Splurge or Save: Should You Buy KitchenAid’s $330 Stand Mixer or Hamilton Beach’s $50 Alternative?

published Feb 28, 2024
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graphic comparing a KitchenAid stand mixer to a Hamilton Beach mixer
Credit: Photo: KitchenAid, Amazon; Design: The Kitchn

Unless you’re a seasoned chef, buying top-of-the-line appliances can feel intimidating. Sure, making your own pasta noodles from scratch might sound fun in theory… until you’re the owner of a pasta machine and you’re not sure how to start using it. This also goes for stand mixers. As soon as you read that sentence, we bet a very specific stand mixer came to mind — KitchenAid’s, of course! But, as much of a flex as it would be to have one sitting on your counter, is this world-famous appliance really worth the hype (and the price)? The good news is, our editors have tested both high-end mixers and budget-friendly ones, so we have all the deets. This is why we created our Splurge or Save series, which compares two editor-tested and loved products that serve the same purpose but retail for different prices. 

Our previous installment looked at Dutch ovens, and our verdict was that if you’re not that concerned about brand labels, you should save. This time around, the final ruling might surprise you. Keep reading to see how we compare KitchenAid’s Classic Series 4.5-Quart Tilt-Head Stand Mixer ($330) to Hamilton Beach’s 4-Quart Classic Stand and Hand Mixer ($50).

Credit: Photo: KitchenAid, Amazon; Design: The Kitchn

KitchenAid vs. Hamilton Beach

You don’t need to be an avid baker to know that KitchenAid is the best in the game when it comes to stand mixers — or at least, that’s the brand’s reputation. Furthermore, their stand mixer is easily their most popular product, regardless of whether we’re talking about the mixers in the Artisan series or the Classic series. For our purposes, however, we’ll be comparing the latter to Hamilton Beach’s classic hand and stand mixer, which is more than $270 cheaper. Our editors have tested both, so they have the intel on whether you should splurge on the cult favorite countertop appliance or stick to its budget-friendly alternative.

Overview of KitchenAid’s Classic Series 4.5-Quart Tilt-Head Stand Mixer

When it comes to KitchenAid stand mixers, our editors have tested pretty much every kind there is. Although each one serves the same general purpose, there are differences among them. With the Classic series mixer, you get a lower wattage of 275 compared to the Artisan series, which has a motor power of 325 watts. As a result, our editors deemed this model best for smaller batches of whipped cream and cake batter, for example, while a stronger mixer could be used for thicker and tougher recipes, like bread dough or stiff cookie batter.

Still, this machine is highly versatile, especially when you consider that it has 10 speeds and comes with three attachments, including a six-wire whip, a flat beater, and a dough hook. Although our staffers have a bit more experience with the Artisan series mixer, which is arguably the most popular KitchenAid stand mixer model, we chose the Classic series for this post because its 4.5-quart stainless steel mixing bowl is more comparable in size to the Hamilton Beach’s bowl. Regardless of size, you get the signature tilt-head design, meaning you can easily swap out attachments and scrape the bowl clean of its contents.

Credit: KitchenAid

Speaking of attachments, these are what really set KitchenAid mixers apart from all others. There are numerous attachments you can buy (apart from the ones that come with the Classic series mixer) that transform this baking appliance into a multifunctional kitchen workhorse. Whether you opt for a meat grinder, a shaved ice attachment, a pasta cutter, or something else, the ways in which you can use your mixer become endless once you acquire your desired add-ons. 

In short, it’s no coincidence we included this model in our list of the best stand mixers, with tools editor Riddley writing, “Although the bowl does lack a handle, its capacity is smaller than the Artisan’s, and it isn’t best-suited to regularly kneading sticky bread dough, it can handle most other baking tasks with ease.” And at $329.99, this splurgy mixer is still one of KitchenAid’s more affordable models.

Overview of Hamilton Beach’s 4-Quart Classic Stand and Hand Mixer

If you’re willing to look past the fact that it doesn’t have a fancy brand name, Hamilton Beach’s classic stand mixer is a pretty good alternative. Senior commerce editor Ian got one as a “placeholder” until he could afford the KitchenAid mixer, and he noted in his review that his girlfriend “uses this for pretty much everything she mixes, from cake batters and bread dough to whipped cream, meringues, and more.” What’s more, the mixer comes with four attachments, including two beaters, two dough hooks, and a whisk, not to mention a 4-quart stainless steel bowl that can accommodate both single-person and small family-sized recipes. It also boasts six speeds and a handy “burst” setting.

But those aren’t the only reasons why this mixer is so versatile. It also unlocks from its base to become a hand mixer! “In our old apartments, we could never justify having both a stand mixer and a hand mixer, so this is the perfect solution for small spaces or apartment kitchens,” Ian wrote. “This model detaches for all sorts of mixing needs, which means you’re not limited to a fixed bowl size — however, you can also set it and forget it when doing tasks that would otherwise result in a sore arm from holding a stand mixer, such as whipping egg whites.”

Credit: Amazon

Although it has a wattage of 290, which is technically more than the KitchenAid Classic series mixer, this model is still much more lightweight and not quite as sturdy. As a result, it’s best for amateur home cooks who want to whip up a quick batch of cookie dough from time to time as opposed to pro bakers. If you fall into that category and are looking for an under-$60, small-space-friendly appliance, this one will suit you just fine.

The Verdict

If you think a stand mixer is something you’ll use on a frequent basis (more than, say, once a week), go with KitchenAid’s mixer. Sure, it’s expensive, but in this case we believe the price is well worth the quality. The bottom line is that the KitchenAid Classic series (or any other series, for that matter) mixer is much more durable and long-lasting than most cheap models on the market. Even Ian, who got lots of use out of his compact Hamilton Beach mixer, noted that the KitchenAid one is much more versatile because of the additional attachments you can buy — not to mention more efficient. If, however, you just want something you can stow away in a cabinet and pull out from time to time when a recipe calls for some icing or cake dough, the Hamilton Beach mixer is sturdy enough to hold you over until you are, perhaps, ready to splurge or get more serious about baking.