The Best Stand Mixer

A stand mixer is a great way to take your baking game to the next level, and we believe that the KitchenAid Artisan ($280) is the best mixer for the home baker looking for an equipment upgrade. Not only did it expertly cream butter and sugar for cookies and whip up a genoise cake batter to perfection, it also effortlessly kneaded whole wheat bread dough without straining or walking around on the countertop. For the money, the KitchenAid Artisan can’t be beat in performance and versatility.

Last Updated: December 24, 2014
We recently looked for new stand mixers that might beat the KitchenAid Artisan, but the competition has remained static since we first published this guide. After a year of using the Artisan to make cookies, cakes, and even grind meat, we still think it’s the best stand mixer for home use.

This stand mixer tackles nearly any recipe without knocking around on the counter, and it’s one of the quietest models in the KitchenAid line.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $330.

Although we weren’t completely surprised that a KitchenAid mixer came out on top, we did think the competition might fare a little better. But after more than 16 hours of research, consulting experts Anne Gordon of The Good Batch and Sarah Carey of Everyday Food, 30 hours of side-by-side testing six stand and two hand mixers, and a year of long-term testing, we can definitively say that the brand that rolled out the first tabletop mixer in 1919 is still the best. Sometimes you really can’t beat a classic.

Also Great

*At the time of publishing, the price was $340.

With a bigger mixing bowl and footprint, this mixer is best left on the countertop. It’s not as good as the Artisan at smaller jobs, but excellent at mixing heavy doughs and batters.
If, for some reason, the Artisan sells out or you make a lot of bread dough or thick batters, we also recommend our runner-up, the KitchenAid Professional 600 6-quart Bowl-Lift Stand Mixer ($340). It has a bigger footprint, and runs much louder than the Artisan, but it’s a workhorse (confirmed by the fact that it’s a model often found in pro kitchens). Only buy this machine if you plan to use it at least four times a week.

Also Great

*At the time of publishing, the price was $73.

If a stand mixer seems like more than you need (and less counter space than you have) then the Cuisinart is a still-powerful but smaller alternative.
For occasional baking, or if you have a tiny kitchen, get the Cuisinart Power Advantage Plus 9 Speed Handheld Mixer ($80). This won’t compete with a stand mixer in terms of speed or strength, but it’s the most effective hand mixer we’ve found, and does a more than adequate job at blending doughs, frostings, and lofty cakes. We also like its compact storage case, which keeps all of the attachments securely housed with the machine (no groping in a drawer for that extra beater!).

Table of contents

Should I upgrade?

Genoise cake topped with Seven Minute Frosting.

Genoise cake topped with Seven-Minute Frosting.

…for the right person, they can be a total game changer in the kitchen.

A good stand mixer will make your baking (and cooking) life a lot easier. If you bake a lot and have been struggling with a low-grade mixer, an aging hand-me-down from a relative, or even with a hand mixer, you might want to consider upgrading. For the right person, a good mixer can be a total game changer in the kitchen. A well made stand mixer can turn out loaves of rustic bread, moist cake layers, and dozens upon dozens of cookies. It can make quick work of whipping egg whites into meringue and heavy cream into an airy dessert topping. Great mixers have power hubs for extra accessories that can roll out pasta dough, grind meat, and even churn ice cream.

That said, stand mixers are heavy, they have a large footprint on your countertop, and a quality machine costs hundreds of dollars. If you only need a mixer for the occasional batch of cookies or whipping egg whites for souffles, you can probably get by with a hand mixer (see our pick, below).

If you’re going to invest in one of these babies, you should be looking to use it two to three times a week, but that shouldn’t be difficult given how versatile a good mixer can be. A stand mixer also frees up time in the kitchen because you can turn it on and step away to prep for the next step in your recipe.

Although bakeries use huge Hobart mixers to do all of the heavy-duty work, most restaurants have a professional-grade KitchenAid tabletop mixer for smaller batches. The popular model for these kitchens is the KitchenAid Professional Bowl-Lift stand mixer—there was one in every restaurant kitchen I worked in, and they are a favorite in the Martha Stewart test kitchen. When I asked former colleagues about their thoughts on stand mixers, every one said that they used and loved the KitchenAid stand mixer.

The tilt-head model is more popular with home cooks. It’s a slightly smaller machine with a slightly smaller countertop footprint. Unless you’re turning out loaves of crusty bread each day, this is enough mixer for an enthusiastic domestic baker. That said, it’s really up to you to decide what will meet your needs. Anne Gordon, owner of The Good Batch in Brooklyn, says that people should be honest with themselves about what they’re going to be using their stand mixer for, adding, “I use the pasta roller for the KitchenAid, and I love it.” Take a good, honest look at what your cooking/baking habits are and get a machine that suits you best.

How we picked and tested

mixers 1There’s a glut of stand mixers on the market these days, but they mainly fall into one of two types: planetary and the type you don’t want. Planetary mixers have a single beater that spins on its axis while it rotates around the bowl. This ensures more points of contact and thus more consistent mixing. The other type is mixers that utilize two stationary beaters that spin while the bowl rotates. The latter doesn’t get very favorable ratings because of the lack of coverage in the bowl. Since the beaters are stationary, according to Cook’s Illustrated, “…the attachments never touch the entire contents of the mixing bowl-they carve through a single trough.” I immediately eliminated mixers that didn’t have planetary action for this reason.

…they mainly fall into one of two types: planetary and the type you don’t want.
Next, I considered what the basic tasks were that a stand mixer needed to excel at. A great mixer should whip cream and egg whites quickly, cream butter and sugar to a pale and fluffy consistency and knead rustic bread dough without straining, smoking or “walking” around the counter. It should be heavy enough to stay in place, but not so heavy that it’s difficult to move around. A handle on the bowl is extremely convenient when pouring cake batter, cooking Swiss meringue over a bain-marie or scooping cookie dough.

When it comes to attachments, there are a few things to consider. Are they dishwasher safe? Are they burnished metal, or do they have a nylon coating? Sarah Carey, host of Everyday Food with Sarah Carey, says that she prefers the non-coated paddle attachement for the KitchenAid mixer because the nylon coating tends to chip. Dough hooks are a hot topic. KitchenAid used to have dough hooks that had a C-shape until people complained that this caused the dough to ride up the hook, requiring numerous stops to push it back down. Since then, KitchenAid has redesigned their dough hook and the new corkscrew shape eliminates that problem.

As for bowl size, we agree with Cook’s Illustrated’s recommendation of five to six quarts—big enough to make about four dozen standard-sized cookies. That’s plenty for the home cook. You don’t want to go much larger, since mixing smaller amounts in a large bowl is difficult because the beater doesn’t have as much contact with the contents. As far as bowl shape goes, they recommend a squat bowl with a flared lip so there’s more surface area in the bottom, keeping contents from going up the sides so there’s less need to scrape.

The mechanism by which the mixing attachment moves into place is also worth considering. The tilt-head, which is the most common design, involves the top half of the mixer on a hinge that moves up and down. A common feature with the tilt-head mixers is a head-lock button, which locks the head in the up and down positions. That means it won’t come crashing down on you while you’re trying to add ingredients to the bowl, and it won’t pop up when mixing something thick like bread dough or cookie dough with lots of mix-ins.

Another design style is the bowl-lift, with a bowl that snaps securely into a curved arm which is then lifted and lowered using a lever. This is similar to the industrial Hobart mixers found in most restaurant kitchens. Of my selection of mixers to test, the KitchenAid Professional 600 Series was the only model with this design. Sarah Carey said that she preferred the bowl-lift design to the tilt-head because it seemed more durable and powerful. I tend to side with Sarah’s preference, but my only concern is that since it’s more expensive and bigger, it may be a bit too much machine for someone buying their first stand mixer. Since most of my experience is in a professional setting, I wondered if the heavy-duty bowl-lift stand mixer would translate well to a home kitchen.

There are varying opinions on the weight of stand mixers. Some reviews complain about mixers being too heavy, which is understandable if you have to pull one out of a cabinet or down from a shelf every time you need to use it. But these things are really designed to be left on the counter. If you want something more portable, get a hand mixer, because the heft of a stand mixer is crucial to its stability during more intensive tasks. Anne Gordon says that the weight of a quality mixer should be able to handle its own force and we agree.

For a tool that takes up a decent amount of counter space, it might be wise to have something that’s a multitasker.
It might be tempting for someone shopping for their first stand mixer to go for a cheap option, but in this case, you really get what you pay for. Sarah Carey recommends that you get the best machine that you can afford. You can spend $170 on the Hamilton Beach All-Metal Stand Mixer, which does only that: mix. But for $60 more, the $230 KitchenAid Classic has a power hub that accepts all of the accessories that turn a mixer into a pasta-rolling machine, meat grinder, roto slicer and more. For a tool that takes up a decent amount of counter space (one square foot in most cases), it might be wise to have something that’s a multitasker. Sarah Carey and Jane Lear both mentioned how much they like the pasta-rolling and meat-grinding attachments, while Jane added that the ice cream maker is great too. One of our editors, Jacqui Cheng, said that she uses KitchenAid mixer for grinding meat (with the meat-grinder attachment) more than she uses it for actual mixing.

When it came time to bring in models for testing, we turned to experts who had already conducted tests, consulting Good Housekeeping, Consumer Reports and Cook’s Illustrated to see what they had to say and how they tested. Using these in conjunction with Amazon reviews, we found a group of contenders that straddled both worlds of expert recommendations and buyer experiences. In the end, we had about 15 models under serious consideration.

We decided to test six mixers that came from reputable companies, used planetary action and had metal housing and metal bowls with handles. Although power hubs for extra accessories were a serious consideration when bringing in models (if you’re going to spend that much money on something, it should be able to do more than mix), there were two mixers we chose that didn’t accommodate such accessories: the Breville Scraper Mixer Pro and the Hamilton Beach Eclectrics All-Metal Stand Mixer.

In addition to the stand mixers, we tested two hand mixers: the Cuisinart Power Advantage Plus 9 Speed and the KitchenAid Architect 9 Speed. We wanted to have an alternative for those who don’t as much baking or simply don’t have the room in their kitchens for a large countertop appliance.

Stiff peaks from a successful batch of Seven Minute Frosting, one of many.

Stiff peaks from a successful batch of Seven-Minute Frosting, one of many.

To get a full scope of what each mixer could do, we decided on four recipes that test various aspects of a mixer’s performance. We made whole wheat bread to test kneading, whipped up meringue frosting to test whipping egg whites, sponge cake for whipping whole eggs and Kitchen Sink Cookies to see how well a mixer would cope with lots of resistance and chunks. Finally, to see if the mixers could handle small tasks, I used them to whip only one egg white and ½ cup of cream. After examining the crumb on the loaves of bread, the volume yield of frosting, the height of the cakes (down to 1/16 of an inch) and how thoroughly each batch of cookie dough was mixed, there was one clear winner that crushed every test.

Our pick

 

This stand mixer tackles nearly any recipe without knocking around on the counter, and it’s one of the quietest models in the KitchenAid line.

*At the time of publishing, the price was $330.

There are many good reasons that the Artisan is the best selling mixer from the KitchenAid line on Amazon. It was the only one that aced every test we threw at it without a bunch of knocking around and rocking on the counter. It was one of the most efficient at creaming butter and sugar, and whipped lofty frosting and perfect cake batter. Even small quantities blend well in the Artisan’s well-sized bowl. The motor runs much quieter than some of the other models we tested. It also keeps mixing relatively mess free, since the pouring shield slides on and off, even when the machine is in use, and you can simply wipe messes off the mixer’s smooth casing. The Artisan isn’t cheap, but since refurbished units are often available, we feel this can be an affordable machine.

In both the cookie and bread tests, the Artisan mixed the dough without rocking or straining the motor. With this particular cookie recipe, there are more mix-ins than your usual drop cookie dough and several of the mixers in the testing lineup strained with the effort, including the Breville (the top scorer in Consumer Reports’ testing). While all of the mixers tested did make beautiful and tasty loaves of bread, the Artisan just did it a lot more gracefully. In fact, both of the KitchenAid stand mixers aced this test. The Cuisinart stand mixer rocked only slightly, but the rest in the testing group couldn’t hang with the bread dough and rocked pretty severely.

When making cookies, the Artisan creamed butter and sugar very well, no scraping necessary during this step.
When making cookies, the Artisan creamed butter and sugar very well, no scraping necessary during this step. For comparison, the ironically named Breville Scraper Mixer Pro and the Kenmore Elite both needed multiple scrapings to fully incorporate ingredients. I only had to scrape once after the addition of the eggs.

The Artisan was also a whipping ace. Seven-minute frosting requires egg whites, corn syrup, and sugar to be cooked over a water bath until it reaches 160°; it is then transferred to the mixer and whipped on high until thick, white, and fluffy. The stated yield of this recipe is 8 cups, but more is better because it indicates more whipping prowess. The Artisan yielded 9 cups, while the other stand mixers hovered in the still respectable 8¼ to 8½ cup range. The Kenmore and Professional 600 KitchenAid actually did slightly better, but fell short in other areas.

Further establishing its whipping prowess, the Artisan made perfect Genoise cake batter. This classic French sponge cake—often baked in round pans for layer cake, or in jelly roll pans for things like bûche de Noël—is a great test for how much air a mixer will incorporate into batter. You need a mixer to incorporate as much air into the batter as possible because the addition of flour in the last step deflates it by about 25%. If you don’t have a lofty batter to begin with, you won’t end up with fluffy, tall layers. The Artisan produced an ideal cake with fine crumb and even doming. In comparison, the Hamilton Beach Eclectrics mixer produced big air bubbles (resulting in a cake with air pockets) and the cake from the Kenmore Elite sank in the middle.good bread

Taking a cue from Cook’s Illustrated’s latest test drive of mixers, I decided to see how each of my picks would do whipping a single egg white and half a cup of cream (Cook’s did two egg whites and 1 cup of cream, but I wanted to push the boundaries, as many stand mixers can’t mix small amounts). Again, the Artisan made quick work of both of these tasks, unlike its otherwise stellar Professional brother, which was unable to handle such a small batch of ingredients in its larger bowl.

The Artisan was one of the quietest mixers I tested, about on par with the Breville. The Hamilton Beach was the quietest, the KitchenAid Professional 600 was the loudest and highest pitched, and the Cuisinart SM-55 was loud in a grumbling motorcycle kind of way.

The pouring shield—an attachment that helps guide wet and dry ingredients into the bowl—is a piece of equipment that I never really use. That said, it’s a helpful little tool for cutting down messes. The KitchenAid’s pouring shield is designed so that you can slide it on and off at any time while mixing. In comparison, the Cuisinart’s pouring shield can’t be removed during mixing. If it becomes a hindrance, as it can during tough mixing jobs, you have to stop the Cuisinart, lift the head, and remove the beating attachment before you can take the pouring shield off. Because the KitchenAid’s will slide off at any point during the mixing process, it’s a much more practical and useful attachment.

As far as cleaning goes, the KitchenAid Artisan’s smooth and rounded body makes it easy to wipe down. The few crevices that do exist on the body—the hinge, the spring where the attachments connect, and the bottom where the bowl snaps in—are easily cleaned with a damp sponge or cloth (as long as you get at splashes while they’re still fresh, let’s be reasonable, people). Furthermore, the bowl and attachments are all dishwasher safe except the wire whip, which makes sense; it takes delicate tools to make delicate creations.

The construction of the machine itself is classic. Speed control on the left, head lock on the right, power hub for extra accessories in the front. The design is simple and user friendly. While many mixers offer an upright head lock feature, the Artisan does not. At first I thought this would be to its detriment, but I’ve never actually had the head come crashing down on me while working — neither during these tests nor in my previous work experience with them. And, actually, I found the mixers that did offer the head lock feature in both up and down positions inconvenient, as I needed both hands to raise and lower the head. It sounds small, but when you have a bowl of dry ingredients in your hand and you have to put it down to put the mixer into place, it becomes annoying.

The Artisan comes with three attachments: a paddle for making cookies and certain cakes and icings; a dough hook for kneading yeasted bread doughs; and a wire whip for incorporating air in cream and eggs. I particularly like that the dough hook is designed so that the dough doesn’t climb up it. This helps avoid making a mess in the spring where the attachment affixes to the machine (this used to be a problem with the old C-shaped hooks, but KitchenAid has changed the design to an S-shaped or corkscrew hook to minimize climbing). The paddle and dough hook both come with a nylon coating, which is a hot-button topic with KitchenAid users. Over time, the nylon coating can chip off, and I’ve seen it happen plenty of times. If this really bothers you, burnished metal paddles are for sale on Amazon for around $10.

There are no shortage of five-star reviews of the Artisan on Amazon, like this one that praises it for its dough-making abilities. Anna Gordon of The Good Batch said she used an Artisan mixer to develop the recipes for her company for a year before she opened. While she said it eventually pooped out on her, she admits that she put it through the wringer and demanding much more from it than even an avid home baker would. She praised her Artisan for the hard work it delivered during such an important developmental time for her business.

Flaws but not dealbreakers

Although the KitchenAid Artisan aced our tests, it still isn’t perfect, because nothing is. The most common complaint we found about KitchenAid mixers was that they’re made by Whirlpool now instead of Hobart (and have been since 1986). We found no concrete evidence that this adversely affects performance and don’t think it’s of any major concern. 1

…if you read the manual about maintenance, and know the limitations of your mixer, you shouldn’t have issues with longevity.
KitchenAid also only has a limited one-year warranty on their stand mixers, which seems not to sit well with people. I feel that if you read the manual about maintenance and know the limitations of your mixer, you shouldn’t have issues with longevity. Unless it’s defective out of the box, this is a tough machine, made by a company that is a favorite of professional bakers and restaurant chefs. The Artisan is a popular and well-loved item on Amazon, with more than 2,200 five-star reviews out of more than 2,700 reviews total. Reviewer Brian Foreman puts a lot of the angry reviews to bed with a knowledgeable and informative review about proper use of the Artisan, basically a Cliffs Notes to the user manual. Another reviewer proclaims she’s had her KitchenAid Artisan for 10 years and it’s still going strong.

Also as mentioned previously, some people aren’t huge fans of the nylon coating on the attachments because it could possibly chip down the road. If you think this will cause you to lose sleep, just get a set of uncoated replacement attachments for cheap.

Finally, there’s no timed setting, but given that you can just set a timer on your phone and come back when it goes off, this isn’t a huge concern. Besides, the timed models we tested all had shortcomings in other respects that far outweighed the marginal benefits of a timer.

Long-term test notes

Over the past year, I’ve used the Artisan more professionally for food styling work than for personal use, but it gets the work done. I’ve made many batches of cookies and cakes, and even used it to grind meat with the KitchenAid meat grinding attachment I already owned.  I’ve had zero problems with it and, really, I can’t like this mixer more. It’s a solid piece of equipment.

I will say that I don’t push its limits. I don’t overfill the bowl, I make things one batch at a time, and I don’t cram meat into the grinder. I think the key to longevity for a KitchenAid mixer is respecting its limits. While it can mix a double-batch of super-thick cookie dough, over loading it will shorten the life of the motor. Even though this is a KitchenAid mixer, it’s still a piece of equipment meant for domestic purposes. If you respect its boundaries, it will give you many years of service. The Artisan is still the best at this price point and I’d recommend it to anyone who wants their first stand mixer.

$350 is too much for me to pay

That’s okay, because there are plenty of other ways to get one of these for less. First, you can get a Factory Refurbished KitchenAid Stand Mixer for $250. But their stock changes all the time, and the mixers that appear on the website don’t necessarily reflect what is actually available, so be sure to call and talk to one of their very helpful and extremely kind customer representatives for updated stock. They’re also available via third-party Amazon retailers for about $260 shipped.

You can also go the eBay route, which lets you sort by used if you’re willing to take the (minimal) risk. These are built like tanks so you’ll probably be fine, but you won’t have the assurance of a warranty should anything go wrong.

The runner-up

Also Great

*At the time of publishing, the price was $340.

With a bigger mixing bowl and footprint, this mixer is best left on the countertop. It’s not as good as the Artisan at smaller jobs, but excellent at mixing heavy doughs and batters.
Although we think the Artisan is the best for home use, the KitchenAid Professional 600 6-quart Bowl-Lift Stand Mixer ($340) is a formidable opponent, particularly if you bake hearty batches of bread. It’s a big mixer with a big footprint, and the kind of machine that permanently lives on the countertop.

I’ve used this mixer for over 15 years in restaurant and test kitchens, and it’s a taskmaster designed to tackled big jobs. The bowl clips into the sides and back and lifts into the head attachment instead of twisting into the base like the other models. Its heavy-duty motor easily made quick work of almost all the tests we put it through, but the larger bowl proved to be a liability when it came to the single egg white and whipped cream test where the whip didn’t even make contact.

I will say the biggest fault of the Pro 600 is the noise. I’ve been working with this model for years and I’ve never realized how loud it was until I used it in the quiet serenity of my own home. Consumer Reports docked it for excessive noise and until I used it I couldn’t understand why. It was by far and away the loudest, highest pitched mixer in the testing line up, so much so that my cat stood up and took notice. That being said, this machine is a beast, in a good way. If you’re making lots of bread and thick doughs, like 4 to 5 times a week, get this thing. If not, it’s too much mixer for you.

Sarah Carey, Host of Everyday Food with Sarah Carey, prefers this particular model to any other for it’s larger capacity and bowl-lift design. On Amazon you’ll see some old reviews complaining about a plastic gear housing, but KitchenAid seems to have rectified this many years ago and the housing is made of metal. This reviewer has outlined all the attributes of the Pro 600. Currently, 2,507 Amazon reviewers give the Pro 600 an average of 4.2 stars.

Great for occasional bakers and tiny kitchens

Also Great

*At the time of publishing, the price was $73.

If a stand mixer seems like more than you need (and less counter space than you have) then the Cuisinart is a still-powerful but smaller alternative.
If you’re looking for a mixer but feel that a stand mixer might be too much equipment for you, then the Cuisinart Power Advantage Plus 9 Speed hand mixer might be just right.

I tested two of the top-rated hand mixers (the other was the KitchenAid Architect 9 Speed) and found the Cuisinart to be very powerful. While Consumer Reports and Cook’s highly recommend the KitchenAid Architect, Good Housekeeping chose the Cuisinart as their top pick, and I quickly learned why. While both hand mixers came with several attachments—dough hooks, beaters and a wire whisk—the Cuisinart had considerably more power under the hood.

This thing is super powerful; I honestly think it could work as a makeshift outboard motor for a small boat.
This thing is super powerful; I honestly think it could work as a makeshift outboard motor for a small boat. They both adequately made bread dough (though in both cases the dough needed to be turned out and worked on a floured counter for a couple of extra minutes to get that smooth ball shape a stand mixer creates), but when it came time to make Seven-Minute Frosting, the KitchenAid Architect only yielded four cups of frosting and the Cuisinart yielded eight cups.

The Cuisinart also turned the cookie dough a little easier than the KitchenAid and made a loftier cake. The Architect cake sank in the middle—so sad. That being said, the low setting on the Cuisinart isn’t as slow as the low setting on the KitchenAid—something to keep in mind when choosing a bowl to work in. I’ve found that with hand mixers, a shallow mixing bowl doesn’t really work because the beaters push the contents up the sides, making for more scraping between additions. If you use a bowl with high sides, the contents tend to stay at the bottom, and if you’re whipping a liquid, the sides will keep it from splashing all over your countertop.

I’m not the only person who thinks the Cuisinart hand mixer outperformed the KitchenAid Architect. This Amazon reviewer received the Architect as a gift and straight-up sold it to buy the Cuisinart. Plenty of other Amazon reviewers like it, giving it a 4.3-star average of 436 reviews. I particularly like this reviewer’s outline of the finer points of what to expect from a hand mixer.

The competition

The KitchenAid Professional 600 6-quart Bowl-Lift Stand Mixer is a formidable opponent to the Artisan. It’s a big mixer with a big footprint—the kind of machine that permanently lives on the countertop. The bowl clips into the sides and back and lifts into the head attachment instead of twisting into the base like the other models. Its heavy-duty motor easily made quick work of almost all the tests, but the larger bowl proved to be a liability when it came to the single egg white and whipped cream test, where the whip didn’t even make contact. The biggest fault with the Pro 600 is the noise. I’ve been working with this model for years and I’ve never realized how loud it was until I used it in the quiet serenity of my own home. Consumer Reports docked it for excessive noise and until this test I couldn’t understand why. It was by far the loudest, highest-pitched mixer in the testing lineup, so much so that my cat stood up and took notice. That being said, this machine is a beast, in a good way. If you’re making lots of bread and thick doughs multiple times a week, get this thing. If not, it’s too much mixer for you.

The Cuisinart SM-55 5 ½-quart Stand Mixer held its own with the bread test and made a lofty cake and nine cups of fluffy white frosting. What it couldn’t handle was that thick, chunky cookie dough. Once the mix-ins were added, the paddle pushed all the dough up the sides. Since the splash guard snaps in, instead of the rogue dough spinning the plastic disc around like with other models, the dough lodged itself in the hole of the pouring guide. The small handles attached to the lip of the bowl weren’t ideal either. While the placement makes for a snug fit in a double boiler (and the thin, tapered bowl makes for easy whisking), the handles are pretty much useless when pouring cake batter or scooping cookie dough. A high note for this mixer, though, is that it was the only other mixer in the lineup that whipped one egg white and half a cup of cream. It has three power hubs for extra accessories and a built-in timer, which is nice.

We flip-flopped on including the Breville Scraper Mixer Pro in the testing line-up. It’s a favorite with Consumer Reports and I did like its sleek styling and the easy-to-read, back-lit LCD display, but the reviews on Amazon are less than flattering, saying that it’s not good for bread. My testing backed the Amazon assessments (it rocked back and forth as it kneaded and the dough climbed up the hook), but that wasn’t this mixer’s greatest fault. An ineffective scraper beater left me scraping down the sides several times during mixing. What’s more, after adding the chocolate chips, walnuts, coconut and raisins to the cookie dough, the motor started rattling and the machine paused and sputtered. Not being able to mix thick cookie dough is definitely a dealbreaker.

I really wanted the Kenmore Elite Stand Mixer to be better than it turned out to be. It looked so good on paper! It comes with two bowls, a three-quart and a five-quart. It has all of the usual attachments. It comes with a five-year warranty and its power hub accepts KitchenAid accessories. But the automatic head-locking mechanism drove me batty because it took two hands to raise and lower the head. Even worse, it strained and rocked back and forth while kneading bread, and when trying to turn thick cookie dough, the paddle pushed it up the sides, sending the splash guard spinning around the bowl.

The Hamilton Beach Eclectrics All-Metal Stand Mixer was definitely the quietest of all the models in the testing group, with a very pleasant low hum. But, again, rocking and walking while kneading and serious motor strain with the cookie dough were both deal-breaking problems. The head release button on this model is positioned in the back. It’s not very intuitive and I struggled to find the button every time I had to lift and lower the head, which is also unfortunately a two-handed affair. At the time of research, this model was $180 on Amazon, which was one of the reasons I included it in the testing group, along with favorable user reviews and the fact that Good Housekeeping called it the best bang for your buck. Now the price has gone up to $216, maybe because of the holiday baking season, so it’s not even a good deal. With a lack of power hubs for extra accessories, this is a basic mixer that’s really only good for cakes and lighter baking, which means you should pass.

KitchenAid Architect 9 Speed hand mixer was in the running for our step-down option. It surpassed my admittedly low expectations while making bread dough and turned thick cookie dough fairly well. But its weak spot is whipping. The genoise cake from the Architect sunk in the middle, and the frosting recipe that was supposed to yield eight cups only yielded four.

The competition

KitchenAid Classic Stand Mixer: While this got good reviews from reputable sources, we already had two KitchenAid mixers in the testing group, as well as a Kenmore mixer that accepted KitchenAid accessories. Plus, the bowl on this model is on the small side.

KitchenAid Classic Plus Stand Mixer: This is pretty much the same machine as the Classic and has the same size bowl, just with a bit more wattage (which doesn’t mean much).

Bodum Bistro Electric Stand Mixer: With plastic housing, this expensive little mixer doesn’t do much more than mix. There are also no power hubs for extra accessories.

Gourmet Grade GM800 10 Speed Die Cast Stand Mixer: With very limited information out there about the company, I wanted to avoid this generic-sounding brand.

Hobart-era KitchenAid Stand Mixers: It was logistically impossible to bring this in for testing, and even if it won, it would be impossible to find a consistent source for purchasing. Besides, they’re basically the same as the modern Artisan (though there are those that would disagree)1. But if you’re into digging for vintage treasure, this just might be your bag.

Cuisinart Power Advantage 7-Speed Hand Mixer: This mixer doesn’t come with the extra dough hook attachments that the nine-speed has.

KitchenAid Ultra 5 Speed Hand Mixer: No frills, no extra attachments, just beaters.

Wrapping it up

For the home baking enthusiast wanting to up their game, there’s nothing like having a stand mixer to do the heavy lifting. As it turns out, the company that invented the stand mixer over 90 years ago makes our favorite, the KitchenAid Artisan KSM150. It effortlessly creams butter and sugar, kneads bread dough, and whips cream and egg whites to stiff peaks. While the Artisan doesn’t come cheap, we think it’s worth the investment. With proper care it should also last a long time.

Footnotes:

1. A brief history of KitchenAid, and Hobart vs. Whirlpool.

In 1919, the Hobart corporation rolled out the very first KitchenAid mixer. Hobart had been making industrial mixers for bakeries and naval ships for four years, but up until this point, they hadn’t expanded into the domestic market. Their very first offering was the Model H and it measured more than two feet tall and weighed 65 pounds. It wasn’t cheap, either; the Model H retailed for $190 which is equivalent to more than $2000 today. In the mid-thirties, the KitchenAid mixer got a sleeker redesign that remains unchanged today.

Whirlpool bought KitchenAid from Hobart in 1986. This is the point where many people believe the KitchenAid mixer went downhill in quality, and the only mixer worth its salt is a pre-Whirlpool-acquisition stand mixer. If you ask people at KitchenAid, they are adamant that the machine is the same as when Hobart made them. They still use all metal gears and housing, and the patented design is the same.

Still, there are many Hobart-era KitchenAid stand mixers for sale on Ebay, and people swear by them. I’ve used Whirlpool-era KitchenAid mixers throughout my professional cooking career (which is going on 15 years) and I’ve only seen one blow out, and that was because of bonehead abuse. I also have a lot of respect for the Hobart company and their high-quality line of industrial kitchen equipment. At the end of the day, do what you feel. If you have an affinity for nostalgia and generally like to collect vintage kitchen equipment, by all means, make the investment. Also, a working vintage KitchenAid mixer is a great way to save money on a quality piece of equipment. They usually start at $75 to $100, a fraction of what a brand new machine costs. When buying an electrical appliance that is 30-plus years old, it’s a good idea to plug it in to see if it still works, emits smoke, throws sparks, etc. before buying. Jump back.

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Sources

  1. Anne Gordon, The Good Batch, Interview
  2. Sarah Carey, Everyday Food, Interview, http://everydayfoodblog.marthastewart.com/
  3. Cook's Illustrated, Stand Mixers (Inexpensive), Cook's Illustrated (Subscription Required), December 1, 2007
  4. Stand Mixer Reviews, Good Housekeeping
  5. Cook's Illustrated, Stand Mixers (High-End), Cook's Illustrated (Subscription Required), November 1, 2013
  6. Brian Foreman, Amazon Review
  7. Anonymous, Amazon Review
  8. Thomas King, Amazon Review
  9. Anonymous, Amazon Review

Originally published: December 10, 2013

  • Pete Winterscheidt

    I’m curious what the thoughts are on nylon gears vs metal. This might account for some of the noise in the professional series.

    • Steve Schrab

      Agreed. That’s one of the reason I went for professional series. It seemed less likely to wear out. I feel a good stand mixer should last a lifetime.

  • sygyzy

    Two thoughts:

    1. The best attachment you can buy for a stand-mixer is one of the silicone Beater Blades. The days of stopping the machine and scraping down the siders, are over.
    2. I think you only use the tools you have available and out. I noticed when I didn’t own a stand mixer, I would be really lazy about making cookies, baking cakes, or whipping up cream. Since I got one, it’s trivial to whip something up. What was a luxury before, is now a weeknight occurrence.

  • Will Taylor

    Target currently has them at $265.

    • http://thewirecutter.com/ tony kaye

      I see them from Target at $299. Link?

      • Will Taylor
        • http://thewirecutter.com/ tony kaye

          I get the following notifications

          x Currently unavailable online
          x Not available in stores

          • dead_elvis

            Looks like online availability varies with color choice; the $262.49 price appears to be at Target.com only (all color choices indicate “not available in stores”.

          • http://thewirecutter.com/ tony kaye

            Oh gotcha. Nice thanks!

          • Will Taylor

            I don’t know what to tell ya, but I just randomly chose a color and had no issues. Perhaps it is a color-by-color basis of availability.

  • Greg

    First off, good timing on this – KitchenAid has a $50 rebate through 12/26 for pretty much every stand mixer: http://www.kitchenaid.com/promotions/

    Second, after really wanting a KitchenAid with a lifting bowl, I was very close to picking up the 6qt Pro. I wasn’t thrilled with the hugeness of the bowl, but really didn’t want the tilt-head since it would mean having to bring it out from under the upper cabinets in order to pop the top up all the time. So, looked around and found that the current model at Sam’s Club fit the bill perfectly:

    – 5qt bowl
    – Bowl-lift style
    – All metal attachments
    – 475 watt
    – $300 (+ $50 rebate mentioned – you can find it for this model with a little digging)

    I’m pretty sure it’s an older model, but exactly what we were trying to find! It doesn’t show as in stock online, but I’m confident you can find them in the stores easily (they had a lot in stock – black/silver/white/turquoise).

    • toc001

      The six quart models are horrible! See my post above. Trust me, its not worth the extra capacity.

  • Lori S

    Just a note: the all-metal beaters should not be put in the dishwasher, while the nylon-coated beaters can be put in the dishwasher. Something to consider when deciding whether to buy the metal ones.

  • toc001

    I’ve owned a bakery for 18 years and we used to use the Kitchen Aid 5 qt mixers in our shop until they’d wear out, take them to the repair shop an get them rebuilt. They were great. When the 6 qt Kitchen Aid’s came out, we bought a couple for the increased capacity and they were total crap. Didn’t last anywhere near as long as he 5 qt. If you are a serious home chef of pro looking for a long lasting reliable mixer, spring for the Kitchen Aid 5 qt “commercial” not “professional” It will last you a lifetime.

    Incidentally, we replaced our KA 5 qts, with the Globe SP8. If you can afford to splurge, the Globe 5 qt is $600 and the 8 qt is $965. Not many need and 8 qt but ours has lasted as long as our full size floor standing 60 qt mixers.

    These would be for the home caterer, or bake sale maniac.

    Bon apetit!

  • kayluhb

    I can’t find anything that states explicitly that this model uses the metal gears as opposed to the plastic ones. Does anyone know if it uses metal?

  • Glenn Webster

    You didn’t think the Kenwoods worthy of inclusion?

    • Sherry Ella Bibiana

      I was thinking exactly the same. Masterchef Australia is using Kenwood, which is a Britisch Brand. I am seriously considering Kenwood Chef Titanium KMC010

  • James Schilling

    What about the Bosch Universal Plus Mixer? It’s in the same price-range as the Kitchen-Aid (at roughly $100 more) but it’s made by the sorcerers at Bosch so it’ll last a crap of a long time- on average with daily use: 27 YEARS! Plus it as a 3-year warranty. (Now we know what really happened to Harry Potter…he works for Bosch.)

  • Rhea

    I’m so glad your Kitchen Aid Artisan did not jump all over the counter as mine does. I bought this several years ago figuring my 20 yr old KA wouldn’t last much longer. As soon as I used the new one, I took it to an authorized service center (under warranty, of course) because of the jumping and hinge pin coming out as the result. He looked at it and agreed that the machine needed work. When I came back a week later to pick it up, he said that the tolerance levels had changed and that the mixer was performing as intended. He seemed genuinely embarrassed to return it to me. At that point, I should have returned it, but, I didn’t. Last week, I watched a national display of this terrible flaw on the Rachel Ray show. She was mixing a concoction (NOT a heavy dough) and her bright orange Artisan was jumping up and down while making so much noise that she had a hard time talking over it. KA should be ashamed. My son says he’ll take the newer one. I’ll stick with my original until it dies and hope that by that time, I won’t be baking any longer.

  • gglockner

    I own a 20-year-old 4.5 quart Kitchen Aid and a Magic Mill / Assistent / whatever they’re called this year. The Kitchen Aid is great for whipping: batter, cream cheese, etc. Both are fine for cookie dough. But for heavy bread dough, there is no contest: the Assistent can knead up to 4 large loaves with no problems, while the Kitchen Aid struggles with just one loaf. If I had to choose just one, it would be the Assistent.

    • PegeleusDukes

      I’ve been reading a lot about mixers and I agree that the Ankarsrum Original (it’s current name) should definitely be included in the next testing round. It retails for $800, but it might be a worthy step up for a lot of people since it ‘s still a residential machine, not commercial (with a much better warranty than KA)

  • Renee

    I’m in the market for a hand-mixer. Did you find the Cuisinart HM-90S Power Advantage Plus 9-Speed, to be on the quieter side or loud? Some of the hand mixers can be annoyingly loud. I read that the Kitchen-Aid Architect 9-speed is reasonably quiet. I’d appreciate your feedback on the noise of each of these units. Thank you.

  • http://3gfp.com/ Harvey

    The only problem I’ve ever had with my 6qt pro is overheating due to a really tough batch of dough. It was my fault really for putting too much in the mixer. However, the mixer overheated because the cooling fan’s speed is directly linked to the mixer speed. The mixer would do much better with an independent speed fan.

  • Filmer Hayattır
  • toc001

    The Kitchen aid of today is NOT the Kitchen Aid of yesterday. I own a bakery for 20 years, worked in kitchens from caterers to hotels for 35 years, since I was 15. We used KA mixers for the first 10 years of the bakery without too much problem. We work them hard so every year or so we’d get the gears or motor replaced and put them right back to work. Around the time the 6 Qt models came out was when quality took a nose dive. They wouldn’t last 6 months. If you do bread doughs or pizza, forget it.

    They used the misnomer “professional” on their mixers and when I called to complain they said, “oh, you need “commercial”, even though I never did before. I bought the “commercial” variety and it did no better.

    We switched to Globe brand, and have been running them with great results and no repairs for 5 years now. The only repair, was a power button and the plastic overlay for the speed control. The gears and motors run great. We have the 8 Qt models that cost $900 to 1000, but they do have a 5 Qt. in the same range as the top line kitchen aid. I hope Sweethome includes Globe in the next round of testing.

    http://www.globeslicers.com/products/mixers/

    And my company to show I am not connected with Globe:
    http://www.honeymoonsweets.com

    Thanks for indulging my rant. I’ve been thrilled with all the recommendations by Wirecutter and Sweethome so far, but I had to weigh in on this from experience.

    • toc001

      Oops! I see I did a rant on this a year ago. sorry.

  • sockatume

    I’d be interested to read an international take on this. As nice as the Artisan is, it costs upwards of £350 ($425 once you remove sales tax) here in the UK, which completely changes the value proposition.