Best Stand Mixer of 2020
Best Overall Stand Mixer
KitchenAid 6-Qt. Professional Bowl-Lift
The KitchenAid Professional helps 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 — reducing the nooks and crannies where frosting and crumbs build up.
The bowl-lift is very convenient, but it only has two settings: fully up or fully down. If the bowl is fully up, there is a space left 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 problems of this sort — many to a greater degree. But all things considered, the problems solved by the Professional far outweigh those left unresolved.
Read Full Review: KitchenAid 6-Qt. Professional Bowl-Lift
Best for Most Home Kitchens
KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer
The KitchenAid Artisan is a quality mid-sized mixer with a tilt-head. Despite its average dimensions, the Artisan mixed it up with the best in class in three out of our four test categories. It has the power to knead the dough quickly and thoroughly, and can also mix frosting to the highest standards. Home cooks won't have to utilize a spatula frequently due to the mixing quality and slightly gapped design of the attachment and bowl system. The Artisan is quite stable when operating at its top mixing speed. We enjoyed the user-friendliness of this model and could perform all the essential tasks on handed.
While the Artisan has a burly motor and components, our model had some minor speed regulation issues. These issues emerged at the higher settings used for whipping cream and eggs. This could explain tall high whisk splattering from sporadic acceleration and the saggy cake sponge, which is often a result of inconsistent aeration of the eggs. Like all models with the motor above the bowl, the Artisan 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 for Kneading
The Ankarsrum Original is unlike any other mixer here reviewed. This open-top unit produces a spinning action by rotating the bowl instead of a mixing paddle or hook. The machine specializes in baking applications, particularly kneading dough. This focus explains the powerful roller arm and scraper, as well as the bowl covering. The machine 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 do not like all the extra components required to perform functions such as mixing and whipping. Mixing 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 made of plastic. Given the machine's powerful motor, this could be problematic. That said, if you're making bread, tortillas, and cookies regularly, then this high volume workhorse can't be beaten.
Read Full Review: Ankarsrum Original
Best Bang for the Buck
KitchenAid Classic Plus KSM75WH
The KitchenAid Classic Plus is the younger sibling of 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 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 haven't seen 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. We needed to scrape the bowl a few times to guarantee a thorough mix. Despite these limitations, this machine is more than worth the money — its all-around quality performance exceeded much of the competition.
Read Full Review: KitchenAid Classic 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 well-positioned 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 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. 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 investigated dozens of promising models. After gaining 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 a series of tests for each metric that ultimately rendered 11 pizzas, 200+ cookies, and 11 cakes that were taste-tested for a complete understanding of the benefits of each machine.
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. These metrics are mixing (30%), ease of use (30%), whipping (25%), and kneading (15%). We used hands-on and methodical testing to gather data in each one of these metrics. Our comparative findings are discussed below.
Related: Buying Advice for Stand Mixers
We define 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 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 their primary function is combining ingredients. We use cowboy cookie dough, pizza dough, and frosting to determine each mixer's ability to combine 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 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 large 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. This can look like inconsistent movement of the mixing attachment, changes in volume, 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.
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 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. 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 (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 Akarsrum are also relatively easy to keep clean as their unobstructed bowl makes it simple to introduce ingredients, resulting in fewer spills.
Whipping is far more efficient and consistent with a standing mixer than by hand, so we are highly interested in assessing each model's competence when it comes to this metric. Unfortunately, for the same reasons that mixers are so useful for whipping, they can easily overdo the process.
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.
Only the 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. In addition, 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? It is the elasticity of the dough that 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 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 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 seemingly performance. This product is known for being able to knead massive amounts of dough without breaking a sweat. While the machine eventually lived up 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 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