Stand Mixers (Inexpensive)

Published December 1, 2007. From Cook's Country.

Can you buy a solid mixer for under $250?

Overview:

The $500 standing mixers in our test kitchen are powerful enough to work all day. Can the home cook who needs less muscle buy a good standing mixer for less money? To find out, we rounded up eight models priced under $250.

 

THE WORKOUT

We whipped cream, creamed butter and sugar, made chunky cookie dough (with chocolate chunks, pecans, oatmeal, and dried cherries), and kneaded pizza dough in each machine. These are tasks that larger, pricier mixers (including the winner of our prior testing of high-end mixers) can do effortlessly.

 

SIZING UP THE COMPETITION

Expensive mixers come with 5- or 6-quart bowls, big enough to knead a double batch of bread dough. Bowl size in the models we tested ranged from 3.5 to 4.6 quarts-large enough to mix and knead the dough for one large loaf of bread or three medium pizzas. Among the eight models tested, variances in bowl size and shape did not impact our results.

 

TEST DRIVING

A standing mixer should be easy to operate, and some in our lineup weren't. Both Sunbeam mixers… read more

The $500 standing mixers in our test kitchen are powerful enough to work all day. Can the home cook who needs less muscle buy a good standing mixer for less money? To find out, we rounded up eight models priced under $250.

 

THE WORKOUT

We whipped cream, creamed butter and sugar, made chunky cookie dough (with chocolate chunks, pecans, oatmeal, and dried cherries), and kneaded pizza dough in each machine. These are tasks that larger, pricier mixers (including the winner of our prior testing of high-end mixers) can do effortlessly.

 

SIZING UP THE COMPETITION

Expensive mixers come with 5- or 6-quart bowls, big enough to knead a double batch of bread dough. Bowl size in the models we tested ranged from 3.5 to 4.6 quarts-large enough to mix and knead the dough for one large loaf of bread or three medium pizzas. Among the eight models tested, variances in bowl size and shape did not impact our results.

 

TEST DRIVING

A standing mixer should be easy to operate, and some in our lineup weren't. Both Sunbeam mixers required substantial strength to engage the head-tilt and beater-eject buttons. One mixer has two sets of controls to manage. In contrast, all testers found two other mixers intuitive and easy to operate. Most mixers handled the whipped cream and cookie dough tasks with aplomb. The pizza dough, however, was another story.

 

DO OR DYE

To measure the power and efficiency of each mixer, we mixed 35 ounces of pizza dough in each bowl, then added 10 drops of blue food coloring to one side of the dough and 10 drops of yellow to the other. We then set the mixers to medium-low and timed how long it took them to turn the dough a uniform green. Two of the mixers made relatively quick work of this task, producing an evenly colored dough in about 6 minutes. Half of the mixers, however, failed this test because they didn't complete the task in 10 minutes. Some struggled and bucked because they weren't powerful enough for such prolonged kneading jobs.

 

THE ONE BIG THING

Our three winning mixers passed the pizza test. They all have one beater arm instead of two. So why is one beater better? One-beater mixers utilize "planetary action," meaning the beater rotates on its axis while spinning around the bowl, thus ensuring the mixing attachment interacts with the entire contents of the bowl. Dual stationary beaters, on the other hand, rely on a rotating bowl, and the attachments never touch the entire contents of the mixing bowl-they carve through a single trough. In the pizza dough tests, dual dough hooks bored holes into the dough and never kneaded it into a cohesive mass.

 

A SURPRISINGLY GOOD VALUE

Our test cooks aren't ready to trade in their $500 mixers, but the top three models tested offer good value and performance for the average home cook.

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  • Product Tested

    Results Key:

    Good ★ ★ ★ Fair ★ ★ Poor
  • Prices are subject to change.
  • Highly Recommended - Winner

    KitchenAid Classic Plus Stand Mixer

    This mixer aced every test. Testers praised the "intuitive" controls and "solid" feel. While not as powerful as more expensive KitchenAid models, this mixer is a great value.

    • Pizza Dough ★★★
    • Cookie Dough ★★★
    • Whipped Cream ★★★

    $199.99

    BUY NOW Amazon
  • Recommended

    Bosch Compact Kitchen Machine

    Despite a few mechanical quirks (the beater hits the bowl when you raise the arm, and the bowl doesn't feel securely locked in), this mixer performed at a high level. It was even faster than the KitchenAid in the tough pizza dough test.

    • Pizza Dough ★★★
    • Cookie Dough ★★
    • Whipped Cream ★★★

    $179.00

  • Recommended

    Hamilton Beach Electrics Stand Mixer

    Testers praised the design of this mixer, especially the head-tilt button, which was "easy to engage by feel, without looking." It creamed butter and sugar "effortlessly" and whipped cream with "impressive efficiency."

    • Pizza Dough ★★
    • Cookie Dough ★★★
    • Whipped Cream ★★★

    $235.00

    BUY NOW Amazon
  • Recommended with Reservations

    EuroPro Convertible Hand/Stand Mixer

    This mixer allows you to select speeds for both the beaters and the bowl. While some users found this confusing, it helped keep the pizza dough moving around the bowl. This model struggled with the cookie dough, "really fighting" the heavy mix-ins.

    • Pizza Dough ★★
    • Cookie Dough
    • Whipped Cream ★★

    $54.99

  • Recommended with Reservations

    Sunbeam Heritage Mixmaster, Legacy Edition

    This mixer (and the three that follow) had a damning flaw: It couldn't effectively knead the pizza dough. This "sturdy" mixer had no trouble working the heavy mix-ins into the cookie dough, and testers liked the "simple" dial control.

    • Pizza Dough
    • Cookie Dough ★★★
    • Whipped Cream ★★

    $159.95

  • Recommended with Reservations

    Farberware Select Series Electronic Stand Mixer

    This machine whipped cream acceptably, but labored to produce good cookie dough. Manual warns against kneading more than 8 ounces of dough (a ridiculously small amount), so we skipped this test. A few testers disliked the "involved" 3-step sequence of turning the mixer on, but others liked how each speed automatically ramped up to minimize spillage.

    • Cookie Dough ★★
    • Whipped Cream ★★

    $159.95

  • Recommended with Reservations

    Sunbeam Heritage Mixmaster

    This mixer "felt less powerful" than the Legacy Edition. Also, its bowl is not motorized, which contributed to its poorer (but still acceptable) showing with the cookie dough.

    • Pizza Dough
    • Cookie Dough ★★
    • Whipped Cream ★★

    $89.96

  • Not Recommended

    Hamilton Beach Power Deluxe Stand Mixer

    This hybrid hand/standing mixer finished last or nearly last in every test. Impressions like "feels flimsy" were reinforced by performance observations such as "contents don't circulate" and "wouldn't cream butter and sugar."

    • Pizza Dough
    • Cookie Dough
    • Whipped Cream

    $51.19

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