Must-have mixer features
All good stand mixers and hand mixers should have a
variety of speeds, easy-to-remove beaters and clearly labeled controls. Experts
say the following factors are also important:
settings: At minimum, stand mixers and hand mixers need to have low, medium and high
speeds with noticeable variation between settings. However, serious cooks will need
additional settings -- particularly on stand mixers -- so they can stir thick
batters slowly or quickly whip meringues.
- Appropriate size: Countertop
stand mixers should fit beneath a cabinet, while allowing additional space to
add ingredients and access controls. Hand mixers should be compact enough to
fit in a drawer.
- The right weight: Stand mixers should be heavy enough that they don't vibrate or scoot across the
counter while operating; top-rated KitchenAid stand mixers, for example, weigh
about 25 pounds. By contrast, a hand mixer should be light enough that it won't
cause fatigue while you're using it; 4 to 6 pounds is a decent range for most
- Stand mixer bowl capacity: Stand mixers should be able to accommodate a two-loaf batch
of bread dough or a tripled recipe for cookie batter. Look for a bowl that
holds at least 4 quarts.
- Strong motor: Although
high wattage is often associated with a powerful motor, experts say the
published wattage only tells how much power goes into a mixer, not how much
comes out. Unfortunately the only way to know with certainty if a mixer is
strong enough for your needs is to use it, or rely on the testimonies of those
who have. Experts say the best mixers should be able to handle bread dough or
thick cookie batter without whining, straining or smoking.
- Stand mixer attachments: Single beaters work better than dual beaters on stand
mixers, and those without a center post are easiest to clean. A bread hook,
wire whip and enameled beaters are all useful options if you bake frequently.
- Hand mixer attachments: Long beaters without a center post are best because they
are better able to reach the bottom of a mixing bowl and easier to clean. Dough
hooks are useful for mixing dough or cookie batter, but most hand mixers can't handle such heavy mixes on a regular
- A dependable warranty: Lengthy, hassle-free warranties provide insurance against
lemons and faulty functionality. The best warranties are for three or more
Know before you go
- What do you bake -- and how often? If you make bread, pastries or cakes on a regular basis, you'll need a
powerful stand mixer with a large capacity. If you only bake on occasion, you'll
probably be happy with a hand mixer.
- Measure the space under your cabinets. Stand mixers are big
and bulky appliances. If you plan to use it frequently, you will want to store your
mixer on the countertop to avoid constant lifting from a cabinet. So before
buying a mixer, it's important to measure the space available beneath your
cabinets (accounting for tilt-head room) to ensure a particular model will fit.
color will complement your kitchen décor? Mixers come in enough
colors to match any design scheme. It's important to choose a color you will be
happy with, because the best stand mixers will last for several years.