Mixers can help turn the task of cooking into a joy. These helpful kitchen tools range from stick to hand to stand mixers – and they’re guaranteed to make food preparation faster and more convenient.
When Should You Choose a Stand Mixer Over Smaller Stick or Hand Mixers?
All 3 types of tools are guaranteed to make food preparation faster and more convenient. But both stick and hand mixers are limited in their range of functions. A stand mixer has a greater capacity for multi-tasking.
Plus, if you use a hand mixer or stick mixer, you have to hold the bowl with one hand while operating the mixer with the other. A stand mixer sets you free from having to do that.
They’re great appliances — and once you get the right one, you’ll love what it can do for you in the kitchen. But, when you’re planning to purchase one, you don’t want to just pick whichever one happens to be the most recent one on the market because that one may not be the best one for you. Features vary widely and the newest and greatest may have features you don’t care about or be missing ones that you do.
Stand Mixers Comparison
|Bosch Compact Mixer Review||MUM4405||400 W||Consumer Mid Range||4 Quarts||4||8 Lbs||511||4.4 Stars|
|Bosch Universal Plus Mixer Review||MUM6N10UC||800 W||Consumer High End||6.5 Quarts||4||12 Lbs||761||4.7 Stars|
|KitchenAid Pro 600 Mixer Review||KP26M1XER||575 W||Consumer Mid Range||6 Quarts||10||29 Lbs||7,748||4.7 Stars|
First Thing To Pay Attention To When Choosing a Mixer
Instead, the first thing you want to consider is how many times each week you’re going to be using the mixer and what attachments you’ll need. A mixer has a number of parts that will need to be cleaned after every use, and while they may be dishwasher-safe, you can’t run your dishwasher 7 times a week because you used your mixer every day. Some attachments can be easily washed by hand, and usually the bowl can be as well, but you need to consider how many times a week you’ll use different features.
How Complicated Will Your Tasks Be With Your Mixer?
You also want to consider how complicated the recipes or tasks will be so that you’ll know what sort of food preparation your mixer will be handling. If your recipes or tasks will require multiple attachments, or a lot of in-and-out-of-the-bowl activity, you need to consider the specific attachments you need and bowl size is a biggie, too.
If you’re looking at doing simple, fast dishes without a lot of mixing (and you’re only going to use a mixer sporadically), then you can probably be happy with a simple model — one without a lot of bells and whistles.
But if the mixer is going to be an important part of your cooking production or it’s going to be used often, then you’re going to want to choose a mixer with plenty of features.
Basic Stand Mixers Can’t Handle The Load
Basic stand mixers can’t handle the same workload because the internal parts are different. Some of the gears and motors within some brands and models are meant to handle the more frequent uses and the heavier loads. Some mixers have a tendency to burn out the motors or strip gears under a heavier load like bread dough batches, so be sure to read the reviews carefully to find out if it is a weakness in the mixer you are considering as a purchase. Some mixers have overheating controls and can shut the mixer down if it is overheating. Usually this is a good feature.
However, I have seen one instance of automatic overheating controls that can be a negative issue. One of the mixers we have reviewed is a compact model with a smaller bowl. While the 1200W motor seems like a good feature, it turns out that it can’t always handle the load. When the small bowl is full of stiff mixtures like dough, the motor seems to be able to handle it, but what really happens is that the motor housing is small and overheats with the heavier load. It doesn’t hurt the motor because it shuts down automatically. But because it keeps overheating with the heavy load, it is basically a non-starter. If you are buying a small bowl and compact mixer but with a heavy motor, read the reviews to see if the overheating feature “gets in the way.”
What Do You Need to Watch For To Prevent Burning Out?
For starters, a stand mixer with fewer speeds and lower wattage often comes with lesser performance in handling heavy loads. Buying a less expensive stand mixer to save money won’t make you happy if it tears itself apart within a year.
Or, as I mentioned above, if the mixer has automatic overheating shutoff, you won’t want that feature if the mixer is underpowered and tends to shut off a lot.
If you buy a cheap stand mixer with few features and expect to use it constantly, it is likely to break down on you before a year of regular use is up. So take the time to consider how well your potential mixer can stand up to the tasks you hope to handle.
Ability to Handle Heavy Duty Tasks
If you’ve ever made homemade dough, then you understand what a demanding physical chore it can be. Not only is there a lot of work involved if you use the old fashioned method of kneading it on a counter, but the clean up after you’re done with the preparation isn’t all that fun, either.
For those who have the right kind of stand mixer, making dough changes bread-making from a chore to something that’s done in a few, quick minutes.
When making bread or pizza, you know that working with thick dough is strenuous and can take a lot of energy and strength. But stand mixers now can work the dough — and even if it’s thick, that doesn’t matter. However, you can’t just choose any stand mixer if you’re planning to use it to make dough. One with a lightweight motor won’t be able to handle the strain and you’ll burn the motor out.
When you’re making batter, whether it’s for cookies or some other recipe, the strength of the stand mixer matters here, too. Buying a stand mixer that has a lower wattage is okay if you’re only going to use it for lighter dough or cake batter or if you’re not going to use the mixer that much when making heavy duty recipes.
But, when you make family size amounts of dough or you make dough on a regular basis, then you must have the correct amount of wattage for your stand mixer. How much wattage your mixer has just means that’s how strong it is in the motor — and it’s also an indicator of what it can handle.
The models with the lower wattage will have lower power motors and lower price tags, whereas the higher wattage models will cost more. But what you have to consider is if you buy a lower wattage motor that has trouble working thick dough or batters, then you’re putting a lot of strain on the motor.
Eventually, this strain will cause it to tear up — because it wasn’t meant to handle the thicker mixture. One clue that your mixer is having a problem with the dough is if it starts to act like it’s struggling to work the dough. Think of a person trying to twist a lid from a tightly closed jar. Red-faced, grimacing and groaning. That’s what an under-powered stand mixer sounds and looks like. Oh, and unless it has suction cups on the bottom to prevent “jumping around the counter” you’ll have that issue as well. Can you imagine a 29-pound stand mixer “jumping!”
Many KitchenAids have a problem with gears tearing up, even with the 600 Watt “Professional” models. Maybe because that model has 10 speeds and tries to force the rotation so much that it puts a big strain on the motor. I’m not sure. I don’t do heavy, large batches of dough or cookie batter, so my KitchenAid doesn’t dance all over the counter as much as some people’s stand mixers and I haven’t burned out the gears on mine. The dancing part is funny, though, at least until you try to hold it down! However, many others report a problem burning out the motors in their reviews. For the expense of this stand mixer brand, you’d expect better.
But What Wattage Is Enough Wattage?
Take a page from the professional’s book. What do they buy? Some are satisfied with 600-650W but often you are looking for 800-1000W motors. More importantly, you want to consider what the gears and motor are made of. Metal gears are more durable and less susceptible to burning out than nylon gears.
What you really have to pay attention to is the wattage and what you are putting that motor to use doing. Heavy duty attachments like the dough hook, meat grinder, and pasta maker take a heavier toll on the motor. So when figuring out what wattage to look for, think about your attachments. Bowl size, speeds, and smaller items like that aren’t the key to figuring wattage.
If the motor has more oomph, like the 800W Bosch Universal Kitchen Machine, it can more easily drive its attachments and won’t put as much of a load on the motor fighting through a heavy batch of whatever.
If you’re comparing a stand mixer you already have to a decision to replace it, make sure it’s moving as fast as it normally should be. If you notice that it’s not, it means your motor isn’t strong enough to handle the thickness of that recipe. The rule of thumb to remember when purchasing a stand mixer is to always evaluate your purpose for the mixer and buy wattage accordingly.
There are also other features you’ll want to look at when you’re looking for a stand mixer and one of those features is how loud or quiet the machine is.
Every appliance is going to make some noise — and a stand mixer is no exception. However, there’s loud and then there’s too loud. The sounds a stand mixer makes come from the mixing action, but it also comes from the motor. To some degree, sound is part of the aesthetic appeal of your mixer.
The internal workings of the mixer will determine how much noise it makes. If you buy a stand mixer that has metal gears, then those will make more noise, but metal gears are the toughest and can stand up to more frequent as well as heavy use.
Some of the mixers have nylon gears — and these are quieter than metal ones, but they can’t always handle the strain of thick or stiff dough. Once the gears inside a stand mixer become damaged, then of course you either have to replace the parts or the appliance — this is why it’s so important that you buy a mixer that can handle tough recipes if that’s what you plan to use it for.
You’ll be able to tell if your gears are having trouble because you’ll start to hear them grind, buzz, or just outright complain. If the motor starts to lag or stagger, you can tell that it’s trying extra hard — and that’s not a good sign. A stand mixer will also make noise if it ‘walks’ along the counter as it’s in use — unless you buy a mixer that has suction feet grips on the bottom. And by the way, I highly recommend suction grips on the bottom. Nobody likes chasing a heavy stand mixer around the counter.
Are The Attachment Choices You Want Available?
The standard attachments that come along and extra goodies that you can buy for your stand mixer are varied and can help you perform a multitude of tasks. Every stand mixer comes with some features that will make it a favorite appliance. Again, it just depends on your tasks.
You’ll generally get a splatter shield, which is handy to use when you want to put more ingredients into the mix when you’re already running the mixer. It keeps the food in the mixer bowl and keeps the ingredients from splashing back. A pouring spout is great, too.
Of course, the attachments that come with your stand mixer or are sold separately can help you get so much more out of the kitchen appliance. Most of them come standard with flat beaters, which are great for use in making mixed meat dishes, or wire whips — and most come with a hook for dough so that you don’t have to knead by hand anymore. Sometimes you can get cookie paddles, which is a great addition for bakers.
You can look for a mixer that specifically uses planetary mixing. This is a programmed pattern that creates a revolving motion of the beaters to reach a full range around the bowl and create a smoother mixture.
It’s the extras that can give you a lot of value for your money. You can get a bowl scraper tool that will swipe the sides and bottoms of the bowl so that you don’t even have to scrape it to get every drop of ingredients out. Depending on the brand, sometimes the bowls used on different size mixers (e.g. 5 quart, 6 quart, or 7 quart) can be swapped out. This is a huge deal for people who use the mixer for a lot of tasks because you can have extra bowls on hand and do your clean-up later instead of stopping after every job.
If you buy the right type of stand mixer with power outlets for other attachments, you’ll be able to enjoy multiple uses. For example, one stand mixer allows an attachment that can also be used to make pasta.
You can also use another attachment to grind meat. There’s also an attachment that can be used as a juicer and one that can be used as a food processor. So you can imagine just how handy it would be to have a mixer that could do all of that.
Besides the attachments that you can get to enhance the mixer, you can also buy an attachment pack that will have various grinders, shredders, strainers and more included in it.
As you can guess, in many ways it’s the attachments that make a stand mixer the beloved resident in your kitchen.
Ease of Cleaning Will Save Your Sanity
Of course you don’t want to get an appliance you have to arm wrestle just to assemble or disassemble. And you also don’t want to get a mixer that’s going to have you cleaning the machine for hours. What use is convenience if it’s a hassle in the long run?
Even if you use a cover on your mixer on the counter, dust will still creep in. And it can build up and add to minute particles of grime that get into innards. This means that regular maintenance is a must to protect the motor and drive shaft for attachments.
Fortunately, there are plenty of stand mixers that are super easy to clean. You can just place the bowl and mixing pieces right in the top rack of the dishwasher and get them clean. Sometimes, with a bigger bowl, I’ll put it in the sink, run hot soapy water in it, add the attachments, and soak it all. That works well if it isn’t too messy or greasy and doesn’t fill up the top rack in the dishwasher. The main unit itself is easy just to wipe down.
Older mixers often had limited clearance between the bowl, the attachments, and the bottom of the head. Newer mixers — both tilt-head and bowl-lift — improve the cleaning process. The tilt-head will lift away from the bowl and expose the underside of the mixer for cleaning. The bowl-lift models drop the bowl down away from the lower part of the head to also make it easier to reach and clean. It’s really a matter of choice.
To disassemble a stand mixer, you want one that’s a 1-2-3 step process so that you can get inside the head of the machine to clean it and keep it working well. I always wipe off the bottom-side surface where the attachments go in before removing the attachments. Otherwise, when you wipe it down, you can push debris and grease into the holes that the attachments use. Look for the models that have an easy quick release latch that lets you take off the head of the appliance once you reach that stage of cleaning.
To change out various attachments, you can lift the head of the mixer and push the new piece into place. Most stand mixers are easy to assemble when you want to use it and the pieces simply lock into place. I’m big on modular methods, so I have a storage area for my attachments that doesn’t clog up the counter with the main mixer. I just pull out the storage bin, grab what I need, and put it away again. Some mixers with more attachments come with a storing space but many don’t.
There’s an old saying that goes, “Things just aren’t made the way they used to be,” and while that’s true, a sturdy good appliance will last for many years. In fact, you’ll find the guaranteed warranty ranging from 3 to 25 years and possibly a lifetime if you take care of it. Longer warranties usually mean that they don’t expect it to break down and require repair, so that’s one way to evaluate how well it is made.
The stand mixers made for today are meant to last. You should look for long-lasting metal parts made of steel and chrome to give you the best that money can buy in a kitchen countertop appliance. Bowls are easy to replace so plastic or glass there is fine.
Many stand mixers come with long-term warranties guaranteeing the product’s internal pieces, including the motor. It’s something to pay attention to. Depending on what you use the machine for, a mixer can overheat — but with the safety features built into most of these appliances today, the machine is programmed to shut down automatically if it overheats in order to protect the motor from burning out. Other models have electronic speed and gear management to prevent a strain on the motor.
You can also look for a model that uses electronics for load-sensing. The mixer will adjust the motor to handle different loads without you taking a hawk-eye view of your batch.
If once it cools down, it works as normal, this means the job you had it do was too much work for it. This is why it’s important to consider power when you’re in the market for a good stand mixer.
If you notice a problem while you’re mixing up something, immediately lower the operating speed. Sometimes, the machine overheats if you’re using it too fast or if you’ve been using it for hours at a time to do a marathon baking session.
The motor has oil lubricant and there’s grease inside the machine designed for it to give you many years of usage and keep the motor humming, but you need to keep up with maintenance on the machine by either doing it yourself or having it checked whenever you notice an issue. Be sure to read the manual that comes with your stand mixer. You don’t want to neglect care and handling and abuse it.
Yes, Size Matters … But Why?
Because it sits on the countertop, you want a stand mixer that has a lot of power, but not necessarily a lot of dimension. Remember that you want to get a mixer sized right so that when you tilt the head back or use the bowl-lift feature, you still have plenty of room if you have low hanging cabinets.
But, really, when we’re talking about size, we’re not just talking footprint. We’re also walking about weight.
Compact stand mixers are usually around 10 to 12 pounds, and the larger ones can start around 15 pounds and range up to easily above 30 pounds. Think of lifting anywhere from one to 3+ gallons of milk. In one armful!
With the dimensions and weight, you don’t want to be wrestling an appliance in a tight space or moving it around the room. A bulky and overly large mixer might be too much for you to handle if you don’t plan to house it on your kitchen counter. Or need to move it around on the counter.
I’ve found that if you want a countertop appliance, get a rolling cart for it to live on. That way you can move it around anywhere you want with ease.
If you store it elsewhere, then you don’t want one that weighs a lot, making it hard to move. Imagine picking up a toddler and holding them tightly so you don’t’ drop them. And no hands around your neck. Just you and dead weight. Of course, a child dropping 3-4 feet to the ground is likely to be okay. A $400+ stand mixer will probably not survive intact.
But on the other hand, if you plan to keep it on the counter, you don’t want to get one that’s too lightweight unless it has feet grips.
Most stand mixers are streamlined enough so that they don’t take up much countertop space if you want to leave them sitting out. Unless you have a small kitchen or one with little open counter space. If space is an issue, such as in a small studio apartment or sub-thousand-square-feet condo, you can look into purchasing a compact stand mixer, which has a lot of the same features as a regular model. In that case, you need to add dimensions and weight into your primary considerations. There are plenty of compact models out there, but you aren’t likely to get the higher wattage motors or bigger bowls with these.
Do You Care About Color?
Maybe you think I’m crazy to ask, but some buyers really care about the aesthetic appeal of that mixer on their countertop. Especially if it lives on the counter all of the time. The combination of color matching your décor, a streamlined design, and the material (plastic, stainless steel, or chrome) really do matter to some of us.
Consider Price and Value As Well As Add-On Costs
When buying a mixer, you’re going to want to consider the value of what you’re getting versus the price that you’re paying out. You’ll notice that there’s a huge range in price when it comes to these mixers.
Some of the starting prices are at less than $90 but range all the way up to almost $800. That’s a large difference — so how can you tell which one is the best? Frankly, there is no best. You have to look at what you plan to use it for.
If you only plan to use a mixer occasionally and never for heavy dough, then you can opt for one that’s lower in cost, has fewer features and usually has a power around a 450 wattage. The bowls for these will be smaller too, so take that into account.
If that’s your starting point, then consider your tasks more closely. Does the mixer come with the attachments you’ll want to use? If not, you should also consider the additional cost of purchasing attachments. This can add up a lot if you get excited about getting a lot of use out of your mixer and consider other add-ons.
But if you plan to do a lot of cooking and baking using your mixer, then you’ll want to opt for a higher wattage, larger bowl, available add-on attachments, and more speed. Note that I did not say “speeds.” A machine with 4 speeds will serve you just as well as 10 speeds. Most people can’t tell the difference between a 3 or 4 and a 5 or 6 anyway. If you often cook for friends or large family get-togethers, then you might even want to consider using a professional-level model. There’s a higher price tag attached, but the higher wattage and additional add-on attachments make this beloved appliance a more useful part of your cooking life.
Do You Need An Extended Warranty?
Finally, you should consider whether you need an extended warranty. You can decide this by basing the cost of the extended warranty against the purchase price of the mixer. If you’ve purchased an expensive mixer with a lot of features, then you might want to opt for this extra warranty.
Personally, I do the math carefully and I almost never purchase extended warranties.
Here’s my reasoning. If the mixer is relatively inexpensive to replace, say under $200, then it will probably last you just fine for at least a few years. If that estimated period is still within the regular warranty period, that’s a safe bet. At least to me. Of course, you should actually *read* the regular and extended warranties if possible. Sometimes they’re sneaky about what they actually cover. And just in case I have to buy another mixer a few years later, I’ll get newer features and a new “lifetime” of use. And not paying for the warranty goes against a possible new purchase.
If I consider cost of the extended warranty versus the possible short lifetime of the stand mixer and its replacement cost, it’s worth doing a close look at the money involved. But I’ve been “scammed” a few times by up-sells on warranties and you’ll find that in 90% of the cases, you buy the extended warranty and the product either lasts far beyond that or it fails under warranty and costs nothing to get a replacement. And you’re just out the cost, because an extended warranty will not apply to a replacement provided under warranty.
While purchasing a new stand mixer appears to be quite straightforward, pardon my pun but there are a lot of “moving parts” in the decision.
If you work through this buying guide, you can follow a path through your options and what to consider in each elements. Take a step-by-step path towards narrowing your desired features and options and when you reach the end, you’ll have a solid list of decision points that matter in making the best decision for your new stand mixer.