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Overpriced, or Worth It?

amylovescupcakes May 10, 2010 07:12 AM

I currently use a hand mixer that is about six years old. I have about run the mixers off of it :) I bake A LOT, and my friends have been telling me that I need to invest in a stand mixer. However, after seeing the prices of them, I have, until now, decided to stick with my cheap hand mixer, which always gets the job done just fine. What do you think? Would it be beneficial to me to purchase one? Or do hand mixers do the same job, for less money? I have never used a stand mixer before.

  1. pikawicca May 10, 2010 07:17 AM

    There's really no comparison: Stand mixers are much more powerful and much faster, plus, they can handle bread dough.

    1. c oliver May 10, 2010 07:46 AM

      I got my KA from Amazon a few years ago. It was "refurbished" but came with a full factory warranty. At that time, it was about $160. I now have the grinder attachment and make burgers and sausage and the pasta attachments. I almost never bake BTW :)

      1. Cheshire_Cat May 10, 2010 07:50 AM

        I did the same thing for years and I can tell you that I love having a stand mixer! To be honest I haven't used my hand mixer for two years now. It is very much worth the money since it sounds like you plan on using it. If you have a Cost-Co in your area and are a member try there for a deal. They have them pretty regularly and usually have the second to highest model for around $300 (which is $75 cheaper then anywhere else I have seen it).

        1. f
          fauchon May 10, 2010 07:51 AM

          If your hand mixer has done the job for you, why not just replace it? No need to spend so much money when something cheaper fills your needs. JMpracticalO !!!!

          1. Chemicalkinetics May 10, 2010 08:29 AM

            If you bake a lot a lot, then it is not a bad idea to have a stand mixer, if anything to free you up to do other things, thus saving you some time here and there.

            A typical stand mixer is more powerful than a handheld mixer. There are few exception, but it is far and in between.

            A stand mixer is particular good for larger quantity mixing. It is not so great if you are doing a very small quantity mixing because the mixer is not designed to scrap the bottom of the mixing bowl.

            A handheld mixer has its place.

            2 Replies
            1. re: Chemicalkinetics
              flourgirl May 10, 2010 12:08 PM

              I do usually use my hand mixer for very small quantities - but it's just not true that stand mixers aren't designed to scrap the bottom of the mixing bowl. I have no problem with my KA stand mixer scraping the bottom of the bowl - KA mixers have an adjustment screw for just that purpose.

              1. re: flourgirl
                Chemicalkinetics May 10, 2010 12:17 PM

                Flourgirl,

                Thanks.

            2. j
              janniecooks May 10, 2010 08:32 AM

              Another vote for having both. A stand mixer will do the work for you faster, it can handle stiffer batters than the hand mixer, and it frees you up to multi-task. There is a place for both in a baker's kitchen.

              1 Reply
              1. re: janniecooks
                amylovescupcakes May 10, 2010 08:37 AM

                Thanks, everyone, good things to consider :) I had thought about the multi-tasking aspect of having a stand mixer...I think that would save me a lot of time.

              2. d
                DGresh May 10, 2010 12:26 PM

                No doubt since you bake a lot, you would find it useful. I think the most important question for you to answer is, are you going to leave it on your counter? If not, then will dragging it out to use it negate its value to you? I personally don't have a stand mixer; I covet one every once in awhile (mostly when I'm making meringue cookies that I have to beat for 10 minutes), but I do not want to devote the space on the counter, and I know I wouldn't really want to drag it up from the basement (the only place I can conceive of storing it).

                3 Replies
                1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                  d
                  DGresh May 10, 2010 12:36 PM

                  the really sad thing is that I already do have a somewhat large kitchen with already too many kitchen items taking up room!

                  1. re: DGresh
                    Chemicalkinetics May 10, 2010 12:57 PM

                    DGresh,

                    Just teasing you. Despite the average kitchen size has increased for people, there always seem to be more space needed. Sometime, you just wonder how people managed to cook in smaller kitchens in the older days. I share the same feeling as you. Once in a blue moon when I had to mix something for 5-10 minutes, then I wished I have a stand mixer, but it does not happen enough for me to buy a stand mixer just yet.

                    1. re: Chemicalkinetics
                      b
                      Beckyleach May 11, 2010 11:23 AM

                      Well, thankfully I think of my (two) KitchenAid mixers as "art" because my kitchen is horribly, horribly under-built (only 3 small upper cabinets, two lower; about five linear feet of counter....augmented by a formica table and the bottom half of an old Hoosier cabinet) but they're both out on "display."

                      Why do I have two, you ask? (or don't ;-) Because my 10 year old "Classic" runs like a top, but I needed the much larger bowl and kneading power of a Pro....and I have a (brand new from Goodwill--people are nuts) Cuisinart hand mixer, as well. But *that* lives in a cabinet and is hard to access....

                2. alanbarnes May 10, 2010 12:41 PM

                  Stand mixers definitely aren't overpriced. You're talking about a fairly substantial piece of kitchen equipment that, used properly, will pull yeoman's duty for a very long time. But there's no doubt they're expensive - the most basic KitchenAid goes for about $200, although you can occasionally find one on sale.

                  Whether it's worth it depends totally on your budget and your cooking habits. It certainly isn't necessary - for hundreds of years people got by with whisks and spoons, and some of those people were brilliant cooks.

                  Would it be beneficial? If you have a place to keep it, absolutely. Do hand mixers do the same job? Well, they do some of the same things, but they can't knead bread or grind hamburger (meat grinder attachment sold separately). If you use your hand mixer a lot, I'd be willing to bet you'll really like having a stand mixer. I certainly wouldn't want to be without mine.

                  1. h
                    housewolf May 10, 2010 03:16 PM

                    I love to bake and wouldn't want to live without a stand mixer. The only thing I use my hand mixer for is when I whip up small batches of whipped cream - like a 1/2 cup or so. I've owned a KA, a Magic Mill DLX, a Bosch and a Cuisinart stand mixer. I love them all and while I've found that each one does something better than the others, my go-to machine is the Cuisinart. It does a great job on everything even very small quantities. Stand mixers just do a much more efficient job than hand mixers.

                    1. t
                      ThreeGigs May 11, 2010 12:52 AM

                      Even if you get a stand mixer, you're still going to want a hand mixer. I just used a hand mixer last night to whip mashed potatoes. No need to get a bowl dirty when I can just whip 'em right in the pot. Needed to make a very large batch of cupcakes, and used the hand mixer in a 10 quart bowl with 6 quarts of batter in it. Most times it's simply easier to use the hand mixer and just drop the beaters in the dishwasher.

                      That said, a stand mixer definitely has advantages. Making cookie dough or bread dough, the power comes in handy. Being able to slowly add flour without having to grow a third arm. Attachments add versaitility.

                      Counter space might be an issue. If you bake a lot you definitely don't want to be constantly hauling the mixer out and putting it away, so if you can't keep it on your countertop, I'd say that's probably a dealbreaker.

                      1. Master May 11, 2010 08:13 AM

                        Overpriced? No. Worth the cost? That’s up to you.

                        Bought a KA 5q commercial for $400.00 twenty or so years ago (baking bread two or three times a week was my motivation), after years of heavy use, the machine is still running strong. For my money, it’s worth every penny.

                        1. f
                          falconress May 11, 2010 09:39 AM

                          I use my 18-yr old bottom-of-the-line 4-1/2 qt Kitchenaid for quantities as small as 2 egg whites, which it whips into a perfect meringue with a quickness.

                          A stand mixer lets you expand your repertoire to some recipes that just won't or can't get done with a hand mixer.

                          For example, I make anise cookies using a recipe similar to springerli, which calls for about 1/2 hour (+/-) of mixing. In olden days, someone - or several members of the household - used to beat the batter by hand for, literally, hours. Nowadays, I can't imagine there's anyone who would dream of making these without a stand mixer.

                          Meringues are easy-peasy to get to perfect consistency with a stand mixer, and actually, any cake batter is very easy to get to exactly the consistency required by the recipe - "ribbon," or "a spoon can stand in it," or "soft peaks," or whatever guide you're following. It takes a fraction of the time in a stand mixer and is easier because you don't have to find someplace to set the (hand) mixer down so you can pick up the utensil and test.

                          As I said, my Kitchenaid was the cheapest model they sold and I bought it almost 20 years ago. I don't know if the brand still makes such sturdy workhorses, but seek out the best quality you can afford, and stretch your budget a bit if necessary, because if you get a good one that will give you years of service, I think it's an investment you'll appreciate every day. Really: if you cook a lot, and bake fairly often, you will be glad every day when you realize how convenient it is to have a sturdy stand mixer on your counter.

                          Honestly, I don't think I'm a terribly spoiled person (a little bit, maybe...), but over the years, as someone who cooks about 80% of family meals from scratch (i.e., fairly little use of convenience foods or takeout), I think of my stand mixer as a kitchen essential, not a luxury. I don't think I could get along without it any more than I could get along without an oven.

                          When I got the mixer, I got these accessories:
                          a) Mixer bowl covers, which keep out dust and let you store the basic attachments in the bowl. I rinse the bowl out before each use anyway, but I don't regret the purchase just for general neatness.

                          b) Pouring shields, which let you add ingredients gradually without flour flying all over the kitchen. A worthwhile addition, IMO.

                          c) An extra mixing bowl and a copper liner for beating egg whites. I was young and very much into having precise equipment, thus the copper liner. Today, I'm not sure that was necessary. I'm sure egg whites would beat up to just as stiff peaks and probably just as much volume in the regular bowl. An extra bowl, OTOH, is very much worthwhile, because it lets you keep working without having to stop in middle to wash up.

                          Over the years, I kept meaning to get other attachments, but somehow never did. The only one I still have on my mental wish list would be a food grinder.

                          Good luck with your decision! And to your original question: Worth it, worth it, worth it!

                          1. amylovescupcakes May 11, 2010 10:03 AM

                            A lot of good advice :) I do have space on my counter (well, I can make some...) and I think I will look into getting one soon. I like the fact that they make colored ones-my kitchen is done in a cupcake/dessert theme (go figure, right??) and the pink would be fun. Thank you all for your imput...you really helped me make a decision.

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