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"Always start out with a larger pot than
what you think you need."
— Julia Child

Best Kitchen Mixer Cooks Illustrated

author
Bob Roberts
• Tuesday, 03 November, 2020
• 8 min read

Kitchen still makes the majority of stand mixers, but other manufacturers now offer small commercial-grade machines that promise to knead, whip, and mix with even more ease and efficiency. Improvements range from bigger bowl capacities and more horsepower to timers with automatic shutoff and easy-to-use splash guards.

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(Source: www.cooksillustrated.com)

Contents

As a result, these machines took longer to whip small quantities and in some cases left an untouched pool of liquid beneath the cloud of silky peaks. In most cases, the lateral reach of these flat beaters wasn’t enough to grab food that had clung to the sides of the bowl, forcing us to regularly scrape down the unincorporated portions of the batter and remix.

Only one mixer came with a beater that specifically addressed this problem: an extra “scraper” paddle with silicone extensions that continually swiped the sides of the bowl. What’s more, this maker's paddle, as well as those included with all three mixers by another manufacturer, featured a distinct design advantage: the aforementioned Y-shaped webbing inside its frame.

Because the angles between the “fingers” are relatively wide, cookie dough didn’t become clogged in the crevices as it did with the sharper-angled Z-style paddles that came with another maker's models, particularly the smaller one. Their dough hooks made limited or no contact at all with the ingredients when we added enough for a single batch of pizza dough but capably mixed the ingredients when we added twice as much flour and water for double batches (though both machines needed extra time to finish the bigger job).

If a machine has enough power, it can keep moving and mixing at its set speed despite that load; if it doesn’t, the mixer will slow, which causes the motor to heat up and potentially burn out. But that wasn’t the whole story: Several machines with relatively high horsepower performed either inconsistently or markedly worse than mixers with less than half as much oomph.

“Abundant torque availability allows speed to be held constant over a wide load range, while the beater of an under powered mixer will lose speed as ingredients are added or dough stiffens, resulting in inconsistent mixing batch to batch,” explained Michael Bergen, lead mechanical engineer at Métis Design Corporation in Boston, Massachusetts. A motor with superfluous power will unnecessarily increase the cost, size, and weight of a mixer.” But an under powered mixer doesn’t just deliver bad dough: When it slows or stalls, this strain makes the motor more likely to burn out, explained Ruling Fend, professor of mechanical and materials engineering and an American Society of Mechanical Engineers fellow at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

stand mixers mixer cook
(Source: www.cooksillustrated.com)

Not only did it shudder and lurch as it churned a single batch of dough but it became very hot (its top surface reached 100 degrees), emitted fumes, and from that test on rumbled angrily during both light and heavy tasks. This mixer outperformed almost every challenger, producing billowy egg whites as capably as it did a double batch of pizza dough.

In fact, its only real competition was its sibling: a machine with more than three times as many horsepower, nearly twice the capacity, and a much heftier price tag. Besides a bowl-lift rather than a tilt-head design, we had a few wish list items for the aforementioned machine: a bowl handle, preferably a vertical one to help us control the weight of the vessel and keep our other hand free for scraping, and a splash guard (one that could slip on and off easily, such as the one on the model which bested this one).

Thanks to its power, heft (at 21.5 pounds, it’s one of the heaviest mixers we tested), compact size, simple operation, and relatively wallet-friendly price, the smaller sibling of our winning machine earned our Best Buy status. But if you do a lot of heavy-duty baking, you’ll want to save up for its bigger brother, a stand mixer whose range of ability and durability make it truly worthy of investment.

We tested nine stand mixers from leading brands, focusing on the key tasks of whipping, creaming, and kneading and also rating them on design and ease of use. But some newer models have innovations like bowl-scraping beaters, timers, or “turbo” and “power boost” options.

We ran them through a series of tests that covered light, medium, and heavy mixing tasks: We timed how long it took them to whip heavy cream, in both 1/2-cup and 1 1/2-cup amounts, and to cream softened butter and sugar. We incorporated flour, oats, and raisins into the creamed mixture to make heavy oatmeal cookie dough.

stand mixers mixer cook
(Source: www.cooksillustrated.com)

To help assess mixing efficiency, we tinted cooked potatoes with drops of blue and yellow food coloring and timed how long it took the mixers to whir them into a uniform green color. One model's self-scraping beaters are coated in silicone and designed to clear food away from the sides of the bowl, but they didn’t work.

Another model's timer sounds like a great idea, but the design was all wrong; it was hard to see the clock and it automatically resets when you switch off the mixer. Testers repeatedly activated these buttons accidentally on two different mixers, and the extra power proved unnecessary.

Our two favorite mixers each weigh in at about 2 pounds and testers found them agile, quick, and light. We’ve never found a reason for more; extra speeds only hindered us and left us wondering if medium-high would be a 6 or a 7 on a nine-speed mixer.

Furthermore, more speeds don’t equal more power; they simply mean more steps between low and high. We wanted numbers to back up the power levels we could feel, so we tested each mixer ’s speeds with a tachometer, which measures revolutions per minute (rpm).

As their relative cost has dropped considerably over the years, the appeal of stand mixers has only grown, and these days the appliance is a fixture in many kitchens. Kitchen still makes the majority of stand mixers, but other manufacturers now offer small commercial-grade machines that promise to knead, whip, and mix with even more ease and efficiency.

bread stand doneness mixers mixer testing cook inexpensive
(Source: www.cooksillustrated.com)

As a result, these machines took longer to whip small quantities and in some cases left an untouched pool of liquid beneath the cloud of silky peaks. In most cases, the lateral reach of these flat beaters wasn’t enough to grab food that had clung to the sides of the bowl, forcing us to regularly scrape down the unincorporated portions of the batter and remix.

Only one mixer came with a beater that specifically addressed this problem: an extra “scraper” paddle with silicone extensions that continually swiped the sides of the bowl. What’s more, this maker's paddle, as well as those included with all three mixers by another manufacturer, featured a distinct design advantage: the aforementioned Y-shaped webbing inside its frame.

Because the angles between the “fingers” are relatively wide, cookie dough didn’t become clogged in the crevices as it did with the sharper-angled Z-style paddles that came with another maker's models, particularly the smaller one. If a machine has enough power, it can keep moving and mixing at its set speed despite that load; if it doesn’t, the mixer will slow, which causes the motor to heat up and potentially burn out.

But that wasn’t the whole story: Several machines with relatively high horsepower performed either inconsistently or markedly worse than mixers with less than half as much oomph. Not only did it shudder and lurch as it churned a single batch of dough but it became very hot, emitted fumes, and from that test on rumbled angrily during both light and heavy tasks.

“Abundant torque availability allows speed to be held constant over a wide load range, while the beater of an under powered mixer will lose speed as ingredients are added or dough stiffens, resulting in inconsistent mixing batch to batch,” explained Michael Bergen, lead mechanical engineer at Métis Design Corporation in Boston, Massachusetts. A motor with superfluous power will unnecessarily increase the cost, size, and weight of a mixer.” But an under powered mixer doesn’t just deliver bad dough: When it slows or stalls, this strain makes the motor more likely to burn out, explained Ruling Fend, professor of mechanical and materials engineering and an American Society of Mechanical Engineers fellow at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln.

butter peanut mixer test kitchen america hand natural witmer
(Source: www.cooksillustrated.com)

Not only did it shudder and lurch as it churned a single batch of dough but it became very hot (its top surface reached 100 degrees), emitted fumes, and from that test on rumbled angrily during both light and heavy tasks. But what was even more surprising than those machines' failures were the impressive results put up by the seemingly low-power Kitchen Classic Plus, the company's smallest and cheapest model.

In fact, its only real competition was its sibling: the Kitchen Pro Line, a machine with more than three times as many horsepower, nearly twice the capacity, and a much heftier price tag. Besides a bowl-lift rather than a tilt-head design, we had a few wish list items for the Classic Plus: a bowl handle, preferably a vertical one to help us control the weight of the vessel and keep our other hand free for scraping, and a splash guard (one that could slip on and off easily, such as the one on the Pro Line).

Bottom line: A stand mixer's stated capacity may not only be misleading but it also may not be a good indication of the machine's ability to handle large loads.) Thanks to its power, heft (at 21.5 pounds, it's one of the heaviest mixers we tested), compact size, simple operation, and relatively wallet-friendly price, the Classic Plus earned our Best Buy status.

But if you do a lot of heavy-duty baking, you’ll want to save up for the Pro Line, a stand mixer whose range of ability and durability make it truly worthy of investment. Stand mixers work wonders when you want to whip up baked goods such as layer cakes, cookies, meringue, or bread.

Every mixer came with three standard attachments: a whisk, a paddle, and a dough hook for whipping, creaming, and kneading, respectively. With the whisks we whipped heavy cream and egg whites; we used the paddles for traditional creaming of butter and sugar in cookie dough and reverse-creaming flour and butter in cake batter (coating flour with butter slows gluten formation to ensure a tender cake); with the hooks we kneaded stiff dough for bagel bread and sticky dough for ciabatta.

blenders blender cook illustrated test kitchen america food processors country equipment favorite legacy vitamix cooksillustrated americastestkitchen ninja
(Source: www.cooksillustrated.com)

The good news is that most mixers could perform all these tasks, with a few notable exceptions: When we tried to whip two egg whites, two models flopped. Other mixers were not as bad but still didn’t match models whose attachments engaged immediately and fully with the ingredients.

While every mixer made both dough, some models rocked and whined throughout, revealing motor strain and indicating potential long-term durability issues. Stand mixers require torque, a twisting force, for leverage to push against heavy dough.

We strongly preferred models that offered head-release buttons or latches that were easy to find without fumbling. As they worked heavy dough, one mixer ’s bowl loosened and couldn’t be retightened; another got jammed, and we struggled to release it.

When we used water to measure the volume that the bowls could actually hold (to the top of the attachments), all held about 3 to 3.5 quarts. Finally, we found that the weight of a mixer affects its stability; the models in our lineup ranged from about 6 to 22 pounds, and our favorite was on the high end.

But if you have trouble lifting a heavy mixer, two models, by Outer and Bosch, offer decent mixing in compact sizes and at portable weights. As it turns out, you don’t need to spend big bucks on a stand mixer to get good performance.

stand mixers end
(Source: www.cooksillustrated.com)

It's mixing action is highly efficient and powerful; ingredients came together quickly and blended thoroughly, and it handled difficult dough with ease. While most of the rest of the lineup worked adequately, these mixers took more time and more effort from the cook; we also appreciate that this model fits the full range of attachments made by its manufacturer (including a pasta roller, meat grinder, ice cream maker, spiralizer, grain mill, and citrus juicer) so it could potentially take the place of other appliances, saving space and money.

We focused on the key tasks of whipping, creaming, and kneading and rated them on ease of use and design. Creaming: We preferred mixers that could quickly and thoroughly cream butter and sugar for sugar cookie dough and reverse-cream cake batter, giving the highest points to those that created pale, fluffy mixtures and easily incorporated other ingredients with less scraping of the bowl or paddle.

Ease of Use: Mixers were rated on how easy they were to set up, use, and clean, including raising and lowering the tilt head, placing and removing the bowl, and adding ingredients. Design: We evaluated weight, size, layout, controls, and operation of each mixer and its parts, including the whisk, paddle, dough hook, and splash guard (if any) and bowl shape and handles.

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Sources
1 www.tasteofhome.com - https://www.tasteofhome.com/recipes/air-fryer-cod/
2 www.fearlessdining.com - https://www.fearlessdining.com/air-fryer-cod/
3 www.allrecipes.com - https://www.allrecipes.com/recipe/277075/crispy-air-fryer-cod/
4 www.karenskitchenstories.com - https://www.karenskitchenstories.com/2020/05/crispy-air-fried-cod-fillets.html
5 www.everydayfamilycooking.com - https://www.everydayfamilycooking.com/air-fryer-cod/