The best mixers will save you time and muscle
It's hard to imagine life in the kitchen without an electric mixer. Home cooks use them for everything from whipping cream into light, fluffy peaks to powering through the thickest cookie and bread doughs. The best mixers are powerful, easy to use and clean, feel sturdy and stable, and evenly mix ingredients without leaving lumps or unmixed areas. Experts say that regardless of the type of mixer, it should have at least three speeds.
There are two basic types of mixers:
Stand mixers: Stand mixers excel at demanding jobs like mixing thick dough, and serious cooks say they're a must if you bake regularly or need to produce large quantities of any type of mixture. Most stand mixers come with three attachments: a flat beater for mixing batter; a dough hook for kneading; and a wire whisk for whipping cream, etc. Specialized attachments, ranging from enameled beaters to pasta makers, are also available for some models. Most top-rated stand mixers have a single beater mounted on a disc that rotates around a stationary bowl. Experts say this process, called "planetary action," is the most efficient means of blending ingredients because the beater can reach the sides of the bowl, thus reducing the need to stop the machine and scrape the sides On cheaper stand mixers the beaters (usually two, like those found on a hand mixer) are stationary; the bowl, mounted on a turntable, revolves around them. Some experts turn up their nose at these less-expensive units, but, in fact, they suit some people just fine.
Hand mixers: A hand mixer may be all you need if you only bake occasionally or just need a mixer for lighter tasks, such as whipping cream, mixing cake batters or beating eggs. The nice thing about a hand mixer is that your can use it in any kind of bowl or even in a pan. Some hand mixers are powerful enough for jobs that are traditionally thought of as only suited to stand mixers, like kneading dough and combining thick cookie ingredients, but don't expect a hand mixer to perform those tasks as quickly and easily as a stand mixer. In researching this report, we learned that a lot of people own both a stand mixer and a hand mixer so they don't have to dirty their larger stand mixer for smaller jobs. With that in mind, we found a top-rated mixer that easily converts from stand mixer to hand mixer -- giving you the benefits of both in one appliance.
KitchenAid and Cuisinart rule the mixer world
Consider yourself warned: This report may seem like a KitchenAid and Cuisinart love fest. But that's because those two manufacturers rise far above any other when it comes to stand mixer and hand mixer reviews, respectively. In fact, KitchenAid stand mixers are so popular that we've even included a section dedicated to a discussion of KitchenAid stand mixer attachments and accessories. That said, we found that Hamilton Beach's mixers are also piling up some pretty good ratings, and people seem to love Sunbeam's versatile, affordable options.
Also keep in mind that a mixer may not always be the best option for the job you need to do. For mixing hot liquids on the stove, an immersion blender is much easier and safer than a hand mixer, so head over to our immersion blender report for our top picks in that category. In addition, plenty of bakers find that their food processor works well for kneading dough and they tend to be more versatile than mixers, and we have a separate report on those as well.
Finding the best mixers
There are some very good professional tests and roundups of both stand mixers and hand mixers. We analyzed professional tests performed by experts at TheSweetHome.com, ConsumerReports.org, Good Housekeeping and Cooks Illustrated. We then matched those results and recommendations to long-term, real-world experiences as reported by hundreds, and sometimes thousands, of owners at user-review sites such as Amazon.com, Macys.com, Viewpoints.com and others. The result of that research is our recommendations for the stand mixers and hand mixers with the best combination of performance, durability and ease of use.
Elsewhere in this Report:
Best Stand Mixers: Looking for a great stand mixer? We discuss the best stand mixers for heavy jobs like baking bread, and basic stand mixers for occasional or everyday general use.
KitchenAid Stand Mixer Attachments: Reviews tell us that KitchenAid is THE name in stand mixers, partly due to their extensive line of optional attachments. Editors look at the most popular KitchenAid accessories in this roundup.
Best Hand Mixers: These hand mixers are powerful, but not pricey. We even found a hand mixer that coverts to a stand mixer.
Buying Guide: What kind of mixer do you need? Here is your guide to determining if a stand mixer or a hand mixer is best for your cooking and baking needs.
Our Sources: We used these professional and user review sources to find the best mixers. They are ranked in order of their expertise and helpfulness.