The Best KitchenAid Mixer
The KitchenAid Artisan stand mixer is a tried-and-true classic. It kneads, stirs, creams, and whips ingredients to perfection. This mixer will be a huge help with normal baking tasks like making cookie dough, whipping cream, and mixing cake batter. Despite being one of KitchenAid’s smaller models, the Artisan packs a lot of power, and can take on bigger tasks than its fellow tilt-head mixers. It easily handles a moderate amount of bread kneading and other tough work (about one or two loaves per week). The Artisan also comes in just about every color imaginable. You’ll have no trouble finding one that matches your decor. For $430, it’ll do everything the average user needs it to — and we found it for about half the MSRP on Amazon and retail locations.
If you mix tough doughs for bread, pizza, or bagels on a daily basis or in large batches, then you’ll need something with a little more oomph. We recommend the KitchenAid Pro 600. This bowl-lift mixer is designed for heavy-duty work. It has a larger, sturdier frame than the Artisan, which means it can support a more powerful motor on top. It also comes with a spiral dough hook, which kneaded a double batch of heavy dough quickly and thoroughly in our tests. We like that the Pro 600’s 6-quart bowl gives you more space without being excessively large (like KitchenAid’s 7 and 8-quart models). We also like that it’s relatively light for its size. At $600, it’s not the most expensive KitchenAid, but it costs significantly more than the average stand mixer. But if you need extra muscle for those heavy-duty kneading tasks, you’ll absolutely love the power the Pro 600 has to offer.
Finding the Best KitchenAid Mixer
KitchenAid has been making stand mixers since 1919. That’s almost a hundred years to perfect stand mixing technology (and come up with fun new colors). As a result, KitchenAid products have become the standard in the industry. Any KitchenAid mixer can accomplish the basic tasks you need it to: kneading, blending, creaming, and whipping. The real differences are size, power, and price. And what’s right for you depends on how you plan to use it. This means that the “Best” KitchenAid mixer isn’t necessarily going to be the biggest or most powerful one. Instead, it’s a matter of finding the one that will tackle everything you need it to, at the right price point.
The number of mixers KitchenAid offers may seem overwhelming at first, but most people will be choosing from four models: the Classic, the Artisan, the Pro 600, and the Professional 6500 series. Most of these models come in multiple versions with different bowls and attachments — part of the reason why it seems like there are so many options — but we found that only some of these features actually made the mixers easier and more to intuitive to use. Ultimately, these four series represent the full range and application of KitchenAid mixers. Most people will be able to find one that perfectly suits their needs from this list.
As for what didn’t make the cut: We didn’t look at KitchenAid’s largest models, the 7-quart Pro Line Series and the 8-quart Commercial Series. Our research and two experienced bakers advised us that non-professionals won’t need that much size, power, and muscle. Hardly any home user needs to spend upwards of $1,000 for the right mixer. The Artisan Mini didn’t make our list either — it’s just a smaller Artisan at a slightly cheaper price point. If you’re primarily worried about space, though, know that it’s an option.
We brought in the Classic, the Artisan, the Pro 600, and the Professional 6500 and spent two full days hands-on testing to get a feel for how these machines work and what they’re capable of. Our two top picks are both powerful and versatile enough to assist with your at-home baking needs. This guide will take you through how we arrived at those picks and help you choose the right KitchenAid mixer for you.
- KitchenAid Classic 4.5-Quart
- KitchenAid Artisan 5-Quart
- KitchenAid Pro 600 6-Quart
- KitchenAid Professional 6500 Design Series 6-Quart
You’ll first have to decide between tilt-head and bowl-lift mixers, based on what you’re mixing.
Stand mixers are grouped by the way you access their bowl and attachments. With tilt-head mixers, as the name implies, you tilt the head back on a hinge in order to change attachments and remove the bowl. In general, tilt-head mixers are smaller (usually between 4.5 and 5.5 quarts) with lower-wattage motors. They’re also less expensive. Bowl-lift mixers use a crank that raises and lowers the bowl so you can take it out or change the attachments. They’re larger (from 6 to 8 quarts), more powerful, and usually quite a bit pricier. The kind you need depends on what you plan to use it for. Tilt-head mixers are great for everyday baking tasks, while bowl-lift models are designed to take on heavier work.
We found that KitchenAid’s tilt-head mixers can handle almost any task their bowl-lift mixers can. They’ll cream, whip, and mix to your heart’s content. They’re also Goldilocks’ perfect mixer size — not too big and not too small. Professional baker and cookbook author Tish Boyle uses both the 4.5-quart Classic and 5-quart Artisan, and says capacity has never been an issue for normal baking needs. However, she does have some trouble with her 6-quart KitchenAid. This larger mixer can’t handle the small quantities she often needs to mix; like a couple of egg whites or a small amount of whipped cream, for example. These have to be started by hand and then transferred to the mixer, because the attachments don’t come close enough to the bowl. So if you size up to a bowl-lift model for extra capacity, you’d likely be sacrificing some of the convenience of your stand mixer.
The real differentiator between the two mixer types is how they handle kneading. While the Artisan and Classic can tackle one, maybe two batches of dough, they’ll have trouble with larger recipes or multiple rounds of kneading in a row. Because they have smaller motors and some non-metal components in their gears, they’re liable to strain or break if worked too hard. We saw a hint of this durability issue with the Classic. In testing, its flat beater had trouble mixing pizza dough ingredients, causing the motor to stall and the whole machine to visibly struggle. It finished the job… just not as easily as either of the professional models.
Unless you’re an avid bread-maker though (we’re talking multiple loaves, multiple times per week), you’re unlikely to exceed the Artisan or Classic’s limits. Renee Wells, author of the stand mixer blog Mix It Bake It, says that a larger model like the ProLine or Professional 600 “will be a waste if you will only be using it for cakes and cookies or for one to two loaves of bread.” For everyday baking and occasional kneading, a tilt-head mixer is plenty powerful.
If you do plan to make dough every day or in large batches, you’ll want to invest in one of KitchenAid’s bowl-lift mixers. These models are designed as one solid piece to support a heavier, more powerful motor on top. As a result, they’re able to muscle through round after round of tough kneading. This means they can tackle the larger quantities of bread dough, pizza dough, bagel dough, etc. that you wouldn’t put in a tilt-head mixer. Renee Wells uses her Pro 600 for “more than two loaves in one go three to four times a week.” She notes that the Pro 600, unlike the Artisan, even has an overload protection that shuts the motor off if it’s at risk of being overworked. For a mixer that’s meant to be put through the wringer, that’s an important safeguard.
Bowl-lift mixers also come equipped with spiral dough hooks for kneading. Users agree that spirals are a lot more effective than the C-shaped hooks that come with tilt-head mixers. They work by exerting downward force that pushes the dough against the bowl and folds it over. Because of the vertical stress they exert, spiral hooks cannot be used in tilt-head mixers, which are liable to snap upwards and break. Bowl-lift models don’t run that risk. Their one-piece design can absorb vertical force without straining. For people interested in making tough dough (and lots of it), KitchenAid’s Pro and Professional series are a good place to start looking.
You’ll also want to consider ease of handling, bowl design, and attachments.
KitchenAid mixers come with different kinds of bowls and attachments. When shopping, you’ll want to think about how these design elements will affect your everyday stand mixer use. After testing them for ourselves, we saw that things like bowl design and attachment material could make a big difference in how easy and enjoyable it is to use a mixer.
Bowl Design: We loved mixers with well-designed, easy-to-use bowls — specifically, metal bowls with handles. Metal makes the bowl lighter and easier to maneuver, and a large, vertical handle like the Artisan’s simplifies the pouring process. Imagine pouring cake batter into a pan: Ideally, the bowl will be light enough to hold with one hand, leaving the other one free to scrape the bowl clean. In contrast, the Classic’s handle-less bowl required both hands to use. This made the mixer awkward to work with and left us without the ability to easily scrape that last bit of batter out of the bowl.
We also ruled out the glass bowls that come with KitchenAid’s Design Series mixers. The Professional 6500’s thick glassware was a huge pain (and a big part of the reason that mixer is so heavy). Although the bowl has a handle, it’s too heavy to lift single-handed — even when empty. We didn’t see any benefit to the glass, either. It wasn’t marked with measurements (which would have made measuring faster), and didn’t make it much easier to keep an eye on the mixing process. We could observe the ingredients in our metal bowls just fine from overhead.
Attachments: Tilt-head mixers get another point for their dishwasher-safe attachments. All tilt-head KitchenAids come with nylon-coated, dishwasher-safe beaters and dough hooks. By comparison, bowl-lift attachments are either burnished aluminum or “F Series” that must be hand-washed. One of Tish Boyle’s few complaints about her KitchenAid Pro 600 was its metal beaters. She says that since she uses her mixer often, having to wash the attachments by hand every time drives her crazy.
Weight: All KitchenAid mixers are pretty heavy — they need enough bulk to stay anchored on the counter during difficult mixing. But we found our tilt-head models a little more manageable than our bowl-lifts. At 24 and 25 pounds, the Classic and Artisan are weighty but not too hard to lift, kind of like picking up a toddler. The Professional 6500 is 11 pounds heavier (almost a 50% increase) and we were surprised what a difference that made. The extra weight coupled with its larger frame made it unwieldy and difficult to move around. If you’re going to invest in one of the weightier models, you’ll want to have a dedicated place for it on the counter.
We tested a range of bowl and attachment types, and the superiority of certain models really shined through. We discovered that the best KitchenAid mixers would come with metal bowls, great handles, and dishwasher-safe attachments. Our tests also confirmed that tilt-head mixers would be best for most homes. They’re small, light, and manageable enough for almost anyone to use.
Our Picks for the Best KitchenAid Mixers
Best for Most Kitchens
The Artisan is KitchenAid’s best-selling stand mixer, and after testing it for ourselves we could see why. It whipped egg whites into perfect peaks; it creamed butter and sugar in almost no time; and it handled dough impressively well for its modest, 325-watt motor. Its size and price are also mid-range, as far as KitchenAid mixers go. This makes it a great choice for anyone who needs an extra hand in the kitchen, but doesn’t want to give up tons of counter space (or extra cash).
We were truly impressed with the Artisan’s attachments. Its wire whisk is perfectly aligned to its bowl, and whipped egg whites quickly without leaving a single drop untouched. Its dough hook also managed to knead pizza dough fully without stalling or struggling. It moved the dough around the bowl and kneaded from every angle. We could tell from testing that the Artisan is designed for maximum bowl coverage and efficiency.
We also loved the Artisan’s design and intuitive operation. The tilt-head, for one, is operated by a simple switch on the side. This makes it super easy to access its components. It only takes a second to lift the head and switch out the flat beater for the hook to finish off a batch of dough. From a convenience standpoint, we prefer this to the Pro 600’s crank and its slightly-awkward-to-reach attachments. We also prefer the Artisan’s modest footprint. Although it’s about the same height as the Pro with its head tilted upwards, the Artisan’s smaller base and frame make it seem less imposing. You could keep it on the counter without feeling like it dominates the space.
The Artisan’s only tilt-head competition was KitchenAid’s Classic mixer. We had high hopes for the Classic — America’s Test Kitchen rated it almost on par with the much larger and more powerful Pro Line mixer. We, however, weren’t so dazzled. In our stress test (kneading a tough batch of whole wheat pizza dough) the Classic really struggled. While incorporating the dough ingredients, its flat beater got stuck and caused the motor to stall. The Classic also moved around on the counter and its head bounced pretty violently, making us question its durability. Overall, we weren’t sure that this mixer would stand up to heavy use over time. The Artisan, on the other hand, felt strong, sturdy, and reliable. Its head didn’t clack around when the mixing got tough, and it stayed firmly anchored in its place on the counter.
At $430, the Artisan isn’t the cheapest kitchen appliance. Before you pull the trigger on KitchenAid’s website, shop around (we’ve seen it on Amazon as low as $280 brand new). However, even at full price, the Artisan is still a better deal than KitchenAid’s more powerful bowl-lift mixers, and it’ll be an invaluable tool in your kitchen.
The Best for Bread-making Enthusiasts
The Pro 600 is bigger, heftier, and stronger than the Artisan. Its large size (and admittedly larger price tag — $600) would be overkill for the average baker. But if you make bread every day or do big-batch baking, this mixer has you covered. It muscled through our toughest jobs easily without stalling, shaking, or grinding its gears. We could tell that it’s a hard worker built to last.
The Pro 600 ticks off all of our criteria for a bread-capable stand mixer. Its bowl-lift design is sturdy, allowing for a 575-watt motor up top. That’s almost twice as much power as you’re getting with the Artisan. It also comes with a spiral dough hook that excelled in our kneading tests. This mixer took on a double batch of whole wheat pizza dough without any problem, kneading quickly, efficiently, and quieter than we expected.
In testing, this mixer also banished our worries about AC (alternating current) versus DC (direct current) motors. KitchenAid’s most expensive mixers, including the Professional 6500, boast DC motors with high horsepower ratings instead of wattage ratings. The rest of their mixers use smaller and cheaper AC motors. Renee Wells at Mix It Bake It explains that DC motors run at a consistent speed and torque. This is supposed to make them better at kneading. However, we were less impressed with the way the Professional 6500 handled dough. Instead of moving it around the bowl, our DC-powered mixer bored a hole straight through the middle of the dough ball. We much preferred the cheaper, AC-powered Pro 600. Even with a double batch it had excellent torque and kneaded thoroughly from all sides. If you’re a professional bread baker and make huge batches, you may be able to tell the difference between the two motors. But for the average person using a stand mixer at home, an AC motor will do just fine (and will be much less expensive).
There were some little things we liked about the Pro 600, too. For instance, its lightweight metal bowl is easy to pick up and pour from. The Professional 6500 came with a chunky glass bowl that was extremely heavy and required two hands to lift. Thanks to its metal bowl, the Pro 600 is also lighter as a whole. While we wouldn’t want to move it around often, we also don’t dread the prospect of having to pick it up.
We will note a couple small drawbacks about this mixer. For one, its bowl is somewhat awkward to attach. You have to align a peg on the back of the bowl exactly right to get it to clip securely into the stand — otherwise the bowl falls off. This mechanism is the same with all KitchenAid bowl-lift mixers. It often took multiple tries to attach, which frustrated our testers. You also have to lower the bowl and remove the attachment before you can take the bowl off the stand. All in all, these are minor complaints. But they’re part of the reason that we recommend the Artisan for most homes. It’s just a bit more comfortable and breezy to use.
Unless you’re really dedicated to making bread every day, or making huge batches of baked goods, you won’t need this much capacity and power. But if baking is more of a lifestyle for you than a hobby, you’ll want the KitchenAid Pro 600 over the Artisan.
Did You Know?
Not all KitchenAid mixers use all-metal gears, and that’s okay.
There are rumors that KitchenAid’s quality took a dive when the company changed hands from Hobart to Whirlpool in the 1980’s. We’ve seen a lot of concerns about their stand mixers no longer using all-metal gears — people are worried that this makes them less durable and less powerful. We spoke with a KitchenAid rep to get to the bottom of the issue. What we learned is that, no, not all KitchenAid mixers use all-metal gears. But they’re not necessary in the lower wattage mixers. Here’s how our rep explained it:
“The smaller ones don’t need as much strength. We tried putting the metal in one of the smaller mixers once and everyone hated it because it was loud and we had to stop selling it. The larger ones that handle more ingredients need the metal though.”
Any KitchenAid attachment fits any KitchenAid stand mixer — no matter how old.
One of the benefits of owning a KitchenAid is that they make a lot of really cool add-ons for their stand mixers. The mixers and attachments have both changed and improved over the years. However, KitchenAid has kept the power hub consistent. This means that even if you have a 30-year-old KitchenAid mixer handed down from your mom’s wedding registry, you can buy the brand new ravioli maker attachment you want and it’ll fit right in.
Get the most your of your mixer and ingredients by adjusting the height of its attachment.
Nobody’s perfect (not even KitchenAid). A mixer’s bowl and attachments may not be calibrated exactly right the first time. Luckily there’s a fix for this. KitchenAid mixers have a screw that can be used to raise and lower their attachments, bringing them into closer alignment with the bowl. By doing so, you improve the attachment-bowl relationship and ensure that no ingredients are getting left behind. On a tilt-head, you can find the screw just under the head when it’s tilted upwards. On a bowl-lift, it’s on the stem a couple inches below the head.
Image: Adjustment screw (on both models)