Buying Kitchen Mixers

By: Amy Nutt

Ignore all those infomercials for fancy (and essentially useless) kitchen gadgets. Instead, you should spend your time and effort on choosing the perfect kitchen mixer. A kitchen mixer is one of those appliances that every serious cook needs. A good stand mixer can save you hours of work in the kitchen doing a huge variety of kitchen jobs. No cook should be without one.

But not all kitchen mixers are created equal, and having a low-quality stand mixer can be almost as bad as not having one at all. Like other appliances, good quality stand mixers are a great investment, as these machines can last for years-- even decades. If you spend the time and money finding the perfect one, you won't have to worry about buying another for a very long time.

There are several things you should look at when shopping for a new kitchen mixer. There's price and quality, of course, but you should also consider things like speed & controls, capacity, attachments, and add-on options.

Speed and Controls

In general, stand mixers have anywhere from 3 to 15 speeds. The more speeds your mixer has, the more flexible it will be in its uses and the more control you'll have with mixing. There are several kinds of controls that come standard on kitchen mixers. Probably the most common is the dial control. This adjusts speed more gradually, allowing you to go from low to high as you choose. You may also find stand mixers with slide controls, pushbuttons (as on a standard blender), and switches. The newest kitchen mixers are controlled with a touchpad, and have a digital display panel. These look great, but are not so different from standard controls. One new innovation in these types of mixers that you may want to opt for, however, is a timer. This has a countdown on a digital display, and will shut down automatically after a certain pre-programmed time.

Capacity

A basic stand mixer will have the capacity to mix one batch of cookie or bread dough. Many other models, however, are sold with two different sized bowls, allowing the capacity to be adjusted to many different recipes. Though standard bowls are generally the size of a medium mixing bowl, kitchen mixer work bowls can have anywhere from a 1.5 to 7 quart capacity.

Attachments & Optional Accessories

Like other appliances, one thing you'll want to look at when buying a stand mixer is if it will do everything you need. A standard kitchen mixer comes with a set of beaters for batters, dough hooks for mixing bread doughs, and one or two mixing bowls. However, many come with extra attachments and optional accessories to make kitchen work even easier. These include paddles, splatter shields, or flat blending rods for mixing drinks.

Many of the best kitchen mixers can be converted into different kinds of kitchen appliances by buying a simple accessory. This kind of stand mixer can be transformed into a meat grinder, a juicer, a food processor, a can opener, or a pasta maker. While these units and their accessories are expensive, they can easily replace almost every kitchen appliance you have.

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