Mixer Buying Guide

    Mixer Buying Guide

    Watch any cooking show and you’re bound to see an iconic stand mixer on the counter. And if it’s a baking show, it’s likely to be the centerpiece. A stand mixer can impressively churn through heavy doughs and batters, and also whip up light-as-air meringues and whipped cream. The dough hook of a stand mixer can knead bread dough in a fraction of the time it takes to do it by hand.

    Of course, if your cooking tends more toward savory foods, a stand mixer may be more machine than you need. That could also be true if you are short on cabinet or counter space. If you fall into either of those camps, opt for a hand mixer instead. It’s ideal for lighter jobs, such as whipped cream for your favorite pie, and other small batches, and it can help you mix up thinner batters, such as the occasional birthday cake.

    And, heck, if you cook a lot or have a big family, you may want one of each. It’s easier to whip up two egg whites with a hand mixer than to haul out the heavy equipment.

    How We Test Mixers

    We test mixers on a variety of tasks. To test mixing performance we make chocolate chip cookies because they have a thick batter that can really challenge a mixer. To test kneading, we add blue and yellow food coloring to dough and time how long it takes the mixer to turn the dough an even green. We top off our performance tests by timing how long it takes to whip a half-pint of heavy cream into airy peaks.

    We also judge noise when the mixer is running on the highest speed. To score mixers on convenience, we assess how easy it is to connect and remove the beaters and bowl, and how easy it is to adjust the mixer speeds.

    In the Mix: What to Consider

    Another consideration when buying a mixer is how much you want to spend. The hand mixers in CR’s tests range in price from $20 to $130. And as we wrote in “Best Hand Mixers From Consumer Reports’ Tests,” you don’t have to spend at the top of the range to get a good one.

    The stand mixers we test range in price from $40 to $480, and most of the mixers in our review of the best stand mixers hit a sweet spot in the middle. Spend a little more and you can add attachments that transform your stand mixer into a meat grinder, spiralizer, fresh pasta maker, and more.

    If you’re buying a hand mixer, look for one that comes with extra attachments. A separate whisk makes whipping easier. Wire beaters are easier to clean than traditional center-post beaters. And keep in mind that hand mixers with a slow-start option are less likely to cause spatters.

    Considering a stand mixer? In addition to taking stock of your counter and storage space, make sure you have enough clearance between the top of the counter and the bottom of your cabinets (if that’s where you’re going to use the mixer). Most models have a head that tilts up when you add or remove the beaters and bowl. So you want to make sure your overheard cabinets aren’t too low to accommodate the extra height. Some stand mixers have a lever that raises and lowers the bowl—the head stays still—and may be a better fit.

    No matter which type of mixer you choose, our mixer tests show considerable differences in how various models perform. And while manufacturers stress wattage and number of speeds, neither figure necessarily translates into better performance.

    The Hand or the Stand

    Which food-prep appliance best suits your lifestyle? Match the machine to the foods you most frequently prepare and how you like to prep. (And keep in mind that you might need more than one.) Hand mixers can handle most light chores, while powerful stand mixers are ideal for heavy doughs, batters, and more.

    Hand Mixers

    Hand Mixers

    These are best for light-duty tasks such as whipping cream or egg whites, mixing cake batter, and mashing potatoes. But they are not as good as stand mixers at mixing dough.

    Most of the top-performing hand mixers have wire beaters without the thick center post found on traditional-style beaters. The wire beaters perform well and are easier to clean. Some come with additional attachments; check the Specs section in our ratings to see which are included. (Use the slider in our ratings to find that information.)

    One definite plus is that hand mixers are easy to store and don’t require any counter space.

    Hand Mixers Ratings
    Stand mixers

    Stand mixers

    A stand mixer can do everything a hand mixer does, and is more capable at mixing thick cookie batter and bread dough. One major drawback: They’re heavier and take up counter space.

    Some use two beaters, which spin against each other. Others use one beater, which spins in one direction and moves around the bowl the opposite way. Most of the mixers in our ratings have one beater. Light-duty models typically have stationary beaters and a bowl that sits on a revolving turntable.

    For complete details, including the height and weight of each mixer, as well as which attachments are included, check the Specs section in our ratings.

    Stand mixers Ratings

    Mixer Brands

    Black+Decker, Hamilton Beach, and Sunbeam are the dominant brands among hand mixers. KitchenAid owns about half the stand-mixer market; Hamilton Beach and Sunbeam are the next-best-selling brands. Use these profiles to compare mixers by brand.

    Black+Decker makes an assortment of attractively priced small appliances, including hand mixers. They are widely available both online and at walk-in retailers.

    Cuisinart is a perennial big player in the world of small appliances, though it is a relative newcomer to the mixer market. The company sells both hand and stand mixers. They are available in a variety of colors and are sold at department stores, specialty stores, and online retailers.

    Hamilton Beach, a widely sold brand in the mixer category, offers both hand and stand mixers. They come in various colors and are sold at most kitchen appliance retailers. The company also sells a commercial line of mixers through specialty retailers, Amazon.com, and other websites.

    This high-end brand is the major player in the mixers market. Its stand mixers are versatile, with various attachments, and come in a wide array of colors. KitchenAid hand and stand mixers are widely available at retailers nationwide.

    Sunbeam’s midpriced hand and stand mixers come in a variety of colors and are sold at Target, Bed Bath & Beyond, JCPenney, and a number of online retailers.

    Other brands on the market include Bosch, Breville, Kenmore, and Oster.