Ready to level up your baking with a top-notch stand mixer? Our review ranks 10 of the best stand mixers side-by-side so that you can easily find the perfect match for your kitchen. We extensively researched the top models on the market before purchasing the most promising options for hands-on testing. We put our stand mixers through a battery of tests to simulate their performance in an active kitchen. Some contenders proved to be high-capacity workhorses, while others weren't much better than hand mixers. Whether you're an expert baker who dreams of opening a bakery, or someone who enjoys whipping up cookies and cakes from time to time, our comprehensive review will help you find the perfect stand mixer to whisk you away.
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.
Despite the burly motor and components, we encountered some minor speed regulation issues. This flaw was most noticeable at high settings when whipping cream and eggs, 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 KitchenAid Artisan easily gets spattered. Yet this is common for all models with a motor above the bowl. All in all, these issues are minimal when you account for the quality experience.
The Bosch MUM4405 Compact Stand Mixer has a distinct design synonymous with other Bosch stand mixers. This 4-quart, compact model still boasts a 400-watt motor that is powerful enough to handle most mixes. The MUM4405 walks the fine line between affordability and performance, making it our favorite mixer for home chefs working with a tighter budget. Its all-plastic design lends itself to easy cleanups, and makes the MUM4405 very lightweight and easy to lift, move, and store. We love that the mixer bowl and attachments are dishwasher safe, and we believe the MUM4405 has one of the more effective splash guards on the market.
The MUM4405 is not perfect. It doesn't offer a large capacity, so it might not be the best choice for all recipes. It only comes with four speed settings, and its top speed could have a bit more umph, especially for whipping eggs or cream. Loads of plastic make the mixer lightweight, but this means it also lacks the brawn to counterbalance heavier ingredients while kneading or mixing. The result is a rather choppy ride for thick cookie and bread doughs. Luckily, four suction-cupped feet effectively keep the mixer from walking off the counter completely during turbulence. When we step back and consider the whole unit, the MUM4405 is a compact, budget-friendly mixer offering enough performance to satisfy any small kitchen.
The KitchenAid Artisan Mini is our favorite small-capacity mixer for one key reason: It offers the ability to mix small batches without sacrificing any craftsmanship or performance. Not every home chef wants to spend the whole day baking for the masses, which is why this mixer makes sense for cooks who are only baking for two to three people. It's also great for homes with limited shelf space or even diehard bakers living the RV life. The Artisan Mini's 250-watt motor and 3.5-quart mixing bowl are the perfect size for whipping up a loaf of bread or a dozen cookies. Considering its stature, we simply love this mixer's sturdiness and balance. It can plow through the thickest doughs but still has the finesse to whip perfect egg whites, and it can handle complex mixtures without pulverizing the individual ingredients. Best of all, it's simple to use, compact, and easy to clean.
We have very few gripes about this powerful mini mixer. Our main criticism regards the lever that locks the motor head in the up or down position: it operates manually and is pretty easy to forget to lock. This is problematic, especially if the head is tilted up, left unlocked, and then accidentally bumped so that it falls into a perfectly whipped meringue. When creaming butter and sugar together, the flat beater consistently forms a distinct ring of ingredients on the inside of the bowl, which requires a few too many reps with the spatula. But truth be told, we just love this little mixer. It's the perfect combination of size and power, and it checks nearly all the boxes when it comes to performance.
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 has the capability of muscling large qualities of dough. What we don't love are all the extra components necessary to perform functions, such as whipping and mixing, which necessitate a separate bowl, driveshaft, and attachments. The initial purchase includes these components, but they take up valuable cabinet real estate and are mainly composed of plastic. Given the powerful motor, this may potentially be an issue. Still, if you're making bread, tortillas, and cookies regularly, you can't beat this high-volume workhorse.
Before jumping into testing, we completed extensive market research and investigated dozens of promising stand mixers. After gaining a firm grasp on the market, we purchased 10 of the best stand mixers representing various styles, sizes, and price points. To find out which model is the creme de la creme, we devised a challenging set of tests to evaluate their performance side-by-side. Our testing rendered more than a dozen pizzas, 200+ cookies, and a few dozen cakes. For the benefit of each machine — and our own stomachs — we taste-tested every baked good for a complete understanding of how these stand mixers perform in the kitchen.
Our overall score breaks down into four key metrics:
Ease of Use (30% of overall score weighting)
Mixing (30% weighting)
Whipping (25% weighting)
Kneading (15% weighting)
We've tested dozens of stand mixers over the years, and our extensive testing procedure puts each contender through 19 individual tests to rate their performance. Each of the four metrics breaks down into multiple sub-tests that are scored individually. The highest weighted test metrics are ease of use and mixing, each comprising 30% of the overall weighted total. The Ease of Use metric involves 9 specific tests, including taking decibel readings of each model at its highest speed. The mixing metric involves 5 specific tests: three relate to mixing cookie dough, frosting, and pizza dough; the other two sub-tests assess how well a mixer can beat wet ingredients together when making cookies and frosting.
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. 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. This experience — coupled with a scientific research background — guides his side-by-side analysis of gourmet food products. Review Editor Jason Wanlass has been part of the GearLab team for more than six years. An avid adventurist, he has written numerous reviews on camping gear. He recently combined his love for all things gear with his passion for cooking and is excited to offer his insight into kitchen goods. Jason has an eye for detail and likes to find the little things that make a product particularly great.
Analysis and Test Results
There is a huge variety of products in the realm of kitchen appliances. To make direct, apples-to-apples comparisons among this diverse class of stand mixers, we created a set of test metrics that flush out a product's overall performance. We used hands-on, systematic testing to gather data on these metrics. While developing our testing regimen, we also flushed out our professional guide for picking the right stand mixer.
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 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. Other products, like the Bosch MUM4405 Compact Stand Mixer, cost significantly less than the average but score on par with their peers in many respects. All things considered, stand mixers like these present an excellent value relative to the rest of our lineup.
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 KitchenAid Artisan earned a high score in ease of use. This model has a slow start, a great feature that works in conjunction with its ten optional speed settings. While the Bosch MUM4405 only has four-speed settings, it delivers plenty of speed diversity for most home cooks. The KitchenAids have sturdy bases that prevent them from walking across the countertop, while the Bosch MUM4405 attaches to the counter with suction cup feet.
Mixers are pretty easy to clean, although models with the motor above the bowl tend to collect spilled ingredients. Fixed heads are the easiest to wipe down. The open-top Bosch Universal Plus and Ankarsrum Original are also relatively easy to keep clean as their unobstructed bowls make it simple to introduce ingredients, resulting in fewer spills.
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.
The KitchenAid Artisan and the Bosch Universal Plus produced satisfactory results. We were also very impressed with the Smeg Retro Style Stand Mixer. The Bosch Universal Plus user manual called for the dough hook to mix cookie dough, which worked quite well. We were surprised by the steeply-priced Ankarsrum Original's difficulty with the whipping tasks.
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 whip ingredients competently 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 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 Artisan Mini and the Ankarsrum Original performed well in the whipping metric. 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 Ankarsrum Original'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 Original, but more so with the Bosch Universal Plus. The latter machine's limited speed settings and triplicate whip action over-whipped the cream in just over one 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, like the KitchenAid Artisan, ranked at the top of the class in this metric. We were also impressed that the 3.5-quart KitchenAid Artisan Mini could tackle this challenge with authority.
We were initially caught off guard by the Ankarsrum Original's seemingly mediocre performance. This product is known for kneading massive amounts of dough without breaking a sweat, but it took time to learn the ins and outs of this specialized mixer. While we initially struggled, once we developed the correct technique, this machine more than lived up to the hype.
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, quality cooking, and lively dinner-table banter. Bon Appetit.