A food mixer is useful investment for bakers and bread makers. Read our reviews of top brands including KitchenAid and Kenwood, plus find affordable buys.
The workhorses of a busy kitchen, stand mixers can do much more than whip up cake batter. Traditionally, they last many years, but can today's models stand the test of time? We had a closer look at the build quality, efficiency and accessories of current stand mixers to see if they’d be in for the long haul. Or could a cheaply-built model still do the job without breaking the bank?
What is a stand mixer?
A stand mixer – also called a food mixer – is a machine that uses a rotating mechanism to carry out repetitive kitchen tasks. Thanks to the multiple attachments and large capacity of the bowl, they excel at making cakes, kneading dough, whipping and whisking, and work far more effectively than food processors in this respect (although the two are sometimes confused as they have a similar ‘spinning’ motion).
Stand mixers have a hinged main body with an output for various attachments, typically whisks, beaters and dough hooks, although you can often upgrade and buy a wide range of attachments. They are known to whisk egg whites, whip up a dough and cream butter incredibly quickly. They usually have simple speed settings and are easy to operate. They're a medium-sized appliance, taking up around as much space as a slow cooker or blender.
Hand-held mixer vs stand mixer
A hand mixer performs many of the same baking tasks as a stand mixer. A hand mixer (sometimes referred to as beaters) also operate using rotating attachments, but are far smaller than stand mixers, which in turn makes them more affordable. They can be easily packed away for storage and are straightforward to clean. If you want a gadget that's going to do the basics, a good hand mixer will probably serve you sufficiently.
A stand mixer is more powerful, with a higher wattage and larger capacity. They're potentially more versatile, with some offering a wide variety of attachments. One major advantage is that, in binary contrast to hand mixers, they are entirely hands-free, allowing you to get on with other things while they work. The roomy bowls are designed to contain ingredients, minimising mess. They can also better handle heavier mixes like pastry and pizza dough.
Ultimately, a stand mixer is an upgrade from a hand mixer, but it depends on your budget.
What to look for when buying a stand mixer
Like batch baking for cake sales? You’ll need a larger bowl capacity and perhaps a more powerful mechanism that will plough through larger volumes of mix. Buy the biggest machine you can afford and will fit in your kitchen.
Stand mixers can work hard with the right attachments, which include everything from pasta rollers to sausage makers. Study the number of bolt-on accessories available if you want to use your machine frequently for lots of kitchen tasks.
If you're short on counter space and will be hauling the stand mixer in and out of storage, be aware that some of them can be very hefty. If you struggle with your back, this is a significant consideration.
Value for money
There's no point splashing out on a gadgety machine with various accessories if you're only going to use it to make basic cakes.
Read on to discover the best stand mixers to buy for all budgets. For more unbiased expert buyer's guides, visit our reviews section to find 200+ round-ups of everything from slow cookers to coffee machines.
9 of the best stand mixers
1. Kenwood Chef XL Titanium – best stand mixer for versatility
- Powerful motor with a 10 year guarantee
- Clever lighting
- Large footprint
Looking at the full array of test models we had for this round up, the Kenwood Chef XL Titanium stood out from the crowd with its low, square design. It's a modern model that's easy to identify as one of the more expensive mixers we considered here – its quality and style shines through, with an enclosed guard for the bowl and lighting feature in the attachment head.
Like driving a flash car or wearing a good pair of shoes, you can truly feel the difference when you try a more luxurious model, and mixers are no exception. The controls and mechanisms on this stand mixer were a pleasure to use, with smooth actions, sprung loaded movements and satisfyingly solid attachments.
The whisk, hook and beater were hefty and fitted well into the head, plus if you want to get more adventurous there are many interesting accessories to fix to its additional high or low-speed ports.
For a high-volume, powerful helper around the kitchen this is as good as it gets and we’d be happy to have the Kenwood Chef XL Titanium on hand for bakes, batch cooks and so much more.
2. KitchenAid 6.9-litre Artisan stand mixer – best stand mixer for baking
- Large capacity
- Quiet even at max power
- Heavy to move around
This KitchenAid Artisan bowl-lift model has only been around since 2012, but it looks like a classic already. It screams ‘serious baker’.
If you’re working in an open plan space or like to hear the radio over the sound of your kitchen appliances, this is going to please you. The motor worked surprisingly quietly, no matter how tough the mix.
The handled, stainless steel bowl has a whopping 6.9-litre capacity, which is big enough to whisk almost 2 litres of cream to airy perfection in minutes.
Set aside a rainy afternoon for a bulk baking session and this will be your trusty sidekick, powering its way through pastry, bread and batters. We also loved how it blended perfect mash for a freezer stock-up, tackling a bag’s worth of steamed spuds with ease.
As usual with KitchenAid, this model comes in a range of classic colours and looks good in every one. But whichever you choose, you'll soon come to wonder how you ever cooked without it.
3. Smeg stand mixer SMF03 – best stand mixer for retro good looks
- Flex beater is great for sticky mixes
- Tricky to clean compared to others
- Louder than some other models
It's a lot of money to shell out for an appliance like this, thankfully the Smeg stand mixer gives you bang for your buck, in the looks department at least. Its 50s-inspired blimp shape gives it curves in all the right places, but as we explain in our longer review, there are a few design elements that could make cleaning tricky.
The super shiny stainless steel bowl has a handle, which is helpful when you have sticky hands and want to disengage it. The included attachments – dough hook, balloon whisk and flat beater – all work well to combine ingredients and aerate cream and batters, but it’s the flex-edged beater that's our favourite, using its three squidgy edges to clear wet and dry elements from the sides.
For a statement piece, this is hard to beat, but there are easier models to live with. Would they look as lovely? Probably not.
4. VonShef 1000W black stand mixer – best affordable stand mixer
- Easy to move around
- Bargain price
- Small mixing bowl
- Plastic casing
This stand mixer from VonShef has a decent 1000W motor, so should be able to cope with tough doughs and whizz air into sponge and meringue mix. It will, but you may have to wait just a little longer for results, which is the payoff for its bargain price.
We suspect that over time the black plastic casing could pick up a few scrapes, but this model seems well put together and is certainly light enough to be stashed away.
The 3.5-litre bowl can't cope with huge quantities, but if you’re making occasional cakes or mixing dough for one or two loaves, it does the job perfectly well.
5. Crux Bake and Blend stand mixer with blender jug – best stand mixer and blender hybrid
- Good build quality
- Added blender for making smoothies, sauces and soups
- Needs clearance height to allow for blender attachment
One of the biggest mixers we tried, this model takes up considerable cupboard space. However, if you're also in the market for a blender, this will look after smoothies and soups as well as the usual stand mixer duties, and may take up less room than two seperate machines.
The heavy glass jug can't go in the dishwasher, but the rest of the boxy machine is easy to keep clean, attachments and the stainless steel bowl are dishwasher-safe and the casing is easy to wipe down with an e-cloth and water.
It's a stylish machine with a quality feel, the tilting mechanism and push-in attachments feel robust and likely to last.
6. Wilko grey stand mixer – best stand mixer for baking beginners
- Lightweight and easy to move around
- Value for money
- Casing feels inexpensive
- Not great with large mix loads
The cheapest of all the stand mixers we looked at, this Wilko model looks much more expensive than its price tag would suggest, but of course, we could feel the difference in build quality and materials used.
That said, not everyone wants to invest in a kitchen appliance that costs several hundred pounds, and if you need something cheap and cheerful to get simple baking jobs done, this is well worth the money.
This stand mixer comes with a flat beater, balloon whisk and dough hook and all three performed well, proficiently blending ingredients together.
With six speed settings, we could start egg whites for meringue or cake batter off slowly and work up to a fast beat or whisk.
Though some flour sometimes rose up to the edges of the stainless steel bowl, this was a surprisingly efficient bargain choice.
7. Russell Hobbs Go Create stand mixer – best mid-range stand mixer
- Great price
- Good range of speed settings
- Can move when working hard
- Hand-wash bowl recommended
Combining generous capacity and power, this budget stand mixer is a good choice if you want something functional and care less about wowing with a statement piece.
In tests, we tried various recipes that put the dough hook, beater and balloon whisk to good use and found it coped with everything we threw at it, although we had to push dry ingredients down into the mix at times.
Tough doughs saw the machine move slightly, but that’s to be expected when it’s not in the heavyweight (also known as backbreaking) league to lug around the room.
We liked the straightforward controls and found the attachments easy to twist into place – the bowl too, although it's the only element that can’t go in the dishwasher. The beaters can, though, and we found the whole thing easy to wipe clean.
8. Kitchen Aid 3.3-litre stand mixer – best stand mixer for small kitchens
- Smaller kitchen footprint
- Impressive build quality
- No splashguard
- Smaller bowl size unsuitable for big bakes
This built-to-last KitchenAid stand mixer is a mini masterpiece. It may not be the right choice if you have a large family or want to impress a bake sale with your Battenburgs – the 3.3-litre bowl can only handle enough mix for around eight cupcakes at a time.
It’s gorgeous to look at, with all the design features you’d expect from this classic brand. The slide speed control is smooth and the top hinging opens effortlessly with the press of a button to lift the beater out of the bowl.
Although there’s no splash guard with this model, the half speed control means you can start every mix gently and work up without ingredients flying everywhere.
9. Kenwood kMix Editions stand mixer chrome – best stand mixer for luxe kitchens
- Attachment tools available
- Hardwearing and stylish
- Tricky to remove splash guard when beater is in place
- Shiny casing shows up finger marks
Kenwood’s kMix is available in a range of colour and metallic finishes, but we think it really suits this special edition chrome casing. Thankfully, it’s easy to wipe clean as with this sort of bling, finger marks and splashes really show up.
All the attachments are hardwearing steel, so no danger they’ll chip in the future. They’re also fine to go straight in the dishwasher, which is a bonus when you’re baking – no one wants a sink full of doughy water.
At 1000W, the motor on this stand mixer packs enough punch to ensure that even tough doughs like wholewheat bread are no problem. Airy meringue is easy to make – turn the dial control straight from min to max and the machine accelerates gradually to avoid splashing.
How we tested stand mixers
We tested a represenative sample of food mixers and used them to whisk egg whites for pavlova and fold a basic cake batter together. We tested all attachments and scored the machine against the following criteria:
1. A sturdy mixer. We looked for machines that didn’t jump around the worksurface when mixing heavy dough.
2. Incorporating all ingredients. A machine that efficiently mixed all the ingredients at the same time.
3. Washing up. Washing your stand mixer's attachments by hand can be a real pain so we looked for dishwasher-safe accessories to make cleaning less of a headache.
This review was last updated in March 2020. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability, please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.