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Hand mixer or standing mixer - differences?

What are different applications for hand mixers vs standing countertop mixers? I was thinking of buying a high quality hand mixer as it would save a lot of money - however, I want it to have a variety of uses and if the countertop mixer is more diverse in ways that I would find useful, then I would opt for that one. Any advice?

Also, if I go for a hand mixer, what are some good powerful models? I bake and cook a lot so I want something durable.

Thanks so much!:)

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  1. I prefer the hand mixers...getting involved as much as possible. I think it really helps the texture.

    1. The hand mixer has an advantage in terms of initial cost and the amount of storage space it takes. But for power and durability, a good stand mixer is going to have the edge. The manufacturer can put a big motor in there and not have to worry about it being too heavy to lift. And since the bowl and the powerhead are both held in place, the mixer can work the contents of the bowl a lot harder than is possible with a hand mixer.

      One application where this really comes into play - and one that may matter to you, since you bake - is kneading dough. It's one of the things I use my stand mixer for most often. It lets me make bread much more frequently than I would if kneading by hand was required.

      One other advantage of the stand mixer (at least a KitchenAid stand mixer) is that you can add attachments like a pasta roller, a meat grinder, an ice cream maker, a citrus juicer, etc.

      3 Replies
      1. re: alanbarnes

        Do you mean the cuisinart mixer? I thought that was the one with all the attachments not the kitchenaid?

        Also, for those that use the countertop one, I was thinking of going w cuisinart over kitchenaid. While the latter is more asthetically pleasing, based on my research (and correct me if I am wrong), the cuisinart is a better overall mixer.

        1. re: cups123

          I don't know a lot about Cuisinart mixers but KA has a lot of attachments, just like alanbarnes said. But Cuisinart is apparently offering a very good warranty these days. I have a KA Pro 600 and one of the features I really like on this mixer is the bowl lift. Others prefer tilt heads. As far as power is concerned, I've yet to make anything that was too much for my 600. I guess a lot of this comes down to what you will be using the mixer for the most.

          1. re: cups123

            The big KitchenAid and the big Cuisinart are pretty comparable, especially now that KitchenAid has started using a metal gear housing. They're both very powerful, and they both have lots of attachments available (although KitchenAid may have a slight edge there). If you're going with the top of the line and paying retail, you can't go wrong with either one.

            But if you're looking for bargains, you're going to find more of them on KitchenAids than on Cuisinarts. Even buying at retail, the little KitchenAid Classic is a good mixer (I had one for years) and goes for under $200. But you can often find various KitchenAids available at discount stores and closeout places for significantly reduced prices.

            One other thing, although I don't know that it matters. If you go into a commercial kitchen, you'll find the heavy-duty mixing being done in a big Hobart that sits on the floor. But most places will also have a KitchenAid on the counter. I've never seen a Cuisinart stand mixer in a restaurant kitchen. FWIW.

            Me, I like the KitchenAid mixer, Cuisinart food processor, and Waring blender because they're classics. Each of those manufacturers defined the field for that particular product decades ago. And in my experience, the manufacturer of the iconic mixer/processor/blender will be more likely to make and/or stock replacement parts a decade or more after the sale.

        2. If you use a mixer much at all and can afford the space/money, a stand mixer is a no-brainer, if you ask me. You can get an immersion blender with an attachment or a cheaper hand mixer later if you feel a really need for some reason. I have a stand mixer on semi-permanent loan but made do with a hand mixer for years, but then, I don't use a mixer very often and rarely bake breads I can't mix in the food processor. Fwiw, my KA hand mixer that has held up well for years with light use but is strong enough - sort of - for fairly heavy cookie doughs and semi-cold butter. I hated using it for things like genoises or a Greek butter cookie that have to be beaten forever with a hand-mixer but the KA has survived that among lighter jobs. But if have a place to use a stand mixer without pulling it out from somewhere every time, I'd definitely go for it over the hand mixer.

          1. I have both and I'm glad I do. There are just some things that are easier and quicker to do with the hand mixer - and once in a while I'm using both at the same time. But my stand mixer gets very regular use and I can't imagine being without one now. As others said, if you have the space and the money, and you really see the need, than go for it.

            As far as a hand mixer goes, I have a KA Pro 9 and it rocks. I've had other mixers over the years and nothing came close to this one in terms of power, function and durability.

            1. If you self-identify as baking "a lot," and you've got the space/budget, the stand mixer is probably the way to go. If you have room for both, a hand mixer can be handy as well.

              Of course the countertop mixers have all those handy-dandy attachments (the Cuisinart and the Kitchen Aid both) which can be great if you have use for them.

              Personally, I was an occasional baker and always just used hand mixers. When I got a stand mixer I found myself baking more just to give myself an excuse to use it!

              1. I never wanted a stand mixer and then Santa brought me one a couple of years ago. I use it all the time: kneading bread, to make cookie dough, whipping butter, etc.

                However, I break out my hand mixer out for one purpose only: To whip potatoes. I just need a "free range" mixer to perfect mashed potatoes.

                1. A stand mixer is a workhorse and will do far more than a hand mixer. I think that I am about to ditch my Cusinarts hand mixer since I got a Bamix stick blender. It does everything that a hand mixer does (like whipping cream at the last moment or anything where you don't want to take the stand mixer out for) much quicker and more neatly. I am a mixer junkie. I have a 28 year-old KitchenAid (my husband came with that -- I tell people I married him for his mixer) that I use for cookies and cakes, an Electrolux Assistent that is unbeatable for making bread and grinding meat for sausages , and my little Cusinarts hand mixer, which I now never use. I agree with the posters who say to get a stand mixer if you can afford the space and price.

                  1. Okay, I am sold on a kitchenaid mixer:)!

                    Now, in terms of the model, do you all think its worth the price to go with a pro? I really have no experience w these so I have no idea what is the optimal model for money. I don't want to buy the classic, spend $200 and then have it break in a few years. Also, in terms of watts, people that have the lower models, do you ever feel like its not powerful enough?

                    2 Replies
                    1. re: cups123

                      For a stand mixer I recommend Viking for power and longevity. The Viking is belt driven and if the belt breaks it can be repaired. I was looking at new K-A's recently and was really unimpressed. If you can find an older K-A, like at a thrift shop or the like go for it. Mine is about 20 years old and going strong.The new K-A's just don' compare.

                      1. re: cups123

                        The Classic isn't going to break in a few years. It's a great mixer, and is very well made. I had mine for over a decade, and only gave it up because my mom offered an even trade for her nearly-new Pro model. She loved the mixer, but it wouldn't fit under her cabinets; my Classic was 2.5" shorter, so we swapped.

                        The main compromise you make when you get the Classic is limited capacity. My standard batch of french bread dough has 1 kilo (~10 cups) of flour and 600 grams of water, and makes 3 loaves. With the Classic, I had to reduce the quantities by a third and make two loaves. Not a big deal, but there it is.

                        All other things being equal, I prefer the Pro model. The spiral kneading hook pushes the contents down into the bowl; a stiff dough can "climb" a C-shaped hook and make a mess. The ability to drop and lift the bowl without moving the powerhead makes it easier to add ingredients, and the bowl lifter is adjustable so that you can get precise contact with the beaters. And the extra capacity comes in handy every once in a while.

                        As far as power goes, I never had a problem with either mixer. The Classic is only 250W, but it could knead fairly stiff bread doughs for a long time without overheating. It would bog down if you tried to knead at too high a speed, but you're supposed to use low speeds for kneading anyway.

                        Long and short, I don't think you can go wrong with any high-quality stand mixer. Good luck!

                      2. Is $269 a good deal for a kitchenaid professional 5 plus?? Its bright red and I think thats why its discounted:)

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: cups123

                          yes - it's a nice price (I paid 272 for mine and had a choice of colors) -- plus you will get a $30 rebate on it (check out shopkitchenaidcom) . A refurb is $219 or so (via shopkitchenaid's outlet or ebay store) with no rebate.

                          I have the professional 5 plus and LOVE it. The lift model is the way to go (that's what you'll see in the pro kitchens for a reason). The 5 plus has a wider bowl than the artisan or other 4.5 or 5 quart models (easy to add things while you're mixing), and has 450 watts of power (make sure it's the 5 plus and not the 500 plus -- different animals -- the 500 plus is only 325 watts).

                          Here are the specs on the 5+:


                          I love using the lift bowl -- (just learn how to properly attach and snap in the bowl -- easy peasy to do it right -- those who don't pay attention get bang rattle and roll when they turn it on).

                          Right now kitchenaid has spare bowls for the 5 plus in their ebay store for only $19 and $3 shipping - it's a real bonus to have an extra bowl (and they usually cost $50 - $60). They're refurb bowls (go figure -- I can't see any difference in it from the new one other than some scratches).

                          I have the grinder attachment -- it's great for making sausage or a burger... it's certainly not what I'd use if I were grinding pounds and pounds and pounds of meat -- but for a couple of lbs at a time, it's pretty nifty.

                          Oh the 5 plus has all metal gears -- there was a time a few years ago when KA switched to plastic gearing on some models -- not an issue with this mixer.

                          Just read the instruction manual -- the biggest problem people cause to destroy their own mixers is trying to knead dough at too high of a speed -- dough = level 2 (out of 10) and no more.

                          The 5+ comes with the spiral dough hook (like the 600 plus) -- so dough mixes/kneads beautifully.

                        2. I have both and recommend it if you have the space. If you have a recipe that calls for beating something for 15 minutes, like Chocolate Brownie Cookies...recipe at Epicurious, standing there with a hand mixer is going to be tedious. If you have to start with just one and then graduate as budget allows, get the most powerful hand mixer you can afford. Cuisinart and Kitchen-Aid both make excellent hand mixers.

                          3 Replies
                          1. re: Candy

                            Okay, sounds like I am all set. Last question - would you all go for a "refurbished" model? I found one cheap on frys.com but have no idea what the implications of refurbished are? Any experiences?

                            1. re: cups123

                              I would go for a refurb if you can get an older model. From what I have read on these boards, the current KA mixers do not have the longevity and power of the older models. I love my KA because it's old and tireless, but if I were buying a general, all-purpose mixer today, I'm not sure I would choose a KA as my basic stand mixer.

                              1. re: roxlet

                                what Roxlet said. "Older" model is what is key with a KA. If it was made prior (okay this is arbitrary) to 1990 you will be getting a good one.