The stand mixer market has undergone a shakeup
The big news for this update is that Cuisinart has discontinued all but one of their stand mixers, the Cuisinart SM-50. We've included it in this report because it's a terrific mixer. Best of all, right now it's on sale for a price that makes it an amazing value, too.
Otherwise, the expert tests we consulted at Wirecutter, Consumer Reports, Good Housekeeping, Epicurious, Reviewed and elsewhere merely confirm that the classic brands are still the top performers -- and owner reviews match up with the experts' conclusions. We also found some new models that might work better for some people (especially those on a budget or with space limitations in their kitchens). Read on to find out which stand mixers we added to the batch, or, if you're looking for a hand mixer, you can jump right to that section of the report.
The best stand mixers
It's rare to find an almost unanimous consensus on any product, but the (Est. $300) manages to do so. It's the top pick, after testing, at Wirecutter, Good Housekeeping, Reviewed, Top Ten Reviews and Reviews.com. The only exception to it being the top pick is at Consumer Reports. Editors there do give it a Recommended nod, however, and Excellent scores for whipping, mixing and kneading, but they downgrade it for convenience (Very Good) and noise (Good).
However, most experts find the KitchenAid Artisan to be the best you can buy if you want a top-performing stand mixer. Good Housekeeping says, "it was exceptional at all mixing tasks and was especially easy to use." At Wirecutter, testers found that the Artisan was, "the only model that aced every one of our tests without a bunch of knocking around and rocking on the counter." And, contrary to Consumer Report's conclusions, they say it was one of the quietest stand mixers they tested as well. Reviewed agrees, saying it was easy to set up and had "the quietest motor we tested."
The KitchenAid Artisan is a 10-speed, 325-watt mixer. Some of the tests it was put through at various sites included kneading bread, mixing thick cookie dough and tackling several pounds of meat mixtures for loaves and meatballs. It excelled in all of them, but it also was an exceptional performer at more delicate tasks, such as whipping up creams, meringues and frostings, and creaming butter and sugar into a light, fluffy blend.
The Artisan's 5-quart bowl can mix up enough dough for nine dozen cookies or more than four loaves of bread, but it also can handle small quantities with ease, without the ingredients getting lost or splattered around the bowl. Owners like it just as much as the experts do, giving it 4.6 stars in more than 8,700 reviews at Amazon; equally glowing -- or higher -- scores elsewhere in many thousands of more reviews. Most call out how easy it is to use, with the tilt-head design offering ample access to add ingredients to the bowl. The bowl has a handle that makes it easy to hold and includes a plastic pouring shield to keep messes to a minimum.
One of the Artisan's most popular features is its array of color options that can complement almost any kitchen décor. The Artisan also has a long-standing reputation for durability, so much so that most reviewers say not to worry about the fact that it comes with only a one-year warranty. Be warned, though: this is a large mixer. It's heavy and takes up a lot of counter space. If you don't have room to store it on the counter, be sure you can lift its 26 pounds.
If you're a dedicated baker who is willing to pay more for a higher-capacity stand mixer, the 6-quart (Est. $380) boasts those perks, along with many of the same advantages of its smaller sibling, the Artisan. Among them are versatility, the same much-vaunted durability and plenty of color choices.
The Professional 600 is the recommended upgrade at both Wirecutter and Good Housekeeping if you do a lot of baking in large quantities, although Wirecutter notes that it doesn't perform as well as the Artisan at smaller jobs. It's also big, 29 pounds, so it's best left on the counter -- but only if you have plenty of room.
The KitchenAid Professional 600 can yield 13 dozen cookies or more than eight loaves of bread. Its motor offers more power (and makes more noise, testers note) than the Artisan's: 575 watts compared with 325 watts. The Professional also boasts a heavy-duty burnished aluminum spiral dough hook and flat beater compared with the Artisan's coated versions. All of these factors combine to make this mixer especially good for frequent bread bakers, owners say. Those tasked with more delicate jobs may want to opt for the Artisan; "the whip didn't even make contact" when tasked with a single egg white in tests by Wirecutter.
There are fewer owner reviews of the KitchenAid Professional 600, but they still number in the thousands -- for example, more than 3,700 at Amazon where the Professional 600 earns 4.3 stars. Not quite as good as the Artisan, but we do see more complaints about noise. Some also say the bowl-lift design (which lifts the bowl to the mixer head and attachments instead of vice versa) has a longer learning curve than a tilt-head model like the Artisan. Serious bakers who need a high-capacity mixer are definitely the happiest, while those who bought this for more occasional use don't seem to be quite sure what they've got themselves into. We also spotted more than a few lower reviews that were for problems with refurbished KitchenAid's -- you won't have those issues unless you purchase a refurb.
If you're a Breville fan and like a higher tech look, the (Est. $325) has a lot of fans for its sleek, user-friendly design. At Good Housekeeping, this stand mixer exceled in tasks like whipping and creaming, and was particularly adept with cake batter and cookie dough. However, they do say it can only knead one loaf of bread at a time. (And, if you make a lot of bread you may be happier with a dedicated bread machine, which we cover in their own report.)
Like the KitchenAid Artisan, the Scraper Mixer Pro has a 5-quart bowl and a user-friendly tilt-head design that offers easy access to ingredients. It offers a more powerful motor (550 watts versus 325 watts) and more speeds (12 versus 10). Other differentiating features: An LED display shows speed and includes a timer, and there is a scraper beater in addition to a flat beater. Reviewers say the scraper beater effectively keeps the sides of the bowl clear and easily incorporates all ingredients.
The Breville BEM800XL Scraper Mixer Pro is available in silver, black and red. It's slightly lighter than the Artisan at 21 pounds and has a one-year limited warranty. Owners like it well enough, giving it 4.4 stars in nearly 300 reviews at Amazon. A few reviewers report overheated motors, particularly when making bread, so, again, this may not be the best choice for bread fans.
The best budget stand mixers
Although the KitchenAid and Breville mixers are great choices, not everyone needs a $300 (or more) stand mixer. Even if you're a serious baker, you can't go wrong with the 12-speed, 400-watt (Est. $175). It includes some of the high-end conveniences of the KitchenAid Artisan and its competitors, but at a price that makes it a great value. It's the number three Recommended mixer in Consumer Reports' testing, earning Excellent scores for whipping, mixing and noise; Very Good for kneading and convenience.
The Eclectrics has a 4-1/2-quart bowl with an ergonomic handle that owners say is very comfortable to use, and it has a pouring shield to guard against spills. It also has an easy-to-operate tilt-head design with a head-lock feature.
For a lower-priced stand mixer, the Hamilton Beach Eclectrics gets ratings that are close to that of the Artisan's; 4.4 stars in nearly 1,000 reviews at Amazon, for example, and an even more impressive 4.6 stars at Walmart, albeit in many fewer reviews, just under 200. Most owners say it's an extremely sturdy, well-performing mixer that handles both heavy jobs and those that require more finesse, like whipping cream. The mixer is reportedly easy to use, and the only consistent complaint we saw was that the release button for the head is awkwardly placed. The Hamilton Beach Eclectrics comes with a generous three-year warranty, but the company's customer service gets mixed reviews. The mixer comes in black, white, silver and red.
For this update, we are adding a runner up in this category, but with a caveat: the price you pay depends upon if the big discounts we spotted when we were preparing this report are still in effect. If they are, we recommend you jump on the (Est. $190). That price is for the brushed chrome; the white was selling for around $170, while the other colors were going for $180 to $250. Still, not a bad price for a mixer that usually retails for $250 regardless of the color.
The SM-50 is currently the only stand mixer Cuisinart makes, all the other SM models have been discontinued (although they're still available here and there, in limited quantities). It's the budget option at Reviews.com, where they note that it's almost as powerful as the Artisan. In testing there, it was particularly good at scraping the bowl while making batches of cookie dough -- definitely a time saver if you make a lot of cookies. They note that it's a bit slower than the Artisan, but say it's worth it for the lower price (and it was $250 when they did their review).
Owners give the Cuisinart SM-50 very high ratings -- 4.6 stars at Amazon, although in just around 65 reviews. It also has a number of optional attachments available, such as a spiralizer, pasta extruder and meat grinder. Unfortunately, the attachments get terrible reviews, so we recommend it just as a mixer.
The Cuisinart SM-50 includes a whisk, dough hook, and flat mixing paddle. The 5.5 quart bowl has a splash guard with a pour spout. It features 12 speeds and a tilt back head, just like the Artisan's.