Over a decade later, the stand mixer remains one of our most trusted kitchen companions, commanding first place on the counter and outlasting the designer bags and shoes that collect dust in our closet. A stand mixer is the best investment you can make if you want to make a splurge that will pay off.
What is the purpose of a stand mixer?
As the name implies, a stand mixer’s sturdy steel construction and powerful motor make it an indispensable tool for bakers and cooks alike.
Compared to a human, it is better and more effective at evenly combining ingredients, reduces preparation time, and it’s built to last.
What can you do with a stand mixer?
A basic stand mixer is equipped with three-blade attachments: a beater, a whisk, and a dough hook, all of which are interchangeable. Which one you choose to use will be determined by the outcome you want to achieve
When it comes to most tasks, the flat beater comes in handy. It can be used for everything from mixing cookie and cake batters and frostings to shredding pulled pork or chicken, mixing meatloaf or meatballs if you don’t want to touch it with your hands. It also combines sweet and savory ingredients, such as incorporating butter into warm citrus curd or mashing boiled potatoes with butter and milk to make a creamy comfort meal.
Use the whisk to fluff up eggs and cream into peaks, and if you want to go even farther, you can use it to make marshmallow fluff and handmade butter without lifting a finger.
Here, we feel like the stand mixer comes into its own. The stand mixer does double duty in the kitchen:
- The dough hook can be used to knead any type of dough you can think of, from stiff baguette dough and whole-grain rolls to soft, pliant pizza dough and cinnamon buns.
- It cuts down on time required to knead the dough and stops your kitchen counter from being covered in flour.
Stand Mixers Come in Two Styles:
Before examining individual models, you should decide between two basic stand mixers: tilt head or bowl lift.
The mixer’s head tilts back from the base, and the bowl is attached to the base. The tilt-head model allows you to insert and remove the bowl by lifting the mixer’s head.
Once the head is lifted, the bowl can be securely twisted into place in the mixer’s base. Then pull the tilt head down and secure it in place with a small lever on the machine’s side.
These models are typically less bulky, so keep in mind the amount of storage space available when making your selection.
- Simple to operate and maintain
- Numerous decorative possibilities
- Size that is suitable for a counter
- Ideally suited for families
- A motor that is more compact
- The bowl capacity is small.
- Not ideal for making bread
On bowl-lift models, the bowl hooks onto arms that extend from the machine, and the arms raise and lift via a lever to make removal easier. The mixer’s head is fixed.
Bowl-lift models are more common in higher-end and more powerful mixers because the heavy motors found in these products cannot be supported by the single hinge found in tilt-head models.
Additionally, the bowl lift models are more stable. The vibrations generated by the mixing action travel through a heavier and thicker construction, providing additional mass to distribute the mechanical energy generated by the vibrating parts and motor. These mixers are ideal for those who frequently make thick doughs, such as bread dough.
More advanced home cooks prefer this model because it allows for the addition of bowls of warm or cold water beneath it for temperature control.
Some users complain that adding ingredients to the bowl lift model is more complicated and that attachments must be removed from the machine to remove the bowl.
- Professional appearance
- Select models feature a spiral knead dough hook
- A variety of models to choose from.
- Increased motor size and capacity
- Preferable for making bread
- Tall and bulky
- It isn't easy to operate.
Buying Guide Before You Buy a Stand Mixer
There’s no question that a stand mixer is much more convenient to use than a manual, but you must still pay for the added convenience that it provides.
Also, if additional accessories are available, a stand model is more functional. Purchasing a stand mixer can be a relatively inexpensive purchase. Still, with so many options regarding wattage, features, and capacities, it can be challenging to know where to begin.
And this is one device you don’t want to replace shortly. You can make the right purchase decision by following these tips.
For the best results, use a stand mixer with a mixing bowl.
Your primary concern when selecting a mixer is how you plan to use it. Making several loaves of bread a week, as well as hosting a large family and social events, necessitates the use of a powerful motor and a large capacity bowl, as a minimum of 600 watts of power and a six quarts bowl or larger is required.
Taking capacity into consideration is critical. Buying a large mixer means you will find it difficult to use it for small-batch needs. The result is that if you buy a unit that is too small for your needs, you will have to process your recipes and prepare them in batches.
Performance and Capacity
While it may seem that the larger the wattage, the more power for mixing and kneading, this is not necessarily the case. Different mixers can use more wattage and offer less power than labeled.
Base your buying decision on total wattage rather than on advertised wattage. The manufacturer will generally provide capacity guidelines (so many cups of flour, etc.). Still, these tend to be high and might not provide optimal mixing, so base your decision on a reduced capacity level.
Features of the Best Stand Mixer
- Security features include overload protection, as well as a locking tilt head.
- In terms of durability, all-metal construction is superior.
- Most stand mixers have 10 to 12 speeds and come with three standard attachments (whisk, dough hook, and beater).
- Some models include an onboard timer to eliminate guesswork and a splash guard to prevent spills.
- A motor that gets to the desired speeds will provide safety for the machine.
- Functional models equipped with hubs for connecting optional accessories offer the most versatility.
- Warranties vary by brand, but some do offer more extended periods.
A Stand Mixer Is Not Without Restrictions
While you might expect a high-wattage mixer to handle any dough effortlessly, they do have limitations:
- Even the most sophisticated mixers have difficulty managing a very stiff dough. When dough causes the motor to become sluggish and stall, this indicates that the capacity or density of the dough is greater than the mixer was designed to handle.
- Even with a powerful mixer, it’s not uncommon to finish kneading bread dough by hand.
- To avoid motor burnout, adhere to the manufacturer’s recommended operating time for the mixer during a session.
- Bear in mind that not all mixers include built-in overload protection and are not designed to operate continuously for extended periods.
Optional accessories for stand mixers
Numerous models include a hub for attaching optional accessories such as a vegetable/meat grinder, pasta maker, or sausage maker. While these accessories increase the price of a mixer, they improve its functionality and reduce the number of appliances required. They do, however, require sufficient power to operate, and you may wish to consider this when purchasing your mixer.
Where Quality Speaks – What Factors Affect Pricing
Given the broad price range of stand mixers, it’s essential to consider the factors that influence the price. A low-cost model may only have one mixing action (middle), whereas a higher-priced model will have a spiral or rotating action covering a larger mixing area and getting closer to the bowl’s side. This action improves mixing and pulls in the contents, requiring less scraping.
The more power the mixer has, the more you can do with it. Additionally, more expensive units will feature more durable components and all-metal construction.
Once you’ve determined that you can afford the counter space and that a stand mixer is a good investment for your kitchen and cooking style, you’ll need to decide how much you’re willing to spend. Stand mixers range in price from about $100 to more than $400.
Once a month, Amazon offers a 10%–50% discount on KitchenAid mixers. Although the best time of year to purchase a KitchenAid mixer is typically during the holidays, Amazon regularly has KitchenAid mixers on sale.
Stand mixers are highly effective – Due to their more prominent and more powerful motors, stand mixers can churn through thicker doughs, longer mixing times, and power attachments such as a food grinder or pasta roller.
According to our understanding, watts equal power — more watts equals more power. Almost any stand mixer will handle basic batters and doughs, but mixers with a higher wattage will perform better with very stiff bread doughs.
While kneading by hand can be rewarding, we recommend using a stand mixer fitted with the dough hook attachment for this task. However, even without a stand mixer, you can still make a good loaf of bread from most doughs. The trick is to stretch and massage the dough with a rhythmic, gentle motion.
Those who have gotten into bread baking as a hobby may benefit from having a stand mixer, saving time. Anyone who has countertop space will benefit from this.
If you’re only going to use a stand mixer for simple tasks like whipping cream and egg whites, a hand mixer may be a better option. While they are not as powerful, they are less expensive, easier to store, and sufficient for simple tasks.