How Stand Mixer Attachments Can Up Your Kitchen Game
CR tests spiralizers, grinders, pasta rollers, and more from KitchenAid, Cuisinart, and Sencor
With everyone spending more time at home and in the kitchen these past few months, baking has soared in popularity. But if you’ve grown tired of making bread and cookies, and you have a stand mixer with attachments, there are some nifty add-ons you can try to create more interesting fare.
Consumer Reports bought and tested several attachments for three of the popular brands in our stand mixer ratings—KitchenAid, Cuisinart, and Sencor—and made chicken and pork sausages, fresh pasta, and spiralized and sliced veggies.
“Most of the attachments do a good job, but some are easier to use than others,” says Cindy Fisher, who oversees our mixer testing.
Eight of the 24 stand mixers in our ratings are from KitchenAid, including four of our top-rated models. We tested the attachments using the KitchenAid Artisan Mini KSM3316XWH (CR members can see our ratings below), but you can use them with any KitchenAid stand mixer, even those that are decades old. KitchenAid has dozens of attachments, more than any other brand of stand mixer.
To make sausages: KitchenAid’s food grinder attachment, the KitchenAid KSMMGA, comes with a grinder and several add-on components so that you can make sausage in two thicknesses. It’s a two-step process. First you put solid chunks of chicken or pork into the feeder tube and push them through the grinder attachment, adding the seasonings you want. Next you screw on the stuffer nozzle, pull the sausage casing over it, put the meat through the grinder again, pushing it through the nozzle into the casing. You want a smooth sausage with no air pockets so that it cooks evenly, and the KitchenAid attachment accomplished that.
To make pasta: As with sausages, making fresh pasta in the KitchenAid is a two-step process. Using the KitchenAid KSMPRA, which has pasta cutters in three sizes, we made pasta dough following KitchenAid’s directions. The first step is to pass the pasta dough through the roller several times to flatten it out until you get it as thin as you want. (You can adjust the roller to select the thickness.) Hungry for spaghetti? Opt for a thicker setting on the roller. Prefer angel hair? Make it thinner. When you're satisfied with the pasta sheets, switch over to the pasta cutter section of the attachment and feed them through to get beautiful strands of fresh pasta. Quick tip: This is a great activity to do with kids.
To make spiralized veggies: Once you see how easy it is to make spiralized vegetables you’ll never buy them in the supermarket again. With the KitchenAid Spiralizer with Peel, Core and Slice KSM1APC, you don’t have to cut the veggies into smaller pieces like you do with some spiralizers, so you save a little prep time. We used a whole zucchini. It’s fun to spiralize an entire squash into long strands like spaghetti, but you can also cut the strands into any length you want using a knife or kitchen shears. Like most spiralizers, including manual ones, there's some waste involved; you end up with the core of the vegetable. Of course, you can still cook it.
Cuisinart attachments work with any Cuisinart stand mixer. We tested them using the Cuisinart Precision Master SM-50. (CR members can see our ratings below.) As with all the attachments we tried, these were pretty easy to install. You just remove the decorative plate that covers the port and pop one on.
To make sausages: The Cuisinart MG-50 meat grinder and sausage stuffer attachment works in a similar way to the KitchenAid’s. Again, it’s a two-step process of first grinding and seasoning the meat and then pushing it through the meat grinder into the nozzle to fill the casings. The process worked just as smoothly as it did with the KitchenAid; we got zero air bubbles in the sausages.
To make pasta: Although the Cuisinart line has pasta roller and cutter attachments, we decided to test the Cuisinart PE-50 pasta extruder for a little variety. Instead of just making long, flat pasta like spaghetti, the extruder can make six shapes ranging from macaroni to bucatini. You start by feeding small chunks of pasta dough into the extruder, which kneads it for a minute and then pushes it through for the pasta shape you want. You then cut the pasta to whatever length you prefer with the attached cutter.
Our testers found that the extruder was easy to use and made great pasta. But cleaning it was a challenge because you have to first allow the pasta dough to dry in it, and then tap it to loosen the dough. That didn’t always work, so we ended up having to use a skewer to push out the dried bits.
To make spiralized or sliced veggies: This Cuisinart SPI-50 PrepExpress Spiralizer/Slicer requires a little more prep time than the spiralizer for the KitchenAid because you have to cut the vegetables into pieces small enough to fit into the feeder tube. That means you won’t be able to make long pieces of zucchini. Still, we liked the thin strands of squash it cut. As with the KitchenAid, you’re left with the zucchini core. This attachment does double duty, though; you can also use it as a slicer. We sliced cucumbers and potatoes with it, and got perfectly thin slices. So in addition to zucchini pasta, you can make your own potato chips.
Unlike the KitchenAid and Cuisinart, which require you to buy the attachments separately, the Sencor Foodie STM40WH (CR members can see our ratings below) comes with a meat grinder, sausage stuffer, and combined slicer and grater, but not a spiralizer or pasta maker. You can buy a pasta maker attachment separately, although we were unable to get one in time for testing. Of the three mixers here, the Sencor is the one we had the most challenges with using the attachments.
To make sausages: Like the KitchenAid and Cuisinart, the Sencor meat grinder attachment easily ground the chunks of chicken and pork we used in our tests. But we saw big differences in the actual sausage-making. When we pushed the ground meat into the casing, the Sencor introduced air into the sausage, making the sausages lumpy. Sausages with air pockets won’t cook as evenly and may break apart.
To make sliced veggies: You can’t make squash spaghetti with the Sencor, but you can slice and grate. We used the slicer attachment with a cucumber, but the results were rather disappointing. The pieces came out in different sizes; some were whole slices, others were partial slices. We had better luck with a potato. The slices were more consistent, with just a few partial slices.
We also shredded a potato using the grater attachment. We had to cut the potato into chunks to fit into the feeder tube, but once those went through the grater, the results were recipe-ready—think potato pancakes.
To make grated cheese: We took an extra step with the Sencor and used the grater attachment to grate Parmesan cheese. The results were passable, but the pieces weren’t consistent in size. Still, if you’re adding the grated cheese to a hot dish it will melt, so the size of the pieces won’t make much difference.