Purchasing a Stand Mixer
One of the most expensive small appliances you buy for your kitchen is a stand mixer. With so many brands available, all offering what seem to be useful features, it pays to educate yourself so you get the most for your dollar and so you end up with a stand mixer that will last you for years.
What Is a Stand Mixer?
A stand mixer is a stationary mixer with a motor suitable for medium to heavy duty mixing tasks. Unlike portable mixers, stand mixers hold the beaters for you, releasing you to do other tasks with two hands while your ingredients mix.
Most stand mixers come with standard attachments for mixing, whipping and kneading. Many lines also offer a wide array of optional attachments to accomplish any task from rolling pasta to juicing an orange.
Do I Really Need a Stand Mixer?
This is really a question that only you can answer. Here are some other questions to help you decide.
So you do a lot of seasonal baking?
Do you bake at least twice a month during the rest of the year?
Are you interested in making, or do you make bread, on a regular basis?
If you answered “Yes” to two of those three questions, then yes, you probably should own a stand mixer.
What Should I Look for in a Stand Mixer?
They might make a bit more noise, but metal gears are much less likely to strip out than the quieter nylon gearing. Buy a mixer with metal gears and it’s yours for life.
Planetary Mixing Action
Beater moves one way while the drive shaft moves the other. The bowl is stationary. Planetary mixing ensures that all ingredients are mixed.
Lift or Tilt Mechanism
Some mixers raise and lower the bowl, others have housings that tilt. Your choice should be based on personal preference
Slow Start Feature
Starts the mixing slowly for the first couple of seconds to help keep ingredients in the bowl where they belong.
Keeps beaters in the bowl during mixing without “kicking up,” and keeps the beaters up out of the bowl even if they are weighted down with dough.
A Good Array of Speed Options
You generally want to see at least six well-differentiated speeds to do everything from kneading dough to whipping cream.
A nice feature when it comes to clean up.
A Powerful Motor
Many of the big brands tout their wattage, but torque (measure of rotational force) is what really matters. Unfortunately, it is difficult to find reliable information on torque for mixers.
A Hefty Weight
Look for a mixer that weighs at least 25 pounds to minimize its “walking” when mixing heavy cookie or bread doughs.
An Overload Reset Button
This is a great safety feature that will turn off the mixer before it overheats and fries. Even the most powerful mixers can sometimes overheat, especially when used to knead very heavy doughs or when working at high speed for long periods of time.
Reasonable sized bowl
Most manufacturers offer bowls that can handle 5-7 quarts.
Optional Features That Are Nice, but Not Essential
Capability of attaching a blender or food processor attachment
Pouring shield/ splatter shield
Wide variety of colors/finishes to match your décor
Encyclopedic list of attachments: from meat grinders to cheese graters
Remember, whichever mixer you choose, take care of it, and it will take care of you for many years.
Be sure to read my full review of the Kitchen Aid Professional 5 Plus Series Bowl Lift Stand Mixer here.
onlinesources: Small Kitchen Appliances
There are lots of sources for purchasing quality small kitchen appliances including blenders, toaster and mixers. I suggest you check out your local department stores and kitchen supply shops but if you're looking for a wide selection of products and prices, you may want to check out Amazon.com where I buy many of my favorite pieces of cookware.
So where's the comparison chart?
Theresa, gone. Not sure what happened to it when I moved over to the new format. I'll have to look for it or create a new chart. - RG
Yes, very useful article, I agree the stand mixer for mixing heavy duty, thank you I will read your review
I had no idea that you should look for a mixer that has metal gearing. My wife loves to bake, and she has been wanting to get a mixer. I will have to make sure that I get her the right one.
Interesting. I never gave much thought to things like buying mixers with metal gearing or ones that had a slow start feature. For me it has always been about just grabbing one that got the job done. Very helpful guide which I will surely use in the future.