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I want to buy a stand mixer, a good one. Mainly for mixing dough, but also for mincing meat. I've seen that the KitchenAid has a mincing attachment. So, I've made a list of what to look for, and would like your input about what's missing.

  1. Steel bowl.
  2. Power, is that a factor?
  3. Pigtail, whisks.
  4. Possibility to attach a mincer.
  5. Bowl size (is bigger better?).
  6. Weight. As the table space is limited, it should be portable (for me at least).
  7. Optional: Ice cream bowl.
  8. Mount for:
    • Slicer (meats, vegetables, etc.)
    • Meat grinder
    • Grater (cheese, etc.)
    • Sausage stuffer
    • Pasta maker
  9. Orbital movement.

Apart from these elements, what am I forgetting?

Apart from these uses, are there any other interesting ones?

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While I have one of these and plan to contribute an answer to this question, I've been "griped at" on other SE sites for name dropping. Is cooking.SE ok w/ name dropping? –  Rikon Sep 5 '11 at 19:07
2  
@Rikon: It's not that mentioning brands is inherently a bad thing, it's just that it's important for questions and answers of this sort to stay focused on the selection process itself in order to stay informative and avoid degenerating into popularity contests. This is exactly the format in which we prefer questions to be asked; it's best if answers avoid "name-dropping" unless there's something objectively notable about a brand (e.g. being the only one to have a particular feature or set of features). –  Aaronut Sep 5 '11 at 19:44
    
I used the brand name for clarity as I'm not sure 'stand mixer' is the usual expression. –  BaffledCook Sep 5 '11 at 20:04
    
Well, we call it a stand mixer here, and Kitchen-Aid themselves call them stand mixers. If there are other regionally-specific terms, would be a good term to add to our translation list. –  Aaronut Sep 5 '11 at 21:16
    
@Aaronut, I'm translating from Spanish. It's sometimes called Kitchen Robot here, but also Mixer. I think robot is the preferred term here. –  BaffledCook Sep 5 '11 at 21:46
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4 Answers

up vote 8 down vote accepted

I've got one of the professional series Kitchen Aids (and my parents have the traditional version to compare and contrast). If money isn't a huge deal, then getting the professional series comes with a more powerful motor and a heavier base that will stop the mixer from "walking" around the counter if you put dough or something dense in the mixer.

One odd thing that I didn't expect is that the mixer is really inconvenient for small things. It can whip up like a triple batch of whipped potatoes, but it has the darnest time whipping up a little bit of whip cream or a little merangue.

Kitchen Aide's attachments are pretty rock solid... One of our more "fun" attachments that we have is the ice cream bowl. Freeze the bowl, dump the ingredients and set the paddle on low. Again, with the professional model, the motor is strong enough to churn a bit longer than traditional other ice cream churns...

IMO, if you're a big dough cook, go w/ the stronger model, otherwise the smaller models should be great.

EDIT In an interesting note, my sister has one of the smaller models and it did infact "walk" off the counter a few weeks ago... The whole machine went crashing to the ground... She picked it up, dusted it off, but the only damage was a small piece of plastic broke off... Gotta give it to Kitchen Aide

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+1 - The pro model is definitely geared toward larger recipes. We've adapted most of what we make (freezing the rest), which works well for almost everything ... except for things like meringues and such (where you don't often need 20 egg whites worth). –  Bruce Alderson Sep 5 '11 at 22:25
    
Yes, I have the same issue with my pro and small batches. I don't even get it out unless I'm making a double batch of something. On the other hand, it is a terrific pasta maker. –  FuzzyChef Sep 6 '11 at 4:59
    
Do the home grade mixers always 'walk' or does that depend on the amount of dough? –  BaffledCook Sep 6 '11 at 6:29
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I have the artisan Kitchenaid and it suits me just fine, it does hop a little when doing breads, but no "walking." I haven't had issues with smaller quantities, it also comes in a myriad of colors if that is worthwhile to you :) If you check out Sam's club or BJ's you might be able to get a Pro for the same price as the Artisan, my sister was able to get one that way. –  Manako Sep 6 '11 at 16:07
    
@Manako, I'm way out of Sam's or BJ's orbit, or the other way around, but it's probably a good tip for US residents. –  BaffledCook Sep 7 '11 at 23:00
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One factor not on your list is orbital motion.

I have a kitchen aid and a bosch. The kitchen aid is orbital and the bosch isn't. The orbital motion makes a huge difference when kneading bread doughs.

The size of the bowl matters a great deal. It should be big enough to do what you need it to and not bigger. A big bowl will struggle to beat a single egg white and a small bowl obviously won't make a batch of 6 loaves of bread. I keep both mixers around for this reason.

I really like the pasta maker and meat grinder attachments. The pasta maker and sausage stuffers in particular save a hand from cranking and make those processes a lot easier.

I haven't read anything good about the ice cream maker bowls (except for Rikon's answer here). Because of bad reviews I didn't buy one so I can't speak to them specifically but for the price you could buy several nicer ice cream makers with better reviews.

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I've added orbital, but I'm a little bit lost. Could you expand on that? –  BaffledCook Sep 7 '11 at 23:01
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@BaffledCook I think what it means is that the whisk is not in a static position relative to the bowl. The socket you place the whisk in is itself on a rotating element, so effectively the whisk turns while rotating (orbiting) around the bowl. Mechanically, you could also have a static whisk placed out of center of the bowl, and then have the bowl itself rotate. I think I've seen both, but the rotating bowl seems less common to me. –  takrl Sep 8 '11 at 9:13
    
@takri, thanks for the explanation. –  BaffledCook Sep 8 '11 at 14:48
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I've owned three different stand mixers ... well, the first one, I don't know if it really counts --- it was a hand mixer that had a stand so you could use it as a hand or stand mixer.

I've had both a KitchenAid 'Ultra Power' (4.5qt, tilt-head) and a 'Pro' (6qt, bowl-lift).

If it weren't for the increased capacity, I'd switch back to the Ultra Power (or maybe the Artisan, which is slightly larger). The main problem is the bowl-lift vs. the tilt-head. It's much less convenient to add ingredients or to get in there to scrape the bowl with the bowl-lift mechanism vs. the tilt-head.

The bowl-lift models also seem to be more temperamental about the bowl clipping in ... the tilt-head bowls have a threaded bowl, where you set the bowl down with the handle facing to one side, then you turn the bowl to lock it in place ... the bowl-lift models have two pegs that you set the bowl on, then tilt the bowl 'til it clips in. I've had a couple of incidents where I thought the bowl was attached right, but it wasn't. (I don't remember the exact situation .. it might've been that I had put the bowl away for storage, and hadn't clipped it in before using the next time)

Also of note is the 'pouring shield' that you can get. I think it comes automatically with the Pro series -- and you need it, because it's obnoxious trying to add ingredients in the first place. Unfortunately, the one it comes with is a single piece model, not the two-piece like for the tilt-head models. The one piece has a large gap in it so that you can slide it on and off ... which means that if you do something that's actually going to make a mess, it won't be contained ... and most likely, it'll be the mixer that gets sprayed and has to be cleaned up.

The only advantage for the 'Pro' is the size -- I can double most recipes without worrying about stuff trying to crawl out the bowl as it's mixing. But be warned that there's 3 sizes of 'Pro' -- the 450 (4.5qt), 500 (5qt) and 600 (6qt). I'd personally go for the Ultra Power over the Pro 450, and the Artisan over the Pro 500 if given the option. The Ultra Power has a more powerful motor than the Pro 450 ... that's not the case with the Artisan, unfortunately, but unless you're going to be running it for 30-40 min without resting at a time, you should be fine. (there's a thermal cut-off, so if it heats up too much, it'll shut down with no indication that it's done so ... but will work again once you let it cool off)

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Many professional grade stand mixers come with an attachment mount, including Kitchen Aid, Hobart, and others. This mount can fit various tools, including:

  • Slicer (meats, vegetables, etc.)
  • Meat grinder
  • Grater (cheese, etc.)
  • Sausage stuffer
  • Pasta maker

I've found these stand mixers much more useful, as the powerful motor serves several purposes. I have a smaller unit (semi-pro) at home and have used pro units in a number of restaurants. The largest units can even slice full size frozen sausages (a few a minute), a feature that's handy when prepping for service.

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