If you’re a keen baker or enjoy making pastries and desserts, a food mixer will be a really useful addition to your kitchen. They cut down your preparation time and the amount of washing up, leaving you more time to enjoy your tasty goodies with friends and family.
Mixers are ideal for baking as they can cream butter and sugar, whisk eggs or cream, knead dough and mix pastry. They’re really versatile, so with the right accessories you can even create fresh pasta and prepare mincemeat!
Stand mixers have a base stand unit, holding a mixing bowl and an operated arm, onto which the various mixing attachments are fixed. The large mixing bowls, which can vary in capacity from one litre all the way up to six litres, are perfect for dealing with larger quantities of food – great if you’re making batches of cake mixture, dough or batter.
Some models have a fold down arm which reduces the overall size dramatically, and you can often choose an opaque stainless steel bowl or a clear glass one.
Often available in a variety of colours and finishes, they can be a statement piece for your kitchen.
Mixers are ideal for baking as they can cream butter and sugar.
Hand mixers, also known as electric whisks, have twin beaters and are primarily used for mixing or whisking.
They’re smaller and lighter than a stand mixer, so take up much less room in your kitchen. Operated with one hand, they’re a good compromise if you don’t have the budget for a stand mixer or will only use it occasionally. They vary in weight so it’s worth testing a few out to see what suits you best. Hand mixers with detachable bowls generally have smaller capacities of one-three litres.
Operated with one hand, hand mixers are a good compromise if you don’t have the budget for a stand mixer or will only use it occasionally.
There are a variety of accessories available for both types of food mixer depending on the brand and price range.
Stand mixers generally come with a balloon whisk, dough hook and beater for their primary use of mixing, whisking, kneading and making pastry. Keep in mind, though, that kneading dough in a food mixer can take a bit longer than a food processor as the attachments cannot move as fast.
Middle range models can come with: double whisks, a
jug blender for making smoothies or pureeing food, a splash guard to protect your clothes from any spilt food, and a flexi-beater with silicone edges that scrapes any leftover mixture off the sides.
Some accessories are only available with higher end models or may need to be bought separately. They can be attached via additional power outlets on your stand mixer, giving you an even larger choice of functions:
- Mini Chopper – For chopping up nuts, herbs and spices.
- Slicer/Grater – Like an attachable mini food processor, it’s great for shredding vegetables.
- Citrus Press – Perfect for squeezing fresh fruit juices.
- Grinder – Used to grind up spices, pepper or dried fruit. Some might be strong enough to grind up coffee beans but always check the instructions first to avoid damaging the attachment.
- Mincer – Ideal for making burgers, pâtés, terrines or meatballs. If a pipe attachment is included, you can even make your own sausages.
- Ice-cream Maker – Usually a freezable bowl which can be used with the main mixing tool.
As hand mixers are smaller, there aren’t as many available accessories. A pair of metal beaters will generally come included, but you’ll probably have to buy any other attachments separately.
Dough hooks, balloon whisks, kneading tools, juicers, grinders and blenders all increase your cooking abilities, while a storage stand helps to keep your attachments organised and contained in one place. Some models can even have detachable mixing bowls, making them similar to stand mixers, but without the same power or stability level.
Dough hooks, balloon whisks, kneading tools, juicers, grinders and blenders all increase your cooking abilities.
Mixers vary in price depending on the brand, model, power and number of accessories included.
You can pick up a basic hand mixer for between £20 and £60, or a more high-tech accessorised version for about £100. Stand mixers are the more expensive option due to their larger size and variety of functions. Price wise you’ll be looking at between £120 and £300 for a sophisticated machine from a reputable brand, with really high-end versions going up to £500.
Some higher end models have electronic speed sensors, which adjust the speed settings automatically to the type of food you’re making.
Stand mixers can have from five to 12 set speed levels, or have a variable speed function, which gives you complete control over the speed by turning a dial.
Smaller and less powerful hand mixers have the same power system but usually don’t have as many speed levels. Different food types will require different speeds – for making sausages, turn the speed right down, and for crushing ice, turn up the power. Some higher end models have electronic speed sensors, which adjust the speed settings automatically.
A pulse button is great for short, sharp bursts of speed or if you have a few stubborn chunks of ingredients. The controls are often a combination of buttons and dials, often with LED light alerts.
Food mixers have become much easier to clean over the years.
With the introduction of dishwasher-safe attachments and removable parts, you can wipe down the whole machine easily. It’s always worth double checking that parts are dishwasher-friendly and using a lower heat wash to make sure their shapes don’t change.
Modern food mixers come with a selection of safety features to ensure you don’t have any nasty accidents while using the appliance.
They’ll only start rotating if attachments or lids are properly connected, and many have a safety lock which ensures the arm can’t be moved once the machine is on. Anti-slip feet also ensure that the machine doesn’t move around the counter when it’s being used.