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The best mixers for serious bakers

Match the hand or stand mixer to your baking style

Published: September 12, 2014 04:45 PM

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Cooler temperatures have arrived. Let the baking season begin. Whether you're baking bread, cookies, or cake, you’ll need the right kitchen gear, starting with a capable mixer. Just about any mixer will do for simple tasks. Hand mixers cost less and can handle light chores such as whipping cream or mixing cake batter. But if you routinely make bread and cookies from scratch, you’ll want a more powerful stand mixer that doesn’t walk across the counter when handling heavy dough. Here's how to choose a mixer plus the best mixers from Consumer Reports’ tests.

Decide how much mixer you need. Just about any mixer can handle basic whipping and mixing. If you’re a dedicated baker, look for a heavy, powerful model with one beater that spins in one direction and moves around the bowl in the opposite direction. Mixers with two beaters that spin against each other didn’t do as well in our tests.

Check wattage and speeds. Manufacturers stress power and number of speeds, but neither necessarily provides better performance. Some stand mixers have as many as 16 speeds. We think five well-differentiated speeds are sufficient. The slower the lowest speed, the better; slow mixing prevents splattering.

Consider size and weight. Some stand mixers weigh more than 20 pounds, giving them the stability to handle tough jobs. Make sure you have enough clearance if you plan to store it on the counter below a cabinet; be aware that most stand mixers have heads that tilt up, taking up even more room.

KitchenAid KHM926

Top 3 hand mixers from our tests
KitchenAid KHM926, $100. This mixer costs more than other hand mixers, though it did perform very well in our tests, combing very good mixing and whipping time. It also scored points for versatility, thanks to its dough hooks, whisk attachment, and liquid blender rod, which is designed to blend soups, smoothies, and more.
Cuisinart Power Advantage HM-50, $40. Cuisinart’s 5-speed hand mixer had no trouble powering through stiff cookie dough in our tests and it was very quick at whipping. We also like the well-priced mixer’s wire beaters, which are easier to clean than the traditional center-post variety.
KitchenAid Architect KHM7210, $80. KitchenAid’s 7-speed hand mixer delivers superb mixing, say for folding chocolate chips into stiff cookie dough. It's also very good at whipping, for example when you're beating egg whites for meringue. In terms of features, we like this model’s easy-to-clean wire beaters and its separate whisk attachment. On the downside, it lacks a slow-start option to prevent spills and it doesn’t come with a dough hook.

Breville BEM800XL

Top 3 stand mixers from our tests
Breville BEM800XL, $300. Breville was excellent at whipping cream, mixing large batches of cookie dough, and kneading bread dough. It beat out favorites from KitchenAid and other brands thanks to a bevy of convenience features, including a leaf beater with a flexible edge that scrapes the bowl as it turns and a timer that lets you set your desired mixing time.
KitchenAid Professional 6500 Design Series, $550. Though it costs more than most, KitchenAid’s 6-quart mixer is among the best from our tests. It combines excellent whipping, mixing, and kneading, plus it can take on an assortment of power attachments, including a pasta maker and food grinder. It comes with a whisk, flat beater, and dough hook.
KitchenAid Classic (250 watt) K45SS[WH], $200. KitchenAid’s classic 5-quart mixer has been among our highest-rated models for a long time, and at $200 it’s a very good value. It combines excellent whipping, mixing, and kneading, plus it can take on an assortment of power attachments, including a pasta maker and food grinder. It comes with a whisk, flat beater, and dough hook.

For more choices see our full mixer Ratings and recommendations.

—Adapted from Consumer Reports Appliance Guide

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