Looking for the perfect non-KitchenAid mixer
December 17, 2008 7:04 AM   Subscribe

Help me find a good stand mixer that's not a KitchenAid, please.

I've read several posts on here singing the KitchenAid's praises. I've had one for years and despise the thing. I'm looking for a replacement that doesn't make me swear at it and frighten the cat.

What I don't like about my KitchenAid Artisan is:

1. The mixing attachment is centered in the bowl, so there's no way to get a spatula in the bowl while the mixer is going. To scrape down the sides or help get a blob of dough out of the beater, I have to stop the mixer, lift the head, and then scrape. Even then it's difficult because the blade/whisk/whatever is right in the way. My mother's old mixer had a pair of beaters that were placed off to the side of a wide bowl which spun around underneath the beaters, and you could just scrape down the other side of the bowl while it was running. So convenient!

2. Also because the blade is in the middle of the bowl, when I go to add dry ingredients, they land right on the spinning blade and are returned to the air, typically right into my face, if the mixer is operating. Again, I have to stop the mixer, lift the blade, add the ingredients, and even give them a hand stir to get them settled into the dough so they're not sent skyward when I turn it back on. Yes, I have the little plastic shields. No, they don't work. They still leave a hole at the top which flour comes flying out of. And they're chitnzy pieces of crap and now they're in the way too, so if I want to scrape down the sides of the bowl I have to stop the mixer, lift the blade, and remove the interlocking pieces of plastic too. Arg!! I prefer to drape a dish towel over the whole thing when adding dry ingredients, which is just ridiculous with a $300 mixer.

3. And finally, the shape of the bowl and the shape of the paddle blade conspire to keep unmixed ingredients hidden at the very bottom of the bowl, so I have to finish the mixing by hand, which makes for very imperfectly mixed ingredients.

Anyway, I want a mixer with the power, versatility, durability and counter-appeal of a KitchenAid, but one that is actually a pleasure to use instead of cause for kitchen cursing. I've looked for this for several years and never found it. I am hoping that someone here can help me out. I think the main solution I need is a wide flat-bottomed bowl on a base that turns relative to the head holding the attachments. Has anyone seen one of these for sale, in any country?

Thank you so much (and apologies to KitchenAid fans if my anger at this appliance has colored my language too much).
posted by Capri to Food & Drink (16 answers total) 12 users marked this as a favorite
I've always thought Kenwood Mixers were the best.
posted by dance at 7:19 AM on December 17, 2008

Cook's Illustrated tested mixers in March 2008 and the winner was the Cuisinart 5.5 Quart Stand Mixer (SM-55), edging out the KitchenAid Professional 600 Stand Mixer. I find their testing/reviews quite reliable.

The KitchenAid Artisan was included in the test but didn't do very well. One problem they mention is your #2.
posted by Perplexity at 7:20 AM on December 17, 2008

I know this won't change your mind about hating your KitchenAid but I bought a smaller 3 quart bowl that I use more frequently than the bowl that came with my KitchenAid and it's wonderful. For your purposes though it really only changes the conspiracy to keep unmixed ingredients at the bottom of the bowl. The 3 quart bowl is shaped and sized to not leave much unmixed stuff at the bottom at all. Obviously 3 quart isn't enough for everything you make but for one cake or one batch of cookies I find it's normally large enough. Anyway, that's just a suggestion that make your current mixer less loathsome until you find a replacement.
posted by mjones at 7:22 AM on December 17, 2008

I have heard only good things about Bosch kitchen machines. I have quite a few friends that own these products - they swear by them and I'm jealous at the versatility and quality of tasty treats that are a result. If I didn't have my Kitchen Aid, I'd be getting one of these. But, as it is, my Kitchen Aid does its job (although with the frustrations that you listed) and I just can't justify getting a Bosch when my Kitchen Aid is in fine and dandy shape. However . . . if it just happened to fall of the roof of my house and breaks into smithereens . . .
posted by Sassyfras at 7:33 AM on December 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

Not that this is precisely answering your question, but I have some suggestions for 1 and 3.

For one: The Swideswipe Blade

For three: There's some kind of tiny screw adjustment you can make to the assembly to make sure you're getting all the way to the bottom. I'm not clear precisely how it's done -- my aunt did mine when I complained about it at one point -- but I believe it's covered in the manual.

I suspect, however, that the Sideswipe blade would help with three, as well as one.
posted by jacquilynne at 7:40 AM on December 17, 2008 [8 favorites]

Agreed on your not being properly adjusted. Also, the better KitchenAid models (among other improvements) have random orbit motors that sweep around the bowl rather than staying in one place. You can get bowl shields that let you pour ingredients in via a spout/slide but that keep dry ingredients from coming out. I generally have no problems with my 6 qt Professional model (the type with a moving bowl, not head) if I lower the speed to 2 or so before I add the first dry ingredients - even without the shield.
posted by kcm at 7:46 AM on December 17, 2008

I have an Oster I'm happy with.
posted by St. Alia of the Bunnies at 7:50 AM on December 17, 2008

I have no first-hand experience, but I've read some favorable reviews of the Electrolux DLX mixer, which has a radically different design and looks like it would address all your problems with the KitchenAid.
posted by hades at 7:53 AM on December 17, 2008 [1 favorite]

Much like jacquilynne's suggestion, I'd recommend the beater blade to solve problems 1 and 3. It completely solved both of those problems on my KitchenAid. You can at least partially solve problem 2 by using the shield and turning the motor down to the lower speed before gradually adding the flour. I don't have any other mixer recommendations for you, but maybe you can save yourself some money by trying these first?
posted by amelioration at 8:00 AM on December 17, 2008 [3 favorites]

I'm with kcm...and I have the model where the head flips up. If I lower the speed I am able to add dry ingredients with no problem.
posted by mmascolino at 8:06 AM on December 17, 2008

Someone mentioned the Electrolux. I've been using this machine for ten years now - the basic design is ancient, and just as sturdy. The soft-dough-mixing bowl works with two large wisps that turn around while the bowl is stationary. You don't need to lift the head for scraping, but the bowl doesn't turn, and you'll likely collide with the wisps at some point while scraping.
The bread-dough bowl (I use it for almost anything, including making sausage) does spin. There's a bent mixing arm and a scrape-y-blade-y thing that are supposed to fold the dough while it turns in, or together with, the bowl. So there's a built-in scraper, plus you can use another one like you describe.
The bowl is large, but there are some disadvantages with the design. Small and sturdy doughs don't work at all, they just get caught in the arm and stay there. Making bread will need some experience to get the dough just soft enough and to get the amount right for the machine. Good for a no-recipe use-what-you've-got baking.
Otherwise a great machine, comes with a lot of other gadgets too.
posted by Namlit at 9:16 AM on December 17, 2008

My wife and I evaluated a Bosch Kitchen Machine against a Kitchenaid with an elevator bowl (one of the fancier models). I blogged (sorry, self-link) about the results, but long story short, we wound up going with the Kitchenaid. I will say, however, the things you dislike about the Kitchenaid are strong suits for the Bosch.
posted by adamrice at 9:20 AM on December 17, 2008

Another vote for the Beater Blade. They work so incredibly well I can't believe no one thought of this before. Their website will also show you how to adjust your mixer bowl position. A Beater Blade and a bowl shield are far cheaper than a new mixer.
posted by caddis at 9:45 AM on December 17, 2008 [2 favorites]

Anyone have any experience with both the Beater Blade and the Sideswipe Blade? They seem like largely the same idea, and it's not immediately clear to me whether one is likely to work better than the other.
posted by JMOZ at 11:24 AM on December 17, 2008

The Jan/Feb 2009 issue of Cooks Illustrated compares the Beater Blade and the Sideswipe Blade. They preferred the Sideswipe since it left the bowl cleaner. They do mention that both mix faster than a normal beater so you have to pay attention in case you're used to how long a recipe takes (or adjusting for a new recipe).

Overall, they recommend you get one if it fits in your mixer. But, I don't have any personal experience with either (I do have a kitchen aide mixer and will probably get the sideswipe blade at some point).
posted by skynxnex at 12:48 PM on December 17, 2008

Is a Sunbeam Mixmaster available where you are? My wife swears by it, and it appears to have the beaters a little offset.
posted by bystander at 3:54 AM on December 21, 2008

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