To find the best stand mixers of 2020 we checked out dozens of models and picked the most promising 11 for hands-on testing. We then put our shortlisted mixers through a punishing battery of tests to simulate performance in an active kitchen. Some came through as high-capacity workhorses while a few weren't much better than hand mixers. With few exceptions, you get what you pay for — higher price correlates with better performance.
The Best Stand Mixers
Best Mixer for Serious Cooks and Bakers
KitchenAid 6-Qt. Professional Bowl-Lift
The KitchenAid Professional lives up to its name. This bowl-lift mixer boasts precision craftsmanship, one-handed operation, and enough mixing power to simulate a minor earthquake. This 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 — reducing the nooks and crannies where frosting, etc. build up.
The bowl-lift is very convenient, but it only has two settings, all up and all down. Also, the up setting leaves a space between the bowl and the attachment. This brings up a broader problem coming from the Professional's prodigious proportions. When mixing small batches, the user 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 will often require the bowl to be lowered when adding large quantities of dry ingredients. In reality, all mixers have problems of this sort and many to a greater degree. But all things considered, the problems solved by the Professional far outweigh those unresolved.
Read Full Review: KitchenAid 6-Qt. Professional Bowl-Lift
Best Mixer for Home Kitchens
KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer
The KitchenAid Artisan is a quality mid-sized mixer with a tilt-head. Despite its middling dimensions, the Artisan mixed it up with the best in class in three out of our four test categories. the Artisan has the power to knead dough quickly and thoroughly, and can also mix frosting to the highest standards. The attachment/ bowl gap is slight, so the user won't have to employ a spatula too often. Importantly, the Artisan also has the weight and stability to stay put when working at the highest mixing speeds. Topping it off, this model is easy to use, allowing for one-handed execution of all its critical functions.
While the Artisan has a burly motor and components, our model had some minor speed regulation issues. They emerged at the higher settings used for whipping cream and eggs. This could explain some of the sagging we observed in our cake sponge (inconsistent aeration of eggs) and some of the splatterings that the whisk issued. The Artisan, like all models with the motor above the bowl, can get showered with ingredients when they are added during active mixing. However, these minor issues fall by the wayside compared to the quality experience provided by this machine.
Read Full Review: KitchenAid Artisan
Best Bang for the Buck
KitchenAid Classic Plus KSM75WH
The KitchenAid Classic Plus is the kid brother to the Artisan. This mid-sized, tilt-head machine is 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 without much trouble. When work is done, the head, neck, and base are relatively easy to wipe down.
That's all good but the cake sponges mixed by this machine fell enough to suggest a subpar whipping action. Also, when mixing the cookie dough the paddle came loose while struggling to scrape a large piece of dough off the side of the bowl — something we haven't seen with any other mixer. Lastly, the Classic had some trouble incorporating frosting ingredients from the bottom of the bowl. We needed to scrape the bowl a few times to guarantee a thorough mix. Despite these limitations, this machine was worth more than worth the money — its all-around quality performance exceeded much of the competition.
Read Full Review: KitchenAid Classic Plus
Best for Open-Top Mixers
Bosch Universal Plus Kitchen Machine
The distinctive design of the Bosch Universal Plus offers innovative features and some "interesting" ones as well. The large, open-top bowl with a high-torque central driveshaft is a compelling design. Complementing the primary motor is a high-speed motor siloed to the back of the base for aftermarket attachments. The unencumbered bowl opening makes introducing ingredients and monitoring the progress of the mixing a breeze. The unavoidable manual scraping of the side of the bowl is easy as well. The Universal Plus also offers a unique triplicate whisking action that is quite effective at working egg whites and the like.
While the triplicate whipping system is powerful and efficient, the limited speed settings (4 in total) can pose some problems with more delicate ingredients. Additionally, the dough hook is unconventional and performs only fairly well when kneading bread dough. However, it's effective at other applications. All things considered, the Bosch provides a diverse range of functions that are singular in the class and worth consideration.
Read Full Review: Bosch Universal Plus
Why You Should Trust Us?
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 the ideal person to test mixers. She knows quality work when she sees it and the techniques that rendered such results. Senior Review Editor Nick Miley has a passion for feeding friends and family. He has worked to perfect recipes and hone 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. This experience — coupled with a scientific research background — guides his side-by-side analyzes of gourmet food products.
Our hands-on testing was preceded by extensive research on the mixer market. We made dozens of in-depth investigations of promising models. Having gained a firm grasp on this class of products, we purchased the most compelling mixers across a variety of styles, sizes, and price points. We then devised kneading, mixing and whipping tests that ultimately rendered 11 pizzas, 200+ cookies, and 11 cakes that were taste-tested for a complete understanding of the benefits imparted to each by the different machines under review. We hope that this review will be informative and ultimately help you to expand your culinary aspirations.
Related: How We Tested Stand Mixers
Analysis and Test Results
To make direct, apples-to-apples comparisons among a diverse class of stand mixers, we developed a set of rating metrics that reflect their impact on the overall user experience. The metrics: mixing (30%), ease of use (30%), whipping (25%), and kneading (15%).
Related: Buying Advice for Stand Mixers
We defined value as a ratio of a product's quality and price compared to other mixers of similar quality or price A product that performs similarly to its peers but costs less is of greater value. A good example is the Best Buy award-winning KitchenAid Classic Plus. Likewise, a product that costs the same as its peers, but is of higher quality also offers greater value. The Editors' Choice KitchenAid Artisan retails at a price slightly above the class average, yet delivers a level of performance far above.
The heavily weighted mixing metric is a test of the motor, componentry, and the resulting action of the machine. These machines can execute many different tasks, but their primary function is combining ingredients. We use cowboy cookie dough, pizza dough, and frosting determine each mixer's ability to combine and incorporate ingredients.
The cookie dough tests a mixer's ability to evenly integrate large ingredients such as chocolate chips, nuts, oats, and coconut flakes into a relatively soft dough without pulverizing them. 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. Finally, the frosting recipe tests the ability to incorporate butter with both liquid and dry ingredients rendering a smooth, creamy frosting without getting unincorporated ingredients stuck on the sides of the bowl and paddle.
We look at the response these recipes provoke — we look for signs of struggle or even failure. Signs can be inconsistent movement of the mixing attachment, changes in volume or pitch of the motor or acrid smells emitting from the motor.
Four of our award-winners — the KitchenAid's Professional, Artisan, and Classic, as well the Bosch Universal Plus — produced satisfactory results. The Bosch Universal Plus user's manual called for the dough hook to be used for mixing cookie dough and this worked quite well. We were surprised by the difficulty that the steeply priced Ankarsrum had with the whipping tasks. We noted the lack of guidance provided by the manufacturer on the proper use of their product.
Ease of Use
The ease of use metric 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 difficult due to poor product design. We weight this metric at 30% of the overall product score.
In this evaluation we pay close attention to the user interface; how the machine is turned on, the dials for selecting mixing speed as well as the range of speeds available. Which tasks can be conducted single-handedly and which require more engagement. We assess the sturdiness of the machine and whether it wobbles or moves around. We note the size of the gap between the mixing attachment and the bowl.
We also look at how messy the machine is when in operation. Does the mixer have a slow start-up function that helps to prevent ingredients from being thrown out of the bowl? Is it difficult to pour ingredients into the bowl when the machine is in operation? 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 rate highly in ease of use. These models have slow starts, a great feature considering that these models have 10 optional speed settings. While the Bosch only has four speed settings, it does not suffer in the range of speeds it can deliver.They all have sturdy bases (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 split ingredients. Fixed heads, such as the KitchenAid Professional, are the easiest to wipe down. The open-top Bosch and Akarsrum are also quite easy to keep clean as their unobstructed bowl makes it easy to introduce ingredients and results in fewer spills.
Mechanizing the whipping process can help tremendously as the whipping motion is more consistent and often faster. Unfortunately, for the same reasons that mixers are so useful for whipping, they can easily overdo the process. We weight this metric as 25% of the final score.
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 rise of the sponge 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.
Only the Editors' Choice KitchenAid Professional did well in the whipping metric. Joining the Professional is the Ankarsrum and the Kenmore Elite. All three of these machines had cake sponges that rose over an inch and a quarter and displayed little sagging in the center.
The whipping results were a little less clean-cut. 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 3 minutes. The Kenmore produced similar volume results but required more than two additional minutes to get there. Moreover, the noises issuing from its motor produced little confidence that the machine 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.
As was stated before, 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 the gluten strands to produce an elastic dough. Why is this important? It's elasticity that promotes the retention of the CO2 — a byproduct of yeast consuming sugar — that makes dough rise. Kneading is a great task to hand off to a mixer. We weight it as 15% of the final score.
To test kneading capability we knead a basic pizza dough in each mixer, tossed it, dressed it and baked 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 the power of their 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 terribly surprising that the larger KitchenAid models such as the Artisan ranked at the top of the class in this metric. We were impressed, however, that the 3.5 quart Artisan Mini was able to tackle this challenge with authority.
Conversely, we were caught off guard by the Akarsrum's performance. This product is known for being able to knead massive amounts of dough without breaking a sweat. The fact that competent bakers initially struggled with the Ankarsrum does little to mitigate the frustrations the machine provoked. It would be nice if the company offered its customers a greater degree of guidance in the use of their product. That said, subsequent informal uses of the machine rendered much better results than those in the test phase and made some of our testers ardent defenders of this machine.
The above is a broad overview of TechGearLab's evaluation of the stand mixer market. We hope that the depth of information provided not only helps you to make a purchase decision, but also gives you a better understanding of the different functions that the various mixers on the market perform. So, here's to hot kitchens, challenging recipes, and dinner table banter. Bon Appetit.
— Nick Miley and Michelle Powell