If you love baking, a stand mixer is an ideal investment. They're also good for general whipping, mixing and kneading tasks. We picked our five favourite models.
A stand mixer's main tasks are mixing cakes, kneading dough, whipping and whisking. Stand mixers excel at these tasks – much more so than food processors, due to their large capacities and big, metal balloon whisks. Essentially they take the hard work out of making large batches of cakes, doughs or batters.
What should I buy?
Get the biggest machine you can afford so you don’t have to do several batches for one recipe, but remember to think about whether you’ll be able to store attachments and the equipment itself. Every model should come with a dough hook, a balloon whisk attachment and a beater tool. Popular attachments like meat grinders and electric pasta machines are useful but can be tricky to use and don’t utilise the mixer’s powerful motor or large bowl.
What we looked for
1. A sturdy mixer. That didn’t jump around the worksurface when mixing heavy dough.
2. Incorporating all ingredients. A machine that efficiently mixed all the ingredients so that I only needed to stop once to hand mix any stray ingredients that had crept up the bowl.
3. Washing up. Washing your stand mixer's attachments by hand can be a real pain so I wanted dishwasher-safe accessories to make cleaning less of a headache.
1. Starter model
Kenwood HM680 Chefette hand/stand mixer
If you’re after a machine for simply whipping egg whites or light batters this is a good starter model. An updated version of a 1970’s classic, this is a hand mixer with a stand and rotating bowl. It isn’t hugely powerful, although you can whip up a huge amount of mixture as the bowl has a 3L capacity. The hand mixer attachment has five speeds and a pulse function for folding, which is particularly useful for making meringues. It's great for whipping up pancake batters too, but anything thicker such as fruitcake will require a dedicated stand mixer.
- £69.99, from Ocado
2. Clever design
Sage by Heston Blumenthal, The Scraper Mixer Pro
Called a scraper mixer due to its special ‘scraper beater’, which cleans the sides and bottom of the bowl in order to incorporate as much as air as possible and is the key to a light and airy sponge. The variable speed setting means the 1000W of power is tough enough for dough and nimble enough for whipping up peaks in a meringue. The controls are easy to use (and see, thanks to the light up display) and I really like the automatic sensors that detect when heavy batters are being mixed and automatically adjust power to maintain the right speed. The instructions are easy to understand and the hints and tips section is great for those new to food mixers.
- £299.95, from John Lewis
3. TV favourite
KitchenAid Artisan stand mixer
An iconic kitchen gadget, this is a serious piece of kit. The 5½L bowl can accommodate up to 1.2kg of flour and the metal beaters made deft work of everything I threw at it, from meringues to burger mix. While the motor isn’t the most powerful, it’s very quiet and has ten speed settings. The solid cast zinc casing means it’s heavy and large; so do take this into consideration. And if you like to be able to ‘see’ what you’re mixing, it might be worth buying the glass bowl (£61, Lakeland) too.
- from £389, from KitchenAid and department stores
4. Space saving
Morphy Richards folding stand mixer
Great for the smaller kitchen, the arm of this clever mixer folds down to a third of its assembled height. The motor however is only 300W, which means, while it will make fluffy meringues and a light sponge, it may struggle when making something like a heavy bread dough. It is however incredibly easy to put together, and I liked the fact I could manually change the direction of the bowl as it rotated. I had to scrape the bowl down a few times. But this is a minor moan for a machine that is easy to use, clean and store for such a great price.
- £74, from QVC
5. Great value
Swan SP20140SSN professional mixer
A reasonably priced, stainless steel mixer. Although sturdier than it looks, the housing does feel slightly flimsy when the paddle works through a heavy mixture. It does, however, have some good features: three speeds, dough hooks and a whisk attachment, particularly useful for whipping cream. You do need to run around the bowl with a spatula occasionally to ensure all the mixture is mixed, but the cake I made was airy enough and it was excellent at mixing light, yeasty dough for brioche.
- £169.99, from Swan
Are you a fan of food mixers? Share your product recommendations with us below...