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The best inexpensive stand mixers

Kitchen Aid Classic PlusA mixer is a crucial tool to have in the kitchen, especially if you do a lot of baking. They are so efficient at whipping egg whites and mixing dough that the it’s almost crazy to try to do everything strictly by hand (or with a whisk) all the time. A hand mixer is a great tool – not too expensive and it gets the job done. But just as the hand mixer is an improvement over mixing by hand, a stand mixer can really be an improvement over a hand mixer. Good stand mixers can be expensive, however, with lots of models costing well in excess of $200 or $300 dollars. Fortunately, there are also quite a few in the under $200 range and recently Cook’s Illustrated put these less expensive mixers to the test to see which could compete with the top models and save at-home cooks some money.

The average home cook doesn’t need a massive professional stand mixer, even assuming that he or she has room in the kitchen for one on the counter, because most home cooking doesn’t happen in restaurant quantities. CI chose the following criteria to rate the mixers on:  3.5 to 4.6 quart bowl size, user-friendliness, and the ability to successfully mix/knead pizza dough without struggling, as well as the abilities to whip cream, cream butter and mix a batch of thick, chunky cookie dough. The mixer brands in the test included KitchenAid, Sunbeam, Hamilton Beach and EuroPro.

It turned out that the dough kneading ability of the mixers is what set the top models apart from the rest. All of the mixers could handle cream and cookie dough easily. Machines with one beating arm, as opposed to two (the style that has a hand mixer mounted on the side of a bowl), kneaded bread as well as the pro models, though not in as-big batches. The two arm mixers, like the Sunbeams, never got up enough kneading power to being the dough together into a smooth, elastic mass.

The top rated mixer was the Kitchenaid Classic Plus Stand Mixer, which was powerful enough for just about all kitchen tasks (as compared to the pro models) and easy to use, and the Bosch Compact Kitchen Machine and Hamilton Beach Eclectrics Stand Mixer came in a close second. All three can be found for under $200, and if you keep your eyes out for sales and aren’t too picky about the color of the model you want, you can find an even better deal than that.

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  • confectionate
    October 30, 2008

    Thanks for the info. What do you recommend as the best higher end/slightly bigger stand mixer? I am currently debating between the 6 qt kitchenaid, and the 5.5 qt Cuisinart. I currently have a 4.5 qt kitchenaid that is about 10 years old. It works very well, but i have heard the motors on the newer models aren’t as good. Any feedback?! Thanks!

  • Heather @ SGF
    October 30, 2008

    I splurged and got the KitchenAid Professional 600 Series mixer. I have to say I have absolutely no complaints. I’ve had it for 6 months now and it’s so durable. I make everything from scratch (even bread) and the mixer does all the kneading for me. I could never be without it now!

  • Nicole
    October 30, 2008

    Confectionate – I haven’t used any Cuisinart mixers, but I will say that I have always had good experiences with KitchenAids. I currently have both an older KitchenAid and a 7-qt Viking mixer that I really like. Sorry I can’t be a bit more helpful (though after looking at some of those new kitchenaids I have to say that I want a new one!)

  • icedtea
    October 30, 2008

    I have had the most powerful KitchenAid mixer for several years. It’s rated at 10 cups of flour per batch – I usually use about 8 cups to make 3 loaves of bread once or twice a week.

    It’s really not powerful enough for this job. I’ve burned out the motor once (Cuisinart replaced it at no charge), and had to work on the drive mechanisms several times.

    If you’re going to make bread on a regular basis, look for something more powerful.

  • Sharee
    October 30, 2008

    Thanks for sharing this. I don’t read CI but maybe I should, that sort of information is invaluable when shopping for big ticket items like mixers. Thanks again.

  • Alma
    October 31, 2008

    I have had a KitchenAid mixer for about 20 years. I replaced the original one about 3 years ago. I have been making bread etc. for many years and would not have any other mixer or be without one.

  • confectionate
    October 31, 2008

    Thanks for all of the useful feedback!

  • confectionate
    November 1, 2008

    Just wanted to let you all know I decided to get the 5.5 Qt Cuisinart yesterday! I haven’t tried it yet, but will def let you know when i do. I read in consumer reports that it had a slight edge over the kitchenaid, and i also loved that it has a built-in timer, which will shut the machine off when it’s done, as well as a folding option. Another big factor for me was the size, it is shorter and more narrow than the kitchenaid, and living in an apt, I need all the space I can get!

  • Silvia
    February 18, 2010

    hDbXOk I am always excited to visit this blog in the evenings.Please churning hold the contents. It is very entertaining.

  • Dominnna
    May 2, 2013

    It really depends how often you will be using the mixer and how much bread you want to make at once. Also, if your new to using mixers then you should put a lot of emphasis on getting a model that is known to be very user friendly. This guide does a good job in recommending some mixers in different price ranges…

  • Dave B
    August 28, 2016

    While KitchenAid is likely the Cadillac of stand mixers, I do think you can start out spending less than $100 as long as you’re not focused on heavy multi-batch breads. Our daughter has recently taken up baking and until we know how serious or long term of a hobby it will be it is a bit hard to justify spending $400 on a mixer…

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