The Best Stand Mixer
The best stand mixer saves you time in the kitchen by whipping, mixing, and kneading while you attend to other things. It’s powerful and versatile enough to handle a variety of tasks, and it mixes everything in the bowl quickly and thoroughly. We spent hours studying stand mixer construction and spoke with a professional baker about necessary features, then tested recipes in 12 mixers to find the top-performing models.
A top-notch stand mixer that shines for both its power and its design. This mixer will whip, mix, and knead to your heart’s content. It also has a gorgeous classic look, and is wonderfully user-friendly ($430).
Packs almost the same power as the Artisan, but less speedy. Also — a lot cheaper ($250).
Smeg 50's Retro Style
The cool retro design is the selling point for this mixer, though it also tied for second place in performance ($450).
The Best Stand Mixer
The KitchenAid Artisan stand mixer is powerful, efficient, and versatile. In testing, we loved the way it peaked egg whites perfectly, creamed butter and sugar, and kneaded tough dough — usually in about half the time of our other mixers. The bowl is lightweight and easy to handle, the attachments and pouring shield are simple to operate, and the controls are intuitive. We also love the wide range of attachments that you can add to any KitchenAid mixer, taking it from a simple baking tool to an indispensable kitchen appliance. At $430, this mixer is a big investment, but it’s one that will pay off in the long run by simplifying all of your kitchen work. (Plus, you can usually find it cheaper on Amazon or on sale in retail stores.)
For a significantly lower price than the Artisan, we were impressed with the Cuisinart Precision Master stand mixer. Cuisinart’s stand mixer stood out for having an excellent flat beater, which basically did all the bowl scraping for us while mixing cookie dough. The tradeoff is that it's slower than the Artisan and it struggled more with kneading heavy dough. But for almost $200 less, we’d be okay waiting a couple extra minutes for the Cuisinart to do its job.
If your stand mixer’s style is a priority, we also recommend the Smeg 50's Retro Style stand mixer. The Smeg passed every test we put it through: It creams butter and sugar beautifully and whips egg whites into peaks faster than the Cuisinart. We could tell it was working hard when kneading dough, but it got the job done. The Smeg goes for $450 brand new, which is why we recommend the (slightly more powerful) KitchenAid if you’re buying full price. But if you can find it on sale, or if you absolutely love retro style, this mixer is a great option.
How We Found the Best Stand Mixer
It’s almost impossible to find the “best” stand mixer just by looking at packaging or reading specs online. Most manufacturers advertise motors with impressive wattage and horsepower. They talk about mixers that can whip up 14 dozen cookies or knead eight loaves of bread in a single batch. But the fact is, most of these numbers don’t really guarantee quality. For stand mixers, wattage doesn’t directly correlate to power and ability. What a stand mixer can accomplish also depends on the efficiency of its motor, how much torque it exerts, and how well aligned its bowl and attachments are — things you won’t see printed on the box because they can’t be measured.
To pinpoint the qualities that make a stand mixer “the best,” we did a week’s worth of research on different kinds of mixers, mixing actions, and motors. We got in-depth with a professional baker about her necessary features, then spent hours reading product reviews to get a feel for what users actually value. Our research and expert advice informed us that the best mixer for most people will be powerful, efficient, and easy to operate. But it will also make sense for your needs: It won’t be excessively large or noisy, and it will fit into your budget. Armed with this information, we set a few basic criteria.
Five-quart, tilt-head stand mixers with planetary mixing action will suit most needs.
Professionals agree that 4.5 to 5.5 quarts is a good size for home use. This is enough capacity to mix a couple batches of cookies, knead a loaf or two of bread, or throw together a birthday cake. Tish Boyle, editor of Dessert Professional Magazine, has used both a 4.5-quart KitchenAid Classic and a 5-quart Artisan at work. Even when making big batches for recipe development and testing, she says “there were very few times that capacity was a problem.” Mixers larger than five quarts also tend to have trouble with small batches. Their attachments don’t come as close to the sides of the bowl, leaving some ingredients untouched. For example, a 6-quart mixer would be incapable of whipping a few egg whites into peaks for meringue or angel food cake. The bottom line: Six quarts or more is more space than you’ll need, and may actually limit the mixer’s ability.
Most 4.5 to 5.5 quart mixers will be tilt-head models. As their name suggests, tilt-head mixers have a head that you tilt backwards for access to the bowl and mixing attachments. They’re best for home use because they’re smaller, lighter, and less noisy than the other type of mixer, bowl-lift. Bowl-lift mixers use a crank that raises the bowl up towards the mixing tool. The larger motors of bowl-lift mixers are only necessary if you do lots of heavy work, like kneading bread, pizza dough, and bagel dough. The best tilt-head mixers can handle an occasional batch or two of tough dough, and will excel at everything else for a much lower cost.
Love baking bread?We focused on tilt-head mixers for this review. If you’re looking to tackle heavy-duty dough (and lots of it), we recommend looking at bowl-lift mixers.
The other important thing to look for is planetary mixing action. Planetary mixers use a single beater that travels around the bowl in one direction, while spinning on its axis the opposite way. According to Cook’s Illustrated, planetary movement ensures that “the mixing attachment interacts with the entire contents of the bowl.” Maximum contact with the ingredients allows for even mixing and reduces the time you spend stirring by hand to get everything incorporated. The second kind of action, “center mixing,” uses two fixed beaters that only rotate on their axes. “They never reach touch the entire contents of the bowl,” as Cook’s Illustrated notes, and they’ll force you to waste time mixing by hand. While not all planetary mixers are created equally, choosing a planetary model is a good place to start.
We brought in mixers from 11 different brands to try out for ourselves.
We also wanted to get a feel for those “immeasurable” qualities that affect a stand mixer’s performance: things like power, torque, efficiency, and bowl-attachment relationships. To do so, we found 11 brands with 4.5 to 5.5 quart, tilt-head, planetary mixers and brought in the newest model from each. KitchenAid was the only exception; We tested both their Artisan and Classic series to see if the most popular stand mixer brand offered consistent quality across the board. Then we devised a series of kneading, whipping, and mixing tests to evaluate each mixer on those qualities you can’t get from the back of a box.
We cut mixers that weren’t powerful enough to knead a single batch of tough dough.
Tilt-head mixers aren’t cut out for big-batch kneading, but they still need to be strong enough to occasionally take on hard jobs. If all your mixer can do is beat egg whites and cream butter and sugar, you may as well save the money and buy a nice hand mixer.
In order for a stand mixer to knead well, its motor must use a winning combination of power and torque. Torque is the rotational force that a motor exerts; It allows the attachment to move dough around the bowl and knead it from every side. Without adequate torque, dough can either get stuck in one place or end up wrapped around the dough hook.
To assess the motor strength of our mixers, we used America’s Test Kitchen’s recipe for Pizza Dough Kneaded in a Stand Mixer. We substituted in whole wheat flour to make the dough extra tough — we wanted to give these machines a good workout while staying within the bounds of a recipe you’d actually make at home.
As suspected, we saw that wattage alone was not always indicative of a mixer’s real ability. Some mixers, regardless of wattage, lacked the torque to muscle dough around the bowl. Our 325-watt KitchenAid Artisan kneaded without any trouble. The Oster Planetary Mixer, with a slightly higher 350 watts, ground its gears when it hit a sticky spot. And the much higher 400-watt Kenmore Elite struggled and stalled through a single dough ball.
Other mixers had difficulty with “hook climbing,” which is when the dough gets wrapped around the hook and goes for a ride, instead of being kneaded against the bowl. Our most powerful mixer (at 750 watts) had no motor troubles whatsoever — but all the pizza dough stuck to its hook and didn’t end up getting kneaded at all. The inexpensive Hamilton Beach Eclectrics mixer (which we’d had high hopes for) also had a serious problem with this.
Sources like America’s Test Kitchen agree that kneading is the most straightforward way to evaluate a mixer’s power and ability. Unsurprisingly, this tough kneading test narrowed our pool of contenders from 12 to just four models.
- Breville Bakery Chef
- Hamilton Beach Eclectrics All Metal Stand Mixer
- Kenmore Elite 5 Quart 400 Watt Mixer
- Kenwood Chef
- KitchenAid Classic
- Kitchenware Station M-B5 5 Qt Bowl Stand Food Mixer
- Oster Planetary Stand Mixer
- Sencor STM 40WH
Attachments needed to fit the bowl well enough to engage all the ingredients.
We went small for our next test, beating just two egg whites. The goal was to see which attachments were aligned well enough to engage every part of the bowl. We weren’t just looking for the strongest mixer, after all, but one that would also excel at even the most delicate tasks.
The KitchenAid Artisan took first in this category, whipping egg whites into perfect peaks in 30 seconds flat. The two runners-up by Smeg and Cuisinart also produced stiff egg whites... but they took twice as long to get there.
It was with heavy heart that we eliminated the Bodum Bistro mixer in this round. We were rooting for the Bodum, our cheapest mixer, which did stunningly well in the dough test. Unfortunately, it disappointed us by missing the mark on bowl-whisk relationship. It couldn’t reach two egg whites at all, and when we tried with three, it left a pool of untouched liquid underneath the whipped whites.
- Bodum Bistro Electric Stand Mixer
We measured efficiency by testing how often we had to scrape down the mixer bowls.
We put our three remaining mixers up to one final test: mixing a perfect batch of cookie dough. The best stand mixer should be able to engage every ingredient without too much help, so we looked for lots of touch points — the number of places where the attachment comes into close contact with the bowl. The more touch points a mixer has, the less time you’ll have to spend scraping and stirring by hand.
Cuisinart’s Precision Stand mixer stood out in this final test. It did an exceptional job grabbing all the cookie dough and pulling it towards the middle of the bowl. Unlike the two other mixers, we only had to stop and scrape it down once.
None of our mixers were flawless in this round, but we didn’t really expect them to be. Tish Boyle says that you’ll end scraping by hand with pretty much any stand mixer — she has yet to find one that does the job perfectly all on its own. While we favored the Cuisinart for its low maintenance, we also passed the Artisan and the Smeg. Although they required a little more attention, they did a great job creaming butter and sugar and incorporated everything evenly.
Our Picks for the Best Stand Mixer
KitchenAid’s Artisan mixer is the gold standard for good reason. It breezed through every task we handed it, churning out springy pizza dough, stiff egg whites, and creamy cookie dough without so much as a stutter. Beyond its mixing abilities, the Artisan’s thoughtful design and excellent components reflect the almost 100 years of development that KitchenAid has put into this product.
In our first test we were truly impressed with the Artisan’s motor. At only 375 watts (the highest we tested was 750), it had no trouble kneading tough dough. This is because KitchenAid has really mastered that elusive idea of “torque,” pulling the most efficiency out of its motor. The mixer worked the dough all around the bowl without any pesky hook-climbing. Even in the stickiest of spots, the Artisan never shuddered, stalled, or ground its gears. Some of our mixers with much higher wattage had a lot more trouble kneading, proving that you can’t always trust the numbers written on the box.
We were also pleased with the Artisan’s mixing attachments. Its wire whisk fit the bowl seamlessly, whipping egg whites into perfect peaks in just under three minutes. (The competition took four or five.) The flat beater also creamed butter and sugar in about half the time of our other mixers. The speed of the actual mixing process made up for the lost time we spent scraping down the sides of the bowl. Since one of the biggest benefits of owning a stand mixer is that it saves you time in the kitchen, the Artisan’s efficiency gave it a leg up on the competition.
KitchenAid’s mixer stood out for some thoughtful design elements, too. The latch to tilt its head is on the side of the head for easy access. Our other top contenders had tilt latches on the back of the head, which force you to reach blindly. The Artisan’s head is also narrower than other mixers, allowing us to add ingredients without having to stop mixing and tilt back the head. Unfortunately, the Artisan’s head doesn’t lock when you do tilt it back. This leaves it bobbing up and down when changing attachments or cleaning them off. Most of the other models we tested lock in the upward position, eliminating this problem. However, this is a minor annoyance and doesn’t really take away from the Artisan’s success as a mixer.
Finally, we love the amenities that KitchenAid offers. The Artisan’s slip-on splash guard is a breeze to attach and take off. Our other contenders either didn’t have splash guards (and consequently flung ingredients out of the bowl) or came with multi-piece guards that we had to put on in stages. We appreciated KitchenAid’s simplicity in this department. Their stand mixers can also be fitted with a range of attachments that do anything from ravioli and ice cream making to meat grinding. Finally, the Artisan comes in almost any color you could wish for. Since most people end up keeping their stand mixer on the counter, both of these things are important. You’ll want a model that’s both nice to look at and versatile enough that you can use it all the time. The Artisan hits all those marks.
A Budget Option
For a stand mixer that performs nearly as well as the KitchenAid but for almost half the cost, we recommend Cuisinart’s Precision Master. This stand mixer really held its own in testing; It handled pizza dough nicely, had great bowl coverage, and made a mean batch of cookie dough. It takes a little longer to complete tasks than the Artisan does, and it requires a little more attentiveness on your part. But if speed isn’t your No. 1 concern, you won’t be disappointed.
The Cuisinart’s 500-watt motor was more than powerful enough to handle our stress test. It never stuck or stalled while kneading, and it was noticeably quieter than most other models. We did notice that the motor began to warm up after a few minutes of tough work, but it never got hot enough to make us worry about overheating. The dough climbed up its hook a bit, forcing us to take the ball off the hook a couple times and place it back in the bowl to re-engage. But once we did, this mixer did a great job kneading.
Where the Cuisinart really shone in testing was its attachment-bowl relationship. Its flat beater did the best job of pulling batter away from the sides and bringing it towards the middle. We only had to give it one good scrape to make sure everything was evenly mixed. Its whisk also made lovely, fluffy egg whites — it just took two minutes longer than the Artisan to do so.
Like KitchenAid, Cuisinart includes an attachment port to expand your mixer’s arsenal. However it only offers a skimpy four attachment options (as compared to KitchenAid’s 10+).
We’ll admit it, the Cuisinart is also not as pretty as the KitchenAid. It doesn’t have the same classic charm. What it does have, however, is a more sensible price tag. If you can’t justify spending $430 for an Artisan (or you can’t find one on sale), the $250 Cuisinart Precision Master is a solid option.
A Style-Conscious Option
What we really love about this mixer, and the reason it made our final list, is its cool retro design. Smeg’s mixer is about the same price as the Artisan, but we have seen it for $300 on Amazon. In testing, we were satisfied that it could knead dough, cream butter and sugar, and whip egg whites. If you love the retro design, this mixer is another great alternative to KitchenAid.
The Smeg stand mixer did a decent job in all of our tests. Its kneading was on par with the Cuisinart’s, and it didn’t take quite as long to beat egg whites into peaks. When it came to cookie dough, Smeg’s mixer performed similarly to KitchenAid’s. It did a great job mixing everything together, but we had to scrape down the bowl quite a few times to re-incorporate ingredients. While its performance wasn’t stand-out in any category, the Smeg never disappointed us. It’s a hard working, well-designed machine.
The one place Smeg trounced the competition was in clean-up. All of its components were wonderfully nonstick. There was almost no residue left clinging to the inside of the bowl, and its attachments came out more or less free of food particles. The other mixers weren’t horrible to clean, but we did have to spend a little extra time scrubbing dried dough out of crevices.
If retro style is your thing, check out Smeg’s stand mixer. We’d suggest looking for it on Amazon to find a good deal. For the full $450, we’d still recommend going with KitchenAid’s Artisan, which outperformed Smeg in our kneading and whipping tests. Still, this mixer accomplishes everything a mixer needs to do — and looks pretty cool doing it.
Did You Know?
Not all dough hooks are created equal.
If you’re serious about making bread or other tough doughs, you’ll need a spiral dough hook. Spiral hooks are specially designed to knead dough against the bowl using some real elbow grease. They can’t be used in tilt-head mixers because they exert strong upward force that could easily snap the tilt hinge. This means that if you make tons of hearty bread, you’ll have to look for a bowl-lift stand mixer. Check out our review of the Best KitchenAid Mixers to learn more about these.
Look for dishwasher-safe attachments.
One of Tish Boyle’s only complaints about her KitchenAid mixer was that its metal attachments aren’t dishwasher-safe. She points out that if you’re using it often, having to wash the attachments by hand every time can be enough to “drive [you] crazy.” We suggest looking for a mixer with plastic- or nylon-coated attachments that you can toss in the dishwasher for easy cleanup. All of our top picks come with dishwasher-safe attachments except for the Smeg — but the Smeg’s unique nonstick components did so well at repelling stuck-on dough that we didn’t mind washing them by hand.
All-metal gears aren’t all they’re cracked up to be.
We saw a lot of users wondering whether or not their stand mixers are fitted with all-metal gears, citing concerns that having some plastic gears can make for weaker or less durable mixers. We spoke with a KitchenAid representative about this matter, and she explained to us that metal innards can be important for bigger, stronger mixers that will take on lots of tough jobs. For tilt-head mixers though, they’re not so crucial. Tilt-head mixers aren’t designed to take on jobs so stressful that their gears will break. If you’re doing serious bread making or other tough work, consider getting a bigger bowl-lift mixer with all-metal gears. With normal baking tasks, though, you don’t have too much to worry about with plastic gears.