By Janet McCracken
Whether you are whipping up meringue, mixing chocolate chip cookie dough or kneading bread, using a stand mixer will help to lighten the load. From simple whisking to more complicated prepping of lengthy recipes, the machine lets you work largely hands-free. And that really counts when you’re making something like a batch of 7-minute icing.
Purchasing a stand mixer is an investment of time and money, so you want to know what to look for. What do you need besides the three standard attachments—the whisk, the paddle and the dough hook? When we asked experts, they pointed out other must-haves. “I need it to be intuitive and easy to use,” says pastry chef Paola Valez. Power and capacity are the key qualities recipe developer Andrew Janjigian requires. Looks count too, since stand mixers are bulky and often remain out on the countertop, the pros pointed out.
You’ll also want to consider the range of uses beyond whisk, mix and knead. You can turn some models into blenders, food processors, citrus juicers—even grain mills.
I’ve been a food editor and recipe tester for 20 years and to help you land on the right mixer for your home, I consulted food experts and put seven machines through a battery of prep tests and we found three stand mixers stood out.
Excellent at whipping and mixing
28 colors to choose from
Over 20 optional attachments
One of the least powerful engines we tested
Not the best choice for kneading bread
Like Kleenex is to tissues, KitchenAid is to stand mixers. There’s a reason the machine is a staple in test kitchens, on food TV shows and in many chefs’ homes (Julia Child had a cobalt blue one in her kitchen, now on display at the Smithsonian in Washington, D.C.). Of our experts, 3 of 4 said they own at least one KitchenAid. Velez calls her KitchenAid stand mixers “my babies.” (She has had one of them for 11 years). Vallery Lomas, author of “Life Is What You Bake It,” also uses this machine, and when I asked what her dream stand mixer would be, she said, “I own it.”
Egg whites test: The KitchenAid Artisan was the clear winner when it came to beating egg whites. One egg white came to peak in about 20 seconds, far outshining the other brands. It took only about 30 seconds for five egg whites to come to peak, another win for the Artisan.
Cookie test: Here, too, the KitchenAid performed exceptionally well. When creaming the sugar and butter, it took only about 2 minutes to yield a light and fluffy mixture. Adding the dry ingredients went equally well; the machine quickly and evenly blended them. It was the same with the mix-ins. It took just a few seconds to evenly incorporate them, with each step requiring minimal scraping down of the sides and bottom of the bowl.
Bread test: When the dough was slightly wet and I was still adding flour, the dough inched up and rolled up over the top of the dough hook. Once all the flour was added, though, it stayed under the top of the hook. The dough often rose above the edge of the bowl, but it never fell out. While kneading, the machine wobbled a little. It took longer to complete the kneading than other mixers did. This is a reason recipe developer Andrew Janjigian, who bakes bread a few times a week, no longer uses a KitchenAid. While you’re not supposed to mix above speed 2 with bread doughs, he points out, the Artisan requires higher speed mixing to make most bread recipes.
One of the many reasons the Artisan is so popular is you can choose from about 30 colors, making it easy to coordinate it with your kitchen décor. It also provides the most flexibility, with more than 20 optional attachments, from a food processor to an ice cream maker. If you like to throw your dishes in the dishwasher, be sure to buy attachments that are coated with white or silver polyester or made from stainless steel—not burnished metal.
Included parts: 5-quart stainless steel bowl, 1 coated flat beater, 1 coated dough hook, one 6-wire whip, 1 pouring shield
Optional attachments: Over 20
Why choose this mixer? If you are a big cookie and cake maker but only an occasional bread baker, this is a fantastic choice. It whisks eggs and cream in a snap, and mixes cookie and cake batter exceptionally well. There are many color choices and attachments available.
Powerful engine is located in the base, making for a very stable machine
Shorter, great for kitchens with low cabinet clearance
Lots of optional attachments, from a juicer to three pasta rollers
Comes in 11 colors
There is a learning curve. Be sure to read the manuals and watch the DVD included in the package; thisvideo
Higher price than others we tested
The Ankarsrum, also known as the Ank, is the mixer that Janjigian turned to after his KitchenAid didn’t pass muster for his frequent bread baking. Having tested this Swedish-made machine myself, I understand the appeal: The Ank excelled at every task—particularly kneading.
If you are willing to spend more and embrace a small learning curve, this machine is a dream. Unlike most “planetary” mixers, where the bowl stays in place while the engine moves the attachments from above, the engine is in the base of the Ank and it moves the bowl while the attachments stay in place above. Having the engine on the base keeps the machine grounded, making for a more stable operation.
The Ank comes with two bowls. The large 8-quart bowl is for mixing bread dough and large batches of cookies and cakes. The smaller 3.5 liter bowl has a cylinder down the middle and resembles a tube pan; it’s perfect for beating egg whites and cream, as well as making standard-size batches of cookies. This unique setup ensures smooth mixing and prevents ingredients from getting stuck on the bottom center of the bowl. The Ank comes with a lid that fits both of the bowls for easy storage or to cover the bowl when proofing dough. It also has a built-in timer, so you can step away and let the bread knead without worrying about overdoing it.
Egg white test: When I used the smaller bowl with the double whisk attachment, one egg white took about 1 minute, the second fastest in our tests. The five egg whites took just 45 seconds, which was also second-best of the ones tested.
Cookie test: The small bowl of the Ank, perfect for small to standard-size batches of cookie dough, doesn’t have the familiar paddle attachment but rather a double “cookie beater” attachment. It quickly creamed the butter and sugar, easily mixed in the dry ingredients and took just a few seconds to incorporate the mix-ins. When seasonal baking comes along, use the large bowl with the unique cylindrical attachment called a “dough roller” for whipping up big batches for holiday gifting.
Bread test: The Ank is excellent at mixing bread. It has a dough hook as well as the roller for kneading dough. I love the bowl scraper that can be easily placed to run inside of the bowl as it spins, preventing the need to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl. If ingredients are accumulating in the center of the bowl, the arm holding the attachments from above can be manually pushed into the center for a few seconds to incorporate them, and when released, it returns to the standard position.
This is the only mixer I tested with attachments that are sold separately, but I wanted to give them a test run because of the unusual set-up: You put the attachment on, then turn the whole machine on its side. I tested the slicer and the fine and coarse grater, and once I got used to the new method, it was easy to use. I liked that you could easily change out the individual discs without removing the whole gadget from the machine.
Included parts: 8-quart bowl, 3.5-quart bowl, dough hook, roller, cookie beaters, double whisk, scraper, spatula, dust cover, DVD.
Optional attachments: 14 optional attachments, including the more unusual grain mill, citrus juicer and blender.
Why choose this mixer? If you are a frequent bread baker and can make the investment, this is worth choosing over the KitchenAid. It does everything you’d need with outstanding results. With the two bowls, you can easily make large or small batches. The extensive attachments expand its potential.
Excellent value for the price
The mixing bowl and all accessories are dishwasher safe
Requires more than usual scraping down of the sides and bottom of the bowl
Not good for very small batches
For bakers who make average-size to slightly larger batches of cookies and cakes, as well as up to two loaves of bread at a time, this machine delivers. The sturdy 5.5-quart bowl is just a little bit larger than the KitchenAid’s 5-quart bowl but I found that made a difference with bread dough. It’s countertop-worthy, too, and available in 11 stylish colors.
Egg whites test: When I tried to beat one egg white, it barely got frothy, even at 5 minutes. But this machine did a fine job beating five egg whites, taking slightly longer than usual at about 2 minutes. When the Cuisinart is working hard, the top vibrates slightly, but the base stays in place and doesn’t dance across the countertop.
Cookies test: When creaming the sugar and butter, I had to scrape down the bowl fairly often to ensure incorporation. The machine worked in the dry ingredients well, but it required occasional scraping of the sides and bottom of the bowl. Cuisinart worked relatively quickly to evenly distribute the cookie mix-ins.
Bread test: The Cuisinart aced the bread recipe. The powerful engine got a little warm, but easily did the job. The bowl was big enough to handle the entire recipe and it didn’t overflow or creep up the dough hook.
Included parts: 5.5-quart mixing bowl, wire whisk, paddle, dough hook, splash guard, pour spout
Optional attachments: Five attachments: meat grinder, spiralizer, pasta extruder, pasta cutter and frozen dessert maker.
Why choose this mixer? If you aren’t ready to make a big investment in a mixer, this is an excellent choice. The motor is strong, it’s a good-looking machine and it will take care of general baking needs with just a little extra hands-on time.
Hamilton Beach’s7 Speed Stand Mixer
This 4-quart machine may not be elegant, but it (mostly) gets the job done and at the lowest price of the mixers that met our criteria for testing. There is a handle on top and it’s light enough to easily move it in and out of storage. It’s also small enough to not take up much space in your kitchen. The suction cups on the bottom keep it in place on the counter, though it does wobble a bit when running at higher speeds. While it’s excellent for medium-sized batches of meringues, cookies and cakes, it’s not up to the task of making more than a single loaf of bread at a time. There were no color choices or optional attachments at the time we tested. All in all, it’s a good starter machine.
The Wolf stand mixer is an extremely solid 29-pound industrial-looking machine. The whisk, paddle and dough hook are so substantial, in fact, that they make the attachments from other brands look like toys. While it did a fine job on all tasks tested, it didn’t handle small batches very well—for those batches, you’ll need to scrape down the sides and bottom of the bowl as you mix. The Wolf mixer is a bread baker’s dream machine, with great power and a roomy bowl. Wolf offers only one attachment, the meat grinder. If you have a Wolf stove, you might choose this mixer to have matching equipment. Be aware that it’s tall and may not tuck under some cupboards.
: This is one cool-looking machine. Even the paddle attachment has design flair. There are about 10 color options, including a wildly colorful Dolce and Gabbana pattern. The machine has a strong 600-watt engine that is slightly noisy. It didn’t handle small batches very well, but it easily passed the bread test (though it wobbled a bit while kneading). When mixing ingredients together, it required several rounds of scraping down of the sides and bottom of the bowl. There’s a seam that runs along the top that could catch food, making it somewhat tricky to clean. It’s a stand mixer to consider if aesthetics are a key factor for you.
The Bosch Universal mixer works much like the Ankarsrum, with the very strong engine on the bottom. It comes with a lot of attachments, and it’s lightweight and stable. The machine is easy to use and passed all tests with flying colors. The attachments include a blender, citrus juicer and a food processor. I really loved using this machine, but there are some caveats. There are only four speeds, so “slow” is not so slow. You need to keep the cover on while you mix on the lowest speed or everything will fly out of the bowl. That said, it does mix quickly and evenly. You are required to take apart the bowl and center dowel to wash and dry all parts between batches, which I found annoying. Another minus: Many parts are made with lightweight plastic, so the mixer didn’t feel as sturdy as other options.
In addition to being a home cook, I’ve spent 20 years working as a food editor, story creator, recipe developer and recipe tester at a variety of publications, including the Los Angeles Times, “Bon Appetit,” the New York Times, “Rachael Ray Every Day” and “Food and Wine.” I’ve also worked in five test kitchens where I’ve used almost every kitchen tool imaginable—including stand mixers.
As research for this article, I talked to three experts: cookbook author and baker Vallery Lomas; pastry chef Paola Velez; recipe developer and tester Andrew Janjigian; and cookbook author and food stylist Jesse Szewczyk.
I tried seven machines, putting the standard attachments—the whisk, the paddle and the dough hook—to work. To properly compare them, I considered how well the machines performed the same tasks.
To test the whisk: We beat one egg white on high speed to assess its ability to handle small batches. We then beat five egg whites on high speed to test how quickly the machine handles larger batches.
To test the paddle: We made a batch of cookie dough, checking the machine’s ability to cream butter and sugar on high speed, incorporate dry ingredients and evenly and quickly incorporate mix-ins.
To test the dough hook: We made a batch of hearty whole wheat bread that yielded two standard loaves.
While testing each stand mixer with the attachments, we took into account noise, stability and ease of use. We also considered the extra perks and disadvantages of each one, such as size, looks and which optional attachments it offers.
Andrew Janjigian is a Cambridge, Mass.-based recipe developer and baking instructor. He is also a writer for “Cook’s Illustrated” magazine, Serious Eats, King Arthur Baking Company and his own newsletter, “Wordloaf.” He worked for 11 years as a test cook and senior editor at “Cook’s Illustrated” magazine and “America’s Test Kitchen,” where he developed more than a hundred recipes.
Vallery Lomas was the season three winner of “The Great American Baking Show.” Her debut cookbook, “Life is What You Bake It,” was named a year’s best cookbook by the Boston Globe, the Washington Post and foodnetwork.com. She lives in New York City.
Jesse Szewczyk is a cookbook author and food stylist based in New York. His work has been featured in the New York Times, Food Network, Food52, “Bon Appétit,” the Washington Post and other outlets. In 2021, he was named a Forbes 30 Under 30: Food & Drink and is the author of “Cookies: The New Classics,” which was named one of the best cookbooks of 2021 by the New York Times.
Paola Velez is an award-winning chef, social justice advocate and editorial producer with nearly two decades of experience as a culinary expert. In 2021, the Washington, D.C.-based pastry chef was named one of “Food & Wine” magazine’s Best New Chefs. In 2020, she was a Finalist for the James Beard Foundation Rising Star Award and earned Pastry Chef of the Year awards from both “Esquire” magazine and the Restaurant Association of Metropolitan Washington.
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