Stand Mixers Buying Guide
A reliable stand mixer can help make your baking sessions a breeze. Whether you want to splash the cash on a premium KitchenAid mixer or find the best affordable stand mixer from Kmart, here are some buying considerations to throw into the mix.
Do I need a stand mixer?
A stand mixer, also known as a bench mixer or benchtop mixer, is a high-end electric food mixer for your kitchen. It's made up of a fixed stand with a lever-operated arm on top, which you secure attachments like beaters onto. These attachments lower down into a mixing bowl that houses your ingredients.
The main advantage of stand mixers is that they can mix and knead tough ingredients for baking that would be too tiresome to mix manually or with a or . They're suited to enthusiastic bakers who bake a wide variety of foods at least twice a week.
- Can tackle a wide variety of baking tasks: Thanks to their powerful motors, stand mixers can mix light cake batter and cookie dough, as well as thicker consistencies like bread dough and buttercream frosting. You can also make savoury foods like sausages and pasta, with the right attachments.
- Set-and-forget: The hands-free capability of a stand mixer means you won’t waste time standing around supervising. This allows you to tick off other tasks on your list, like weighing out ingredients.
- Less labour intensive: If you’re tired of your hand cramping up when you mix heavy ingredients with dogged determination, a stand mixer can ease the burden.
- Stand mixers are expensive, and their premium performance is matched by a premium price tag.
- Bulky, heavy build means you’ll need a decent amount of space, either on your kitchen benchtop or in a nearby cupboard.
- Cleaning process is fiddly: Multiple attachments and detachable parts mean that cleaning your stand mixer can be a time-consuming hassle.
These mixers consist of a handheld unit that houses a motor, and has removable beaters attached to it. You hold the mixer over a bowl of your own choosing, and manually move around the beaters until achieving your desired consistency.
A hand mixer may be a more sound buying decision if you’re a beginner or a weekend baker.
Not only are they more affordable than stand mixers, they're equal to the task when it comes to mixing lighter batters in small quantities. This work well preparing ingredients for desserts with thinner textures like cakes, pancakes and mousses, as well as whipping cream and beating egg whites.
- Lightweight and compact design makes hand mixers a suitable choice if you have a small kitchen or limited cupboard space.
- More manual control is available, as you can control the trajectory of the beaters and personally ensure everything is evenly mixed. You can also choose a suitably sized bowl.
- Cheaper than a stand mixer, which makes them easier on your wallet. Hand mixers range in price from $39 to $179, whereas most entry level brand-name models of stand mixers start at around $200.
- More time consuming than a stand mixer, as you have to put in the grunt work to make up for the less powerful motor. Hand mixers lack set-and-forget functionality, so you can’t turn them on and walk away.
- Not powerful enough to mix heavier, thicker ingredients that a stand mixer could make easy work of, like dough and icing.
Factors to consider before buying a benchtop mixer
A reliable stand mixer can last you several years, if it's built durably. The heavier a stand mixer is, the better. This will prevent it from creeping across the counter or rattling noisily when mixing ingredients. However, it shouldn’t be so heavy that you can’t pick it up – you don’t want to throw your back out trying to pack it away.
Generally, the most durable stand mixers are those with a solid metal body and a . and ceramic bowls are also available. While they provide a refined aesthetic, they won’t have the same longevity as a stainless steel bowl and may also be harder to replace.
The size of the bowl is important, as it determines how much food you can prepare. Here's a rough guide:
- Less than 4 litres: If you regularly bake for a two-person household, opt for a small bowl like the 3.3L .
- This is a standard bowl size that can accommodate a batch of spontaneous Sunday cookies, or larger batch baking.
- A large stand mixer could be worth it if you like baking up a storm. The 6.7L (pictured, left) is up to the task.
Stand Mixer Attachments
These usually come included with a stand mixer.
- Flat beater: The standard beater used to combine ingredients with a light to heavy consistency (pictured, top left).
- Dough hook: Useful for kneading dough for bread, pasta and pizza (pictured, top right).
- Balloon whisk: Used to add air into foods to make them light and fluffy. It's great for whisking egg whites, whipping cream, and making sauces (pictured, bottom centre).
Many stand mixers offer a range of extra attachments that you can purchase at an additional cost. For example, KitchenAid attachments are available aplenty, and include a pasta roller (pictured, left), ravioli roller, meat grinder, slicer and shredder, spiraliser, , ice cream bowl and a citrus juicer.
In theory, this means that your stand mixer can replace other kitchen appliances, but keep in mind attachments can be pricey. For example, the KitchenAid’s food processor attachment alone sells for $359.
You can usually choose between around 3-12 speed settings, but for the majority of mixing tasks, 3 should be sufficient. These include a slow speed for kneading, a light setting for cakes and pastries, and a higher speed for aerating foods like cream.
Storage and aesthetics
Since stand mixers can be bulky, it’s important to think about where the appliance would live in your kitchen. If you don’t have enough counter space, consider whether there’s a nearby cupboard it could fit into.
Aesthetics play a part if your stand mixer is going to be a semi-permanent fixture on your counter. Luckily there are plenty of décor-friendly mixers that can spruce up the look of your kitchen. For example, the comes in an artfully revived retro red. Or you can opt for a or to go with everything.
Since they’re the most powerful kitchen mixers available, stand mixers can be noisy. If you are particularly worried about noise, or if you do your baking in the early hours when everyone else is asleep, it may be worthwhile to shop in-store to test the noise level of a prospective model before buying.
Ease of cleaning
Stand mixers are trickier to clean than handheld mixers or stick mixers. They have several detachable parts and the mixer will need to be taken apart and cleaned after each use. While some parts may be dishwasher safe (like those made from stainless steel), others risk being damaged if they’re not hand washed. To find out which stand mixer models are easy to clean, you can .
- Electronic speed sensor: Automatically adjusts the mixer’s speed based on the weight of the ingredients inside the bowl
- Height-adjustable attachments: Allows beaters or other mixer attachments to reach low ingredients when there’s only a small quantity in the bowl.
- A stand mixer with this mixing action rotates and counter-rotates around the bowl to reach as much of the bowl as possible. This thorough trajectory helps evenly mix all ingredients.
- Scraper beaters: Made with a silicone or rubber edging, these are like a blend of spatula and beater. They wipe down the sides while beating, so raw ingredients don’t get stuck. Also sometimes called a flexi-beater.
- Splash guard: This usually goes on top of the mixing bowl to prevent ingredients from splashing out over the rim. It can consist of a lid with an open space for the beaters to fit, or a hinged flap.
- Tilt-head design: This allows you to lift up the mixer head to easily access ingredients after mixing is complete. The alternative is a bowl-lift stand mixer, which can be more fiddly.
- Suction feet: These help your stand mixer grip onto the kitchen counter more firmly, helping to ensure it doesn’t rattle around.
- Timers: Although uncommon, these can be helpful for more advanced recipes that incorporate the use of a stand mixer for a specified period of time.
If you're frequently mixing heavy-duty ingredients for baking, a reliable stand mixer can be a workhorse of the kitchen. Since they're often expensive, it's important to weigh up which functions, features and attachments you need. This will help you land a durable stand mixer that complements your baking preferences, space and budget. Once you're ready to hear from other bakers, head over to the to read what our trusted reviewers have to say.