If you bake, even just occasionally, a stand mixer can feel like a must-have appliance. Its mixing speed and versatility make it indispensable for cookies, cakes, bread and more, but stand mixers can be pricey.
We wanted to find out if you really need to spend hundreds of dollars for a good stand mixer, so we had Andrea Boudewijn, BestReviews’ cooking and baking expert, put four to the test, making a series of bakes and desserts over a period of 2 weeks. After testing the KitchenAid Artisan Mini Stand Mixer, Hamilton Beach 7-Speed Electric Stand Mixer, Hamilton Beach 6-Speed Stand Mixer and the Dash Everyday Stand Mixer, here’s what we learned.
Before you start shopping for a stand mixer, consider what you want to use it for. If you regularly bake bread, you’ll need a stand mixer with a powerful motor that can withstand being run for several minutes at a time. You should also look for a larger bowl — 3.5 quarts or larger — to accommodate larger batches. However, if you’re a casual baker, a budget stand mixer with a 3-quart or smaller bowl may be sufficient.
Another important consideration is the stand mixer’s weight. High-end stand mixers tend to have all-metal construction, making them more durable but heavier. Stand mixers with plastic bodies tend to be lighter-weight and easier to take in and out of cupboards.
The KitchenAid Artisan Mini stand mixer offers the power and durability of full-size KitchenAid stand mixers in a compact size. It features a 3.5-quart bowl with a generous handle, and while its 250-watt motor is on the less powerful side, it could still handle large, tough batches of dough with its 10 speed options. It comes with a flat beater, dough hook and wire whip.
Despite its price, the KitchenAid Artisan Mini emerged as our top pick. It ticked all the right boxes: it’s powerful but still compact, it mixes evenly, it’s lightweight and the attachments are easy to swap out. Plus, it offers the same front-mounted KitchenAid attachment port as full-size stand mixers, so it can be used to grind meat, make pasta, spiralize and more. Cooks and bakers of all ages and in any kitchen size will be able to produce almost any recipe they desire, despite the scaled-down size of the attachments.
This lightweight mixer features seven speed settings and a 300-watt motor. It comes with a dough hook, wire whisk, flat beater and a splatter guard. The Hamilton Beach 7-Speed features a sturdy built-in handle on the top to help lift the mixer’s head and move it for storage.
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We loved this stand mixer’s handle — since the mixer is so lightweight, it was the easiest model to move in and out of cupboards of the four we tested. Although it’s a small machine, this stand mixer doesn’t move around while it’s mixing thanks to its suction-cup feet. It mixes well on all its speed settings, using the same planetary mixing action as the KitchenAid. Plus, it’s much more affordable than the KitchenAid, at almost a third of the price. However, the tilt-head mechanism relies on a spring-loaded hinge that requires two hands to operate; otherwise, the head can fling itself back and make a mess.
This compact stand mixer features modern styling and an easy-to-use dial for changing between its six speed settings. We appreciated the versatility of its 3.5-quart stainless steel bowl and the planetary mixing action that helps ensure all ingredients are thoroughly mixed.
This Hamilton Beach stand mixer also has suction-cup feet to keep it in place. The mixing action worked well, and overall, the Hamilton Beach 6-Speed is easy to operate, especially if you’ve used a stand mixer before. However, we had a lot of trouble swapping the attachments, so someone with arm or wrist problems may prefer a less difficult model.
Of the four stand mixers we tried, the Dash Everyday stand mixer has the smallest bowl, at 2.5 quarts. It was also probably the most visually appealing, thanks to its chrome details and retro color choices. We were impressed by its unique engineering features, like the bowl’s ability to rotate and slide back and forth to help ingredients fully mix.
As a budget stand mixer, the Dash Everyday isn’t really a bad choice. It costs hundreds of dollars less than our top pick, the KitchenAid Artisan Mini, and its cute style makes it a great addition to a kitchen counter. However, its speed choices let us down: even the lowest speed felt way too fast, and there isn’t much variation between the options. Plus, like many budget stand mixers, it can only be used for a few minutes at a time to prevent its motor from overheating. If you bake regularly and need a stand mixer capable of frequent, lengthy use, this won’t be the best stand mixer for you, but if you only need the occasional help making a cake or a batch of cookies, the Dash Everyday is still a good pick.
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Laura Duerr writes for BestReviews. BestReviews has helped millions of consumers simplify their purchasing decisions, saving them time and money.