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Mixing Bowls - what type is best (stainless, ceramic, plastic)?

I'm stocking a new kitchen and trying to figure out what type of mixing bowls to purchase. They'd be used primarily for baking (for use with a electric hand mixer). I've always used ceramic bowls in the past.

I purchased some Emile Henry bowls (ceramic) but read somewhere they chip when using an electric hand mixer. I haven't used them yet - and am thinking I should return them, if that's the case.

I saw some Melamine plastic mixing bowls - but didn't know a thing about them or how they would wear over time.

And I already have thin, stainless steel (?) bowls but have never used them for baking - as I always thought there was a problem using metal and mixing for baking (unless the recipe specifically called for it). Is that true?

I'd be happiest using the metal bowls I already own... but not if it ruins the outcome.

Am I over thinking this???


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  1. I only bother with S/S mixing bowls. Light, durable, non-reactive. There are no problems with using them for mixing baking ingredients - not sure where you heard that from.

    Plastic bowls would be useful if you need to melt or heat something in the microwave.

    I would never spend the money for Emile Henry mixing bowls. One slip and they might chip/break on the floor. And they'd be needlessly heavy.

    1. I love really pretty ceramic/pottery bowls. I have way more than I need, but they make me happy to use them while cooking. They go in the dishwasher and I use them with a mixer no problem. That said, they are far from essential. I think you are fine with the bowls you already have, if that's what you like. I have never heard of a problem using metal bowls for baking.

      3 Replies
      1. re: cocktailhour

        Ditto this, although my most favorite mixing bowl is a blue glass bowl (I bought at Kmart years ago) that's dishwasher, oven and microwave safe. (It's too big for my microwave, but I have a small microwave).

        1. re: Amuse Bouches

          Thank you! The Emile Henry bowls are going right back (yes, very pricey - had a gift card and will use it toward something else!) Very happy to use the S/S - and can't believe I've been avoiding them all these years!!!!

          1. re: The Oracle

            I think that is a good decision. Emile Henry makes some wonderful stuff I pleased to own but I treat mixing bowls too roughly for something so pretty and pricey.

      2. I have melamine bowls, Rosti brand to be exact and I can assure you that they wear just fine, about half of mine are about 30 years old.no terribly worse for wear. The rubber base on the bottoms has cracked but that's it. Love their look too!

        1 Reply
        1. re: catlike

          I use those too. They wear likr iron and the rubber gripper on the bottom is great when you are sing a hanf held mixer. I also have a set of Friendship pottery which I treasure but unfortunately the pottery burned down and they never rebuilt.

        2. hello, I think it's a matter of what other uses you wish to put the bowls to, besides w. the mixer in baking. I use 'em to marinate stuff going on the grill, stainless pretty ideal because it's easy and light to maneuver in and out of the fridge, they also chill down faster and take less space in our smallish fridge. But the ceramic ones have their alternate use too, when I microwave leftovers. Stainless doesn't react to its contents, you might be thinking of aluminum or cast iron. have fun

          1. I would also suggest s/s mixing bowls with rubber lids in case you want to use them for transporting food or just storing in the fridge.

            1. My favorite is a restaurant quality Tramontina SS bowl. It is deeper than the other SS ones that I have. The base is flat but the transition to the curved sides is smooth. I got this one at Sams Club, but a restaurant supply should have similar ones. Mine is the smallest at 3qts.


              1. I have both glass and SS mixing bowls. Either/or in most cases, unless I'm mixing something temperature sensitive, in which case I use the glass.

                Do yourself a favor as another poster said and get a set with lids.

                1. as long as it's just for cooking, go stainless. you can put virtually anything in them, don't have to worry about heat, and can use them as double boilers too, due to their high lvl of heat conduction. oh yes, and they don't break. maybe keep one plastic around if you like to use the microwave, i suppose. save the ceramic for serving.

                  1. Only two drawbacks I've ever found for SS: can't use 'em in the MW and they can be noisy with an electric hand mixer. Otherwise, they're my favorite. They work over a saucepan as an ad hoc double boiler too.
                    Downside to plastics: they scratch over time and you can't always get every tiny bit of grease out which is a problem if you're going to use them for beating egg white - they just won't do. Enough for me to ban them from my kitchen.
                    Ceramics are charming but expensive and heavy. Glass is an inexpensive alternative so that you can have something that goes in the MW. Pyrex makes a great set at a great price.

                    1. I have a set of inexpensive pyrex nesting bowls that get the most use, can go in microwave, saran wrap sticks to them, never have to worry about etching them with acidic liquids, hold warmth better for bread dough etc. Have only broken one in 20 years. I also have nesting SS bowls that get a fair amount of use. Had a couple nesting ceramic bowls I really liked but broke one or two. If you can only store one set, I vote for the nesting pyrex clear glass or a set of ceramic bowls, but SS would suffice.

                      1 Reply
                      1. re: dijon

                        I have the pyrex ones, too. Actually I have two sets, and one of the sets has an enormous bowl that's just the right size for making a batch of bread. I also still have the bowls from a Mixmaster I used to have (back in the early 1990s I got this thing as a gift and it was a piece of crap, not a thing like my mom's 1960s-wedding-gift Mixmaster, and I burned up the motor once making a batch of chocolate chip cookies). Those are what I use if I bust out the hand mixer, because the high straight sides are easier to work with.

                      2. I agree with others that metal bowls are fantastic--the kind you get at restaurant supply stores are made of aluminum (I could be wrong and its stainless but still really light?) and are just so light and easy to work with. When you are mixing stuff, it's nice to have a big bowl that weighs nothing and you can throw anywhere, stack on things, etc., without worrying about them. This would be my top pick.

                        I've got the melamine bowls with spouts that nest together. Upsides: the light weight, the spout to pour and the cheapness: this is one of those things you can often find at TJ Maxx discount stores. Downside: you drop they and they shatter into a million pieces. Who knew?

                        1. Thanks everyone!! I used my nesting S/S bowls last night to make a couple batches of cupcakes. I couldn't BELIEVE how much I enjoyed using them (for the many reasons everyone mentioned). They were so much easier to use than the ceramic ones - because they were light and easy to manuver! I'm hooked!

                          I think I bought them YEARS ago, because I needed a make-shift double boiler, yet never thought I could mix batter for baking with them!

                          Thank you all for your bowl expertise! I will no longer wander around the mixing bowls confused!!! :) and will happily return my EH bowls!

                          1. I like heavy gage stainless for work bowls. Alton Brown uses some that have a rubber coating on the bottom so they don't slide across the counter, its a nice touch. Buy bowls that look to be bigger than you would expect to use. Nothing is more frustrating than trying to work in a bowl that is too small.

                            Copper really isn't necessary, unless you like the color. It does help with egg whites but the effect is almost negligible.

                            I have a dozen small bowls that I love for mise en place, as they are very inexpensive at any cookware store.
                            Ceramic bowls are nice to let dough rise in, as they insulate the dough. Emile Henry is very pretty but, but Im cheap.

                            1. I started with plastic bowls because they were cheap, but I hated them. They're too flimsy and too easy to tip over because they're so light. I replaced them with a nested set of pyrex and I've never been happier...

                              1. stainless bowls are good for melting chocolate

                                1. Stainless steel all the way!
                                  Every kitchen I've worked in has stacks of these bowls. They're cheap, and they are good for everything (except the microwave).

                                  I like that they work as a double boilers, too.

                                  1. Just a note about SS and vinegar. If you mix many dishes with vinegar and or lots of salt, the SS will slowly react with it.
                                    I've gone through quite a few SS bowls this way.