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Do I need a stand mixer?

After many, many years of cooking, I've begun to dip my toes into baking. I have Chowhound to thank (or blame!) Often a recipe will appeal to me but then I read that the ingredients should be added to the "stand mixer", which I don't have and don't particularly want. Aside from very heavy dough, can I get by with a hand mixer? I'd really like to try this recipe, but not if the dough is going to get all wound up on my handmixer.


So, what do you bakers think? And is there a good heavy-duty hand mixer out there?

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  1. Need? No, you don't need a stand mixer, though I do love mine (a KA). My mom's done lots of baking over the years, and she still uses a hand mixer. I think she likes the idea of a stand mixer now--because I go on and on about mine, lol--but there's no counter space, and they are fairly heavy. I pull my stand mixer out for big projects, like making millions and millions of Christmas cookies or making bread. Oh, and I use it to soften butter if I've forgotten to take it out of the freezer in advance (no microwave here). I use the hand mixer for quick recipes or whipping cream, for ex. I don't remember what brand of hand mixer I have -- I bought it at Target about 5 years ago for about $15, and have had no problems w/it.

    1. Don't see why this wouldn't work without the mixer... This doesn't seem to be anything I wouldn't do by hand anyway. I don't disagree, they have their uses and would make many things easier but I don't have enough space in my kitchen as it is so I am willing to go without. A bit of elbow grease first just means I can justify an extra biscuit etc. The only time I wish I had one is when I do any baking in more serious quantities (ditto whisking egg whites - 6 is my limit by hand)

      1. No, you don't need one, but in my opinion, it makes baking so much easier. And just last night, I made a cheese spread for work that took about 3 min. in the mixer, with no standing over it (like a food processor) to see if it was too pulverized. It makes cakes and cookies beautifully, and the few times a year I bake bread, I love the dough hook, although some people feel that's cheating. In November, I made my mom's famous fruitcake...2 batches which yielded 4 loaves and one smaller one, now soaking in brandy, wrapped in cheesecloth and foil, waiting to be given for Xmas. My KA is 80 years old, and I can still buy attachments for it. It's well worth all the counter space it takes up!

        1. I've baked for 34 years (since I was eight years old) with a hand mixer and never found the need for a stand mixer. Recently, my 11-year-old Kitchenaid hand mixer needed to be replaced because a beater fell apart from metal fatigue and the beater design had been discontinued a while back. I looked at both KA stand mixers and KA hand mixers, and I was excited about finally having an excuse to get a stand mixer. However, I went with a hand mixer again. Why? It wasn't the difference in price; money was not an object. There were several reasons.

          First, I like that the hand mixer can be used with any of my many mixing bowls, unlike the stand mixer that has a specific bowl that locks into the stand.

          Second, I like how the hand mixer can be tucked away in a cupboard and does not take up much space. The stand mixer, I have read, is heavy enough that it should stay on the countertop. I just didn't want to devote my precious little countertop to the big footprint of that machine.

          Third, and finally, a hand mixer serves all my needs, so why buy more machine? I don't knead dough with my mixer; my bread machine does that. And I have never met a cookie dough or cake batter that my KA hand mixer could not easily handle. My KA hand mixer even handles divinity, so I'm perfectly happy with it.

          If you're new to baking, maybe you should go with a hand mixer at first -- relatively inexpensive. Just make sure to get one with a good motor. I can vouch for the KA 9-speed professional. You can always add a stand mixer later if you need. It's no crime to have both kinds of mixers in a kitchen.

          1. Yes. Absolutely. No question about it.

            I'm strong, but I'll be damned if I would have wanted to make those 90 mexican wedding cookies last night by hand. I'm really not sure I could have, especially since I didn't have time to let the butter warm up.

            AND I made dinner while the KA worked. I've had this bad boy since 1989 and it works like the day it was new. I think I must be somewhat emotionally attached, since I seem to feel the need to evangelize ;-)

            1. A stand mixer is not essential. However, it does allow you to free up your hands and do something else in the kitchen while it's beating away. Especially when it's something like a pound cake or egg whites, which do take lots of time. And for things like pound cake, the critical creaming stage would take a few minutes less time with a stand mixer than with a hand mixer.

              1. Yes, it has more power and mixes faster and you don't have to hold it. I make marshamallows and other foods that require long beating times and I'd never be able to hold the mixer for 20-30 minutes.

                1. for you Pat, I say yes
                  I too am only an occasional baker, and getting more into it because of internet reading

                  After cutting a lb of butter by hand with a pastry cutter for cheese puffs this weekend, I was about ready to make the leap myself. I thoroughly enjoy using a KA at a place we visit for a week every year; it really makes a ton of things, sweet and savory, super easy. I love how the bowl clicks into place! I love the shape of those bowls! My friends have one that at least dates from the '70's and it is just an awesome device.
                  And then there's the grinder attachment, or pasta attachment...sigh...

                  1. I'm with flavoursgal and danna. It's nice in that it frees you up to do other things. Browniebaker makes some very good points, and I'll admit, I've actually considered getting a hand mixer in addition to my stand mixer (oy, I'm embarassed to admit that) for the little things that I want to do quickly and easily. But to me, there are too many recipes that I want to bake where one reads through the ingredients and the technique, and I know I would find it too difficult without a stand mixer (and, like Danna, I'm pretty strong). Mind you, mine lives in my basement (on a different floor from my kitchen), so I disagree with Browniebaker that it has to be kept on the countertop.

                    3 Replies
                    1. re: Smokey

                      Hey Smokey , I'm not embarrassed. I have hand mixer too. I use to make seven minute frosting (where you have to beat the sugar and eggs while they are in a double boiler...for 7 minutes). I'm trying to think if I ever use it for anything else. Ummm....no.

                      My excuse for having a uni-tasker is that coconut cake is my specialty and any frosting other than 7-minute is heresy. *grin*

                      1. re: danna

                        You know, it's funny you should say that. I've never made a coconut cake in my life, but it's my intrigue with the 7-minute frosting that has partially driven this desire to get a hand mixer.

                        1. re: Smokey

                          Go with your instincts, my friend.

                          Make a basic yellow cake. Make a milk and egg yolk custard flavored w/ vanilla and coconut for filling. Make the 7-minute stuff (possibly 10 if it's humid). Ice the cake and slather on the coconut. If you want a short cut, use frozen unsweetened coconut (the 7-minute is PLENTY sweet). Otherwise, get yourself a real coconut, be sure to sprinkle the coconut water over the layers, and celebrate the season!!

                          (seriously, if you need recipes, let me know)

                    2. I think it's really a personal thing. I love my KA stand mixer - I've had it for about 10 years and there's no way I would find making chocolate souffle's "easy" without it. It's so fun to stand there and watch the egg whites fluff up perfectly with no arm ache :-)

                      1. Pizza Dough.

                        I got along without a stand mixer for decades, and could get along perfectly well without it now, but I'm sure glad I have it. Pizza dough is the one and only thing I would not consider making without my wunnerful KA. It takes way too much kneading to be practical by hand. If that's on the horizon then yes, you need a stand mixer.

                        1. I would not be without one but have a KA hand mixer too and they are strong enough to handle cookie dough. But, When I am doing something large or something that is really going to take 15 - 20 mins of beating and it frees me up to do something else I would not trade it for anything.

                          1. I have a KitchenAid stand mixer, a Cuisinart food processor, a KitchenAid hand mixer and a Braun immersion/multi-use stick blender. The stand mixer is used far less than any of the others, despite the fact that I have various attachments for it.

                            1 Reply
                            1. re: jillp

                              I've decided to borrow my daughter's KitchenAid stand mixer and give it a few trial runs. It's quite an investment, given that I've never, ever used one. But I am going to buy a decent hand mixer, since the one I have isn't much more powerful than the old hand-crank model. I really appreciate all the responses and thank you all. If I ever make anything that turns out well, I'll post about it on the Home Cooking board! Pat