Do the benefits of a stand mixer outweigh the expense (and hassle)?
First time posting, but I have enjoyed reading this forum for several years. I often make pastries and other dishes that involve various doughs, beaten egg whites, whipped cream, etc., but I have never used a stand mixer (I do use a food processor for certain things). I understand mixers are quite expensive and many describe them as less than simple to operate. I also don't like the idea of having a large bowl to clean each time I use the machine. Speaking of size, how does one choose how big a mixer to get? Most of the other threads I could find on the subject of these appliances focus on choosing the best model; I am curious to hear your opinions on their general usefulness. For which tasks do you find them time-saving? Are they indispensable for certain techniques in your repertoire?
If you buy a new Kitchenaid or Kenwood, you will pay a lot of money. Both brands are now made in China. Read what people are saying online about these products and draw your own conclusions.
Then look (eBay is a good place to start) for a used machine, by either manufacturer, made in the USA or Britain. You will pay way, way less money and, if you shop carefully, you will get a machine so well-built that it probably will outlive you and be passed on to your heirs. I've owned and used both brands and I think they're wonderful. Especially if you buy one for, say, $100 (used) instead of at least several hundred dollars (new). The only new Kenwoods for sale now in the USA, by the way, are at Williams-Sonoma and cost about $2,000 each.
I do a lot of large batch baking. I recently upgraded to a 7 qt Kitchen Aid, from a 4 1/2 qt, and I love it. I used mine all the time, at least a once a week, but pull my handmixer out for whipping pints for whipping cream, etc, because it's too little liquid for the bowl.
If you have to ask if you need one, you probably don't. Last time I looked, the 5 qt was running about $199.
I've been reading this thread with interest. I really don't like my KA stand mixer. Here are the main reasons:
1. It's heavy as lead and a total PITA to get out unless I need it for a lengthy process. Otherwise, it's my hand mixer all the way. (I know I could get around this by keeping it on the counter...)
2. The metal paddle beater doesn't get the stuff off the sides of the bowl. But, to be able to scrape down the sides, I have to turn the whole thing off, lower the bowl, etc. And...stuff gets lodged on the beater in the "holes" that doesn't come off unless I scrape it off.
3. I have one of those "side-scraper" plastic beaters too. This one at least gets the sides of the bowl, but again, stuff gets lodged here and there on the beater and I have to scrape those.
4. I don't like that there isn't enough space to dump ingredients into the bowl without lowering it and doing careful maneuvering. I know I could use that pour-cover thing, but that's just one more item to wash.
Based on all that, I have a couple of questions:
1. Is there another brand you would recommend?
2. How much better is access to the bowl with a tilt-head model?
I have the Kitchen Aid with the juicer, grinder and ice cream freezer attachments - all of which get used many times per month. The whisk and paddle attachments of the stand mixer can do so much more than a processor or immersion blender. For my kitchen, it is essential and I never mind the 15 seconds it takes to wash the sturdy stainless bowls.
We own a Kitchen Aid, and such US appliances here are not inexpensive. One of the prime uses is to grind meat.
However we also have owned a Zojirushi Bread machine, and use it to make small amounts of bread dough, and preserves when the Summer fruit appears.
And quite a bit of what we call " German Terra Cotta," or stainless steel mixing bowls, whisks, and other cooking tools.
Early in the morning, before dawn and work, it is easier to use something quick and quiet to mix dough for bread or pastry. And give your arms a little work out too.
But when you really need it, then it is nice to have one.
As I note when we drive around Italy, there was a time when no one had a cutting board at home in the kitchen. either. Just stand over the pot or pan and use your paring knife.
I have a 5 quart heavy duty KA, the crank model to lower and lift - and I love it.
I am a happy baker (yup, look at my name!) but it's just the two of us, so it's not school bake sales, little league etc..
But. My husband prefers to not eat white sugar, so I bake most of our cookies and cakes as ready made unrefined sugar baked goods are PRICEY. And often not great.
It's a life saver for breads and I love being able to whip up a fast batch of pizza dough.
And the ability to put it to work - and walk away? As many here have said - priceless.
Costco tends to have them on sale before the holidays and that's how we got ours.
And yes to what other folks have said - either keep it out on a counter or make it easily available to a counter, and you will use it more.
For me, stand mixers simply make baking much more doable in a busy schedule. So why not?
I *love* my 6-quart Artisan. It remains my most favorite Christmas present ever.
I'll follow it with the comment I made on the salad spinner thread.
I've now made two whole-house international relocations, and believe me -- you cull a LOT of stuff you don't love. The KitchenAid made the cut both times, and is one of the few things I would take with me if and as I ever do it again. I won't take the rest of my household, but my mixer goes with me.
A stand mixer is a real time saver for cookies and such. If you are making bread dough in it, consider a Kenwood or Bosch. Compare the output of the motor and quietness. I sold stand mixers for many years. Whike the colors on the KA are nice, there is no comparison to the Kenwood or Bosch in power. The best one on the market (and has been for many years) is a Kenwood.
I don't even bake that much but I love mine for when I do. I have an Artisan and I think I paid in the mid 200s for it. I sort of bought it on a whim though so I'm sure you could get it for less with sales etc. Also, I have a bad shoulder and am short, so kneading by hand on the counter becomes quite a laborious task for me, so having the machine do that part of the work for me is great.
I will say, my mom bought the pro model and doesn't like it, she said it's too heavy for her and it's so tall that it doesn't fit under her kitchen cabinet. The Artisan is more manageable. I do wish I could get a bigger bowl for it because when I do bake, it's often a lot at a time and the standard bowl on the Artisan can be a bit small.
Try it for whipped potatoes. Preheat the mixer bowl by running hot tap water in it. Have the bowl warmed and ready, and put the hot potatoes in the bowl with the cream or milk and butter.. You'll have lovey mashed potatoes, easy peasy.
Also, you can whip cream for desserts or egg whites for waffles. You can also mix ingredients for hummus or guacamole in your mixer. I'd use low speed for that.
I too use mine for making mashed potatoes, which everyone loves. I can't imagine not having one ... I'm on my second KitchenAid (bought the second for color). I do prefer the larger size--Epicure I think?? For the first one, when I used to bake many dozens of Christmas cookies, I had an extra bowl, copper insert, etc., etc.
Several years ago SIL bought basic KA stand mixer and was RAVING about it on Thanksgiving day. I was thingking... I don't bake enough to justify $200-something. She FORCED me ti take hers home with me that day, with the PROMISE that I'd return it the following weekend... OK?!?
I set it up and made double batches of dough for 4-5 different cookies for the holidays in NO TIME. "Room temp" butter in my kitchen at the end of November is NOT soft, and the KA handled it very well. I was sold!
After returning it I stopped and bought one for myself on the way home! It was around the holidays and got it for around $190.
THEN a year or so ago, found a "vintage", faded-yellow, crank-up model at GOOD WILL for $19.99. Larger capacity, had paddle/whisk/dough-hook, ran well, and was clean. I just couldn't resist. I cleaned it up, taped everything off and spray painted flat black with paint meant for gas grills... look like NEW! Also found a spare bowl for a few $ at another thrift store.
It makes quick work on any dough (pizza/bread). Did a "science" lesson with niece (about 10 at the time) where we MADE butter from cream... she was in total awe!
I've never owned a stand mixer; I've always used a hand mixer or mixed everything by hand. I once had to make a wedding cake where I had to do 7 separate batches of buttercream frosting with my hand mixer, each time keeping the mixer moving with one hand while I added each tablespoon of butter one at a time.
Soon after that, someone invited me to help her make her wedding cake. When I got to the event she asked me to make a batch of buttercream frosting, using her stand mixer. I nearly cried at how easy it was to just deal with adding the butter while the mixer did all the rest of the work. If I had the money to buy one, I'd get one.
Yes to a stand mixer. Beaters of my Kitchen Aid are flat and so much easier to rinse than the beaters of a standard hand mixer. And the stainless bowl is easy to dishwash. If you bake, you need one of these. The Kitchen Aid excels at beating egg whites IMO, and it makes lovely piecrust.
I don't have a hand mixer, and have not for decades. But the little wand mixers work well for small jobs and stuff in hot pans.
I have a KA, purchased new in about 1989. I am not a huge baker but we use it regularly for pizza dough, cookies, and I make several birthday cakes per year. I appreciate the fact that the KA can withstand a stiff dough and that it can operate without my hands being involved. Amortizing the original price - about $200 - over 24 years and probably 25 usages per year, I am pretty happy with the investment. And the KA is still going strong so I look forward to many more years with it.
I don't understand your comment about another bowl to wash - without a stand mixer, you'd be using some other bowl.
Thanks to everyone for sharing their thoughts. It does seem like many people find their stand mixer an important tool in the kitchen. I think part of the reason I haven't felt an overwhelming desire to get one is that I mostly make fruit desserts like tarts that don't benefit from a heavily worked dough. If I decide to start making cake batters or breads frequently, I think I would consider the purchase.
Heck, yeah! Once you own one, you'll wonder why you didn't buy one years ago. I bought my KA artisan on sale, along with a coupon that brought the price down to $179, a steal.
The key to using it regularly is to store it on a shelf at chest level so it's easy to remove from the cupboard without having to bend, or worse, reach up for it. Even better if you can just leave it out all the time, but I prefer to store mine.
When you store yours like that, you'll use it for most routine mixing tasks. I actually find it easier than hunting down the hand mixer, appropriate beaters, and a bowl.
I must think the benefits outweigh the cost since I have 3. A Kitchen Aid, which I no longer use anymore. A Cuisinart stand mixer and an Electrolux Assistent aka Verona aka Ankarsrum ( they keep changing the name).
I only bought the Kitchen Aid because I grew up with one and it was what I knew. I didn't even bother researching other options. I keep the Cuisinart around to grind meat since it's the only one I currently have the grinder attachment for and as a second mixer if I really need to multi-task. I wouldn't have bought it though if I'd known about the Electrolux at the time.
My most used and favorite is the Electrolux due to the 8 quart open bowl design that allows me full view and access to whatever I'm making. I hate the over head motor design of the Kitchen Aid and Cuisinart. It's a complete PITA to add ingredients compared to the open bowl of the Electrolux.
It can knead up to 28 cups or 7 pounds of flour without issue and it kneads wonderfully.
I don't find the mixer bowl and attachments a hassle to clean. One of my favorite features is the timer so it shuts off when it's done and I don't have to babysit it if it's kneading bread dough for 10 or more minutes. It's less physical work to use the mixer.
I use it for everything from cookies to cakes to yeast breads.
Having said all that, if you are happy now not having one, then keep cooking the way you are now. Not everyone wants or needs one.
I don't understand the concern over cleaning the bowl. You have to mix whatever you are making in something. And that something has to be washed. Doesn't matter if it's a regular large kitchen bowl or a mixer bowl.
Choosing what size capacity you need is based off of what you want to use it for. Personally I don't like using my hand mixer except for thin batters or super small batches. Brownies or something. But I often just mix those by hand.
Thick cookie doughs or yeast breads I am using the stand mixer. Frosting I use the stand mixer. Having hands free mixing is very useful sometimes too.
(aargh! i wrote a reply, but i wasn't logged in so i guess it didn't register- apologies if you've seen this twice somehow..)
I've had a kitchenAid and a Bosch Universal Mixer. The KitchenAid I had for about 15 years, the Bosch for the last 5. I got the Bosch for 2 reasons: could take larger batches and you can add attachments - it amde sense to spend a little more for a high speed blender with the same base.
Anyway, I just got rid of the Bosch - put it in the garage because I couldn't sell it. (No one seems to know what they are!) They are marketed for larger families since they do large workhorse size quantities (they make a smaller one as well..but it was too small for me!). I loved it when I was baking bread several times a week for my family. I also made cakes, but I found that I would use a bowl and spoon more often, rather than have to clean the mixer.
If you have the counter space (either one is a large, heavy machine), and if you bake a LOT I would say they are definitely worth the investment. (The Bosch after 5 years still looks brand new and the motor is impeccable - I just got tired of looking at it and not using it to it's full potential.) The Bosch has the added benefit of being able to buy a blender and food processor for the same powerful base. For this reason, I liked the Bosch a little better than the KitchenAid. BUT NOW THAT I"M NOT BAKING SO MUCH I DON'T NEED EITHER!
I'd say that if you've gone this long without it, it might not be worth it. I got one in the first place because my hands were injured and I couldn't knead bread. Now, I don't bake bread so that solves that problem! Other than bread, I've gotten along just fine with an immersion blender, a spoon, and a bowl.
IME the benefits do outweigh the cost. I am NOT an accomplished baker so while I do drag the thing out 6-8 times a year for birthday cakes, holidays desserts, cookies etc it gets much greater use from the attachments.
I grind my own meats and make sausage. When juicing oranges are at their cheapest I can juice mounds of them quickly and easily.
One attachment I thought I wouldn't use very often was proven wrong. I find it to be a huge time saver and one I use it all the time is the slicer shredder. While my Cusinart is good for smaller jobs the KA make short work when making lasagna, potatoes au gratin, shredding carrots for muffins and cakes, etc.
I inherited my KitchenAid stand mixer from my parents and wish I'd bought one years before that. We have a small kitchen so keep it in a cupboard down the hall and consider carrying it back and forth as our weight exercise for the day. My husband uses it to make bread every other day, I love it for baked goods that begin with creaming sugar/butter/eggs--start the mixer and walk away. Five minutes later you have the fluffiest, creamiest, lightest mixture with virtually no work. For all your pastry making and such I think it would be worth the expense. As to operation and cleaning, I find it to be no big deal--the same as cleaning a bowl and a pair of beaters.
Menaicas, I've been debating the same question for ages and ages, and I've yet to buy a stand mixer. I've used either elbow grease (for kneading) for a hand mixer for over 30 years, so it's hard to convince me that I need to spend another couple of hundred dollars (or more) for a stand mixer. That said, if I was young, it might be worth it, i.e., amortized over a lifetime of use.
If you have the space buy a stand mixer. Washing the bowl is not a big deal. Put the bowl in the sink, rinse it out, fill with hot soapy water and use it to wash the other things you had used. The give it a scrub and there you have every thing clean and ready. Keep in mind what ever you use stand or hand held there is going to be a bowl to clean. When I have to buy a new one I plan to get the Cuisinart stand mixer because of several features one of which is a timer.
That said, I do have a 5 qt. KA. I also have a Cuisinart hand held. It is a powerful hand held mixer. It comes with 2 dough hooks, a whisk and regular beaters. http://www.amazon.com/Cuisinart-HM-90... it has a powerful 220 W motor.
I am happy with my KA stand and I have never made anything that made me wish I had a larger size.
A stand mixer really shines making doughs and batters that are really stiff or thick, where making them by hand would be difficult or fatiguing. They are also terrific for kneading yeast doughs: having the machine knead dough in place of ten minutes of hand kneading is a godsend for a baker. (Ten minutes seems like a really looooong time when I'm kneading a difficult dough!) A stand mixer allows you to multi-task, leaving your hands free to do something else while the butter and sugar are creaming , like for a cake or cookies, or the dough is kneading. Creaming butter and sugar with a stand mixer, while easily done by hand or with a hand mixer, gives better results IMO. So if you bake a lot a stand mixer is almost a necessity. And it does a lot of tasks faster than mixing by hand would.
While a stand mixer can certainly be used to make whipped cream, if whipping cream is needed just for a dessert topping, a stand mixer is overkill. A hand mixer or even a whisk takes so little time, and it's so easy to overbeat cream into butter that I never use the stand mixer for that task.
Works great for whipping egg whites, but I often end up using a hand mixer for the egg whites because my Kitchen Aid bowl is being used for the main components of the recipe I'm making.
A final advantage of stand mixers, at least my kitchen aid, is the variable speeds. It can run from very slow to very fast, while my hand mixer seems to run from very fast to extremely fast, no slow in its speed repetoire!
If you bake a lot and cook often for a family larger than two people, you probably want a larger pro model. Cooking for just the two of us, I have never had an occasion to wish for something larger than my 4.5-quart Artisan mixer.
It seems like a pain to clean the stand mixer, but you have to clean a big bowl regardless of the appliance used to cook with, right?
My 5-quart (Litre?) stand mixer from KitchenAid is very simple to operate. I've had it for several years, so no longer remember the price.
I've also used a "Sunbeam MixMaster" stand mixer for many years. The capacity of that mixer was 2 or 3 quarts, IIRC.
Tasks for which I use the stand mixer: pastry, if more than 5 cups flour; cookie batter if more than 2cups flour; mixing meatloaf or meatball meat if more than 1/2 lb; beating more than 2 egg whites or more than 100 ml (1/2 cup) of heavy cream.
To me, as an "older adult", the stand mixer is worth every penny, because it saves the joints in my arm.