HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >


Stand Mixer, Bread Maker, or Ice Cream/Sorbet Maker?

I have some birthday $$ which I want to use to buy a kitchen appliance.

I already have a Cuisinart which I don't use nearly as often as I should. For some reason, I still chop everything by hand -- just can't get used to the idea of automation in that arena -- and I haven't explored its other capabilities yet. (Tips and tricks welcome!)

I've narrowed my choices down to a stand mixer, a bread maker, and an ice cream maker. I'd love to hear people's experiences with all three of these things. The mixer, I can pretty much guess how well it will work. But what about bread makers & ice cream makers? Are you happy with what you end up with? Is it worth the $$? Any brand suggestions? Also, are a stand mixer & Cuisinart redundant?

This post may belong on Not About Food, though I'm really wanting people's comments on useful these items are in their home cooking.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I don't think that a stand mixer and a food processor are redundant - I use them both for different things - the former for making yeast doughs, cakes and cookies, as well as for whipping cream, and the latter to chop, slice etc. in bulk, as well as to make pesto and pastry doughs. I have a Krups ice cream maker that has been dented out of work, sadly, but I would go for a stand mixer before the other two items you mention. I've been very happy with my KitchenAid, and I believe it has an ice cream attachment (as well as many other attachments), though I don't know how well it works. But, the choice also depends on what you anticipate making - if you are dying to make a lot of ice creams, I'd go with an ice cream maker, for example. That said, I think a stand mixer is a good basic to have.

    1. I would second the vote for the stand mixer, especially since all three of your choices will require about the same amount of counter/storage space. I have a cuisinart as well and use it all the time for making salad dressings and sauces, chopping, pastry doughs, and basic blending tasks (my roommate told me that her quality of life seriously improved after I received the cuisinart). That being said, there are many times and recipes that I wish "if only i had a nice mixer", so I don't think it would be redundant purchase. Good luck and happy birthday!

      1. I have all three of these appliances, plus a food processor. The one I use the most, and would save in a fire, is my Kitchen Aid stand mixer. And I only bake about a dozen times a year - but it's wonderful when I do.

        The poor bread maker sits abandoned on the counter after a brief flurry of use in its first year. Bread-machine bread tastes kinda steamed, not baked, and doesn't match the quality of the best baked bread. I find that I just go to my neighborhood bakery instead. (If I were a bread baker, I would use the dough hook on the Kitchen Aid to knead my own bread and pizza dough.)

        And while an ice cream maker is nice, you can probably get away with a really inexpensive one - mine was about $35 - or use your Cuisinart to whizz up tray-frozen sorbet and ice cream.

        I say go for a great stand mixer! I've had my Kitchen Aid for at least 15 years, and it's still as wonderful and reliable as ever.

        Note that a stand mixer is not a substitute for a food processor. I'm like you; I hand chop most things when I'm cooking. But last weekend, I made an almond plum tart that required ground almonds and stiffly beaten egg whites - I had both the Cuisinart and the Kitchen Aid mixer going at the same time! The bread machine just looked on in lonely sadness...


        1. I am not a huge fan of cooking gadgets. That being said, I really like having access to a stand mixer. I've used it more than I've thought to make nice doughs for breads, cakes and cookies. I also love making frostings as well! :)


          1. In this order: stand mixer and ice cream maker. I just refuse to believe good bread can be made in a bread maker.

            1. Stand mixer. If you ever want to make a genoise or angel food cake or anything that takes a lot of beating, you need this. I have a Kitchenaid which is over 20 years old, had seen heavy use and never skipped a beat.

              If you have the KA mixer, you can add the ice cream attachment or get a separate ice cream maker for relatively little money.

              I wouldn't waste money on a breadmaker. I've never been impressed by anything made in one. Good bread needs a heavy duty mixer to develop the gluten which gives it the right texture.

              I have a processor as well as a mixer and they aren't interchangeable, the processor is basically a chopper/slicer while the mixer beats air into what is being mixed.

              1. Add my vote for the stand mixer. Basically what a stand mixer gives you is a motor--3/8 HP, 1/2 HP, depending on which model you get--that you can use to drive a meat grinder, veg juicer, pasta roller etc. etc. each of which (of course) they're happy to sell you as an attachment. But it's really versatile--I use mine a lot.

                1. A bread maker would be a colossal mistake. I don't know anyone who bought one is still using it.

                  2 Replies
                  1. re: PBSF

                    I am one of those people who still use their bread maker 5 years after purchasing it. It is just SO and I and we hardly purchased any bread since we bought the machine, except for pita breads and baguette once in a while. If you like controlling what you have in your bread and pay a decent price for it, a bread machine is great.

                    As for your other two choices, I've had a stand mixer for 2 years and, even though I have not used it very much, I absolutely love how easy it is to make large batches of cookies (esp. at Christmas time).

                    I just got an ice cream maker last week (with my birthday $) and have not used it enough to make a fair comment on it - but I'd say it would not be my first priority (unless you're an absolute ice cream junkie! ;-))

                    1. re: PBSF

                      I have a Zorischsi ( I know I messed up the spelling!). GOt it as a gift more than 10 years ago. I have never baked a loaf of bread in the machine, but I do use it for making the dough. It is a two hour cycle to make the dough, then I take it out, into an oiled bowl to rise before baking. I love mine- we use it for pizza dough, french bread. Also have some pullman loaf pans, which makes great sandwich bread. But I would never cook the bread in the machine. I want my loaves hot and crusty from the oven, thank you.

                    2. Besides the pasta roller et al., you can even get one of these amazing gizmos


                      (for three times the price of the original machine) if you want to coat, oh, say, 1500 or so chocolate candies a day...

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: rootlesscosmo

                        I actually saw this years ago in Paris, wanted it badly but was already way over my limit for stuff to lug home.

                      2. Thanks so much, everyone. I had no idea the mixer came with so many different attachment possibilities and I hadn't really thought past using it for baking. I'm sold. Stand mixer it is!

                        1. One more suggestion: pass on the smallest-size Kitchen Aid stand mixer (the one where the arm lifts up) and go with either of the larger-sized ones (where the bowl drops down). The small one doesn't have enough capacity to make two full-size loaves of bread (6-7 cups of flour) without the dough climbing up on the hook and getting onto the driveshaft.

                          The only attachment I use on mine is the pasta roller. Making fresh pasta is now offically less hassle than driving to the store to buy it premade.

                          As for an ice cream maker, the Cuisinart is reputed to be the best of the ones with a built-in freezer unit. I have a smiliar kind of device made by a now-defunct Italian company. I have to admit it gets lots of use between about March and October -- in fact, I can't remember the last time I bought ice cream at the supermarket -- but during the colder months of the year it sits idle.

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: ladelfa

                            Mine also used to be idle during the winter, but this summer I bought extra fruit (blackberries, raspberries, strawberries, peaches) and froze batches of purees so we can have fruit ice cream in the winter.

                          2. Never have owned a bread maker, I never saw the need and I even used to sell them. Stand mixer is a must and if you can swing a KA hand mixer I find mine to be a valuable tool to have too. I have not replaced my old Donvier ice cream maker but I have not used it in years. We use both the stand mixer and Cuisinart to make bread dough and cookie dough.

                            1. Hi Kitchen Imp: If you decide later that you just gotta have one, bread machines seem to be one of the appliances that can easily be acquired - at great prices - at thrift stores. Occasionally see ice cream makers, too. You will be very pleased with a high-quality stand mixer!

                              1. Stand mixer. I use mine for making bread (among other things), and it works great! I like making bread in different shapes (bigger/smaller loaves, braids etc), so that's a factor for me, too.

                                1. I've got all three and use all three regularly.

                                  I would definitely go for the best stand mixer you can afford. That used to be a KA (but I hear so many more probs with them now...). The second thing I get again is a bread maker (which should be called a "dough" maker). Then I'd start saving for accessories for the stand mixer. I recently got the pasta roller and boy! does it make kneading and cutting pasta a breeze for one person. They also have a new ice cream freezer bowl.

                                  1. Kitchen Aid has an ice cream maker attachment for the stand mixer.

                                    I disagree with ladelfa about getting the drop down bowl unit. The one advantage of the lifting arm is you don't have to detach whatever attachment you have on to remove the bowl.

                                    Should you decide that you can't live without a bread maker, you can get them dirt cheap at almost any garage sale.