What You Should Consider When Purchasing Your First KitchenAid Mixer
The mixer of all mixers.
Before actually owning one, I dreamed about my first KitchenAid mixer and made a Pinterest board specifically dedicated to my obsession with the kitchen appliance. It was love at first sight when I pinned a picture of the of the 5-quart artisan designed mixer in the glossy raspberry ice color. With its hefty price tag, this appliance was going to be an investment on my part, or a gift from somebody else.. I dropped an obvious hint to my family members by posting a picture of the mixer in the most public space of my home (the refrigerator door) in the weeks leading up to my birthday, just in case anyone wondered what I wanted. Thanks to the law of attraction and my not-so-subtle trail of clues, my family did in fact gift me my first KitchenAid stand mixer.
All of which is to say, these mixers are, without a doubt, an appliance most enthusiastic home cooks/bakers aspire to eventually own. But before you shell out a few hundred dollars for a brightly colored stand mixer, decide if you really need one or not. With the different models available, it can be overwhelming to figure out which model is best for you. My decision was based largely on vanity because there were only 2 models where the shade of pink that I wanted was available in. Although my mixer is very pretty, this is probably not the best way to decide which model will best suit your needs. If you are an avid baker, food blogger, or regularly baking in high volume for events, a stand mixer will be valuable to you. However, if you are not entirely ready to commit to investing in a heavy-duty stand mixer or you only bake on occasion, an electric hand mixer may be all that you need. It performs the same basic functions of a stand mixer, but simply requires more of your hands-on involvement. And obviously, a hand mixer does not offer the same capabilities that stand mixer can via attachments like a dough hook, meat grinder, or pasta roller (but those are super niche anyway, so you'll probably be okay).
So whether you’re ready to buy or just thinking ahead, here are some features of a KitchenAid Stand Mixer that you should consider
Tilt-Head or Lift-Bowl
KitchenAid mixers come in two different styles that determine how you operate the mixer. The tilt-head design allows you to lock and unlock the head of the mixer where the motor is housed. This option affords you a lot of clearance to switch between attachments. It is also easier to add ingredients and scrape down the bowl. However, it can be easy to forget to lock the head in the midst of constantly locking and unlocking it. Most of the weight of the mixer is in the head, making it hazardous to move the mixer if you forget to lock it in place. With the lift-bowl model, the bowl attaches to the mixer by extended arms and is lifted into place with a handle. This is the model that I’ve seen more often than not in professional kitchens. The bowl locks into place making it much more stable and there’s no need to worry about locking the head, as the mixer travels as a solid piece. The major drawback of this style is that it can be a little tricky to switch out the attachments, especially in the middle of mixing, and in some cases, you have to completely detach the bowl from the mixer to do so.
Bowl Size and Style
The bowl comes in a range of sizes and finishes. The bowl capacities span from 3.5 quarts to 7 quarts. In baking terms, about 5 cups of AP flour fits into the smallest bowl (3.5-quarts) and 16 cups of flour fits into the largest bowl (7-quarts). For the average home cook, the 5-quart bowl hits the sweet spot, holding 9 cups of flour. You can choose between a brushed stainless steel finish, a polished stainless steel finish with a handle, or a glass bowl with a handle. For ease and convenience, a bowl with a handle can be a lifesaver when it comes time to lift a heavy bowl of batter. The different finishes of the bowl is your preference to choose from, however, the bowl-lift model is only available in polished stainless steel finish.
The main distinction between the tilt-head model and the bowl-lift model is the motor size. The bowl-lift models have the more powerful motor because they are intended for professional use with speeds up to 1.9 HP. Other motor sizes range between 250-watts (mini series) to 1.0 HP. For the homecook, 325-watts is generally enough power.
The prices of KitchenAid mixers change all the time. You can often find them on sale at department stores, home goods stores, and online retailers. Therefore, it’s best to figure out what model you want first and then compare prices. On average, the smallest mixer retails for around the low $200’s (MSRP) and the largest around $1,000 (MSRP). On Amazon right now, the KitchenAid KSM150PSER Artisan Tilt-Head Stand Mixer is an Amazon’s Choice product reduced to the price of $279 from a list price of $429.99.
I think this model is the best mixer to purchase because the price is reasonable, the motor is 325-watts, and it has a 5-quart polished stainless steel bowl with a handle. This artisan model also has over 20 color options available, offering more variety than any other model. After all, you can’t put a price on a kitchen appliance that matches your kitchen decor exactly, right?
For more information, Williams and Sonoma has an extremely comprehensive comparison chart of all the KitchenAid stand mixer models.