If you like to bake, nothing beats a stand mixer. Yes, hand mixers are perfectly capable of whipping up a cup of cream, beating a cake mix, or even kneading enough bread dough for two loaves, but they take longer and you have to hold them the whole time, which gets really tiring after a minute or two. It's worth making the investment — in terms of dollars and space — for a powerful stand mixer.
The KitchenAid stand mixer probably comes to mind first. While it's the biggest name in the biz, it's certainly not the only one. And that's good news for anyone looking to save some money. I've tested nearly ever stand mixer on the market and these are my three favorites.
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For more than 30 years, I was in charge of testing and reporting on everything from wooden spoons to connected refrigerators at the Good Housekeeping Institute. I've walked the floors of every trade show and read every new product release for longer than most digital publications have existed!
My street cred? I also worked as a chef in New York City restaurants for seven years.
I've tested, used, and played with nearly every piece of kitchen gear (including stand mixers) to come on the market for years. When it comes to gear, it takes a lot to impress me, and I know what actually works.
Picked by a Pro. Tested by Real Home Cooks.
I've tested what feels like every stand mixer on the market (at all the price points, low to high!) and these are my all-time favorites. But you don't have to take my word and my word alone, either. Kitchn editors — a unique hybrid of professionals and home cooks, who develop and test great recipes in real home kitchens — and real Amazon shoppers weighed in on some of these picks too, testing my favorites in the context of their actual home cooking.
After all, when it comes to kitchen gear, what matters is that it works for a home cook — not just that a chef endorses it, or that it passed some high-flying bar in a sterile test kitchen. You want gear that is, above all, practical, long-lasting, and mindful of real cooks, real kitchens, and real budgets.
Best Stand Mixer
You probably are not surprised to read that KitchenAid is the top choice. Of course, the iconic design and the choice of 50 gorgeous colors make it highly desirable. But it's when the machine actually gets to work that it really shines. It's quite simply the fastest and most efficient stand mixer out there. When I recently used it to knead whole-wheat bread dough, the dough cleaned the bowl and formed a ball in just 60 seconds. Egg whites whipped to stiff peaks a full minute faster than in any other mixer brand. And an almond chiffon cake came out of the oven taller and more lightly textured.
The Artisan with a 5-quart bowl is the largest and most powerful of the tilt-head mixers offered by KA, and the company's most popular model. With its ability to handle dough for 9-dozen cookies or 4 loaves of bread, or mash 7 pounds of potatoes, it has enough power for just about any kitchen.
Like all KitchenAid stand mixers, it has 10 speeds and a hub for attaching any of the optional accessories like a slicer/shredder and a ravioli maker, making it highly versatile. The stainless-steel bowl has a handle, and the flat beater and dough hook are coated with nylon and are dishwasher-safe.
Second opinion: "My in-laws gifted one of these to my husband and I as a wedding present four years ago. And we've used it countless times since then — on cookies, cakes, fresh pasta, you name it," says Food Director, Melissa Harrison. "Everything you've already heard is true: The KitchenAid is best-in-class when it comes to all of its practical uses. But also (potentially equally important when you're forking over that much money?), it's the rare appliance that actually looks great taking up real estate on your kitchen countertop."
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You'll barely see a difference between items mixed with the Hamilton Beach versus the KitchenAid. In fact, in my test, whole-wheat bread loaves actually rose slightly higher. However, what you will notice is that it takes slightly longer to aerate cream or egg whites, beat egg yolks to the pale-yellow stage, and knead yeast dough.
That said, this tilt-head mixer beats the KA when it comes to ease of use. On the top of the head, there's a guide telling you what tasks you can do at each setting, so you never have to wonder, "Do I knead the sticky bun dough at low or high speed?" The speed dial is easy to turn and has big, very-readable numbers.
On the 4-quart bowl, there are handles on either side. The wire whisk, flat beater, and dough hook are all dishwasher-safe. When you're done mixing, you'll find it's not too heavy and has a handle on top so it's very convenient to move around or stash away. While it only has seven speeds (versus the KitchenAid's 10), that should be plenty for most mixer tasks, from stirring in raisins to whipping up a pavlova. You have five color choices: black, metallic black, red, silver, and light blue.
Second opinions: "Overall, I like this machine better than my KitchenAid, and I hope it gets more traction in the market," says one reviewer who got this to replace a dead KitchenAid. "I waited a long time to buy a stand mixer. I checked out several models and read tons of reviews. I'm so very happy I went with this Hamilton Beach Stand Mixer," says another.
The Best Mixer with Most Bells and Whistles
While my whipped cream came out the loftiest, my chiffon cakes and whole-wheat loaves didn't rise higher and the Breville took longer at mixing tasks than other brands, especially kneading. As it kneads the Bakery Chef "walks" around the counter quite a bit, so you definitely don't want to turn your back on it.
However, when it comes to conveniences that make baking a little easier, the Breville excels. It comes with two bowls (a 5-quart stainless steel and a 4-quart glass) which is a real time-saver when you're making something like sponge cake that requires two bowls. In addition to a whisk, beater, and dough hook, you get a scraper beater with a flexible edge that scrapes the bowl as it turns, which will also speed things up because you won't have to stop and scrape yourself.
You'll find a built-in timer that automatically counts up as soon as you start mixing or that you can set to stop the mixer after a specific time. During mixing, a light shines down on the bowl, so it's very easy to see if the cream is thickening or the sugar is dissolving. To choose a speed, you turn a dial, and as you turn, a bar lights up showing you what task to do at each setting. The glass bowl and whisk require hand-washing, but the other parts can go in the dishwasher. The Bakery Chef only comes in brushed aluminum.
Second opinion: "I was surprised when, after a few months of using this stand mixer, I found myself liking it a whole lot more than the KitchenAid mixer," says Associate Food Editor, Kelli Foster. "My favorite feature is the built-in timer on the side panel. No more guessing how long I've been mixing batter and remembering to set a separate timer. I also find it really helpful that the mixer speed options are labeled by function, rather than the standard low/medium/high."