Ask the Experts: Stand Mixer or Hand Mixer?
Q: I love how stand mixers look on the countertop, and I know they’re powerful machines, but they are so expensive! Do I really need a stand mixer, or can I use a hand mixer when baking?
A: Short answer: You actually don’t need either one. For years, people mixed and blended in the kitchen with no more than a spoon and bowl. But these kitchen appliances can certainly make life easier. If you’re struggling to decide whether to buy a stand mixer or hand mixer, here are a few factors to consider.
The Scoop on Hand Mixers
Hand mixers have several advantages over stand mixers. First, most hand mixers cost less than stand mixers. A hand mixer can fit in a cupboard or drawer and takes up less storage space than a stand mixer. Clean up is simple with a hand mixer: Remove the beaters, toss them in the dishwasher, and wipe any splatters from the mixer body. Finally, you can use a hand mixer with any bowl or pot.
On the other hand, most hand mixers aren’t as powerful as a good stand mixer. A hand mixer is no match for bread dough or other heavy mixtures. Hand mixers also tie you to doing nothing but mixing; you can’t prep other ingredients, wash a few dishes, or check your email while using a hand mixer. Also, hand mixers typically don’t have as many attachment options as a good stand mixer.
The Scoop on Stand Mixers
If you frequently bake and cook, a stand mixer may come in handy. Stand mixers provide more power, allowing you to knead the heaviest bread doughs without ever getting flour on your hands. They also offer a wider variety of attachments, including wire whips, dough hooks, even ice cream makers and food processing attachments. The stand mixer does the work while you simply add ingredients to the mixer bowl.
The two primary disadvantages of a stand mixer are the price and the size. Stand mixers are generally much more expensive than hand mixers. They’re also big, heavy, metal appliances. Many cooks store theirs on the counter due to their bulk and the hassle of getting it into and out of a cupboard.
Another factor to consider is that you can only use the bowl that comes with your stand mixer. Often these bowls are too large to fit into the dishwasher, so you’ll have to wash them by hand.
Time to Decide: Stand Mixer or Hand Mixer?
When making this choice, weigh the decision practically. Think about how often you’ll use a stand mixer. If you typically only bake during the holiday season, a hand mixer might make more sense. However, if you bake often and will use it two or three times a week, a stand mixer might be a wise purchase.
Consider how much space you’re willing to sacrifice to kitchen appliances. Even if you’ll use a stand mixer often, do you have the space for it? Will you get pleasure out of seeing it on your counter, or will it get in the way?
Finally, remember that quality is the most important factor. A high-quality mixer will perform better and last longer than a lower-quality one, regardless of which type you choose. High-quality appliances will cost more, but they are nearly always worth the investment.
Stand Mixer and Hand Mixer Recommendations
Most people think of KitchenAid first when considering a stand mixer. Not only do they offer an array of mixer colors, they also feature a wide range of attachments. We also love the look of SMEG stand mixers, with their retro aesthetic.
Finally, you can’t go wrong with Breville appliances, and the Breville stand mixer is no exception. That’s why we also recommend the Breville Handy Mix Scraper hand mixer, if you opt to go that direction.
As an avid farmer, gardener, and cook, April Freeman is an expert in the food production process. She raises pigs, chickens, beef cattle, and grows a wide variety of vegetables and fruits on her family farm in Tennessee. Learn more about April’s firsthand experience with farm-fresh food on her blog, Feeding My Family.