What’s the Difference Between All the KitchenAid Stand Mixer Models?

updated May 1, 2019
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(Image credit: The Kitchn)

It’s the holidays! Also known as the best time of year to treat yourself (or someone you love) to a KitchenAid mixer. Yes, it really will make your baking life easier, not to mention the fact that it will give your countertop an instant upgrade. Now, which one? No, we’re not talking about the color. We’re talking about the best model.

We know the website’s pretty confusing and it’s hard to sort out all the different models, so we created this guide to help you pick out the best one for you. Here’s what’s different from model to model.

First, the Basics for All KitchenAid Stand Mixers

For starters, all KitchenAid stand mixers have 10 speeds and come with a whisk, flat beater, and dough hook. They all have hubs for attaching the company’s optional accessories like a meat grinder, spiralizer, and pasta cutter. And you can choose from two types: a tilt head and bowl lift.

Tilt-head models are less expensive and lighter in weight. On tilt-head models, you simply tilt the head back to insert or remove the mixing bowl and attachments; on bowl-lift models, you raise the bowl for mixing and lower it to remove the bowl and beaters. Tilt-head mixers are shorter so they fit more easily under a cabinet, but you do need to have enough room for the head to tilt up.

With bowl-lifts mixers, you don’t need any clearance above the height of the mixer. On tilt-head mixers it’s easier to add ingredients and more convenient to scrape the bowl and the attachments. However, bowl-lift models have more power and come with bigger bowls.

Most of the tilt-head mixers comes with nylon-coated flat beaters and dough hooks that can be cleaned in the dishwasher. With the exception of the five-cup models, bowl-lift models come with metal attachments that discolor if machine washed.

When it comes to deciding between the two, the most important question to answer is what do you bake? If you primarily bake cakes and whip up cream, you can go with a tilt-head model. On the other hand, if you’re an avid bread maker and bake several loaves at a time, or you’re a cake or cookie maker that doubles or triples up on recipes, you’ll want the power and size that a bowl-lift model offers.

Once you figure out which configuration you want, you can delve into the power differences, color choices, and some relatively minor features like whether or not the bowl has a handle.

The Differences Between All the KitchenAid Stand Mixers

Best for: Anyone with a small kitchen; occasional bakers

Although this is the smallest KitchenAid stand mixer, it can still handle enough batter for five-dozen cookies. It’s also the lightest, so if you’re short on countertop space and keep your mixer stashed in a closet or cabinet, you’ll find it a lot easier to pull out and put away. You can choose from 10 colors. The Mini also comes in a Design Series, which has a glass bowl. Right now, KitchenAid is offering a limited-edition in its color of the year, Bird of Paradise, which is a deep coral shade.

4.5-Quart Tilt-Head Stand Mixers: Classic, Classic Plus, Ultra Power

Best for: Small families; bakers who focus on cakes but make a loaf or two of bread from time to time

All of these mixers can make eight-dozen cookies. The main difference between the three is in wattage. They have 250, 275, 300 watts of power, respectively. As the wattage increases, so does the oomph of the mixer. The Classic with lower wattage is fine for whipping cream or mixing a cake batter but may struggle a bit at kneading a heavy dough or beating a stiff cookie batter. All three of these take up the same amount of space on your countertop but each is offered in different colors with different trim.

Best for: Just about any type of baker who doesn’t bake in massive quantities. If you care about getting specific color, or want the most options, this is for you.

These workhorses are KitchenAid’s most popular models. With more power and larger bowls than the Classics, they can handle the batter for nine-dozen snickerdoodles. If you’re looking for a statement piece for your kitchen, you’ll love the wide array of colors from which you can choose. Plus, you can get models with stainless steel bowls or glass.

Best for: Budget-minded bakers who need a powerful mixer for cookies and bread.

You’ll find these models priced similarly to the Artisan 5-quart mixers but available in fewer colors. They have the same bowl capacity but more power than the Artisans, so they handle up to 10-dozen chocolate chippers.

Best for: Bakers who bake very often in big quantities and make a lot of bread.

Here you get powerful mixers with over 500 watts that can handle enough dough for 13- to 14-dozen cookies or as much as eight loaves of bread. They’re available in lots of color choices. Warning: Not only are they pricey, but they’re also large and heavy. You won’t want to be moving them in and out of a closet.

Best for: Anyone who loves a bargain. For tag sale or thrift store shoppers, this is a big step up in quality assurance.

These mixers have been returned by customers or a trucking service and may or may not have been used. However, they’ve all been cleaned up and inspected and are in the same working order as brand-new models. If you can live with the possibility of a minor ding or scratch, they’re terrific buys and come with a six-month warranty.