Of course, stand mixers are also a huge piece of kitchen equipment.
They are usually too large and heavy to be easily stored in a cupboard and taken out when in use. Because they live on your counter, they become not only a kitchen tool but part of your kitchen decor.
Choosing the right stand mixer is difficult. It comes in a wide range of prices for machines that seem to have very similar attachments and have all the same functions.
It can be challenging to know what features are worth paying for, how to determine quality, and what kind of stand mixer will best meet your needs.
We’ve gathered up the best stand mixers available on the marketplace today, and will show you not just what we recommend, but why.
And our buying guide will help you decide which stand mixer features are your personal must-haves.
Let’s take a look at the best stand mixers of the year.
Best Stand Mixer in 2018
|Stand Mixer||Best For||Price|
|KitchenAid Pro 600 Stand Mixer (Editor’s Pick)||Best Stand Mixer in 2018||Price|
|Bosch Universal Plus Stand Mixer (Editor’s Pick)||Best for Big Batches||Price|
|Sunbeam 5-Speed Stand Mixer (Editor’s Pick)||Best Value Stand Mixer||Price|
|CHEFTRONIC Stand Mixer||Best for Small Kitchen||Price|
|Costway Tilt-head Stand Mixer||Best For Bread||Price|
|Hamilton Beach Eclectrics Stand Mixer||Best for Whipping||Price|
|KLARSTEIN Bella Rossa Stand Mixer||Best for Gifting||Price|
|Litchi Stand Mixer||Best for Batters||Price|
|Cuisinart SM-50 5.5 Quart Stand Mixer||Best for Versatility||Price|
|Betitay Stand Mixer||Best for Holiday Baking||Price|
1. KitchenAid Pro 600 Stand Mixer — Best Stand Mixer for 2018
KitchenAid is a legendary brand in stand mixers, and they live up to their reputation year after year, earning consistent praise from experts and amateurs alike.
The Pro 600 lives up to the KitchenAid reputation, with a lot of attractive features, and enough power to handle nearly any mixing task.
This bowl-lift design is more robust and durable than tilt-head mixers. Bowl-lift stand mixers are taller overall, which may crowd space beneath kitchen cabinets, but they don’t have to be moved as often.
The bowl-lift design is generally preferred for more thorough mixing, easier adding of ingredients during mixing, and for the ability to heat or cool the bowl from below during mixing.
The KitchenAid Pro 600 comes with a 6-quart bowl that has an ergonomic handle. The handle makes it easy to get the bowl placed correctly before and after mixing, as well as for pouring batters and doughs out of the bowl once they are done.
While KitchenAid gives the bowl capacity as over 8 loaves of bread, 13 dozen cookies, and 8 pounds of mashed potatoes, those stats are easy to misinterpret. The bowl will hold those quantities, but the mixer will not effectively mix such large volumes.
For dense, heavy wheat bread, the Pro 600 will struggle when asked to incorporate more than about 5-6 loaves of bread dough at once. The most disappointed users of this machine are those who want to make 8 loaves of bread at once and feel that it doesn’t live up to its claims.
The size of the bowl means that you should beat at least two eggs/egg whites or two cups of cream per batch for the best results. If you want to whip smaller quantities, you should get a 3-quart bowl and beater for this mixer, instead of using the 6-quart bowl it comes with.
The KitchenAid Pro 600 has 10 speeds, but only 5 printed on the dial; there are little notches in between the printed speeds.
Most people find 10 to be more finesse in speeds than necessary, mainly because the Pro 600 has an electronic speed sensor that automatically adjusts based on the consistency of the ingredients in the bowl.
It has a slow-start feature at any speed that helps to prevent dry ingredients from puffing out of the bowl when it starts, and an automatic shutoff feature that turns the mixer off to protect the motor when it is working too hard.
If the Pro 600 shuts off automatically, you have to wait a few minutes before restarting, but it’s also a sign that you have overfilled the machine or that your dough is too stiff.
True to the brand reputation, the KitchenAid Pro 600 is a well-designed, durable, and effective stand mixer.
It easily whips up large volumes of cream, mixes batters, and kneads bread doughs without walking or rocking. The motor protects you from mishaps, and it’s a handsome design.
- A wide range of colors
- Good capacity for mixing large volumes
- The robust motor is powerful and durable
- Intelligent speed control with a slow start and auto shutoff prevents mishaps
- Comes with a flat beater, dough hook, wire whip, and pouring shield
- A wide range of accessories available for pasta, meats, spiralizing, etc.
- 1-year warranty
- It’s noisy in operation
2. Bosch Universal Plus Stand Mixer — Best Stand Mixer for Big Batches
Everyone dreams of having an all-in-one kitchen appliance, with the capabilities of a stand mixer, food processor, blender, and more.
Bosch delivers, with an exceptional large-capacity stand mixer, and optional attachments that include a food processor and even a blender.
With a design unlike other stand mixers, powered from below, it has a lower profile but a large footprint on the countertop. Mixing from beneath allows you to add ingredients at any time, even while the mixer is in operation.
The Bosch Universal Plus comes with a giant 6.5-quart bowl, capable of making up to 34 dozen cookies or 14 one-pound loaves of bread at once.
The unique design of this mixer and large diameter of the mixing bowl make it easy to stand over your doughs and batters and add ingredients at just the right time, without ever having to stop the mixer or scrape it down.
The unique construction of the Bosch Universal Plus has attachments unlike any other, with two whips, paddles, or scrapers working simultaneously, to mix, stir, or knead faster, more effectively, and more efficiently than other stand mixers, saving you time in the kitchen.
The vast capacity and powerful 800-watt motor of the Bosch make it the best stand mixer for baking at volume. Because it is so big and powerful, it is more prone to vibration than other stand mixers, but suction cups on the base help secure it to your counter and prevent “walking.”
This big, low-profile bowl design can be something of a disadvantage in some applications. This stand mixer doesn’t do well with small quantities, and, unlike other stand mixers, doesn’t have optional attachments that would allow you to scale down the size of batches. It’s not ideal for whipping smaller quantities of cream or egg whites.
And the big bowl isn’t very maneuverable so those who want to make thinner batters in a stand mixer (like the crepe or pancake batters) will have a challenge pouring batters out of the Bosch Universal Plus.
However, for making big batches of doughs, this machine has incredible power and convenience, and the range of optional attachments add value and versatility to your investment in this stand mixer.
For the person who makes extremely large quantities of bread and cookie doughs, and needs a stand mixer with the power and capacity to manage tough jobs, the Bosch Universal Plus is unbeatable.
The range of optional attachments add value to the investment in this stand mixer, and the unique design saves time by allowing you to quickly add ingredients while the mixer is in operation, without creating splatters or messes.
- Huge capacity
- Powerful motor
- Unique mixing from below
- Dual-head attachments are extremely efficient
- Lower profile to fit under kitchen counters, even in operation
- Suction cups on the base add stability
- 3-year warranty on motor and transmission
- 1-year warranty on parts and attachments
- Enormous footprint
- Not ideal for thinner, pourable batters
- Not good for smaller quantities
3. Sunbeam 250-Watt 5-Speed Stand Mixer — Best Value Stand Mixer
The Sunbeam FPSBHS0302 stand mixer offers excellent convenience at an incredible price.
This attractive, compact stand mixer doubles as a hand mixer, giving you the quick convenience of a hand mixer for small jobs, and the hands-free operation of a stand mixer for longer kneading and tougher doughs.
The versatile design is useful in a wide array of applications, whether you want to use the mixer as a hand mixer to blend soups and stocks, or leave it running to knead bread dough while you manage other kitchen tasks.
It comes with two chrome beaters and dough hooks, and the 3-quart stainless steel bowl is great for small jobs. It has a 250-watt motor and 5-speed settings, along with a pulse button for bursts of added speed and power.
The bottom of the bowl rotates, giving some of the benefits of a planetary mixer.
However, the beater design and the fact that beaters don’t touch the bottom of the bowl in operation do mean that this is not the kitchen tool of choice for whipping tasks; it won’t give you the fluffiest meringues and lightest creams.
The 3-quart bowl and relatively low power motor won’t allow for large quantities of stiffer bread doughs, although the hand mixing functionality allows you to detach it and use it in any size bowl you prefer.
But it does a great job at mixing lighter doughs and batters and handling a variety of mixing tasks quickly and easily.
For casual bakers, and those who want the portability of a hand mixer with the independent operation of a stand mixer, the Sunbeam FPSBHS0302 is an excellent choice, and the value is unbeatable.
It’s not a professional tool, but certainly saves time and adds convenience in most standard cooking tasks.
- Doubles as a hand mixer
- Compact size
- Great for ordinary mixing and kneading
- Versatile design tackles a variety of mixing jobs
- Excellent value
- Not perfect for whipping
- Smaller bowl capacity than other stand mixers
4. CHEFTRONIC Stand Mixer — Best Stand Mixer for Small Kitchens
One of the most significant drawbacks of stand mixers for many people is that they do take up quite a lot of space in a kitchen. These big tools are powerful, but not easy to tuck aside when they aren’t in use.
The CHEFTRONIC stand mixer is a fantastic solution for a small kitchen or counter space shortage, with all the features of a larger stand mixer in a more compact, manageable size.
The tilt head of the CHEFTRONIC fits snugly down over the bowl, both when in storage and during operation.
This close fit ensures that the beaters reach the bottom of the bowl and mix thoroughly, while the fit and the splash guard help to prevent splatter and mess.
The 6-speed, 350-watt engine provides enough speed, power, and options to manage a variety of mixing jobs, from handling tough doughs at low speeds to whipping light creams and meringues at higher speeds.
The suction cup base holds the mixer securely in place, preventing “walking” when it takes on tougher jobs.
The 4.2-quart bowl is an excellent compromise for a smaller kitchen.
It has enough room to mix a few batches of cookies or enough bread dough for two loaves but is also the perfect size to whip just two egg whites or a single cup of cream, which can’t be done in larger bowls. The smaller bowl also helps reduce the overall footprint of the stand mixer.
At just 12 inches high by 13 inches deep, and weighing only over 11 pounds, this stand mixer takes up very little room in a small kitchen and looks handsome on the countertop as well.
The CHEFTRONIC stand mixer is an excellent choice for small kitchens or smaller families that don’t need to bake in large quantities.
It has a compact size and great style but has the power and versatility to take on ordinary stand mixer tasks with ease.
If you want a stand mixer but don’t have a lot of space, or only need to cook for a 1-2 people, this is the stand mixer for you.
- Small size
- Lightweight, but suction cups secure it in place
- Attractive design
- Splash guard prevents splatter
- UL certified
- 2-year warranty
- Good for small whipping jobs
- Doesn’t have the bowl capacity for big jobs
5. Costway Tilt-head Stand Mixer — Best Stand Mixer for Bread
While most people love the versatility of a stand mixer and want it to do lots of different kitchen mixing tasks, there are others who really rely on their stand mixer for bread.
Bread machines only make one loaf at a time, so bread lovers use stand mixers to make enough dough for multiple loaves at once.
Bread dough is one of the true tests of a stand mixer; the engine has to provide robust and consistent power at low speeds, the machine has to be heavy and stable enough to resist rocking and walking, and the bowl and hook attachment have to be designed to interact correctly and provide thorough mixing.
It’s a high standard to meet. Fortunately, the Costway tilt-head stand mixer is up to the task, with several features that bread makers require.
The incredibly powerful 800-watt engine provides more than enough power for even tough, sticky bread doughs. Suction cups secure the stand mixer to the counter, keeping it stable, and the cast aluminum dough hook works well to mix all the ingredients in bread dough thoroughly.
The 5.3-quart bowl on this stand mixer isn’t as generous as some, and will only hold a little over 3 pounds of flour. It could only comfortably knead enough dough for 3 loaves of bread at once, no matter how powerful the motor is.
However, a strong motor and functional design make fast work of bread kneading, so you could still produce large quantities of bread dough in this mixer by kneading smaller amounts in batches.
Of course, the Costway tilt-head stand mixer also comes with the wire whisk and mixing blades necessary to do other tasks with a stand mixer, and it has six speeds suitable for a variety of mixing jobs.
The included splash guard contains messes but still allows you to add ingredients during mixing.
The Costway tilt-head stand mixer has the powerful motor, anchoring suction cups, and cast aluminum dough hook that makes it perfect for kneading tough, sticky doughs for loaf after loaf.
While it has all the features and attachments you need in a versatile stand mixer, this model is truly optimized for baking bread.
- Powerful motor
- Compact size
- Included splash guard contains messes and splatters
- Suction cups for stability
- Smaller bowl than many stand mixers
- Dough hook and paddle mixer are not dishwasher safe
6. Hamilton Beach Eclectrics 63221 All-Metal Stand Mixer — Best Stand Mixer for Whipping
If bread is the marathon test of stand mixers, whipping is the sprint.
Whipping eggs, egg whites, or cream is a test of the design of a stand mixer, rather than a test of power. A well-designed whisk has a high number of wires to incorporate the most air and lift while whipping.
Planetary rotation (where the arm rotates one direction while the whip rotates the other direction) is the best for even, consistent texture.
The whip should reach deep enough into the bowl, and the shape of whisk and bowl should work together, to capture any liquids pooled on the bottom and loft them into foam. And the ability to finesse the speed and duration of whipping prevents disastrous over-whipping.
Whipping requires a stand mixer to exhibit precision over power, and the Hamilton Beach Eclectrics 63221 is our favorite for this critical task. The 400-watt motor has 12-speed settings, for the most precise control over delicate creams, meringues, and foams.
The unique whisk design has wires that pull liquids in from the edge of the bowl to be incorporated, and wires in the center to aerate and lift. Planetary rotation ensures consistent results, with a minimum of pausing to scrape the sides.
The bowl has a 4.5-quart capacity and works best with at least two egg whites or one cup of cream.
The Hamilton Beach Eclectrics 63221 has a lot of other thoughtful features as well.
The two-piece splatter shield allows you to safely add ingredients and contain puffs and splatters while the mixer is in operation. This shield is also cleverly designed to help pour completed batters and liquids out of the mixer when they are done.
This pour spout and the handle on the bowl make this a great stand mixer for thinner batters, like crepes, pancakes, or cupcakes, since finished batters can be poured directly from the mixing bowl with comfort and precision.
Nonslip feet add stability during use, and we love the protective coating on the mixer that helps it clean up with just a wipe. The bowl and all the attachments are dishwasher safe, and it operates more quietly than other stand mixers.
Whipping is a specific challenge for some stand mixers, requiring finesse in design and precision in control, and this Hamilton Beach Eclectrics 63221 really stands up to the test.
The 400-watt motor and 4.5-quart bowl may not be robust enough for tough mixing challenges and big batches, but the well-designed whisk, 12-speed settings, and planetary rotation make this an excellent stand mixer for whipping, beating, and mixing light, frothy creams and meringues to perfection.
The bowl and shield design are also excellent for pouring batters.
- Large range of speed settings
- Non-slip feet
- Excellent bowl coverage
- All attachments are dishwasher safe
- Easy to clean, non-smudge coating
- Innovative wire whip design
- Bowl has a handle for ease of use
- Splatter shield has a pouring spout
- Quiet operation
- 3-year warranty
- Only 4.5-quart capacity bowl
7. KLARSTEIN Bella Rossa Tilt-Head Stand Mixer — Best Stand Mixer for Giving
A stand mixer is an incredibly popular gift, for a good reason.
It’s the kind of kitchen appliance almost everyone really wants, but that many people wouldn’t buy for themselves. For casual cooks and bakers, they often think of it as a luxury they don’t really need, which makes it an exceptionally thoughtful gift.
A stand mixer is a fabulous wedding or housewarming gift for those setting up a new household, and a welcome gift at the holidays when many kitchen appliances are put to the test. And it’s also a thoughtful birthday or anniversary gift.
For gift-giving for any reason, the KLARSTEIN Bella Rossa Tilt-Head Stand Mixer is a spectacular choice. Designed with German engineering in mind, it is a robust and highly functional stand mixer with all the features that people are looking for.
The Klarstein Bella Rossa is a perfect kitchen appliance — to deliver steady results with its advanced transmission.
The powerful 650-watt engine has more than enough strength for sticky bread dough, while planetary rotation is excellent for mixing and whipping creams and batters. It has suction cups on the bottom for stability, and 6-speed settings to manage all your mixing needs.
The compact footprint of the KLARSTEIN Bella Rossa is another excellent feature since you don’t want to give a gift that is cumbersome and difficult to manage. And the design and vibrant color are fashionable, attractive, and appealing in nearly any kitchen.
The 5.5-quart mixing bowl is a generous size for most mixing tasks, and the splatter shield contains messes.
The KLARSTEIN Bella Rossa stand mixer isn’t exceptional at any single mixing task, and professional and very experienced bakers will probably graduate to more robust or specialty stand mixers.
But it’s an excellent choice for someone’s first stand mixer, since it does a good job performing all the expected tasks, and the 5.5-quart bowl is a good capacity.
It’s useful and versatile while being so handsome and stylish that almost anyone would be thrilled to receive it as a gift, and look forward to using it for years to come.
- Attractive design
- Versatile for a wide range of essential mixing functions
- Suction cups for stability during use
- Splatter guard for easy cleanup
- Compact size
- Planetary mixing motion
- Mixing paddle has spatula edge for automatic scraping of the sides of the bowl
- Can be loud during operation
8. Litchi Stand Mixer — Best Stand Mixer for Batters
Mixing light doughs and batters are the most common, most basic, most useful task for a stand mixer.
These tasks are often not a particular challenge for the machine, unlike heavy bread doughs or light, fluffy whipping, but there are still some important features to consider.
When using a stand mixer for cookies, cakes, muffins, waffles, and other batters, it’s great to have a stand mixer that has a beater with rubber, “spatula” sides, to sweep and mix ingredients and keep them from getting stuck on the sides of the bowl.
These kinds of beaters save you the hassle of pausing the machine to scrape the sides repeatedly.
It’s also useful to have a splatter guard lid that allows you to add ingredients while the mixer is operating so that you can control the wetness or dryness of the mix and add ingredients at just the right time. Finally, it’s helpful to have a bowl with a handle on it, so that you can easily handle the container and pour out batters and mixes.
We love the Litchi stand mixer for these kinds of mixing challenges.
It has a lot of thoughtful features that make it perfect for cookies, crepes, cakes, and light pastries. The inclusion of both a Y-shaped mixing blade and a flexible flat beater with spatula sides allows you to choose the perfect attachment for your batter, unlike most stand mixers.
The robust 650-watt motor has more than enough power for doughs, and 6-speed control with a quick speed pulse feature gives just the right performance for your mixing needs.
The generous 5.5-quart stainless steel bowl has a built-in ergonomic handle for easy pouring. The integrated splatter guard has an opening perfect for adding ingredients just when you need to and positioned perfectly over the bowl and blades.
The Litchi stand mixer is also designed for fast and easy cleaning, with smooth curved surfaces that are easy to wipe clean and all attachments dishwasher safe.
The Litchi stand mixer is a reliable, all-around stand mixer, with a robust motor, good-sized bowl, and versatile attachments, but it does have a lot of small extra features that make it really ideal for light doughs and batters.
If you primarily need a stand mixer for cakes, cookies, and light pastries, but want one with the power and versatility for bread and whips, this is an excellent choice.
- Suction cup feet and good weight for stability
- Ergonomic handle on the bowl
- Extra paddle attachment with flexible sides eliminates scraping down the bowl
- Easy to clean
- 2-year warranty
- 30-day money back guarantee
9. Cuisinart SM-50 5.5 Quart Stand Mixer — Most Versatile Stand Mixer
Cuisinart is a brand with an excellent reputation for kitchen tools, and the SM-50 stand mixer lives up to their history with a great, reliable kitchen appliance.
The Cuisinart SM-50 has a 500-watt engine, with enough power for all but the toughest mixing tasks, a generous 5.5-quart mixing bowl with an integrated handle, and a splatter guard that cleverly doubles as a pour spout.
It comes in a range of pleasing and attractive colors to look great in any kitchen and has a great warranty. But Cuisinart also offers a variety of attachments (at an additional cost) for this stand mixer that let you get even more use out of the machine and more value from your investment.
Optional attachments for the Cuisinart SM-50 stand mixer include a pasta roller and cutter, a meat grinder, and ice cream and frozen dessert maker.
These attachments add a lot of value to a stand mixer, which is crucial because it’s a significant investment in both money and in kitchen space: it’s ideal if you can get as much use as possible out of the motor.
The meat grinding, pasta making, and ice cream making capabilities are excellent for a busy kitchen, expanding the range of foods and recipes that the Cuisinart SM-50 can manage.
As a stand mixer, it has 12 speeds, dishwasher-safe bowl, and attachments, and is made of sturdy die-cast metal. It’s a powerful all-around stand mixer and will be an invaluable asset in any kitchen.
The Cuisinart SM-50 is an excellent all-around stand mixer, backed by a great warranty and available in a variety of fun and stylish colors.
Optional accessories add even more versatility and capability for this stand mixer, allowing you to make homemade ground meats and sausages, ice creams and frozen desserts, and delicious homemade fresh pasta.
- Splash guard has integrated pour spout for batters
- Stainless steel bowl has a comfortable handle
- 12-speed settings
- Bowl and attachments are dishwasher safe
- 3 year limited warranty
- A wide range of optional add-on attachments
- Some attachments aren’t very durable
10. Betitay Stand Mixer — Best Stand Mixer for the Holidays
The holidays can pose a considerable challenge for an ordinary kitchen.
Many people who don’t bake at any other time of year are suddenly baking holiday cookies and treats for school, work, and social gatherings. Holiday meals call for cookies, cakes, pies, mashed potatoes, and bread, and hosting family over the holidays may also call for cinnamon rolls, pancakes, brioche, and fancy breakfasts.
In short, during the holidays, many kitchens are busier than they are at any other time of year, and many cooks are under a lot of pressure to create everyone’s favorite foods and entertain a crowd.
That is why. it is fantastic to have a stand mixer, even if it’s the only time of year it gets used.
A stand mixer allows you to let the machine work, kneading, mixing, and whipping while you work on other things at the same time.
This ability to multitask, kneading and mixing some ingredients while you prepare others, is incredibly important during the holiday season.
For holiday cooking and baking, the Betitay stand mixer is an excellent choice. The 4.5-quart bowl can whip as few as 3, and as many as 12, eggs at once, and suction cups on the base help it stands up to heavier doughs without walking on the counter.
The Betitay has a 500-watt motor and 6-speed settings and comes with a silicone spatula for scraping down the sides of the bowl. It has more than enough power and versatility to mix, whip, blend, and knead everything a busy kitchen needs to prepare and produce over the holiday season.
The integrated splash guard helps contain messes and ease cleanup, and the attachments are made of high-quality stainless steel, making them more durable and easy to clean as well.
The Betitay can come with either stainless steel or a glass bowl.
Many home cooks prefer glass bowls because it’s easier to see measurement indicators on the side of the container, can more easily tell if the sides need to be scraped, and glass retains its temperature better.
However, steel is preferred for staying cool when whipping and helping egg whites mount. And of course, steel bowls won’t break.
The Betitay stand mixer is a versatile little stand mixer.
It doesn’t have the largest capacity bowl or the most powerful motor and is probably not the best choice for professionals who need the highest performance.
But for the casual baker, particularly at the holidays, when there is a sudden flurry of baking and cooking, this affordable kitchen appliance can be a lifesaver.
- Steel construction
- Suction cup feet for stability
- Included spatula for scraping of the sides
- 2-year replacement warranty
- Optional glass bowl
- Bowl doesn’t have a very large capacity
Stand Mixer Buyer’s Guide
For those who only engage in occasional baking, a hand mixer is usually a better choice.
Hand mixers are compact and lightweight, making them easy to use and easy to store. They are an excellent solution for small kitchens, light tasks, and seasonal bakers.
However, for those who bake all year long, in large quantities, and manage heavy doughs like bread doughs, there is no substitute for a stand mixer.
A good stand mixer offers many advantages over a hand mixer.
These appliances are large and powerful, with motors fast enough to quickly whip the lightest creams and foams, and strong enough to knead thick, sticky bread doughs.
Most importantly, a stand mixer will operate independently, freeing you to move around the kitchen and tend to other tasks while the mixer works. The ability to multitask is crucial in a busy kitchen, when baking at high volumes, or when preparing big holiday meals.
A stand mixer is so large that, in most kitchens, it remains a fixture on the countertop. These appliances are large, heavy, and visible, leading to several important considerations when purchasing a stand mixer.
What Kind of Stand Mixer Do You Need?
While it’s easy to recommend some excellent stand mixers as being “the best,” it’s smart to take a moment and consider the kinds of jobs you want your stand mixer to do so you can choose the features that matter most for your kitchen.
Knowing what you really need in a stand mixer will help you spend your money most wisely.
Bread and heavy doughs
Most people who want a stand mixer for bread wish to double, triple, or even quadruple their recipes, making large batches of dough at once.
Bread poses specific mixing challenges, because the stand mixer not only needs to mix ingredients thoroughly without puffing out much flour or scraping the sides, it also needs to knead bread dough well to give the perfect texture.
Bread lovers find that the right stand mixer does a much better job at these things than a bread machine.
Generally speaking, features that matter the most in bread doughs are the power of the engine, because it needs to deliver a lot of torque at low speeds.
The weight of the machine, because dough balls are likely to throw a lightweight machine off-balance and cause walking (many stand mixers also have suction cups on the bottom to prevent this); and safety features that will protect the motor by shutting it off before it overheats.
Batters and lighter doughs
While cake batters and cookie doughs can easily be mixed with a hand mixer instead of a stand mixer, stand mixers make the job faster, more comfortable, and more consistent.
In the case of batters and light doughs, what most cooks want is to be able to add ingredients while the mixer is working (unlike a hand mixer, where you have to stop, set the machine down, add ingredients, then pick it up and start again).
For these kinds of mixing jobs, it can be annoying to have to constantly stop the stand mixer to add ingredients or scrape down the sides.
Generally speaking, those who make a lot of batters and soft doughs will want to look for a stand mixer with a splatter guard that has an opening in the top so they can add ingredients during mixing.
It’s also important to have a good design where the bowl meets the paddles so that more ingredients are incorporated with less pausing to scrape.
It’s ideal to have a paddle attachment with flexible, spatula sides, so you don’t have to scrape at all. Because these kinds of batters are often poured into a pan, it’s helpful to have a handle on the bowl for easy handling, and some stand mixers even have a pour spout to make pouring even easier.
Whipping eggs, creams, and frostings
Whipping is another excellent task to outsource to a stand mixer rather than doing it by hand or with a hand mixer.
In the case of whipping, it’s essential to have a lot of speed options, because there is a huge difference between “soft peaks” and “stiff peaks,” and when you want one, the other simply will not do.
The way that the whip conforms to the bowl is also important; if a lot of liquid is allowed to gather in the bottom of the container, beneath the beater, it will not whip evenly.
For whipping, look for a stand mixer with a range of speed settings. Many have only 4-5 speed settings, but it’s best to find one with 10-12 for added precision.
Most of the time, you want a wire whip with a lot of wires and a big balloon shape to get the most air and lift into your whips. Planetary rotation (where the whip rotates one direction while the mixer arm rotates the other direction) provides the smoothest, most even, most consistent results.
Most stand mixers have bowls that are too big to whip smaller quantities of eggs or cream effectively; if you regularly only whip 1-2 eggs or less than a cup of cream, look for the smallest bowl and whip attachment you can find.
Holiday baking deserves special consideration, for a few reasons.
For many people, the holidays may be the only time of year that they use their stand mixer, and then they use it for a solid two months of Halloween cookies, Thanksgiving pies and mashed potatoes, and Christmas everything.
During this time, when a person is more likely to be making cookies, cakes, pies, potatoes, bread, rolls, sauces, waffles, meringues, whipped cream, and more, their stand mixer goes from nothing to everything all at once.
Generally speaking, holiday bakers often want a large-capacity, powerful, versatile stand mixer, but then they don’t want to store it on the counter for the rest of the year when it isn’t in use.
In that sense, this is the most challenging scenario for stand mixers, because they should have such high power and versatility for such a short period of time.
The choices are to get the best possible all-around stand mixer, something that will last for decades, and view it as part of your holiday traditions; or get a less robust, less expensive one, intended for your short-term use, and expect to replace it every couple of years.
How Should Your Stand Mixer Work?
While many stand mixer features are conditional depending on your needs and preferences, there are a few things that chefs, experts, and consumers all agree on.
Planetary mixing is a motion where the mixing attachment rotates one direction, while the mixing arm rotates in another direction (or the bowl rotates, in stand mixers where the bowl rotates).
Experts consider this to be the most effective, thorough, consistent way to mix and combine ingredients, and the best way to incorporate air into a whipped mixture.
Planetary rotation is preferred over, for example, mixers where one or two beaters spin in a single direction.
Bowl lift design
Most consumer-level stand mixers have a tilt-head design, where the head of the mixer tilts back and forth, toward or away from the bowl.
Most commercial stand mixers have a bowl-lift design, where the bowl is held in place with arms, and then a lever lifts it up into position beneath the mixing attachments.
Bowl-lift is a more effective, superior design for thorough mixing, and is becoming more widely available on consumer-level stand mixers. The bowl-lift style is preferable for several reasons:
- Tilt-heads require extra clearance
In a tilt-head style stand mixer, you need extra room for clearance above and behind the mixer, as well as clearance for the attachments to rotate to a horizontal position as they leave the bowl.
This takes up more room in a kitchen and doesn’t allow attachments to be as precisely designed for the bottom of the bowl as a bowl-lift design.
- Easier access to the inside of the bowl
In a bowl-lift design, the attachments rise out of the way as you access the bowl, making it easier to add ingredients or to scrape down the sides.
In a tilt-head model, when the head is lifted, the messy attachment head is mostly blocking access to the bowl, making it more difficult to add ingredients or scrape down the sides without touching the mixing attachment.
However, bowl-lift models are more awkward if you want to change mixing attachments mid-job. Instead of lifting the attachment well up and out of the bowl as a tilt-head stand mixer does, you need to reach between the attachment and the bowl and maneuver in that space.
- More stable and powerful
The overall design of bowl-lift stand mixers is more stable and delivers more power to the mixing process.
- Temperature control
A bowl-lift design allows you to heat or cool the stainless steel bowl from below while the ingredients are mixing, which is a crucial ability in many recipes.
- Splatter shield
Most new stand mixers come with a splatter shield, but even if you have to purchase it as an extra accessory, it just makes sense. Under the best of circumstances, flour can puff out of a mixer, or batters can splatter drops.
And, particularly when your hands are messy, it’s all too easy to select a faster speed than you intended on a mixer and make a splatter mess. The best splatter guards have openings in them so you can still add ingredients while the mixer is operating, and they are an excellent addition to a stand mixer.
Which Stand Mixer Features Matter Most?
Now that you know what kind of mixer your cooking habits require, and the most valuable essential features, it’s time to look at other considerations that will help you choose the right stand mixer for you.
Size of the stand mixer
Consider the overall dimensions and footprint of the mixer, and remember that in tilt-head models, the head needs to be lifted during operation and cleaning.
Determine how much counter and under-cabinet space you have in your kitchen for a stand mixer.
One advantage of the bowl lift design is that, even though they are taller, if they fit under your counters, they don’t have to be moved to operate them.
Apart from the overall size of the mixer, it’s good to consider the best size bowl for your needs.
A large, 6 or more quart bowl is excellent for large quantities and big batches, but too big for whipping small quantities. If you only want to whip one or two eggs, a 3 or 4-quart bowl is better.
And it’s always good to have a bowl with a handle on it, for ease of working with your doughs, batters, and mixes once they are done.
Most stand mixers come with stainless steel bowls, and they are prized for being durable and comfortable to work with.
However, some stand mixers have glass bowls, and there are some advantages to the glass.
Glass bowls make it easier to see the measurements printed on the glass, observe how well your ingredients are mixing and whether the sides need scraping, and notice problems before they progress.
The glass is also an insulator, and retains its temperature well, making it suitable for creaming butter. However, steel is more rugged and durable, and steel is a poor insulator, keeping it cooler when whipping creams, and adding loft when whipping egg whites.
You may have a preference for one material over another or may want to have one of each for different applications.
Because it will live on your countertop, it’s important to have an attractive stand mixer that goes with your kitchen décor and that you want to show off to others.
While it may seem like a minor consideration, you will spend a lot of time with your stand mixer in view, and it should look attractive.
Ease of operation
The key advantage of a stand mixer is that it operates without a lot of manual intervention.
However, baking is a chemically precise process; you do not want to over- or under-beat egg whites, over- or under-mix cake batters, over- or under-knead dough.
Your stand mixer should be easy to use, with enough settings and options to make it precise, functional, and versatile, but not so many that it becomes complex or distracting to use.
Ease of cleaning
There’s no doubt that baking is a messy process.
However, a good stand mixer can help to shield and prevent messes, with surfaces that are easy to clean and maintain.
Because your stand mixer will live on your countertop, and can’t just be tucked away when guests arrive, it needs to be easy to clean and preserve its good looks.
For most people, most of the time, engine power doesn’t make a huge difference in the performance of their stand mixer or their happiness with the end product.
However, if you mix at large quantities of stiff doughs, engine power does become a factor. If you plan on quadrupling your bread and cookie dough recipes, it’s good to look for a more powerful engine.
While it may make a stand mixer seem more cumbersome to work with, weight is a desirable feature in a stand mixer.
If it is heavy and substantial, it helps the mixer to operate reliably when working with wet, heavy doughs or other thick mixes.
The mixer itself should weigh enough to stay in place and apply force to the mixing; stand mixers that “walk” when in use are frustrating and need babysitting.
Many mixers compensate for low weight with suction cups that secure them to the counter, but remember that heavyweight is also often indicative of quality; light mixers are mostly made of plastic parts that can break under strain, while heavy stand mixers are made with more metal parts and are more durable.
A stand mixer is an investment.
A high-quality stand mixer, when treated well, will last for decades. These appliances are big, visible, powerful, and useful.
If you only need something comfortable and lightweight, use a hand mixer. An inexpensive, underpowered, low-quality stand mixer not only won’t last very long, but it likely won’t perform the way you need it to.
If you get a stand mixer that doesn’t work very well, then you have a big appliance on your countertop for no reason. In stand mixers, quality is more important than price.
Attachments and accessories
Many stand mixers come with options and attachments that allow them to do non-baking tasks, like grind meat or roll pasta.
While many of these attachments aren’t absolutely necessary, if you are going to invest in a stand mixer, and live with a stand mixer in your kitchen, you should get as much use out of it as possible.
A second bowl
A second bowl allows you to prepare and mix one batch of dough or ingredients while pouring or using another. A second bowl is essential for high-volume baking and cooking and uses your time most efficiently.
You can also purchase a second bowl that is a different size (larger or smaller) than the one that came with your stand mixer, for greater versatility.
Remember that if you are purchasing a bowl that is a different size than the original size of your mixer, you will usually need to buy a beater that goes with that bowl as well; the bowl and whisk work together and are designed as a unit.
Meat grinder, pasta roller, ice cream maker attachments. If you ever use any of these features, and if these attachments are well-made to go with your stand mixer, it just makes sense.
Once you have a large, robust stand mixer taking up space in your kitchen, it would be foolish to not get the most possible use out of it.
Pasta attachments make the most sense for most kitchens, since it’s so simple to use the stand mixer to make a pasta dough, then use the roller attachment to roll and cut fresh, homemade pasta.
Food processing or blending attachments
These can make sense, depending on the quality of the attachments.
However, as stand mixer attachments, these almost never work as well as stand-alone, dedicated food processors or blenders.
For occasional use, they can work well, but generally can’t replace the quality and performance of a traditional food processor or blender.
Remember that brand isn’t always an indication of the highest quality.
While many brands have excellent reputations, it’s still important to do comparison shopping and be attentive to reviews. The brand of a stand mixer is vital to the degree that you are making a significant investment and hope to use the appliance for years to come.
In that case, you want a brand with a reputation for quality, service, and honoring warranties. If you are getting an inexpensive stand mixer and don’t expect it to last very long, then the brand isn’t as important.
A Stand Mixer Has its Limitations
Even a stand mixer with a high wattage has some limitations especially when it comes to handling dough.
Some of the top of the range stand mixers have trouble mixing stiff dough. When your motor begins to stall and becomes sluggish, it usually means the mixer can’t handle the denseness of the dough.
Even great mixers still require you to knead the dough by hand, so to prevent the motor burning out, make sure you follow the manual to see how long you can operate the mixer during a session.
Also, remember that some mixers don’t have an overload protection built-in and are not meant to be used for extended periods.
Keeping these features and considerations in mind will help you choose the right stand mixer for your needs, without wasting money on features you don’t really need.
The truth is, a good stand mixer makes an incredible difference in the quality of your cooking, as well as making a significant impact on your enjoyment of the cooking process itself.
A noisy, wobbly, ineffective, unreliable machine adds stress and annoyance, particularly if your cooking is time-sensitive. It’s worth getting the right machine for you, so you can have the most fun in your kitchen, and make the most delicious foods possible.
A stand mixer is a kitchen statement piece.
It’s part of your décor and contributes to the overall look and feel of your kitchen. But it’s also an incredibly valuable tool in your cooking.
A well-designed, reliable, efficient, effective stand mixer is a joy to use, and people who love their stand mixers find themselves looking for more and more ways to use it.
Which is as it should be; home cooked food is healthier, less expensive, and more emotionally satisfying. When you have the right tools in your kitchen, it adds to the quality of your life.
Get the right stand mixer and enjoy cooking again.