Flour for over 20 years.

Your Zo bread machine, with its programmable menu, can bake just about anything your home oven can bake. Think about it: when you strip away the mixing, kneading, and rising cycles, what’s left? A miniature oven fitted out with a good-sized baking pan.

Take this handy machine and go beyond bread – WAY beyond bread.

The secret is thinking of the machine as an oven with a built-in large (3-quart capacity), loaf-shaped pan, perfect for anything that loves a long, slow cook. The Zo’s baking temperature is about 300°F; you can program it to bake for 70 to 90 minutes (depending on the model); then extend that by an additional 60 minutes, using the lower-temperature “keep warm” cycle.

What likes to bake low and slow? I’m thinking apple crisp, and cheesecake. Chili…


…and a big batch of marinara with meatballs and sausage.

And I mean big: what you see here includes a pound each sausage chunks and turkey meatballs; combined with a full recipe of Marcella Hazan’s famous tomato sauce – and the Zo’s baking pan was still only about 2/3 full.

You can also use the Zo’s preset jam cycle to simmer and stir for an hour or so: think soup, risotto, or breakfast porridge.

So, are you ready to think outside the (bread) box? Here are five revelatory points to consider:B3

1. Your bread machine is a handy extra oven when you need it – like at Thanksgiving.

We’ve all been there, right? Juggling turkey, stuffing, scalloped potatoes, and rolls in and out of the oven. Meanwhile, the cranberry sauce is scorching, forgotten atop the stove.

What’s the ONLY item on the plate above that didn’t come out of my Zojirushi?

Right, the turkey. All the rest – potatoes, stuffing, cranberries, and rolls – were prepared partially or fully in the Zo.


2. The bread machine won’t heat up your kitchen.

When summer comes and the weather turns sweltering, your bread machine helps keep your kitchen comfortable. Completely self-enclosed, it stays cool to the touch, even when baking.

So go ahead, simmer up some soup. Bake a fresh-fruit dessert; peach cobbler is always welcome. Give your regular oven a vacation this summer – and keep your cool!



3. Save electricity: use your bread machine instead of your large oven.

When you’re baking something small – a crock of stew, macaroni and cheese, pumpkin bread or, yes, even the cheesecake pictured above – use your bread machine.

Don’t heat up your full-size oven for a 9″ x 5″ pan of meatloaf. Conserve energy – use your bread machine for small jobs.


4. The bread machine simmers and stirs and finishes dishes all by itself. Go ahead, join the party.

The machine’s jam cycle does a great job with things like hot artichoke dip (above). Put the ingredients into the pan; press start; come back an hour later to creamy, simmering dip, ready to serve to your arriving guests. And how about a main course? Try sloppy joes, or chili.

Or risotto – a prime example of “I’m standing at the stove stirring the pot while my guests drink wine and chat in the other room.”

No need to miss your own party when Zo’s in the kitchen!


4. Cleanup is virtually non-existent with a bread machine.

Believe it or not, I’d just simmered meatballs, sausage, and ragu for an hour in the pan above. Yet when I poured the contents into my serving dish, look how relatively clean the pan was. It took me just 29 seconds to finish the job by washing and rinsing it in soapy water.

Bet you can’t scrub down, soap up, and rinse clean your tomato sauce-encrusted stovetop saucepan in just half a minute!

Ready to take the next step? Enjoy these delicious bread machine recipes, which you’ll find in the following blog posts:

•Peach cobbler, risotto, and sloppy joes: Zo, What’s Up?
•Cheese bread, and pasta bake: Zo Handy!
•Vanilla cheesecake: Zo Surprising!
•Cranberry sauce, scalloped potatoes, stuffing, and dinner rolls: Zo Tasty!
•Artichoke dip: Don’t Abuse It – Use It.
•Chocolate pudding cake: Pudding Cake a la Zo – Hot and Saucy!
•Creamy tomato soup: Can the Can: Homemade is Heavenly.
•Turkey Tetrazzini: Let’s Talk Turkey.

PJ Hamel

PJ Hamel grew up in New England, graduated from Brown University, and was a Maine journalist before joining King Arthur Flour in 1990. PJ bakes and writes from her home on Cape Cod, where she enjoys beach-walking, her husband, two dogs, and really good food!


  1. Barbara

    When hurricanes hasten and the power is punked, my Zo can also pull off dinner with the help of a generator! My stove will sit idle, to the Zo I will sidle, and thus I shall begin to COOK! 🙂

  2. Bev

    Other than the stirring in the risotto, how does this differ from using a slow cooker for non-bread items? I bake fruitcake in a slow cooker and have seen a few recipes using the slow cooker like an oven. Was just curious if there would be any differences iin techniques.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      The premise of baking in a bread machine or a slow cooker is the same- consistent warm heat. Those recipes should be interchangeable. Happy baking! Laurie@KAF

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Without a bread machine, you won’t really be able to use the tips in the blog. However, all of the above recipes can be made using their traditional methods. As an example, the cranberry sauce can be cooked on your stove top. Jon@KAF

    2. Adam

      My relatively-cheap ($70) breadmaker has “jam” and “bake” programs. I haven’t tried making cobbler or risotto in it, but it should work.

  3. Benton H Marder

    PJ, I’ve been suggesting that you guys plug the Zo-Mini for some time. The Zo-Mini takes up less space, It has a handle to pick up and stow in a cabinet. It is most convenient for a small kitchen. It is pewrfect for people that want to do a small loaf instead of a big one. The Zo-Mini, like its big brothers, does all the thinking, all the work. Sure, I love my Zo-Mini—bought from you folks some years ago. (Yeah, Bob Strippy is an old friend and now neighbour.)
    You know the recipe for oatmeal maplesyrup for the Zo-Mini? I fiddle with it some. Honey instead of maple syrup. Maple sugar instead of syrup, Raisins instead of walnuts. A good shot of cinnamon.
    Naturally, the flour of choice is KAF. By the way, I still have a small bag of the 12-grain in my freezer. Yes, you do know that I moved to Richmond in late October. Stay well and bake on !

  4. Shirley

    I love my bread machine for the fact I also love to farm, and ranch, with guys to cook for at dinner. My bread machine enables me to either let it do it all, or make the dough so I can shape it and bake. And it puts lots of smiles on the faces at dinner, and I feel like they are getting something substantial, and healthy. I don’t have a Zo yet, but hope to some day. The one I have now is on it’s last leg, as the bucket won’t come out anymore, so cleaning and getting the loaf shook out is interesting! But it can be done! Thanks for the new ways to use an amazing machine!

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      You’re welcome, Shirley. Hope you get your hands on a new Zo soon, they’re pretty amazing. Jon@KAF

    2. Judy Tolen

      Shirley…I also do not have a ZO bread machine. Mine is a standard bread machine…Sunbeam is the brand I think. I followed the directions that came with my bread machine, but my bread turns out too dense. Any tips on how to make bread that is lighter on the inside, but with a nice crust on the outside?

  5. 3petitsprinces

    I have been using a bread machine for 15 years now. One machine I had for a decade, wore out the internal cylinder twice! When I called the second time for a replacement, the company had quit making them! My husband bought me a Zo & I love it! Store bought bread just cant compare! I loved this post because now I have many more reasons to use it! Thanks, PJ!

  6. Debra Rutan

    I live in the hot desert of west Texas. I put my Zo on the back porch and run it to keep the house cool when it is 105. No need to watch it as it turns itself off. It is part of my outdoor kitchen which consists of any heat generating small appliance I can run on the porch. Thanks to you I will be using my Zo a lot more.

  7. Margy

    I love steel cut oatmeal, but it takes an hour on the stove, you have to keep stirring it, and it always sticks to the bottom of the pot necessitating major soak and scrub. I put 1c oatmeal, 4c water in my Zo on jam cycle and let it go. Just check it once or twice during the cycle to see if it’s done to my likeness (I like a little resistance to the bite in my oatmeal). Store in a container in the fridge and take out what I need for breakfast.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Oooh good tip! I will have to try this at home, I have a TON of steel cut oats. Jon@KAF

  8. Susan Taylor

    PJ I have a Zo -BB CC X20. I can’t seem to get the GF settings correct for bread. I even called the company. Do you have help for me. I haven’t used it in 2 yrs. I just gave up.
    You are giving me some hope with these recipes! Thank you for ALL your info. Susan

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hello Susan – We are so pleased to know that PJ was able to inspire you to pull your bread machine out of storage after 2 years! This is what I found on ZO’s website, Susan.

      Q3. Can the Home Bakery make gluten-free bread?

      Yes, the Home Bakery Supreme® breadmaker (BB-CEC20 and BBCC-X20) comes with a gluten-free bread recipe, and more can be found on our Recipes Page. The recipes may be adapted to other models of our bread makers. The internet is also a good source for gluten-free recipes as well as other bread recipe books. (Please use the Basic course when baking gluten-free breads. A softer gluten-free bread may also be made by programming the following suggested cycle times in the Home Made course: Preheat 15 minutes, Knead 25 minutes, turn OFF Rise 1 and Rise 2, Rise 3 55 minutes, and Bake 55 minutes. Keep Warm optional.)

      If you are still left with questions feel free to call us on the hotline, 1-855-371-BAKE. Elisabeth@KAF

  9. Jean

    I believe Susan’s question was, if we have a bread maker but not a fancy Zo, can we still do your recommendations? Will it still work in a simpler bread maker? Thank you.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hard to say without knowing the specifications of your machine, they vary a lot. If it has a jam setting, then it should be able to make almost everything we posted! Jon@KAF

  10. Page, William

    How does the big Zo cooking grits? I don’t mean instant but old fashioned grits that may take an hour on the stove.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Hmm, don’t know if we have tried this, Page. I will add it to our to-do list. Jon@KAF

    2. Margy

      Hi! I make steel cut oatmeal in my Zo on the jam cycle. It was an experiment, trial and error like any other new thing, but it worked out great. Steel cut oats have the same long simmer profile as grits, so I don’t see why it wouldn’t work.

  11. Annie, KY

    My daughters bought my Zo for me for Christmas and I’ll tell you its the best gift I’ve ever received. Haven’t bought bread since December lol. Going to try making brioche, pretzels and cheesecake real soon. Love this machine, Love, Love it.

  12. Sharon Tooker

    My bread machine, not a zo, died we used it a lot and miss it. Which one of these machines will do the jams,sauce etc. My machine was the size of the mini..any help greatly appreciated!

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Sharon, any of our Zojirushi machines has a jam setting that will handle things like risotto and soup. All but the mini are programmable, which means you can program in a “just bake” program; but even the mini has a cake baking function, which might handle other types of baked goods, as well. For more information, please call our customer service folks, 800-827-6836. PJH

  13. Suzy

    I had no idea. I’ve owned a zo for decades. Where can I get these recipes? They didn’t come with any of my machines and I’m on my third one bought at kaf this time.

    1. PJ Hamel, post author

      Suzy, check the blog links at the end of this post for the recipes. And, just think of your Zo as a mini oven – and all the things you might bake in a loaf pan, besides bread… Enjoy -0 PJH

  14. belen

    Hi I don’t have any bread machine as of yet and I am planning to buy one. Thanks for this blog though because it gave an idea on what brand should I consider or buy.

  15. Lisa

    I make tapioca pudding in my bread maker. I make a double batch (about 5 cups of milk) then put it in on the jam cycle for about an hour (I start checking after 45 minutes). No stirring over the hot stove, no scorching, ever. I’ll never make it any other way!

  16. J Anderson

    And of course our beloved Zo’s are Yogurt makers! I turn off everything except Rise 1 set to the full 12 hours, and Rise 2 set to the full 2 hours. I like my yogurt tangy so I go the full 12 and Rise 2 is just in case I’m not back at the machine at the exact moment. Remove the kneading arms so as not to disturb the fermentation between Rise 1 & 2. Heat your milk, cool, mix in your yogurt (starter), add enhancer (cream or milk powder), pour into the bread pan and you’re done. Perfect yogurt fermented at the perfect temp 🙂

  17. Stephanie-Noel Dodt

    Hi, PJ. Can I use SAF Red instant yeast in my Zojirushi mini? I have used it in no knead ‘Five Minute A Day’ artisan breads and it was outstanding. The fragrance is addictive and it never let me down.

    I just ordered my Zojirushi BB HAC10 on sale from you and came home and sent in an order to you for bread flour, baker’s dried milk, bread salt, and SAF Red instant yeast, etc. I want to make up a loaf as soon as I can. This will be great when summer temperatures go into the nineties or when I’m doing outdoor yard work or gardening. Hours later I can come in to a loaf of hot, fresh bread. I’m as excited as kid at Christmas about this as I live alone and I’m sure this will be used early every Sunday morning! I’m just hoping I can use the SAF yeast in it as it’s is an outstanding product.

    1. The Baker's Hotline

      Stephanie-Noel, yes, the SAF red instant yeast is a great choice to use with your bread machine baking! It’s an excellent all-purpose yeast, and is the yeast we use most often in our test kitchen. Keep in mind that our unbleached all-purpose flour will also work well in your bread machine. Here’s a great recipe to get you going on your bread machine baking adventure. Barb@KAF

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