A stand mixer can easily be one of the most exciting purchases you ever make for your kitchen, especially if you bake a lot. Since this is such an investment piece, most people really want to make sure they have the space, money, and need for such a machine before taking the plunge.
Although finally deciding to make the purchase can feel like a big decision in and of itself, the real decision comes when picking the one that will be right for your home and cooking needs.
If you choose wisely and buy the best stand mixers that you can afford, this small appliance can last you decades, ensuring that you really do get your money’s worth, not to mention that it will add so much to what you can do at home.
Some top rated models have attachments that you can purchase, ranging from sausage stuffers to pasta makers. This article goes over some of the best options on the market today to help you make the right decision for your kitchen.
TOP RATED STAND MIXER FOR YOUR KITCHEN
1. BEST LIGHT DUTY STAND MIXER
If you need an occasional helper for baking cookies, cakes, and other lighter dough items or whipping up a nice cream, you can’t go wrong with the Breville BEM800XL Scraper Mixer Pro 5-Quart Die-Cast Stand Mixer.
Although we would not recommend it for more than occasional bread kneading, this machine will perform very well for the average home chef, as long as he or she doesn’t have a bread baking obsession. Its scraping function is unique among its peers.
Although priced higher than many of the other lighter duty models, its auto load sensing and auto timer features give you more for your money than many other comparable examples (i.e. the KitchenAid) in this price range.
2. BEST MEDIUM DUTY STAND MIXER
This category represented a difficult choice, and it came down to the Cuisinart SM-55 5 1/2-Quart 12-Speed Stand Mixer and the KitchenAid 5-Quart Artisan Series Mixer. In the end, we awarded the medium category to the KitchenAid. Although the Cuisinart’s motor is rated much higher on paper than that of the KitchenAid, we felt they have similar power capabilities in the real world.
While we appreciated Cuisinart’s three-year warranty versus KitchenAid’s one-year, reviewers indicated that the Cuisinart’s customer service was sometime difficult to deal with, and that they had to pay shipping both ways to have their machine serviced or replaced.
KitchenAid’s warranty service seems to have none of these issues.
We also appreciated the massive variety of different colors in which the KitchenAid KSM150 5-Quart Artisan Series is offered, and the many different attachments that are available. Although we gave our nod towards the KitchenAid, we are sure that you’d be happy with either model.
3. BEST HEAVY DUTY STAND MIXER
This was by far the hardest category in which to decide our top pick. Much debate and teeth gnashing occurred, and you will not go wrong with choosing any of the various offerings. But in the end, we had to choose just one.
The Verona / Magic Mill DLX Mixer / Electrolux Assistant / Ankarsrum Original (don’t say that too fast) is by far our favorite stand mixer for baking a copious amount of bread. Have a huge family with a bunch of mouths to feed and make most of your food from scratch? If so, this is THE mixer for you.
With nearly 12 pounds of dough capacity, which can be tapped into on a daily basis without fear of burning the motor up, this is the best mixer for bread baking by far, without breaking the bank. The next step up, which would be the Hobart N50-60 5-Quart 3-Speed All Purpose Bench Mixer, costs significantly more, and most folks aren’t prepared to pay this much for a home machine.
Our other favorite option was the KitchenAid Proline 7-Quart. This one is especially helpful if you want to use KitchenAid’s full line of accessory attachments such as the grain mils, meat grinder online, food processors, and so on.
HOW WE RATED
You’ll probably want to buy the highest powered unit that you can afford – especially if you are working with lots of heavy or dry dough. There is, however, a catch: the appliance industry generally likes to obscure their power ratings through the use of “watts.”
Watts (or Amps in other appliance lines such as vacuums) really tell you nothing about the power available, either at the motor itself or at the mixer head. Watts (in this case) can be defined by the amount of power or current that is drawn from the electrical grid.
This does not take into account – at all – the build quality, design, or efficiencies of the motors themselves. Without getting too techie, a high quality fixed speed induction motor driving a high quality set of gears can use this 400 watts much more effectively and for a longer period than a cheap high speed motor.
A more fair measurement of power would be a horsepower rating at continuous use, but this measurement is much harder to obtain, so it is highly unlikely that it will ever be adopted by home consumer brands (although it is used by commercial equipment makers such as Hobart).
Lacking industrial testing equipment, our factor for rating each model’s available power was evaluated somewhat by the seat of our pants.
This means that the beaters rotate on their axis similarly to the way the Earth rotates. Like a planetary system, the whole mixer head then rotates the opposite way, similar to the way the Earth rotates around the sun. This ensures that the sides of the bowl are scraped by the beater rather than having to do it by hand, and that the ingredients become fully mixed.
ALL METAL GEARING
Although a bit noisier than other models with quieter nylon gears (sometimes referred to as “plastic” gears in various reviews), models with metal gears tend to last much longer.
That being said, there are obvious differences in quality between various brands in their manufacturing process, with some lower priced models opting for pot metal gears, while better models offer brass or steel gears with tighter tolerances.
The all metal gear equipped examples are normally kitted out with electronic sensors, which shut off the machine prior to the motor damaging itself in the event of an overload.
It should be pointed out that KitchenAid uses ONE Kevlar-reinforced nylon gear in their lower-price tilt head designs that is engineered as a fail safe in the event of motor overload, and breaks up into pieces in the event of a jam. Their upper-end models use the electronic overload sensors, and all metal gears.
SLOW START FEATURE
Any decent stand mixer will have this option. This basically slowly spins the motor up for the first several seconds, so that the ingredients do not fly into the air and create a flour cloud, or splatter your walls.
Generally, the more speed options available the better, as this allows you to perform any task that you set out to do, including whipping cream at a higher speed and kneading dough at lower speeds.
This speed control also allows you to maximize the torque being produced by the motor with the stiffness of the ingredients. We like to see at least 6-7 speed options. It should be pointed out that the uber-expensive Hobart N50 only has three speeds, as the motor is so powerful it can plow through almost anything in any gear.
At Foodal, we are more into Function over Form. But we realize some folks value the ability to match their decor, so we’ve included this as a small metric.
However, you may value this more, and thus it may affect your selection criteria more so than it does ours – it just happened by coincidence that two of our top picks are available in a plethora of colors.
A heavy stand mixer has much less of tendency to “walk” around your countertops when mixing heavy bread dough. You’ll generally want a mixer that weighs at least 20 pounds, though heavier is generally better.
We understand that facing this decision is incredibly difficult. A stand mixer is a huge purchase for the home cook, both financially and when considering the many options available. We hope this article has given you some direction in your purchase, whether you find yourself baking a batch of cookies twice a month or you are churning pizzas and bread out of your kitchen for dinner on a regular basis.