Mixers are invaluable to countless kitchen tasks - from baking to cooking and everything in between. Learn about all the different types available.
How do you choose the best mixer for you? Do you go for the convenience of a hand mixer or the power, multi-tasking and great looks of a stand mixer? The key is to be honest with yourself about what you’ll be using the mixer for and how often.
A good hand mixer is great at helping with light cooking jobs such as whipping cream or mixing batters. They are generally lightweight, clean up quickly and can store away out of sight. Hand mixers are a great alternative to stand mixers for the home cook that is looking for a light- to medium-duty machine.
The power is measured in watts and mixers range from 100 to 300 watts, with more power meaning a stronger mixer. Simply put, the more powerful your mixer is, the easier it will be to combine ingredients. Anything over 150 watts should be sufficient for most uses, but you may want more power if you are going to be making lots of dough, which is harder to mix than dry mixtures.
Speeds can vary from two to nine; a larger number will equal greater versatility in how fast you add and mix ingredients. You may also see a “Boost” function, which is ideal for beating lots of air into mixture, or for harder ingredients.
There are several different attachments available that will add even greater versatility to your hand mixer. These attachments may be included or be bought separately.
- Wire Whips: ideal for mixing creams and egg whites
- Flat Beaters: great for mixing batters
- Dough Hooks: used for kneading dough
- Whisk: for blending and adding air to ingredients
Cord storage is a great idea for keeping your kitchen tidy and also helps ensure a safe work area. Push-button tool ejection helps with clean-up because you can eject the attachment directly into the sink or dishwasher. Also, hand mixers are sometimes available as a freestanding model, which includes a bowl where the mixer is removable.
A stand mixer can help with many kitchen tasks…and it does the work hands-free. An investment in a quality stand mixer will ensure you have many years of delicious home-made foods. And now, with the continual onslaught of attachments that are available, you’re no longer limited to just desserts – pretty much everything under the sun is at your fingertips.
Most mixers range from 200 watts for a basic residential version, all the way up to 1500 watts for a very powerful high-end one designed for constant use. This is an important consideration depending on what you’re using your stand mixer for. Heavier tasks like bread making require at least 500 watts, whereas simple mixing of dry ingredients require far less wattage. Similarly, if you’re baking for a very large family or other big groups where the mixer could be running for extended periods, you’ll want to make sure you have a more powerful mixer to avoid burn out.
Standard mixing speeds range from three up to 15 or more, going from a very slow stir to a very fast whip. More speeds are not always necessary though – if you only need half a dozen low speeds for your baking, then there’s no need to spend the extra money on extra speeds. Regardless of your usage, you’ll want to ensure there is at least one slow speed to help eliminate splattering.
Stand mixers generally include basic accessories like bowls, beaters, whisks and dough hooks. You can purchase other accessories separately such as: splatter shields; food grinders; sausage makers; pasta makers; ice cream makers; fruit and vegetable strainers; rotor slicers or shredders; grain mills; juicers; can openers; and pasta roller/cutters. In essence, you’ll be able to convert your stand mixer into different appliances simply by adding an accessory.
A basic stand mixer will include a bowl large enough to mix a standard-sized batch of cookies or loaf of bread (look for one at least 4.5 quarts). Many models include two work bowls of different sizes which can range in size greatly, from 1.5-7 quarts.
In terms of the size, a stand mixer is a countertop appliance that most people may find difficult to fit in a cupboard. The capacity will directly determine how much counter space is taken up – the larger the capacity, the larger the overall size. You’ll also want a base that is sturdy, but isn’t too large.
In terms of weight, you should keep your eyes peeled for a middle-of-the-pack stand mixer. You’ll want a mixer that is sturdy and built to last, but if it’s too heavy it’ll be awkward to move; if it’s too light, it’ll be easy to knock over. In terms of the overall weight, bulk and design, they’ll likely need a permanent spot on your counter.
Locking Power Head
This is fairly standard these days, but you’ll want to ensure you have the option of locking the power head in both the “up” position (to make sure it does crash down and hurt someone), and the “down” position (to ensure the beaters don’t get lifted by stiff dough).
Some newer stand mixers you see may include a timer, which allows you to set it for a certain amount of time, after which it will shut off. This is ideal for multi-tasking, but don’t expect to see it on all models, particularly low-cost ones.