The best stand mixers are the golden boys of the kitchen tech world. With the explosion in the popularity of baking, many people are buying them and ACTUALLY USING THEM, rather than having them serve their traditional purpose: looking nice and impressing visitors to your kitchen, who went away thinking you were baking all the time, even though you actually were not.
Our favourite stand mixer at the moment is the utterly brilliant Kenwood Titanium Chef which is packed with features, fantastic to use and extraordinarily efficient.
However, don’t discount the superb Sage Bakery Boss and, of course, most bakers’ favourite mixer, the classic KitchenAid Artisan – although please note that there are many flavours of the best KitchenAid mixer…
How to buy the best stand mixer
These industrial-strength ingredient wranglers are expensive beasts, but a good one should last many years, and they do make the creation of breads and cakes considerably more painless, as well as being able to whip up cream, meringues and the like with their whisk attachments.
Oh, and if you want to get into advanced studies, the Kenwoods and Kitchenaids of this world also take attachments that do everything from mincing meat to spiralising veg to making pasta. Ridiculous, frankly, but somebody out there must be buying them…
Stand mixers are serious bits of kit, and can be a serious investment. That's why our man Derek and his good lady wife have spent the last six months trying the following eight stand mixers, in order to rank them from first to last. The first four options are all extremely strong and none of them are bad. Here's our verdict, then…
The best stand mixers you can buy
This exemplary British designed and engineered planetary mixer from Kenwood is our new number one, and for a variety of reasons. Its understated styling and unobtrusive gun-metal colour is suitable for a wide variety of kitchen designs and it doesn’t take up as much space as you’d imagine. It also comes with an abundance of 21st Century tech while being just as well built as both the Sage and KitchenAid products below.
Constructed almost entirely from die-cast metal and equipped with an ultra-powerful 1,500-watt motor (KitchenAid’s is just 300 watts), this high-end mixer weighs in at a substantial 9.2 kilos, so once it’s in position, it's best to leave it there.
Like most mixers, the heavy-weight top half articulates upwards to make it easy to remove the gorgeously shiny 4.6-litre stainless steel bowl (good for a dozen egg whites or 2.72kgs of cake mix) and change between the industrial strength stainless-steel K-beater, whisk and dough hook. Unlike some mixers which require manually lifting the heavy arm, this one is operated by a simple latch which causes the whole top to spring up on its own without any effort whatsoever. Nice.
The electronic speed control system is another tactile addition. Switch it on and the circular control dial lights up in readiness for you to select your preferred speed from one to eight. It also provides an extra low speed for gently folding in egg whites and a full-speed pulse function for rapidly blitzing whatever it is you want to rapidly blitz. The stainless steel bowl is a sight to behold and very practical too because it comes with a handle on either side. The plastic splash guard on top of the bowl slides on very easily and our test baker loved the transparent flip-up cover for feeding in ingredients.
Just when you think it can’t get any better, a light tap of the chrome slab on top switches on an LED that bathes the entire bowl in bright white light so you can see how the mix is going.
Another brilliant feature of this mixer is that it has not one but two separate accessory outlets, one for slow-speed attachments (pasta roller, meat mincer and grinding mill) and the other for high-speed accessories (food processor, glass blender and compact chopper). You can also buy optional beaters designed specifically for creaming and folding.
Our master baker, a dyed-in-the-wool KitchenAid devotee, loved pretty much everything about this mixer, especially the easy attachment mounting method, the spring-loaded arm-raising mechanism, the twin handle 4.6-litre bowl, the electronic speed controller and, of course, that brilliant bowl light.
Granted, this is not a cheap machine, but there are often some excellent deals on it, and it passed every whipping, mixing and kneading task we threw at it with effortless, speedy aplomb. It was also an absolute doddle to clean. Highly recommended.
Known as Breville The Bakery Boss outside of the UK, this model doesn't go out of its way to look unlike a traditional stand mixer, but it still boasts a host of natty design flourishes. These include a very handy handle on the front of the articulated mixer arm, an LED-lit bowl, an LCD timer and a handy strip light that displays the speed setting you’ve selected, just in case you’ve forgotten.
The 1,200-watt motor is automatically ramped up when heavier ingredients are added. It really has been exceedingly well thought-through and designed.
The Bakery Boss comes loaded with everything required of the British Baking Show-wannabe: a 4.7-litre glass borosilicate microwave-safe bowl, an additional 3.8 litre stainless steel bowl and an abundance of tools, including a scraper beater with rubber edges to catch errant ingredients on the side of the bowl, a dough hook, a flat beater for heavier batters and a huge whisk. The Bakery Boss is available in several finishes, but whichever you choose, it'll complement your kitchen.
KitchenAid's stand mixers are the mainstay of many a TV cookery show – including the Great British Bake Off. The US company’s 'K' model mixer was originally designed in the 1930s and not much has changed since then. It still has the same, pleasingly old fashioned 10-speed lever with nice big speed lettering and a similar lever on the back to lift up the heavy-duty arm. Aside from a slot for adding pasta-cum-meat grinder type attachments on the front, that’s about it.
The 300-watt Artisan is available in eight tantalising colours and comes with a 4.8-litre stainless steel bowl, a smaller stainless steel bowl without a handle for smaller batches or extra ingredients for the same recipe, a balloon whisk, dough hook, flat beater and another Flex Edge beater with a rubber edge for scraping wayward ingredients off the side of the bowl.
The Artisan couldn't be easier to use. Simply throw in the ingredients, lower the arm and slide the speed controller a few notches to the right. The motor fires up and much mixing is done. A clear, removable plastic lid protects against splash back and features a large portal for the addition of extra ingredients during the mixing process.
Few modern mixers match this handsome retro beauty for style or blending efficiency. Granted, it has fewer high-tech bells and whistles than some of its competitors but you'll reap the benefits in reliability, durability, efficiency and, above all, ease of use.
This Dolce & Gabbana Edition from Smeg’s SMF03 range is a striking showpiece that’ll have guests ignoring your greetings while they head straight towards the counter top for a closer look, almost certainly followed by a quick stroke of its smooth, glossy die-cast aluminium head – reminiscent of a Boeing 737 engine – and beautifully machined base.
Then they'll ask you to bake a cake.
Tough enamel- and oil-based paints were used during the application process so rest assured your newly acquired work of art will, or rather should, remain untarnished by small household mishaps.
If a shade under a grand seems far to over the top – or you simply can’t stomach the loud arty colour scheme – perhaps opt for the standard variant instead, which is cheaper by £550 and available in three simple gloss colours – red, cream and black.
The Smeg SMF03 has a 10-speed, soft-start 800-watt motor – 500 more watts than the KitchenAid – which makes light work of anything you throw into its equally gorgeous 4.8-litre polished steel bowl. One area where it arguably surpasses the Kitchenaid is that adding and removing tools is easier.
Given that the standard version of this mixer is a tad cheaper than the similarly styled KitchenAid, it’s a genuine toss up between the two. We don't like the look of the Smeg as much, as we feel it’s less likely to fit into most kitchens – certainly the D&G version is not the most simpatico addition to most homes. However, if you’ve already filled your kitchenette with other bits from Smeg’s art deco design roster, this cracking cake companion will fit in splendidly.
If you want to go beyond just bread and cake baking, consider this pricy but hugely efficient stand mixer-cum-food processor from Magimix.
The 5200 XL is available in black, silver, red, creme and white and pretty much covers all baking and food preparation eventualities, whether it’s kneading dough, whipping cream, whisking eggs, slicing, dicing and grating vegetation or chopping nuts. It’s also capable of making smoothies and fresh juices.
The 5200 XL is comprised of a heavy-duty main unit replete with a 1,100-watt motor and a plethora of accessories too long to list here. Highlights include a 3.6-litre stainless steel bowl, three extra plastic bowls and a whole bunch of cutting and slicing implements.
The main unit is easy enough to use as it has just three big buttons – stop, auto and pulse – but you can be sure your head will be buried in the substantially comprehensive manual for quite some time, if only to work out which accessory is best for the task in hand.
If you have the financial wherewithal and the space to store it all, you won’t be disappointed with this machine’s performance since it excels at almost any job you throw at it.
The Kenwood kMix has many modern design flourishes, including a varispeed 500 watt motor, a huge five-litre mixing bowl and a big speed control knob. The kMix stands taller than the KitchenAid and is only slightly less sturdy while the polished stainless steel mixing bowl is light in the hand and pretty to look at.
The kMix's 1000-watt motor is fairly quiet and we like the way it slowly accelerates instead of starting off at full pelt. The unit also comes with the full gamut of accessories: a balloon whisk for creams and cakes, a K-beater for dry ingredients, a dough hook and a creaming beater that scrapes the side of the bowl like a spatula.
The kMix looks grand in any modern kitchen and does the job well. It's cheaper than the KitchenAid and similarly well built, but the KitchenAid stills beats it (pardon the pun) for effortless operation and simplicity.
This monumental 1,200-watter has three main USPs: it comes with a pair of stainless steel bowls (one large, one small), an LED that bathes the contents of the bowl in a cool blue hue and an extra SoftEdgeBeater with integrated silicone-edged spatula. No question, this is an extremely attractive hunk and, being of Teutonic/Swedish origin, you can be sure it's superbly built too.
Design wise it looks somewhere between the KitchenAid's unabashed retroness and the post modern clout of the Kenwood kMix. The AEG comes with a large, well-lit, 10-speed knob on the side and the usual range of accessories (spiral dough hook, whisk, flat beater and the extra spatula beater mentioned above).
It handled a banana cake mix with aplomb, its whisky thing making light, airy work of all the ingredients. In the pantheon of smart stand mixers, the AEG Ultramix does the deed and does it well.
Here's a neat angle – a folding mixer for those with worktop space restraints. The MR is ideal for the casual cook who bakes once in a while and isn't remotely interested in having a status symbol on the kitchen worktop. Build quality and efficiency can't compete with the prestigious players – this one's all plastic and the twin whisk and beater attachments are thin and feeble by comparison – but it will muster up a huddle of decent cupcakes and the odd small loaf.
The folding mechanism, however, is a stroke of genius. After a clean up, both the arm and the vertical column fold down into a neat package for storing in the nearest cupboard. But you will need to find somewhere to stash the bowl.
This mixer is never going to bother the big boys but it’s still a great option for those with small kitchens or anyone who bakes only very occasionally.