From mixers and juicers to spiralizers and meat grinders, today’s cooks can buy specialized appliances for every kitchen task.
However, all those gadgets take up counter and cabinet space. For those who don’t have either, an all-in-one kitchen machine might seem like an attractive idea. A kitchen machine is a single device that features a heavy-duty motor and attachments for all additional functions. While American versions did exist in the past, they're mostly popular in Europe—where space is short, but home cooking is popular.
Kitchen machines may not be the best at any one particular thing, but their more powerful motors (600+ Watts) can handle most jobs pretty well, and they provide a high speed attachment point that makes tasks like blending possible.
While many stand mixers also offer attachments that do other tasks in the kitchen, they are first and foremost mixers. Kitchen machines are specifically designed to power other accessories.
We tried out two kitchen machines to see where they excelled, and where they fell short.
The Swedish chef’s “assistent”
Formerly known as the Electrolux Kitchen Assistent, the Ankarsrum is a heavy-duty kitchen machine from Sweden that has a cult following in Europe and the U.S. Home cooks especially praise it for its ability to knead up huge batches of bread easily thanks to a massive, 7-liter bowl and an attached scraper.
The design is an example of seriously divergent thinking: Instead of a top-mounted mixing head that descends into the bowl, attachments hang off a tall, stationary shaft. The bowl spins, driven by a 600W motor in the base.
To use most of the robust available attachments—such as a meat grinder, vegetable slicer, blender, citrus press, grater, strainer, or grain mill—you must turn the machine on its side.
Manufactured since 1940, the Ankarsrum kitchen machine still retains its retro design and quality feel. Unfortunately, that’s not the only thing that’s stuck in the 1940s: We couldn’t figure out how to use the attachments until after carefully reading the manual and watching a few YouTube videos. And, in some configurations, the bowl spins quite rapidly, threatening loose clothing and little fingers. At 19 lbs., it’s also quite heavy to move around.
Once we got it set up, it did a fine job creaming butter and sugar, and mixing up cookie doughs and muffin batters.
However, we had issues with what might be the Ankarsrum’s most useful feature: its size. A massive bowl might be good for making multiple loaves of bread at a time, but we found it struggled to mix the dough for a single loaf. We also had similar issues with KitchenAid’s largest, “pro-style” mixers—which is proof that bigger doesn’t always mean better when it comes to baking.
A more modern Bosch
The Bosch MUM6 is a lighter-weight kitchen machine that boasts similar versatility in a simpler, less industrial package. Its futuristic, white plastic exterior won’t dress up your counter, but it makes the MUM6 easy to carry, use and clean.
It also works a bit more conventionally than the Ankarsrum—though it’s quite different from a traditional stand mixer. The MUM6 also has a base-mounted motor, in this case an 800W one. Attachments go on a spindle that passes through the center of the bowl, which allows unobstructed access to add ingredients.
Included in the box are a dough hook, scraper and double beater. A plastic mixing bowl is included, but a metal one is available. The whole setup is made in Slovenia.
A multitude of other accessories are available, which can turn the MUM6 into a meat grinder, blender, slicer/shredder, food processor, and pasta cutter. Some accessories replace the bowl, others attach to the rear of the machine—and some require a “leg” attachment that extends further out from the base.
Are they worth it?
There are two things to consider when deciding whether to buy a kitchen machine: How much it costs, and what you intend to use it for.
The base model of the Ankarsrum costs $700. For that, you get just the basic stand mixer accessories (bowls, whisks, dough hook). This is twice the price of our top-rated stand mixer.
The Bosch MUM6 sells for roughly half the cost of the Ankarsrum, but attachments cost about the same. With a blender and a few other attachments, you’ll still end up in the $600 range all-in.
The attachments you’ll need for your multifunction dream cost an extra $50-$200 each. Depending on what sort of blender or food processor you’re planning to buy, the accessories could either be considerably cheaper or more expensive than buying individual gadgets.
More importantly, however, is use. Both the Ankarsrum and Bosch have very large mixing bowls—great for those who want to make large batches of bread all at once, but harder for those who plan on baking smaller amounts.
In the end, it’s a personal choice: You may want to consider buying a kitchen machine if you love the design (motor in base, open top for adding ingredients), expect to frequently use the specialized attachments like the meat grinder or grain mill, or are determined to save even a little counter space.
But for most home cooks, purchasing dedicated stand-alone appliances for each of your kitchen needs will be less expensive. They also give you the opportunity to customize each appliance based on your personal needs for capacity, power, and aesthetics.