How to Choose a Stand Mixer
|September 15, 2016||Filled under Recipes||
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Mixers can help turn the task of cooking into a joy. These helpful kitchen tools range from stick to hand to stand mixers – and they’re guaranteed to make food preparation faster and more convenient. I didn’t get a stand mixer until I was in my 40’s and my daughter gave me a KitchenAid mixer. I had no idea what I was missing and how much extra work I was doing! I love it. Here are some things to consider when you choose a stand mixer for yourself.
Both stick and hand mixers are limited in their range of functions, while a stand mixer has a greater capacity for multi-tasking. Plus, if you use a hand mixer, you have to hold the bowl with one hand while operating the mixer with the other. A stand mixer sets you free from having to do that.
They’re great appliances – and once you get the right one, you’ll love what it can do for you in the kitchen. But, when you’re planning to purchase one, you don’t want to just pick whichever one happens to be the most recent one on the market because that one may not be the best one for you.
Instead, the first thing you want to consider is how many times per week you’re going to be using the mixer. You also want to consider how complicated the recipes will be so that you’ll know what sort of food preparation your mixer will be handling.
If you’re looking at doing simple, fast dishes without a lot of mixing (and you’re only going to use a mixer sporadically), then you can probably be happy with a simple model – one without a lot of bells and whistles. But if the mixer is going to be an important part of your cooking production or it’s going to be used often, then you’re going to want to choose a mixer with plenty of features.
What’s the difference? Basic stand mixers can’t handle the same workload because the internal parts are different. Some of the gears and motors within some models are meant to handle the more frequent uses and the heavier loads.
You don’t want to buy a cheap stand mixer with few features and use it constantly only to have it break down on you before a year is up. So the first thing you want to take into consideration about your potential mixer is how well it can stand up to the task at hand.
Ability to Handle Heavy Duty Tasks
If you’ve ever made homemade dough, then you understand what a physical chore it can be. Not only is there a lot of work involved if you use the old fashioned method of kneading it on a counter, but the clean up after you’re done with the preparation isn’t all that fun, either.
For those who have the right kind of stand mixer, making dough changes bread-making from a chore to something that’s done in a few, quick minutes.
When making bread or pizza, you know that working with thick dough is strenuous and can take a lot of energy and strength. But stand mixers now can work the dough – and even if it’s thick, that doesn’t matter. However, you can’t just choose any stand mixer if you’re planning to use it to make dough. One with a lightweight motor won’t be able to handle the strain and you’ll burn the motor out.
When you’re making batter, whether it’s for cookies or some other recipe, the strength of the stand mixer matters here, too. Buying a stand mixer that has a lower wattage is okay if you’re only going to use it for lighter dough or if you’re not going to use the mixer that much when making heavy duty recipes.
But, when you make family size amounts of dough or you make dough on a regular basis, then you must have the correct amount of wattage for your stand mixer. How much wattage your mixer has just means that’s how strong it is in the motor – and it’s also an indicator of what it can handle.
The models with the lower wattage will have lower power motors and lower price tags, whereas the higher wattage models will cost more. But what you have to consider is if you buy a lower wattage motor that has trouble working thick dough, then you’re putting a lot of strain on the motor. The rule to remember when purchasing a stand mixer is to always evaluate your purpose for the mixer and buy wattage accordingly.
There are also other features you’ll want to look at when you’re looking for a stand mixer and one of those features is how loud or quiet the machine is.
Every appliance is going to make some noise – and a stand mixer is no exception. However, there’s loud and then there’s too loud. The sounds a stand mixer makes come from the mixing action, but it also comes from the motor.
The internal workings of the mixer will determine how much noise it makes. If you buy a stand mixer that has metal gears, then those will make more noise, but metal gears are the toughest and can stand up to frequent as well as heavy use.
Some of the mixers have nylon gears – and these are quieter than metal ones, but they can’t always handle the strain of thick or stiff dough. Once the gears inside a stand mixer become damaged, then of course you either have to replace the parts or the appliance – this is why it’s so important that you buy a mixer that can handle thick recipes if that’s what you plan to use it for.
You’ll be able to tell if your gears are having trouble because you’ll start to hear them grind. A stand mixer will also make noise if it ‘walks’ along the counter as it’s in use – unless you buy a mixer that has suction feet grips on the bottom.
The attachments and extras that come along or that you can buy for your stand mixer are varied and can help you perform a multitude of tasks. Every stand mixer comes with features that make it a favorite appliance.
You’ll get a splatter shield, which is handy to use when you want to put more ingredients into the mix when you’re already running the mixer. It keeps the food in the mixer bowl and keeps the ingredients from splashing back.
Of course, the attachments that come with your stand mixer or are sold separately can help you get so much more out of the appliance. Most of them come standard with flat beaters, which are great for use in making mixed meat dishes or wire whips – and most come with a hook for dough so that you don’t have to knead by hand anymore.
It’s the extras that can give you a lot of value for your money. You can get a tool that will swipe the sides and bottoms of the bowl so that you don’t even have to scrape it to get every drop of ingredients out.
If you buy the right type of stand mixer with power outlets for other attachments, you’ll be able to enjoy multiple uses. For example, one stand mixer allows an attachment that can also be used to make pasta.
You can also use another attachment to grind meat. There’s also an attachment that can be used as a juicer and one that can be used as a food processor. So you can imagine just how handy it would be to have a mixer that could do all of that.
Besides the attachments that you can get to enhance the mixer, you can also buy an attachment pack that will have various grinders, shredders, strainers and more included in it.
Ease of Cleaning
Of course you don’t want to get an appliance you have to arm wrestle just to assemble or disassemble. And you also don’t want to get a mixer that’s going to have you cleaning the machine for hours. What use is convenience if it’s a hassle in the long run?
Fortunately, there are plenty of stand mixers that are super easy to clean. You can just place the bowl and mixing pieces right in the top rack of the dishwasher and get them clean. The main unit itself is easy just to wipe down.
To disassemble a stand mixer, you want one that’s a 1-2-3 step process so that you can get inside the head of the machine to clean it and keep it working well. Look for the models that have an easy quick release latch that lets you take off the head of the appliance.
To change out various attachments, you can lift the head of the mixer and push the new piece into place. Most stand mixers are easy to assemble when you want to use it and the pieces simply lock into place.
There’s an old saying that goes, “Things just aren’t made the way they used to be,” and while that’s true, a good appliance will last for many years. In fact, you’ll find the guaranteed warranty years will range from 3 to 25 and possibly a lifetime if you take care of it.
The stand mixers for today are meant to last. They have long lasting metal parts made of steel and chrome to give you the best that money can buy in a kitchen countertop appliance.
Many stand mixers come with long-term warranties guaranteeing the product’s internal pieces, including the motor. Depending on what you use the machine for, a mixer can overheat – but with the safety features built into these appliances today, the machine is programmed to shut down automatically if it overheats in order to protect the motor from burning out.
If once it cools down, it works as normal, this means the job you had it do was too much work for it. This is why it’s important to consider power when you’re in the market for a good stand mixer.
If you notice a problem while you’re mixing up something, immediately lower the operating speed. Sometimes, the machine overheats if you’re using it too fast or if you’ve been using it for hours at a time.
The motor has oil and there’s grease inside the machine designed for it to give you many years of usage, but you need to keep up with maintenance on the machine by either doing it yourself or having it checked whenever you notice an issue.
Because it sits on the countertop, you want a stand mixer that has a lot of power, but not necessarily a lot of dimension. Remember that you want to get a mixer sized right so that when you tilt the head back, you still have plenty of room if you have low hanging cabinets.
You don’t want to be wrestling an appliance in a tight space. A bulky and overly large mixer might be too much for you to handle if you don’t plan to house it on the countertop. If you store it elsewhere, then you don’t want one that weighs a lot, making it hard to move. But on the other hand, if you plan to keep it on the counter, you don’t want to get one that’s too lightweight unless it has feet grips.
However, most stand mixers are streamlined enough so that they don’t take up much countertop space if you want to leave them sitting out. If space is an issue, such as in a small studio apartment, you can look into purchasing a compact stand mixer, which has a lot of the same features as a regular model does but doesn’t have the height or bulk.
Price and Value
When buying a mixer, you’re going to want to consider the value of what you’re getting versus the price that you’re paying out. You’ll notice that there’s a huge range in price when it comes to these mixers.
Some of the starting prices are at less than $40 but range all the way up to almost $400. That’s a large difference – so how can tell which one is the best? You have to look at what you plan to use it for.
If you only plan to use a mixer occasionally and never for heavy dough, then you can opt for one that’s lower in cost, has fewer features and usually has a power around 250 wattage like this one. The bowls for these will be smaller too, so take that into consideration.
But if you plan to do a lot of cooking using your mixer, then you’ll want to opt for a higher wattage, larger bowl and more speed. If you often cook for friends or large family get-togethers, then you might even want to consider using a professional model.
Finally, you should consider whether you need an extended warranty. You can decide this by basing the cost of the extended warranty against the purchase price of the mixer. If you’ve purchased an expensive mixer with a lot of features, then you might want to opt for this extra warranty.
If you haven’t invested in a stand mixer, yet, I recommend putting one on your wish list. Using these guidelines, I hope it will be easier to make the best choice for you.