From kneading bread and pizza dough to mixing heavy cake batter, benchtop mixers have come a long way – now you can buy additional accessories for your machine that'll transform them into mincers, pasta makers, blenders and citrus presses, to name a few. And they're available in stylish designs, demanding to be displayed on your benchtop.
Being able to make your own doughs and batters means much healthier options are available for you and your family, particularly if there are allergies or intolerances in the mix. You can be sure of every ingredient that goes into your food, and combine it easily with the help of a mixer. If you buy a model with the ability and versatility to accommodate extra attachments, you can make even more foods from scratch, like pasta for example.
First you need to decide between these two types of mixer:
Single tool attachments
Mixers with single tool attachments can handle heavier loads and can knead dough. This type is for the serious and regular cook, and ideal for batch preparation.
Twin tool attachments
Mixers with twin tool attachments can whisk and mix well, but struggle when mixing and kneading heavier batters. They are a cheaper alternative for the occasional cook, but if you're making dough you'll need to knead it by hand.
Will your mixer take prime position on your kitchen bench or will it need to fit into a cupboard? Mixers tend to be large, bulky and heavy to store so keep this in mind if you're planning to store yours in a cupboard. Most now come in a range of colours and designs, so if you have the space on your bench you're likely to want to have it on display.
This accessory is likely to be the most frequently used attachment for making cakes and savoury dishes.
Include a rubber scraper which works its way around the rim and makes for more thorough mixing. These are becoming increasingly common.
Is perfect for creating foamy whipped mixtures.
Single dough hook
This attachment is particularly useful if you make a lot of bread.
Some models come with optional accessories that allow you to convert your mixer into a multipurpose appliance, like a meat grinder or pasta maker.
A splash guard will prevent ingredients from spilling out of the bowl while mixing – that's great for avoiding an unexpected dust cloud of flour or a fountain of liquid mess.
The guard should ideally attach to the motor head, so it lifts away from the bowl when the motor head is lifted. This makes it easier to access the mixture – otherwise you'd have to remove the guard every time you want to scrape down the bowl.
Some guards include a chute for adding ingredients directly into the bowl without having to stop the machine and lift the motor head.
A range of speed settings is essential. Six speeds are usually enough. Look for:
- Slow, for kneading and folding.
- Light mixing speed, for puddings and muffins.
- Creaming/beating speed, for butter, sugar and heavy batters.
- Whipping/aerating speed, for cream, egg whites and meringues.
The wattage of mixers can range from 300W to 1500W, however in our testing we've found that this doesn't have a significant effect on performance.
This feature is useful to keep the bowl stable during mixing.
This will help to keep the mixer stable on the bench during use, and is particularly important when it comes to mixing heavy batters and doughs.
Spring-loaded tilt head
This feature allows for an easy lift, as the spring takes the weight for you.
Height-adjustable mixing tools
Adjusting the height of the mixing tools can be fiddly but it allows the mixer to work with small quantities and makes for a more thorough mix. Since benchtop mixers are restricted in movement you might find some leave unmixed material at the bottom of the bowl if the mixing tools are raised too high.
A stainless-steel mixing bowl is extremely durable and should last the life of the mixer. Glass or plastic bowls may be hard to replace if you break them. Also, look for a bowl with a handle – it'll be convenient for pouring mixtures.
A release button for the beaters will prevent your hands from getting covered in messy ingredients.
This isn't a common feature, but if you have recipes that specify the length of mixing time, it will come in handy.
Many high-end mixers have attachment outlets that let you add functionality to your mixer. These are often optional extras. Common add-ons include: ice cream maker, juicer, spiralizer, mincer, blender or pasta maker. They are powered by your mixer's existing motor.
The models in our latest mixers test range in price from $25 to $1299.