How to Select & Buy the Right Stand Mixer

KitchenAid Artisan 5-Quart Stand MixersStand mixers are essentially mixing bowls mounted underneath an electric beater. The bowl fits snugly against a steel arm, which interfaces with a steel moveable arm that resides over the bowl. The arm houses the beater, which can be easily lifted up out of the bowl and levered down into the bowl.

Since a stand-up mixer is one machine, a chef simply combines the ingredients in the bowl, and sets their desired mixing speed. Hands are kept free to cut other food or continually stir a Cajun roux.

The struggle with hand-held beater, or even worse, holding the mixing bowl at your hip while whipping the ingredients together with a spoon, can cause unevenly mixed ingredients, which can result in a poor product, especially when baking soda is part of the recipe. The stand-up mixer allows even mixing, leaving no morsel unblended. Since the machine is stationary, all parts lock together, prohibiting the opportunity for spills or mishaps.

Serious bakers may even consider purchasing a model with interchangeable attachments. Attachments such as the whisk, which takes eggs and cream and forms the angelic white sea foam commonly found in meringue, can alleviate a chef’s arm aches. Very thick batter, such as that for cookies, or chunky batter with nuts and chocolate chips easily fold together with the whip. The whip attachment does just as it sounds, whips touch-to-spoon ingredients into a smooth batter. And the hook is designed to pull sticky batter away from the edge, such as that used in bread. In summary, stand-up mixing machines are the most productive means of efficient, expert baking.

The following factors are important when you go shopping for a stand mixer:

1. Capacity

Not all mixers are created alike, but one of the most important (yet commonly forgotten) aspects of a good mixer is its capacity…

A very large capacity mixer might seem like a good idea, but mixers are at their most efficient and effective within a certain band of volumes that they were engineered to work with. Therefore a very large mixer would not work for small batches of batter, since it will be unable to properly manipulate and smooth the batter as it mixes. Likewise, a small mixer will force you spread a large batch of batter out into multiple mixes, which can affect consistency.

Therefore it is a good idea to look at the recipes you most commonly use before purchasing a mixer and then get one with a capacity which is slightly above that amount. Mixers work best when they are neither mostly full or mostly empty but instead somewhere well in-between. Therefore if your most common mixing recipes produce four cups of batter, you should get one with a six cup capacity. This not only ensures your most usual mixes are at the optimum capacity, but that you have room to expand into larger batches if needed. Likewise, it is a good idea NOT to pick a mixer capacity that is too far above your usual batch sizes so that you can shrink down as needed.

2. The Size of the Stand Mixer

Before you purchase a stand mixer, you will need to consider the size. They are much larger than a hand mixer due to the fact that the mixer head houses the motor. It can be bulky and awkward, and the stand must be large enough to provide stability and balance so that the mixer does not topple over.

Size is usually based on the number of quarts the bowl will hold. Standard sizes include 4.5, 5, and 6 quarts. You can even find commercial mixers for 20, 30, or even 60 quarts.

With the 4.5 quart mixers, the bowl will hold up to 8 cups of flour or mix up 2 loaves of bread. It will still take up a decent amount of space on the counter, but will be smaller than other options.

The 6 quart mixer can hold up to 14 cups of flour and mix up to 8 pounds of mashed potatoes. The larger mixers often have more power to handle the larger amounts of ingredients placed in them.

When you are trying to decide which size to buy, consider how many people you usually cook for. Do you cook for your family or do you like to entertain large groups? The biggest danger in buying a mixer too small is that you will burn up the motor by putting too much batter in the bowl.

3. Pouring Shield/ Splatter Shield

When purchasing a stand mixer, you are going to want one that has a pouring and splatter shield. If it doesn’t come with one, you can purchase it separately which is highly recommended. If you have any dry ingredients in the mixing bowl and no splatter shield, you are going to have a mess on your hands and all over your counters. You want to keep all the ingredients in the bowl and not allow it to fly all over the kitchen.

The pouring shield is going to make it so simple for you to pouring your ingredients out of the mixing bowl. You can also add any ingredients you’ll need by sliding it down the pouring spout and into the mixing bowl as the mixer is on allowing you to continue with your mixing. The pouring chute is wide and that will help make it easier to add your ingredients.

Remember to add all your ingredients on a slow speed but the splatter shield is going to make life easier for you without a mess, you can actually keep your stand mixer on any speed and add all the ingredients you need. It’s inexpensive to purchase and you will be glad you did. You can toss it in the dishwasher or you can wash it by hand which is very easy to clean.

4. Color Choice

There are a lot of options when choosing any kitchen appliance and the stand mixer is definitely no exception. Other than just deciding what types of gadgets and accessories you need, a very important decision to some is the color of the mixer itself. Don’t let something like color choices stress you out, though. This is the fun part!

There are a lot of things that can be taken into consideration when it comes to choosing the color of the stand mixer. First of all, decide if you want it to match an existing color scheme, blend in and not be seen, or be a focal point of the counter it will be sitting upon. For sleek kitchen designs where no appliance is the shining star, consider a sophisticated black, white or silver mixer. For a kitchen that is decorated in warm earth-tones, a red or copper colored mixer would blend in well. If you want this prized mixer to stand out and steal the show, think about using complimentary color schemes such as a turquoise mixer amongst a kitchen decorated in mostly reds. How about a sunny yellow stand mixer in a lime green, summery kitchen? A blue mixer would look great with red, green or even yellow or orange decor. Have an overly girly kitchen in country chic or pretty pastels? Some stand mixers even come in pink!

5. Power Usage

Larger mixing jobs require larger mixers. However, to support the weight of the mixer and lend to its durable application of mixing, a stand is needed to secure the mixer. As such, stand mixers require a greater amount of power to use as they are larger and more inertia is needed to move the parts. Stand mixtures are also heavier than hand mixers, which is another reason stand mixers require stands.

Don’t let the higher number of wattage be the factor in deciding your next stand mixer. For stand mixers intended for heavy usage, a stand mixer of 600 watts is recommended. However, two mixers of the same capacity may use different amounts of wattage. It’s best to make comparisons when shopping and use the aforementioned as a general guideline. A stand mixer that uses more wattage, or more power, does not necessarily mean that the stand mixer is stronger; this just means that the stand mixer is less efficient at utilizing the maximum amount of power in comparison to its output.

Stand mixers with efficient designs tackle this issue and a lower wattage stand mixer can be acquired with maximal output. A key factor is that the wattage described is what it takes to operate the stand mixer and not what the stand mixer is actually giving as output.

6. Stand Mixer Weight

Stand mixers are nice to have. They are great in the kitchen if you are one that spends most of your time baking and cooking. When you consider this, you see that there are things that you need to get when you are looking for yours. The one thing that we are going to discuss is why you need to consider the weight.

Many people don’t stop to think about this, but if it’s going to be your own personal tool in the kitchen, then you need to be able to lift the bowls and such. Many don’t know that when they create these stand mixers, there are some that are quite light and some that have bowls that are quite heavy.

If it weighs too much, then you will find that it will keep you from picking it up and it might slow you down. Some have found that they have gotten some that were too heavy so they had a mess on their hands when they dropped the bowl. You don’t think about how much it will weigh once you have things that you are mixing in them and that is something you really need to consider.

You see, the rule of thumb is that if you are at the store and you think it’s heavy there, you have not thought about what it would feel like when you add things to it. This is the rule of thumb when you are looking to buy your stand. Knowing the weight you need will give you the type of standing mixer that is right for you.

7. Extra Attachments

Those who are considering purchasing a stand mixer will want to consider the fact that not all mixers are the same. Paying a little more for a quality mixer that offers different attachment options can be a wise investment in the long run. Gone are the days when buying a deluxe mixer meant getting a couple of different sizes of bowls and beaters. A good stand mixer should at the very least come with a beater for basic mixing, a wire whisk for whipping cream and beating egg whites, and a dough hook to take all the work out of kneading dough for bread.

Making a decision about various other types of attachments options all depends on individual needs and desires. The better stand mixers now come equipped with the ability to attach all kinds of items for convenience and even gourmet cooking. For those who enjoy cooking from scratch, there are optional accessories such as, pasta presses, grain mills, ice cream makers, and even a sausage stuffer. Fruit and vegetable strainers, juicers, blenders, and meat grinders are all options that add versatility to what was once just an ordinary piece of equipment used mainly for whipping up batches of cookie dough and mixing cakes.

Although deciding what type of stand mixer to buy may be a little more complicated these days, at least purchasing one with options makes it easy to add attachments as they are needed or as they become affordable. Not only is it a practical investment but it can make being in the kitchen a lot more fun!

Featured Stand Mixer Reviews:

1. Sunbeam FPSBHS030 250-Watt 5-Speed Hand and Stand Mixer Combo

2. Sunbeam 2371 MixMaster Stand Mixer

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4. Review of KitchenAid Professional 5 Plus Series Stand Mixer

5. KitchenAid Artisan 5-Quart Stand Mixer

6. Hamilton Beach Electrics All-Metal Stand Mixer