Electric mixers have become an indispensable kitchen appliance. Before their arrival on the culinary scene, home cooks were required to stir cookie dough by hand, whisk egg whites or cream until their arms ached, and master the technique of kneading bread to produce airy loaves. However, an electric mixer can perform all these tasks and probably more effectively. Here’s what you need to know before purchasing a stand or hand mixer.
Hand Mixers vs. Stand Mixers
A stand mixer has a motorized base, a head that holds the attachments for the beaters, and a bowl that locks in place beneath the beaters. The motor of a hand mixer is housed in a lightweight housing to which removable beaters are attached. The mixer is held over a bowl and can be moved to ensure that its contents are mixed evenly. A stand mixer is typically more expensive than a hand mixer because it is larger, more powerful, and has more capabilities.
There are pros and cons associated with each type of home appliance. The motor of a stand mixer is more powerful, allowing it to handle stiffer doughs, such as cookie dough or bread dough. Some stand mixers have accessories available for purchase that will enable the machine to be used to make everything from ice cream to sausage to pasta. A quality stand mixer can be pricey, at around $200. Due to their size and weight will likely require a permanent spot on your countertop or storage space.
A hand mixer is relatively compact and can be stored in a cabinet or drawer with ease. You can buy a decent model for under $100. Since it is portable, you can control the path of the beaters, moving them around the bowl to avoid missing any ingredients.
Also compatible with virtually any bowl, large or small. Hand mixers are only suitable for thinner, softer doughs and batters and whipping cream and beating egg whites because the motor is not as powerful.
Even though a stand mixer is an investment due to its price, many baking enthusiasts opt for both pieces of equipment because the hand mixer is relatively inexpensive. The Power Advantage Hand/Stand Mixer from Cuisinart is a hand mixer that converts into a stand mixer by mounting onto a base.
KitchenAid is arguably the most well-known brand in the mixer category, particularly for stand mixers. The company invented the class when it introduced the first home stand mixer in 1919. However, KitchenAid’s popularity does not imply that it is the only option on the market, nor necessarily the best. Mixers by KitchenAid range from the Classic Series to the Professional and Commercial collections.
Sunbeam and Hamilton Beach offer stand mixers for less than $50, but their construction is not as sturdy, and their work bowls are smaller than those of more expensive models. They are also made of lighter-weight materials, making them less durable and more likely to “creep” across the counter wildly if they beat a particularly stiff dough.
Breville produces a premium stand mixer with an integrated timer and a die-cast metal construction. Additionally, Cuisinart’s models include a countdown timer and sold attachments separately. Viking makes one of the most expensive and high-quality mixers available. It is equipped with one of the most powerful motors (1000 watts), metal gear transmission, and wheels for easy countertop mobility (a nice touch considering it weighs more than 20 pounds).
Many small appliance manufacturers manufacture hand mixers, and the performance of more expensive brands is not necessarily superior to that of less expensive brands. However, more expensive models may have additional features or a better design.
The best advice is to choose a brand you believe has the best reputation, quality, and price.
Wattage and Additional Factors
Avoid mixers with less than 250 watts of power. Less than that, and you won’t be able to mix anything more substantial than pancake batter. Breville’s model has a 550-watt motor, while Cuisinart offers an option with a 1,000-watt motor.
Countdown timers, such as those found on models by Cuisinart and Breville, are an excellent addition. For instance, you can set the machine to knead bread dough for 10 minutes, and it will automatically shut off when it’s done. KitchenAid stand mixers are renowned for their accessory-compatible head plug; the company sells a variety of attachments, including citrus juicers, ice cream makers, sausage grinders, and pasta extruders, among others. Because the plug is universal, all KitchenAid models are compatible with every attachment regardless of age. Cuisinart also has a similar feature; its stand mixers have three outlets for plugging in attachments, but not as wide a variety.
Some stand mixers boast “planetary action” mixing, in which the beaters follow an elliptical path around the bowl for uniform mixing. Even the least expensive mixers typically include three attachments: a paddle for general mixing, a whisk for whipping cream or egg whites, and a dough hook for kneading bread dough.
Hand mixers typically have 200 to 250 watts of power, and for the naturally thinner mixtures, they are used with, a motor with 200 to 225 watts should suffice. The types of beater attachments included the range of speeds and the availability of a storage case for the attachments are features to consider.
Don’t bother with a dough hook-equipped hand mixer. Most likely, the motor is insufficient to handle bread dough. It would also be too uncomfortable to hold the mixer over a bowl for the time required to knead the dough by machine.
Bowl-Lift or Tilt-Head Stand Mixer
Most stand mixers have a tilt-head design, where the bowl remains stationary and is locked into a base, and the head is hinged so that it can tilt up to lift the beaters out of the bowl. However, several KitchenAid models feature a bowl-lift design in which the bowl locks onto the frame, and a lever is turned to raise the bowl to meet the beaters.
Initially utilized primarily in commercial kitchens, the bowl-lift design is available on some of KitchenAid’s more expensive and larger-capacity mixers. The advantage of the bowl-lift design is that the mixer can fit underneath a cabinet and does not need to be moved forward to be used (with tilt-head mixers, there wouldn’t be enough space under a cabinet to lift the head).
Some individuals prefer bowl-lift mixers due to their more professional appearance and typically larger bowl capacity. Others like the tilt-head design because it provides more accessible access to the bowl for adding ingredients or scraping the sides.
Selecting the Mixer Size
Mixers feature a variety of bowl sizes. It is essential to select the size that will be most beneficial to you. Standard capacity ranges between 4.5 and 5.5 quarts. This is sufficient for making a batch of cookies or a loaf of bread. If you frequently bake cookies or bread in large quantities, you may want to choose a larger mixer. KitchenAid asserts that its 6-quart mixer can simultaneously produce 13 batches of cookies or more than eight loaves of bread.
Why Trust Us
You will find what you are looking for at Jody's Bakery. From classic to luxury brands, you'll find both. We will help you to select appliances that fit your needs, budget and lifestyle. Whether you want to stop by to learn more — or plan to make a major purchase — we’ll treat you like family and assist you every step of the way. Shop with us today to receive friendly and experienced help along the way.