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4.7 out of 5 stars
4.7 out of 5 stars
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 25 May 2011
You might think that once you had a box on your kitchen counter which can stir ingredients around and then get hot for a while, the results would be largely dependent upon the quality of the ingredients and the ratios they are added in, and that any old machine would do. How wrong you would be (and was I)!

We owned a bread maker a few years ago (can't remember the make now) and while it was a bit of a fun novelty and it certainly made the house smell good, the results were nothing to get excited about really, and despite endless tweaking of measurements to try and improve the slightly dense dry bricks that we kept getting out of it, we ended up just thinking that this was what machine-made bread was like and that you couldn't really beat a good fresh bought loaf. Then after only a few months the bucket lost its non-stickiness and after digging 3 or 4 loaves out in pieces with a wooden spoon, we gave up and threw it away.

However, after seeing Panasonic machines mentioned in a variety of places (Which? magazine and The Gadget Show for a start), I did some further research, and after reading the reviews of the previous models (256/257), I decided to give a machine another go and bought this new model.

It arrived a day after ordering, thanks Amazon, and as this was rather faster than expected, I was sat looking at my new machine with no yeast or flour in the house. So, after a quick trip to the shops, I bunged in the ingredients for a simple white loaf and switched it on. A little over 5 hours since the machine arrived, I am now tucking in to the results as I write this review.

I am simply stunned at the size and quality and uniform texture and above all TASTE of the loaf I have produced on the first go with this machine. It is just superb. I used Allinson strong flour and yeast and it is quite probably the best straightforward simple white bread that I have ever eaten. I am in serious danger of eating the whole loaf. Who would have thought that just flour, yeast, butter, sugar, salt and water could taste this good? The crust is thin and crispy without being chewy, and the inside is beautifully light and fluffy and moist (without being at all sticky), and uniform. It has risen beautifully, with a lovely rounded top.

I was a bit mystified as to how big loaves would be, because in everything I could find to read prior to buying, it only said it can produce "M, L and XL" sizes. Not much use. So to help other prospective buyers, these sizes use this much flour:

M: 400g
L: 500g
XL: 600g

The machine is very easy to set up and use. You put the yeast in first, other dry ingredients on top, and the liquid last. This protects the yeast from the liquid should you be setting it up to go overnight (which I certainly will be tonight!). The ingredient dispenser on this model seems very simple but functional. The display is clear and easy to understand. The flex is short-ish at about 90cm so you need to be fairly near a socket. Be warned though, this is a big beast, you will need a fair amount of worktop space for it, and under wall cupboards is no good as it is very tall too.

After putting it all in and then fastening the pan in the machine with a simple twist, you choose the recipe, the size, the colour of crust (light/medium/dark) and press start. That's it. 4 hours later, a perfect loaf comes out. Then you have to spend an agonising 20 minutes or so waiting for it to cool enough to allow you to slice it without tearing it to pieces. The bread slid out of the pan very easily, but as frequently happens with many different makes, the paddle was stuck in the loaf. I used a wooden chopstick inserted in the hole where the spindle goes to prise it out without scratching it. The paddle is very slim so it comes out easily and does not leave a huge hole behind. The paddle and the pan cleaned up very well - it says you must not submerge the pan in water, presumably to protect the bearings in the bottom. Don't use anything remotely abrasive to clean it - a sponge is great.

So, if you are new to breadmakers, or you have owned others and been perhaps underwhelmed at the results, do not assume all machines are broadly the same - they clearly are not, and this one is just stunning. To go back to my opening remarks, obviously you should use quality ingredients, and they do need to be carefully measured and weighed. But the machine takes what you shove in it, and then works magic. Armed with this and the huge range of interesting flours now readily available in supermarkets, you really will make delicious bread that people just cannot stop eating. I can't wait to try some brown/wholemeal/fruit etc. recipes next.

Quite an expensive machine, and worth every penny. It really does make superb, delicious bread. That's a promise.

UPDATE: after a few days we have now made wholemeal, granary, and pesto and pine nut which made use of the ingredient dispenser. We have also made several overnight using the very simple timer, giving us fresh bread for breakfast and making the house smell wonderful when we wake up. Every loaf has been first class. This machine is superb.

FURTHER UPDATE, 17 months on: Unlike some other unlucky people, our machine is still going strong. It is used almost every day, I make at least 5 loaves a week I would say. The dispenser is still working fine. The bucket is still in tip top condition (despite me dropping it once, argh!!), loaves still just fall out. Interestingly, although it happened intermittently for the first 2-3 weeks, since then the paddle has NEVER stuck in the loaf. The only sign of wear is on the paddle, where the coating is getting a bit worn. I expect I may have to replace this in a few months. Half the loaves I make are granary which does mean more wear as the grains are stirred around. Still as thrilled with it as the day it arrived. We eat a lot of bread now!

ANOTHER UPDATE: We have had this over 2.5 years now, and it is still going strong, making all the bread we eat. It still runs most days, 5 loaves a week on average. We are total converts. For the first time in a very long time, we bought some sliced bread recently while on holiday, bread we used to buy regularly, and we couldn't believe how sweet and sickly it was, both brown and white. It was revolting, we couldn't eat it. As stated before, I did finally have to replace the blade a while ago as the coating was wearing off, not surprising given the amount of use. The rest of the bucket is still pristine, loaves still fall out. I know some people have been unlucky on the reliability front, but ours has been and continues to be brilliant.

YET ANOTHER: It's now August 2014, can't believe we have had this over 3 years now, where does the time go? Still in almost daily use, still going strong, bucket still pristine, still love it.

AND ANOTHER: November 2015. Still used just about daily. Still running fine. Still producing fabulous bread. Bucket still like new. Just bought some sliced bread while on holiday that we used to eat all the time and yet again could not believe how sweet and sickly it is. Yuk.
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on 3 January 2012
I got this machine after reading the Which? review of it (which rated it the best on the market at present). I'm so glad I spent the extra dough, no pun intended, to get this model as it's been brilliant. We haven't had any problems with the dispenser opening at the wrong time, maybe only some earlier production runs had this issue.

I use this machine 4 times a week to make bread overnight using the timer feature to have it ready for when I get up. Wonderful soft, tasty bread with a gorgeous crunchy crust, without all the bleaches and preservatives and yuck you get in shop-bought bread. We haven't bought a loaf of bread since we got this machine. You can buy yeast and strong flour from most supermarkets these days at a range of prices, from fancy organic flour to value/economy ranges. The instruction book included has loads of recipes for bread, dough, jam and cakes and tells you what order to put the ingredients in the pan (this is very important).

Couple of tips for people considering purchase: 1. Check the amount of room you have. When you open the lid you need quite a lot of space behind the machine and of course above; this machine can't really be put underneath wall-mounted cabinets (obviously check the dimensions of the machine against your space, but when the lid is open it requires a lot of space). 2. The "knead" step of the cycle makes the machine shudder like a washing machine on a spin cycle, so don't put it on a wobbly table or chair. Put it on a counter. 3. Get yourself some proper digital scales if you don't have any, it's sooo much easier to put the bread pan on the scales, reset to zero and add ingredients directly into the pan. 4. Don't lose the pink measuring spoon and the little water cup! You need to measure ingredients like yeast and the water using the utensils provided. We tried using a measuring jug and a normal teaspoon and the resulting bread was inedible. Other ingredients can be experimented with but the amount of yeast, flour, sugar and water must be exactly right.

I hope this review and the included tips help you decide whether to buy one of these or not.
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on 20 November 2013
Before buying the SD-2501 we owned a budget (about £40) bread maker for just under 5 years and at first we used it all the time but gradually we used it less and less because of one simple reason - the bread just wasn't that good. We tried bread mixes, manual ingredients, different types and brands of bread mixes and flours, nothing really seemed worth the hassle. We also tried using it just to make the dough and then we cooked the dough in the oven but with very similar results. Then the bearing below the paddle started leaking rust into the dough so off it went to the tip.

After a year I finally decided to trust the better reviews about this Panasonic SD-2501 and ignore the one-liner "it's rubbish" type comments and we bought one. I am very, very pleased we did!!

The bread from this bread maker is very likely the best bread I have tasted. It takes 4 hours to make a standard white loaf, which is more than double the time my old bread maker used to take but it is well worth the extra wait. Whether you use a bread mix or stick the ingredients in by hand the results are amazing. I have tried many different breads so far, white, brown, seeded, multigrain, cheese bread, raisin bread, pizza dough, I have even used the dough to make sesame and cheese-topped baps in the oven - all spectacular.

The bread pan produces loaf-shaped loaves the right way up and the paddle only leaves a hole and a thin slit in the bottom, not the planet-sized gouge my old one used to. The crusts are just the right crunchiness when the bread is fresh out, there is always a fight for who gets the first crust.

One point to note is that none of the parts can be cleaned in a dishwasher but you can usually clean it very thoroughly and quickly with a damp cloth.

Overall I give this 10 out of 10 and I never thought I would say that about a bread maker. If you are in two minds about whether to buy one then I recommend you buy this one, if you don't like the bread out of this bread maker then bread makers are not for you.
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on 30 May 2011
The bread machine was delivered within a couple of days of ordering, really quick. It was very straight forward to get started. The manual has a good collection of recipes, enough to keep me occupied for the next few weeks. I have tried six different breads so far - white milk loaf, 100% wheat, almond and apricot loaf, foccacia (dough only), tomato ciabata and pecan and maple loaf. They all came out beautifully, tasted lovely and soft.

I have tried the timer and it works beautifully.

A few tips - measure the ingredients exactly, excess water will make the bread collapse, use strong flour only(very strong flour also works well), pour water gently when using the overnight setting as the water and the yeast should not mix until the bread making begins and use softened butter and room temp water unless specifically asked otherwise.

It is possible to make roti/chapathi/paratha and naan dough using the machine - this is very useful for me.

Definitely worth buying this model as the nut dispenser makes human intervention unnecessary.

I love it, definitely worth buying.
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on 19 May 2011
I bought this product for the 100% rye bread and it`s amazing. The recipe is very accurate and after 3 and a half hour you`ll have the most tasteful rye bread you ever tried.
Excellent job Panasonic Inc.!!!!
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on 22 June 2011
This is the first bread maker I have owned, but it is exactly what I was hoping it would be! I chose this one, as the reviews for the older version of this machine were really good, but I preferred to get the newest one. I read the manual before I started and it turned out the machine was really easy to use. I chose a recipe from the book for a wholemeal loaf as my first try. I placed the ingredients in the bucket as directed, so yeast first, then the flour, then the rest. I placed the bucket into the machine and set the menu, the size of the loaf and the timer, as I wanted the loaf to be ready in the morning (with most loafs you can set the colour of the crust as well, but not with wholemeal). The next day I had a perfect loaf!

I have since made various breads and every time is a success. The machine starts with about 20 minutes of rest, which I thought was odd at first, but I know understand it ensures that the results are the same every time you use the machine. During the rest it slightly warms the ingredients, so they are all at the same temperature before kneading starts. The loaf comes out of the bucket really easily, with the kneader still attached inside the bucket, so you don't have to pull it out of your loaf. The taste is amazing, the crust is lovely and crisp and the inside really soft. Everyone in the house now always fights to get the first slice as the crust is so nice! The hole in the bread that is left by the kneader is a lot smaller than I expected it to be and does not mess up my slices at all. Even though the bread does not have any of the preservatives the supermarket loafs have, it keeps a long time, and the bread is always eaten before it gets dry. (I am using the As Seen On TV Debbie Meyer Bread Bags (Equivalent to 120 bags) to keep the bread in.)
The machine is really sturdy. It hardly moves when it is kneading, nor does it become too hot, so you can certainly leave it to make your bread in the night, without worrying that it might fall off the worktop or set fire to the house (silly, but I was actually a bit apprehensive about this!).

I have also made a few loafs with fruit and nuts in. The dispenser is very useful, as it saves you from adding fruit and nuts manually and enables making fruit loafs during the night. The reason fruits and nuts cannot be added with the other ingredients is that they will disintegrate during the kneading process, so therefore will have to be added after the dough has been kneaded sufficiently. The dispenser does this for you automatically. However, the first time I overfilled the nut dispenser, so when I closed the lid, the nuts fell into the machine as the lid put pressure on the dispenser which then opened by itself. Now I make sure not to put too much in the dispenser.

I am so happy to be making my own bread. I know exactly what goes in it and it tastes a lot better than what you get in the shops. I am not from the UK originally and where I used to live we had plenty of proper bakeries. My dad even used to be a baker, so I grew up with tasty bread. Since living here I have really missed eating nice, fresh bread. I tried making it manually, but results varied and it was a lot of work. Now with a bread maker I always have lovely bread without much effort. I can now also start experimenting with all kinds of different loafs I have never had before, using the recipes in the manual!
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on 30 October 2013
This is a fantastic machine.
My previous bread maker turned out uninspired, dense, grey bricks more suitable for building multi-storey car parks than for toast.
This one however has been used at least once a day since Feb 2013.
The small 400g loaf is the best really, mainly because it is in the right proportions. The large 600g loaf is taller than it is long and makes extremely large sandwiches. It is worth a cautionary note at this point, just to say that after putting on 6lbs in the first month of owning this bread maker, I was shocked to calculate that each 600g loaf was about 2500 calories and unreasonably tasty. March bought moderation.
My wife and I ate the first warm loaf on our own, in bed in the morning, only occasionally stopping to say "I can't believe how good this is..." - I still can't.
Anyway, we make pizza bases on Friday for home made pizza, we have a spicy cinnamon loaf once a month (tastes like Christmas), and we have fresh bread every day. I've done picnic bread, croissants and dough for the kids to make weird shaped buns. I've not tried any jams or cakes.

One 400g loaf is easily enough for my wife and 3 kids, once we had learned how to cut a loaf straight (there are no evening classes available).

Probably the most used kitchen device I've ever bought.

I love the smell of fresh bread in the morning - smells like.................... victory
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on 19 August 2011
Product thus far is great & was delivered inside 2 days with Free Super Saver delivery.
There are far more detailed reviews to read from other satisfied customers so I'll relate the only problem I've had and hope it'll save a bit of time for others who may encounter a similar situation.
When attempting to register my product on the Panasonic website I was informed, after submitting the serial number, that the unit had already been registered.
It's a nightmare trying to contact Panasonic customer services/warranty teams by phone but I eventually got through.
I was told that Panasonic breadmakers are released in such high quantities that several units will have the same serial number. The warranty is unaffected whether the unit is registered or not and registration is only for market research purposes. If I insisted on registering the breadmaker I should do so by inserting hyphons between the characters of the serial number ('110519' becomes '1-1-0-5-1-9'). You could, of course, register using the card provided within the packaging.
Hope this may help others in my situation.
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on 23 June 2011
I was sick of all the additives and rubbish that is thrown in to bread these days. I decided to do something about it. I have just bought the Panasonic SD 2501. Now my bread only contains wholemeal flour, Yeast, olive oil, sugar, salt and water and it tastes delicious.

The bread maker is so simple to use a child could do it. I just follow the recipes that came with the machine, the end result is a perfect loaf each time. The loaf comes out of the machine with ease doesn't stick to the sides.

If you are after simplicity with a great end result the Panasonic SD 2501 does exactly that
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on 2 July 2011
The plain white was ok, but once I started doing brioche, granary and french bread I was really sold on it. It's so easy that it doesn't put you off the idea of making bread regularly.

I've had it for a month or so and probably use it two or three times a week - and I'm a single 32 year old bloke, so even I'm surprised how many times I've used it. You really do just plop some flour and water in and turned it on.

Very simple and easy to clean, I clean it after every 6 or 7 uses and it takes 2 mins.

Not used the fruit/nut dispenser yet, but soon. :)
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