Best Stand MixersBy Erin Fife
When it comes to stand mixers, the iconic KitchenAid stands alone—and for good reason. KitchenAid mixers have been around for almost 100 years and currently dominate the marketplace.
However, there are more than ten other companies that now manufacture stand mixers that claim they're as good as—if not better than—KitchenAid. That's a bold declaration—so we set out to see if KitchenAid still makes the Best Right Now, or if another brand will take center stage.
We narrowed an initial list of 27 mixers down to nine. The mixers we reviewed in this batch have a capacity between 4.5-7 quarts, and are all targeted at an enthusiast home baker. In other words, they're for the sort of person who might make a batch of cookies or a cake on the weekend, but not someone who churns out multiple loaves of bread daily.
After spending hours kneading bread dough, mixing chunky cookie dough, whipping egg whites, and measuring noise, movement, and splatter, we found that all of the nine mixers we tested did an adequate job. Some, however, performed with much better speed, efficiency, and design—and some were better values than others.
Updated December 09, 2016
|Where to Buy|
|Amazon||Click for price Buy|
|Home Depot||$358.00 Buy|
|Best Buy||$349.99 Buy|
KitchenAid Artisan 5-Quart Stand Mixerbest overall
The Artisan is the quintessential stand mixer. Easy to set up and with the quietest motor we tested, the Artisan was a pleasure to use and passed through all our tests with aplomb. Despite its many competitors, our tests prove that it is still the best stand mixer you can buy.
Its merits are many: attachments were easy to put on, remove, and clean; the tilt lever lock worked well; the bowl installed smoothly; and the splash guard, though not really necessary (for this class of mixer, none of them are), fit the bowl well and could be slid on when needed without taking apart the mixer.
All this comes at a price–an MSRP of $429.99, to be exact, although colors and sales may vary (we tested the red KSM150PSER). There are also a few features on competing mixers that we wish the Artisan had too. For instance, the speed lever on the Artisan is durable and effective, but not pleasant to use, with sharp edges and just enough resistance to make it easy to turn the mixer on faster than intended. The Artisan also doesn’t have a lock for when the head of the mixer is in the “up” position – a safety feature that would be nice.
Owners of KitchenAids consistently get great performance from their mixers for years, so though the price is high, an Artisan mixer is well worth the money.
Kenmore Elite 5 Quartbest value
The Kenmore Elite 5 Quart Mixer looks, at first glance, very similar to the Artisan. From the lock switch on the back to the shape of the bowls, it is easy to get the two mixers mixed up with each other, until you turn them on.
The Kenmore 5 Quart's motor is significantly louder than the Artisan and the motor’s tone has a high-pitched whine. There are also minor problems with the design of the attachments. For instance, the wider flat top of the bread hook caught a lot of flour as we added ingredients to the bowl. The neck of the paddle attachment makes it difficult to remove without getting dough on our hands. In addition, after 10 minutes of kneading bread, the bowl had tightened onto the base of the mixer almost to the point where we couldn’t get it off.
That all being said, these issues only make the mixer less user friendly, and we were still impressed with its overall performance in our tests. (We tested the 89208 in red.) At a price of nearly half the cost of the list price on the Artisan, these tradeoffs will make sense for many buyers. That's why it earned our best value pick.
Breville BEM800XL Scraper Mixer Pro
The Breville Scraper Mixer Pro splits the difference between the Kenmore 5 Quart and the KitchenAid Artisan. While it isn’t cheap enough to be called a Best Value, if you’re looking for a great mixer that is less expensive than the list price of the KitchenAid, this is it.
The Breville's motor is slightly louder than the Artisan, but significantly quieter than the Kenmore. It is 5 pounds lighter than the Artisan, with user-friendly handles on the front and back of the head for easy carrying, a well-made speed dial, and a cord capture to keep the power cord tucked safely away. The Breville consistently completed tasks faster than the Kenmore, but the ultimate results were the same: 3 cups of whipped egg whites, well mixed cookies, and great bread.
The Breville does have a few flaws. As with the Kenmore 5 Quart, there isn’t enough space at the top of the paddle attachment, so you will get your hands covered in cookie dough when you remove the paddle. In addition, the bowl does not lock in as smoothly as our two top picks. Most importantly, when the Breville mixes something heavy at high speed (like sticky pizza dough) the entire mixer “walks” all over the counter.
Still, if you want a great mixer for lighter-weight baking (cookies, cakes, bread) and you don’t want to purchase a KitchenAid, this is a good choice.
|Where to Buy|
|Amazon||Click for price Buy|
|Home Depot||$449.00 Buy|
|Best Buy||$449.99 Buy|
KitchenAid Professional 600 Series 6-Quart
Out of the box, the Pro 600 is beautiful. There's a nice, solid handle for locking the bowl into place and an easy to use splatter shield. Plus, it comes with all the well-made attachments we expect from the leading stand mixer manufacturer, and a more powerful motor than the Artisan.
Performance-wise, the KP26M1X we tested was—hands-down—the best at kneading bread dough, but it was very slow to whip three egg whites.
It also didn't feel quite as polished as our top choice. For example, the paddle attachment was hard to attach, and the metal trim bulged out when we pushed the speed dial to the "off" position. The bowl-lift handle and speed knobs are on opposite sides of the machine, so we had to situate it in the middle of a counter.
Kenmore Elite 6 Quart
The Kenmore Elite 6 Quart has a more powerful motor than the Kenmore 5 Quart (600 versus 400 watts) and a larger capacity, but testing showed that the ability of the machine to mix and whip was not materially different than the Kenmore 5 Quart. It whipped more slowly, but incorporated chunks into cookie dough faster and more efficiently. The motor was the loudest we tested, and whined ear-piercingly as it kneaded bread dough. If you have your heart set on an affordable bowl-lift design, though, this Kenmore (model number 89308) costs just $100 more than the tilt-head Kenmore.
|Where to Buy|
|Essential Hardware||$338.81 Buy|
While the Cuisinart 5.5 Quart mixer combined chunks into cookie dough more efficiently than most mixers we tested, it was consistently one of the slowest to complete tasks, taking an extra minute to fully whip egg whites into stiff peaks. The biggest drawback of the Cuisinart 5.5 Quart, however, is its overall design.
On top of the mixer, there's a lid that covers two motor attachments for accessories. However, it doesn't snap into place, which means it's easy to pinch your hands or pop the top off accidentally as you’re trying to move the mixer around the kitchen. The mixer is also top-heavy, so it's easy to tip the mixer over when you’re changing attachments. Cleaning is another big issue with this mixer. From the way the bowl attaches to the Cuisinart logo to the speed dial design, there are a lot of places on the mixer that will require more than a quick swipe of a wet cloth to clean.
Its awkward design, plus the fact that it is almost as expensive as the KitchenAid Artisan, makes it difficult to recommend this mixer.
The Cuisinart 7 Quart stands about two inches taller than the 5.5 Quart. It has a more powerful motor and a whisk with significantly more tines. Unfortunately, the 7 Quart adds functional issues on top of the design issues with the 5.5 Quart. Since the bowl is taller—but no wider—than the 5.5 Quart, it is hard to scrape all the way down to the bottom of the bowl.
While the whisk is much improved, the other attachments are simply larger versions of the same design. Butter, for example, got stuck just as easily in the paddle as with the 5.5 Quart. Overall, the added capacity (and cost) does not make the Cuisinart 7 Quart better than the 5 Quart.
Hamilton Beach Eclectrics 63232
The Hamilton Beach Eclectrics Mixer is the least expensive stand mixer we tested. It is styled like the Kenmore 5 Quart and the KitchenAid Artisan, with a simple button for head lock release and a speed dial. The biggest concern with this mixer is the motor. Rated at 400 watts, it claims to be more powerful than the Artisan’s 325 watts, but in testing the mixer struggled to mix thick cookie dough and knead bread.
We also found that the bowl handle’s sharp edges uncomfortably cut into our hands, and although the speed dial is labeled up to 12, the motor only has 6 speeds. At roughly the same price, the Kenmore 5 Quart is a much better choice.
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