HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >

Discussion

KitchenAid MIxer - Do I really need one?

  • 64
  • Share

So, I am contemplating putting a KA mixer on my Christmas list. I'm not a huge baker, but I would like to try some breads and the occasional dessert. I need to know what everyone uses their mixer for most, and has anyone had success with the pasta attachment? I'm just not sure if I would use it enough, although I do come across recipes now and than that call for a mixer and I make do without. Thanks for all your help.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
Delete
Posting Guidelines | FAQs | Feedback
Cancel
  1. I absolutely adore mine and use it all the time. I'm not a huge baker either, but when I do want to bake it comes in handy. I also have the pasta maker attachment (which I LOVE) and the meat grinder. I make my own sausage and grind my own hamburger frequently, so it gets a ton of use. I use it as much as my food processor, maybe more.

    1 Reply
    1. re: biondanonima

      +1. My use is the same as yours. I have found that I will bake a TINY bit more since having it but that isn't why I bought it.

    2. Yep, you need one. I made bread for years without one and since I've had a KA mixer in my kitchen I am one happy camper. I didn't splurge; bought the KSM90 during a $129 special at Target about five years ago. Never had a problem with it. I sometimes choose to knead my bread dough by hand just for the enjoyment of feeling the dough mature. But most of the time I use the mixer.
      IMO, paddle, dough hook, dry ingredient shield and beater are really all you need.

      1. I'll cast a firm vote for "Yes!". I just got mine last year and I looooooooove it! (And they're pretty reasonably priced to boot!)

        1. I've been a big baker and put off getting one for years because I was perfectly happy with my hand mixer and kneading by hand. But, it's made baking so much faster and efficient. I can whip up bread dough with little effort, multi-task and clean as it mixes. It's so fast for everything--from whipping cream to egg whites to buttercream. When it's creaming my butter and sugar, I'm sifting my dry ingredients so that cuts down the time in half. At this point, if it broke, I would replace it immediately.

          Oh, and I wouldn't try making heavier doughs like brioche w/out one.

          1. I have a KA mixer and I love it. I'd suggest the Commercial model -

            http://www.webstaurantstore.com/kitch...

            Cookie dough is the big thing I use it for, followed quickly by Buckeye dough (peanut butter and powdered sugar, makes a VERY stiff dough

            )

            The pasta attachment makes me nervous, it's so expensive. Reviews have been very variable on it. I understand the new one is better than the old, but I think if you're really really interested in pasta you might want to get an actual pasta machine. Most are hand cranked but I've seen where you can get motors for them as sort of an add-on.

            2 Replies
            1. re: ZenSojourner

              I adore my KA mixer. I bought it back in 2002 and have been making breads, cookies and cakes with it whenever I have the chance. While it works like a dream, I sometimes wish I had the artisan model, which has the head you can push out of the way. In any case, I am happy with my KA mixer. It is my pride and joy.

              1. re: ZenSojourner

                I have the KA pasta attachment and it works like a dream. That was the #1 reason I bought the mixer. Then got the grinder attachment.

              2. DH has been asking me to make a list of what I want for the kitchen. Mixing wise, I don't do a lot of baking these days, so what do I want? Well I have a hand held mixer and a blender. But I don't have a food processor or KA mixer (OK - call me old fashioned). So DH wanted to know which one I wanted more. I'm thinking the food processor ( by the way - I have VERY limited counter space). I'd welcome input for ideas.

                8 Replies
                1. re: boyzoma

                  I keep my KA in a cupboard, on a shelf just high enough to make removing and replacing it simple. OK, it's a two handed job to carry it to the counter but it makes the prep. tasks so much easier I don't mind that. I'd like one of those "almost" self rising spring loaded shelves that I see on TV but I'd have to trade it for my dishwasher and we ain't goin' there.
                  I don't own a food processor. Never found need of one.

                  1. re: boyzoma

                    If you plan to bake a lot then a stand mixer will get a lot more use than a food processor. If you visit a commercial bakery their equipment looks like a giant stand mixer not a giant food processor. There's a reason for that. Plus the various attachments (shredding, grinding, etc) make the stand mixer more versatile.

                    The one exception might be pie dough. The food processor blades do a better job of cutting the butter into the flour.

                    Off counter storage is an issue. Generally, a stand mixer is taller than a food processor so finding a shelf that it fits on is harder.

                    1. re: boyzoma

                      I really couldn't (or would prefer not to) get along without my FP. If only room for one, I'd opt for that.

                      1. re: c oliver

                        I second that - the FP can do SOME doughs but the mixer doesn't chop or shred unless you invest in attachments which are expensive, and yet another thing to store.

                        I just bought a vintage Hobart/Kitchen AId model 4C (because they are supposedly better-made than the newer ones) on eBay but didn't do my homework before bidding. It has only a wire whip and I am trying to find out if paddles will fit on it. Most disappointingly, there is no dough hook and apparently that is because it isn't powerful enough for bread dough.

                        I have had an Oster Kitchen Center for decades but rarely use it. It has one motor but different heads/arms, including mixer, blender, open-hopper processor. The Cuisinart FP, which is smaller and even older, does almost everything the OKC does.

                        1. re: greygarious

                          Thanks, everyone for your input. Since I don't have counter space nor storage space (unless I want to rent something nearby) :-), I'll probably ask "Santa" for the FP - unless he is feeling generous - and then I'll store the mixer in his closet and ask for the attachments for future holidays - ho ho ho!.

                          1. re: greygarious

                            Dear greygarious,
                            Why didn't you use the Oster Kitchen Center? One of my elderly relatives has one. Should I take it home or just take it to Goodwill????

                            1. re: LidaK

                              By all means use the OKC. I have no complaints about mine - it's just that I don't have much counter space so it's in a cabinet with other stuff, and getting it out means all sorts of shifting. So I used it mostly for the blender. For my other baking, usually the food processor or just a bowl and elbow grease. Someobdy gave me a hand-held electric beater which I used until it died.

                              1. re: greygarious

                                Thanks so much. I was afraid it was a problem with the OKC itself. That it was not a good product. I have the room, so I will take it and try it myself.

                      2. Go for if you can afford it and have the space. Can you make stuff without one? Sure. I've baked a 3 tier wedding cake without one (used 2 hand mixers), but it would have made our lives so much easier.

                        1 Reply
                        1. re: funniduck

                          I LOVE mine. I don't really bake either. Their are a few bread recipes that I used to knead by hand but now that I have a KA, I don't know how I lasted as long as I did. Mine was a Christmas present last year. My friends have the pasta attachment and they use it, but not that often...GO FOR IT!

                        2. Absolutely! I love my mixer and the pasta attachments. I almost cried when mine died an unnatural death after falling off a file cabinet onto a concrete floor after a move. I do a lot of baking, and I really hate using a hand mixer. I haven't gotten around to hauling it to the opposite of town to a repair shop to get it looked at, but I may just bag that idea and put a new one on my Christmas list too. Now, to figure out which color I want...

                          1 Reply
                          1. re: gmm

                            Mine died from a similar experience. It was DH's grandfathers who was a German pastry chef. Worked just as well as the day he got it which was ... a long time ago! LOL My heart sank as it could not be fixed (no one to repair it where I live) but lucky me, I have a new(er) one!

                          2. My KA was my mother's, and I think she got it from my grandmother. I've been toying with getting a new one in a bright color, but the reviews are confusing. Has there been an issue with some plastic part in one or more models? If so, has it been resolved? And that's the best model to get, anyway? And why? Which is better, bowl-lift or tilt-head?

                            Those of you who love your newer KAs, which model do you have?

                            6 Replies
                            1. re: KansasKate

                              Some models have a plastic break-away gear - this is a safety measure to keep your motor from tearing itself apart if it gets overloaded. Some people don't understand how this works and there has been a lot of noise about "plastic gears" in KAs. I think it's the Artisan models that still have these - I had thought they had all been replaced with an electronic cutoff, but apparently not. However I think the break-away gear is much safer than the electronic cutoff. So no, there isn't REALLY an issue with "plastic gears"

                              For awhile they were using a high-temp plastic gear box cover. These machines were a LOT quieter than those using a metal gear box cover. Apparently some people (who were probably overloading their machines anyway) had a problem with this high-temp plastic deforming due to excessive heat. All KAs now use a metal gear box cover. I don't know how much of that was because of a possible actual defect and how much due to the bad PR. I don't think there were ever very many of the deformed gear box covers which leads me to think it was probably abuse rather than a defect, regardless, they've all been replaced with metal at this point.

                              Bowl-lift or tilt head is totally up to you. I based my purchase on the most motor I could afford. Unfortunately, except for the Commercial model, KA only tells you Watts, which does not necessarily translate straight on to actual power. It's horsepower you care about with a motor, not watts. Watts is energy input required to run the motor; horsepower is the actual energy output you get.

                              1. re: ZenSojourner

                                Watts and horsepower are pretty relational. You can also see if a company is fudging their numbers by calculating the amps and volts on the motor to get your output rating and compare it to what they are claiming ;)
                                here's a basic breakdown...
                                Volts * amps = Watts
                                746 watts is the equivalent to 1 horsepower.
                                so if you peek at your motor specs and pull the voltage and amps you'll be able to calculate watts and therefor hosepower.
                                say you have a 112volt motor that pulls 6.6 amps. that's going to give us 739 watts and is equal to just under 1hp.
                                alternatively, a 220 volt motor that pushes 3.4 amps will still be 1 horsepower.
                                if you have the wattage of an appliance and know it plugs into a 110 outlet you can work backwards to obtain the amps it draws.
                                say your motor in question is marketed as having a 300 watt motor and plugs into a standard outlet. 300 divided by 110 = 2.7 amps

                                1. re: cannibal

                                  True, however the problem is there's power loss in the motor itself. SO even though my motor says it's 325 W, it doesn't imply that it's 1/2 horsepower. Well I think that's like .44 HP. Anyway.

                                  They don't list amps, at least not on my model. So I could figure amps from the voltage they give and the max watts they list, but it still doesn't tell me about power OUTPUT from the motor.

                                  For example, the KitchenAid KM25G0X 5 Qt. Commercial NSF Mixer is rated at 450 W, but 2/5 Horsepower. Going by 450w/746 W, if that were a straight conversion (it isn't because of power lost in the motor itself) that mixer would be 3/5 HP. However the actual rating is 2/5 HP.

                                  I guess you could take a stab at it and assume that all KA mixers drop 1/3rd of the power in the motor itself, which would make my 325W motor approximately 3/10 HP instead of a bit over 4/10 HP. This isn't a good estimate because all motors are not the same.

                                  My college electrical engineering courses were a looong time ago, so maybe I am forgetting some easy way to figure this, but I don't think it can be done without knowing the power loss in the motor.

                                  I really think they should just tell us the actual HP, but to my knowledge, the Commercial line is the only line they do that for.

                                  1. re: ZenSojourner

                                    the only thing i can figure without researching the mater is that there's probably some sort of gearbox between the motor and the turning implement. like the difference between brake horsepower and wheel horsepower in a car. the windings and whatnot take up a bit of power too but that's usually a negligible amount...now i'm really curious about the whole bit and will end up researching it :P i'll post back with my results.

                                    1. re: cannibal

                                      I looked into it a little bit more and it has something to do with power loss across the transformer (or in the transformer, whatever).

                                      Somebody gave me a factor of .68 for determining this power loss. That's about 2/3rds, so it looks like assuming HP of 2/3 of the value calculated from wattage alone would be fairly accurate.

                                      That's assuming there's no other way to lose some of that power output, but it's probably fairly close.

                                2. re: ZenSojourner

                                  ZenSojourner, thanks so much for clearing up the issue of "defective" plastic parts.

                                  Those in the market for a new KA might want to check out http://blackfridaymixers.com/?p=11. It's a blog where the author lists the best online deals on KA mixers.

                              2. I'm glad I have mine -- I don't cook a lot but when I do, I have what I need. Mine is 40 years old and looks great, never has needed a repair. A year or two ago I got the pasta attachment and really love it, much easier than the hand cranked one. (I have the meat grinder and still have not used it -- I will)

                                I love the new special edition one that has a glass bowl and is a beautiful shade of slightly metallic red. It's pricey and mine works perfectly, so....

                                1. I bake maybe a dozen times a year and love it. Although each time I use it, I wish I had a permanent place for it cause it's a PITA to pull out of the pantry (where I keep it) to my counter. (I only have about 3 feet of counter space). But, I've used it for baking and also got the meat grinder attachment and made homemade sausage with it. I haven't tried the pasta cutter yet, but I do have it as well.

                                  1. I bake a lot. Still, even if I didn't I couldn't imagine not having my KA-mixer. One of my favorite things to use it for, is mixing ground meat. Absolutely hate how cold my hands get for meatloaf, meatballs etc. when doing it manually and a hand mixer can't handle the job. LOL at the pasta attachment because I want one too but I've been banned from making my own pasta; it's horrible! I keep telling them if only I had a pasta attachment or even one of those presses with the hand crank it wouldn't turn out so thick (the thickness is why they don't like it). If you really think you'll use the pasta attachment I'd go for it.

                                    1. need is a funny guide to life - do you NEED one? no. does it do many things that make your life easier? yes. do you want one? seems like you do - and that's good enough

                                      2 Replies
                                      1. re: thew

                                        You are right. Nobody NEEDS a KA mixer. But it is nice to have one when you want to bake bread, cakes, cookies, etc. And they are always on sale for a great price.

                                        1. re: GibsonGirl55

                                          Re price, I got mine a few years ago through Amazon. It was "refurbished" but came with a full factory warranty. It was only about $170.

                                      2. I love mine, whhich was my grandmother's in the original avocado green and un-grounded two-pronged plug. Unfortunately, it needs some repair work - the paddle attachment in permanently stuck on :o -and I just have not gotten around to taking it into the appliance repair shop - thankfully, we have one here who works on small appliances.

                                        I've shanghai'ed my sister's newer KA for the past year. She almost never bakes and hates to cook, so she siad she doesn't miss it. lol I would love one of the larger, 6 Qt mixers.

                                        2 Replies
                                        1. re: BabsW

                                          BabsW, What color is your sister's mixer? Mine is cherry red. So pretty. :-)

                                          1. re: GibsonGirl55

                                            Hers is white. I do love the red ones. :)

                                        2. I'm not much of a baker either, but since I got my KA, I now grind all my own meats and make my own sausage. I wish I had done it sooner.

                                          1. Nobody has mentioned this, so I'll throw it out there... there are two basic designs of KA mixers, tilt head and bowl lift. The bowl lift models are quite a bit taller and heavier than the tilt head ones. I've had a tilt head one for 20 years and could never go to a bowl lift model because it would not fit on my counter where it must go under the upper cabinets, nor on my roll-out pantry shelf where it is normally stored. I believe the tilt head ones are now called Artisan.

                                            21 Replies
                                            1. re: onrushpam

                                              My KA non-tilt head (fixed head, whatever) fits under the cabinets in my son's apartment. They didn't fit under the cabinets at the last apartment. IT doesn't matter ultimately, however, since there is not enough counter space to store the thing on the counter, and when you are actually using it, you would not have it shoved back under the cabinets anyway.

                                              At first I hated not being able to get a spatula down in there easily, but after a little while I discovered I didn't NEED to be stopping the machine and scraping the sides down, so it doesn't bother me any more. It can be sort of a pain to add ingredients, but there are cheap flexible pourer-thingies you can get that make that easier if you can't get used to it (which I have).

                                              1. re: onrushpam

                                                You're right. The tilt-head models are called Artisan. The bowl-lift model just takes getting used to if you are used to tilt-head mixers. Mine, which is a bowl-lift mode, fortunately fits on my kitchen counter.

                                                1. re: onrushpam

                                                  What are the advantages, if any, of the bowl lift model - why does KA even offer this type if the bowl tilt seems easier to use?

                                                  1. re: iyc_nyc

                                                    i believe the bowl lift model has a higher output motor and is better suited for use with dough.
                                                    i think i saw someone mention that the artisan model doesn't have a dough hook attachment as the motor is lower power.
                                                    my memory is crap though and could be completely wrong :P

                                                    1. re: cannibal

                                                      Thanks for the quick reply. cannibal. Why doesn't KA offer the higher output motor and dough hook attachment with the bowl lift model so one gets the best of all worlds.. does the lift design for whatever reason not work with higher motors??

                                                      1. re: iyc_nyc

                                                        I wondered that too, the lift seems much more convenient and I would prefer that design as well. The only thing I would speculate is that the higher torque might cause undue wear on the pivot, hence the solid design of the bowl-lift model...but that's just my guess. Hopefully someone has the answer as i'm curious to find out too

                                                        1. re: cannibal

                                                          Okay, thanks -- I'll be waiting too!

                                                        2. re: iyc_nyc

                                                          I have the Professional 600 Series which is all that. It can handle any amount of dough I've tried in it (although it feels a little taxed with some brioche). With the bowl lift, I just leave it under the counter and don't have to worry about space to lift. This model has no plastic parts.

                                                          http://www.kitchenaid.com/flash.cmd?/...

                                                          1. re: chowser

                                                            Mine is also a Professional 600 Series with all the best bits (bowl lift, tons of power, metal attachments, and my awesome pasta roller/cutter). Although I suppose I COULD live without it technically, I would not want to. It is truly one of my favourite things in my kitchen. I use it a few times a week for so many things. Having used the Artisan mixer I definitely prefer mine - it is such a workhorse!

                                                            1. re: chefathome

                                                              Definitely--it's one of the appliances I'd replace right away if it broke. I put off getting one for years because I could do it all by hand but I am so glad I finally did get one.

                                                          2. re: iyc_nyc

                                                            EDIT - meant, why doesn't KA offer stronger motor and dough hook attachment with the bowl TILT model, so one gets the best of both worlds... or are there any advantages to the bowl lift design over the bowl tilt?

                                                            Chowser, you named one advantage to the bowl lift, which is that it might require less clearance space as you don't have to tilt the head all the way back as you do in the bowl tilt. Cannibal suggested the bowl tilt might be less robust to support a powerful motor. Any others?

                                                            1. re: iyc_nyc

                                                              i got what you meant. i picked up that ability after getting married, my wife can never say what she means :P

                                                              1. re: cannibal

                                                                Haha, and I picked up that you picked up.. just corrected it after Chowser (justifiably) interpreted what I said to be what I meant...

                                                              2. re: iyc_nyc

                                                                Bigger motor requires more stability - the tilt head has some give to it that you might not notice with smaller capacity/less dough (less work) but could eventually cause wear and problems with larger capacity (more dough). Probably sort of the same as what Cannibal said.

                                                                1. re: iyc_nyc

                                                                  I don't have any problems w/ a bowl lift so don't know why others prefer the tilt head. That said, if you don't bake a lot of bread that requires heavy duty mixing, a lower level KA works fine for most home baking needs, even bread. The Pro series is a heavier machine than the others, probably from the stronger motor. My thought would be it's too heavy to have that in the tilt head, especially over time. The other thing I've found is that with a lot of heavier dough, like brioche, it can move the bowl because of the power--it would be that much harder to secure the tilt head so it doesn't move.

                                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                                    Ah, makes a lot of sense - thanks.

                                                                    1. re: iyc_nyc

                                                                      Here's why I prefer the tilt-head (maybe nobody else has my weird kitchen)...

                                                                      From the countertop to the bottom of the upper cabinets is only 16".
                                                                      The Pro450 is 16.25 ". So, it won't fit there, unless I turn it sideways... I guess I could do that, but I have very little counter space and that puts it precariously close to the edge.

                                                                      The one I have is the old Hobart K45 one. It's only 14" tall. I think the Artisan ones are about the same. I'm sure mine is more powerful than the newer ones. I've been making bread with it for 20 years.

                                                                      Someone offered to give me one of the newer, bowl-lift models and I turned it down because I knew it just wouldn't work in my kitchen.

                                                                      Also, the Pro 45 model weighs at least 10 lbs more than my mixer. I have to lift it out of a bottom pantry shelf and up only the counter. I'm small and old. Every lb. matters! :-)

                                                                      1. re: onrushpam

                                                                        If you have been using your mixer for the last 20 years and you are happy with its performance, it is apparently doing the job. :-)

                                                                    2. re: chowser

                                                                      Completely agree 100%.

                                                                2. re: cannibal

                                                                  My friend has an artisan model w/ dough hook. She uses it pretty frequently for cinnamon roll type dough.

                                                                  The Artisan is a tilt head model but there are other tilt head models, too.

                                                                  1. re: chowser

                                                                    I got mine as a wedding shower present 18 years ago. The KitchenAid mixer and the camping equipment we got are the only wedding presents we got still in use today on a regular basis.

                                                            2. Bread dough (my joints aren't what they used to be) and pasta, grinding meat, general mixing, and for meatballs and meatloaf. LOVE it. Christmas present from my son years ago because he knew I couldn't knead bread dough the way I used to.

                                                              I cried I was so happy.

                                                              1. I scored one at a thrift store for $50. I use it about 5 days a week and recently did a food event for 24 people. I used it constantly for food prep things, pie crusts, bread dough and made all the sausages by grinding the pork and stuffing casings. I also use it day to day for things like pancake batter, whipping egg whites, making egg bases, mashed potatoes etc. I recently made cream puffs and found a recipe that used the mixer to do the choux dough blending.
                                                                I really like it and it is not just a counter ornament. It saves considerable time because it is doing the physical labor while I am cleaning, putting things away or prepping something else.

                                                                1. Keep in mind that KA mixers are not made by Hobart anymore. KA is now a Whirlpool product. Thats one of the reasons why there was a big kafuffle about plastic parts in the mixers. Whirlpool replaced metal parts and went with plastic in new KA's. After numerous complaints about the plastic parts not lasting, they're supposedly, back to using metal parts.

                                                                  I have an old KA 4qt thats been solid as a rock. It still runs and works like a dream. But I needed a bigger mixer. After doing a lot of research, talking with a chef instructor at one of the nearby cooking schools, reading how many gals on my cake boards, have had to have their newer model KA's repaired ,or replaced. I chose a 7 qt Viking mixer over a KA. I'm glad I did, I'm quite happy with my Viking.

                                                                  1. I couldn't imagine my kitchen without a KA mixer.
                                                                    Got mine 20 years ago and it's still going strong after all those years of bread dough, meat grinding, and sausage stuffing.