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Ready to level up your baking with a top-notch, versatile stand mixer? Our review ranks 11 stand mixers that will whisk you away. To determine the best, we extensively researched dozens of models on the market before purchasing the most promising for hands-on testing. We then put our stand mixers through a taxing battery of tests to simulate performance in an active kitchen. Some contenders proved to be high-capacity workhorses, while others weren't much better than hand mixers. So, whether you're an expert baker who dreams of opening a bakery or someone who enjoys whipping up some lip-smacking cookies and cakes from time to time, our review will help you find the perfect stand mixer for your needs and budget.
The KitchenAid 6-Qt. Professional Bowl-Lift makes your home kitchen feel a little more like a commercial one. This bowl-lift mixer boasts precision craftsmanship, one-handed operation, and enough mixing power to simulate a minor earthquake. The abundant power translates to dough kneading, cookie mixing, frosting whipping ascendency. When the mixer's work is complete, the bowl-lift makes clean-up a cinch. This design eliminates the hinge where the head and neck meet — as with tilt-head models — meaning there are fewer nooks and crannies where frosting and crumbs can build up.
Though we appreciate the convenience of the bowl-lift, it only has two settings: fully up or fully down. If the bowl is fully up, there is space between the bowl and attachment. When mixing small batches, you must aid the machine with a spatula to incorporate ingredients that get stranded on the bottom and sides of the bowl. Additionally, the fixed head design often requires lowering the bowl when adding large quantities of dry ingredients. In reality, all mixers have these types of issues — many to a greater degree than this one. All things considered, the problems solved by the Professional far outweigh those left unresolved.
The KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer is a quality, mid-sized, tilt-head mixer. Despite its average dimensions, the Artisan mixed it up with the best in class in three out of four of our test metrics. It's powerful enough to knead dough quickly and thoroughly and mix frosting to the highest standards. Home cooks probably won't have to break out the spatula too often, thanks to the mixing quality and slightly gapped design of the attachment and bowl system. The Artisan is stable when operating at its top mixing speed. We enjoyed the user-friendliness of this model and had no trouble performing all the essential tasks one-handed.
We experienced some minor speed regulation issues despite the burly motor and components. This flaw was most noticeable when whipping cream and eggs at high settings, which explains the whisk splattering from sporadic acceleration and saggy sponge cake resulting from inconsistent egg aeration. Add ingredients while actively mixing, and you'll find the Artisan easily gets spattered. However, this is the case for all models with a motor above the bowl. All in all, these issues are minimal when you account for the quality experience.
The Aucma 6.5qt boasts many great characteristics of the premium models, but without the hefty price tag. This machine has plenty of power to mix thick or otherwise demanding mediums such as pizza and cowboy cookie doughs. The planetary mixing action helps ensure that the ingredients are incorporated evenly. In addition to this outstanding performance, the unit has suction feet to secure it on a countertop, one-handed bowl removal, as well as an easy to clean design. Given these features, we think you'll agree that our accolades are warranted.
Despite the numerous positive attributes that the Aucma showcases, it still has flaws. The unit has a yawning gap between the mixing bowl and the mixing attachments, and this gap allows some buildup of ingredients on the bottom and sides of the bowl, which necessitate the use of a spatula to scrape them off. Additionally, removing the mixer's splash guard requires that either the bowl or attachment first be removed, which is an unnecessary extra step that the competition avoids. Aside from these relatively minor issues, this appliance proved reliable and capable for home cooking applications at an unbeatable price.
The younger sibling of the Artisan, the KitchenAid Classic Plus is a mid-sized, tilt-head machine endowed with a sturdy motor. Thanks to the narrow bowl/attachment gap, it performs well with thick cookie dough, and it handles the mixing and kneading of pizza dough with relative ease. When you're done with your tasks, the head, neck, and base are relatively easy to wipe down.
That's all good, but when mixing cookie dough, the paddle came loose while struggling to scrape a large piece of dough off the side of the bowl — something we didn't experience with any other mixer. Also, the cake sponges mixed by this machine fell enough to suggest subpar whipping action. Lastly, the Classic had some trouble incorporating frosting ingredients from the bottom of the bowl, necessitating we scrape the bowl a few times to ensure a thorough mix. Despite these limitations, this machine is more than worth the money — its all-around quality performance exceeded much of the competition.
The Ankarsrum Original is unlike any other mixer we've tested. This open-top machine produces a spinning action by rotating the bowl instead of a mixing paddle or hook. The machine specializes in baking applications, particularly kneading dough, which explains the powerful roller arm, scraper, and bowl covering. It also performs well when whipping as it has a "triplicate" action wherein the two beaters rotate independently while collectively spinning around a central drive shaft.
We appreciate the Original's ability to muscle large qualities of dough. However, we don't love all the extra components required to perform functions, such as whipping and mixing, which requires a separate bowl, driveshaft, and attachments. While these components are included in the base purchase, they take up valuable cabinet space and are mostly plastic. Given the machine's powerful motor, this could be problematic. That said, if you're making bread, tortillas, and cookies regularly, then you can't beat this high-volume workhorse.
Senior Research Analyst Michelle Powell applies more than a decade of professional culinary experience to her analysis of kitchen devices and appliances. Michelle's management of an artisanal bakery makes her well-positioned to test mixers. She knows quality work and the techniques that render such results when she sees it. Senior Review Editor Nick Miley has a passion for feeding friends and family. He has continuously perfected recipes and honed his baking techniques for over 15 years. Having a particular interest in sourdough recipes, Nick knows that producing quality results depends on having quality kitchen tools and appliances. This experience — coupled with a scientific research background — guides his side-by-side analyzes of gourmet food products.
Before jumping into testing, we completed extensive market research and investigated dozens of promising stand mixers. After gaining a firm grasp on this class of products, we purchased the 11 most compelling models across various styles, sizes, and price points. To see which stand mixer is the creme de la creme, we devised a challenging set of tests to evaluate their performance side-by-side. Ultimately, our testing rendered 11 pizzas, 200+ cookies, and 11 cakes that were taste-tested for a complete understanding of the benefits of each machine.
Our tests are grouped into four weighted rating metrics:
Mixing (30% of overall score weighting)
Ease of Use (30% weighting)
Whipping (25% weighting)
Kneading (15% weighting)
We've tested more than 12 stand mixers in the past, and our extensive testing procedure puts each contender through 19 individual tests to rate their performance. Each of the four test metrics breaks down into multiple sub-tests, which are scored. We also considered multiple testers' observations to compare each stand mixer's performance. Collectively, scores in each testing metric make up a product's overall performance score.
The highest weighted test metrics are mixing and ease of use, each holding 30% of the overall weighted total. The mixing metric involves 5 specific tests, such as how each contender mixes cookies, frosting, pizza dough, and beats cookies and frosting. The ease of use metric holds 9 specific tests, including taking decibel readings of each contender on their highest speed holding the instrument 36 inches away from the machine.
Analysis and Test Results
In the realm of kitchen appliances, there is much to consider. To make direct, apples-to-apples comparisons among the diverse class of stand mixers, we created a set of test metrics that flush out a product's overall performance. While developing our testing, we also considered the stand mixer buying advice. We used hands-on, systematic testing to gather data on these metrics. We discuss our findings below.
We define value as a product's quality and price ratio compared to other mixers of similar quality or price. A product that performs similarly to its peers but costs less is a greater value. A good example is the KitchenAid Classic Plus. Likewise, a product that costs the same as its peers but is of higher quality also offers greater value. The KitchenAid Artisan retails at a price slightly above the class average yet delivers a superior level of performance.
This heavily weighted metric is a test of the motor, componentry, and the resulting action of the machine. These models can execute many different tasks, but they primarily combine ingredients. We use cowboy cookie dough, pizza dough, and frosting to determine each mixer's ability to mix and incorporate ingredients.
The pizza recipe tests the ability to combine liquids into dry, powdery ingredients. This requires the machine to mix ingredients that could be thrown out of the bowl by the force of the paddle and can become lumpy if incompletely or incorrectly mixed. The frosting recipe tests the ability to incorporate the butter with both liquid and dry ingredients, (hopefully) rendering a smooth, creamy frosting without getting unincorporated ingredients stuck on the sides of the bowl and paddle. Finally, the cookie dough tests a mixer's ability to evenly integrate chunky ingredients such as chocolate chips, nuts, oats, and coconut flakes into a relatively soft dough without pulverizing them.
We look for signs of machine struggle or even failure, and this can look like inconsistent movements of the mixing attachment, changes in volume or pitch of the motor noise, or acrid smells emitting from the motor.
Four products — KitchenAid's Professional, Artisan, and Classic models, as well the Bosch Universal Plus Kitchen Machine — produced satisfactory results. The Bosch Universal Plus user's manual called for the dough hook to mix cookie dough, which worked quite well. We were surprised by the steeply-priced Ankarsrum's difficulty with the whipping tasks.
Ease of Use
Ease of use is an assessment of how the user interacts with the machine. Mixers are supposed to make the time spent in the kitchen more productive and hopefully more enjoyable. The learning process shouldn't be overly complicated due to poor product design. We looked specifically at the user interface to evaluate the degree of difficulty in every component, from turning it on to changing mixing speeds. We also paid attention to the physical design to discover which tasks can be done with one hand and which ones require more engagement. We assess the machine's sturdiness and whether it wobbles or moves around. We note the gap size between the mixing attachment and the bowl.
We also look at how messy the machine is when in operation. Some of the best mixers have a slow start-up function to prevent ingredients from being thrown out of the bowl. They are also designed to let you easily pour ingredients into the bowl while it is mixing. We note the effectiveness of the splash guard if one is included. Finally, we rate the difficulty in cleaning the stand, bowl, and attachments.
The Artisan, the Classic Plus, and Professional all earned high scores in ease of use. These models have slow starts, a great feature in conjunction with their 10 optional speed settings. While the Bosch only has four-speed settings, it delivers plenty of speed diversity for most home cooks. They all have sturdy bases (the Bosch has suction cup feet!) that prevent them from walking across the countertop.
Mixers are pretty easy to clean, although models with the motor above the bowl tend to collect spilled ingredients. Fixed heads, such as the KitchenAid Professional, are the easiest to wipe down. The open-top Bosch and Ankarsrum are also relatively easy to keep clean as their unobstructed bowls make it simple to introduce ingredients, resulting in fewer spills.
Whipping is far more efficient and consistent with a standing mixer than attempting to do the same by hand. For this reason, the ability of each model to competently whip ingredients is of high interest. Unfortunately, mixers are so helpful that they can readily overdo the whipping process for the same reasons.
We used each mixer to make whipped cream and lemon chiffon layer cake sponges. The first recipe allows us to directly measure the amount of air introduced into the cream. This is accomplished by measuring the cream before and after the whipping. The second recipe is an indirect measure of the aerated egg whites in the layer cake. The sponge's rise is directly related to the structure and volume of the air-filled egg white bubbles in the batter. As such, we measure the height of the sponges at the edge and the center looking for height disparities.
The KitchenAid Professional, Ankarsrum, and the Kenmore Elite 5 Qt Stand Mixer did well in the whipping metric. All three of these machines had cake sponges that rose over an inch and a quarter and displayed little sagging in the center.
In the whipped cream test, the Professional produced the largest increase in volume, going from 1/2 cup of cream to 1 1/4 of whipped cream with stiff peaks in just over three minutes. The Kenmore produced similar volume results but required over two additional minutes to get there. Additionally, the noises emanating from its motor reduced our confidence that it could keep up the work for very long. The Ankarsrum's powerful triplicate whip system rendered stiff peaks in a mere minute and a half. However, the volume increase was less than double — among the poorest in the class.
What makes a mixer good for whipping can also be a detriment. This is the case with the Ankarsrum, but more so with the Bosch Universal. The latter machine's limited speed settings and triplicate whip action over-whipped the cream in just over a minute.
When you don't have enough time to let fermentation do its work, then kneading the dough will speed up the process by working strands of gluten to produce an elastic dough. Why is this important? The elasticity of the dough promotes retention of CO2 — a byproduct of yeast consuming sugar — that makes dough rise. Kneading is a great task to hand off to a mixer.
To test kneading capability, we followed a basic pizza dough recipe in each mixer before tossing, dressing, and baking it off. Properly kneaded dough that has been proofed will be light and airy when baked. So, what we are testing for here is a pizza crust that has a fluffy, open crumb interior and a crispy but easy to penetrate exterior.
KitchenAid mixers are known for their powerful motors and the corresponding quality of their dough hook designs — i.e., the attachment that stretches and folds as it works the dough. Given this reputation, it's not surprising that the larger KitchenAid models, such as the KitchenAid Artisan, ranked at the top of the class in this metric. We were impressed that the 3.5-quart KitchenAid Artisan Mini could tackle this challenge with authority.
Conversely, we were caught off guard by the Ankarsrum's seemingly mediocre performance. This product is known for kneading massive amounts of dough without breaking a sweat. While the machine eventually lived up to the hype surrounding it, we initially struggled to render outcomes warranting the accolades. That said, with some experimentation, we developed techniques that made us fans of this mixer.
We hope that the depth of information provided in our review on stand mixers not only assists you in making a purchase decision but also gives you a better understanding of the different functions and features of the various models on the market. Here's to hot kitchens, new recipes, and lively dinner-table banter with quality cooking in mind. Bon Appetit.
GearLab is founded on the principle of honest, objective, reviews. Our experts test thousands of products each year using thoughtful test plans that bring out key performance differences between competing products. And, to assure complete independence, we buy all the products we test ourselves. No cherry-picked units sent by manufacturers. No sponsored content. No ads. Just real, honest, side-by-side testing and comparison.