Does it need to be a KitchenAid?
February 12, 2005 6:04 AM   Subscribe

I'd like to get my wife a kitchen mixer. We really can't afford a proper kitchen aide as we'd like, so I wanted to ask the foodies here at Ask.Me. If it matters she'll be using it mainly for making cakes and cookies.
posted by TuxHeDoh to Food & Drink (27 answers total)
Kitchen Aid. Seriously, just go without food for a few weeks or whatever it takes. And don't buy the lower end model, get the bowl lift. When the web site says "chefs use them at home" they ain't joking. My wife is a chef, she has a twenty year old one. Amortize the cost.
posted by fixedgear at 6:46 AM on February 12, 2005

Fixedgear - don't buy the lower end model? I was looking at the Artisan one - why is the pricier one better?
posted by CunningLinguist at 7:01 AM on February 12, 2005

I love my KitchenAid. Save up, wait a few months, and get the real deal. The one we use now we got as a wedding present, but the one I got from my mom when she bought a new one is 30 years old and still works like a champ.

I think Alton Brown mentioned that the bowl-lift models don't have a tilting head, so it's harder to get a spatula in there quickly to just push stuff down. I haven't used one - can someone confirm?
posted by mimi at 7:12 AM on February 12, 2005

The lifter makes it easier to get things in and out of the bowl.
It's a good feature, but I manage without it on my lower-end KitchenAid well enough.

Definitely suck it up and buy the KitchenAid, with ot without the lifter. Of all the kitchen tools we've bought over the years, it has been far and away the best investment we ever made.

On preview -- yes, the bowl-lifter models DO NOT have a tilting head.
posted by briank at 7:15 AM on February 12, 2005

I've seen reconditioned KitchenAids at kitchen outlets for about half price. A little web searching might find you one for $150 or so.
posted by Miko at 7:15 AM on February 12, 2005

I too believe that the Kitchen Aid is the best stand mixer for home use. I have used both types and the lifting Kitchen Aid is a little easier, plus they generally have a little beefier motors. If you want to save a few pennies just get a Kitchen Aid or similar quality hand mixer. They are perfect for cakes and work fine for cookies. They won't knead bread dough like the stand mounted version, though.
posted by caddis at 7:37 AM on February 12, 2005

Another vote towards saving the money and geting the KitchenAid. It'll last you the rest of your lives, if you're good to it.
posted by Jairus at 7:45 AM on February 12, 2005

I enjoy my KitchenAid with the lift-up bowl, but I did absolutely fine with the tilting head for a long time (we upgraded when we got married, so that I could make larger batches of stiff doughs, and so that we could pass along our first to a good friend).

I tend to agree that you should put off getting a stand mixer until you can afford a KitchenAid. The reconditioned KA is a great idea.
posted by redfoxtail at 7:53 AM on February 12, 2005

Everybody else already said it, but stick with the real deal if at all possible. I've had good luck both with the bowl lift (20+ years of heavy family use, still going) and the tilting head (about 10 years of use in a college dorm and still going). Consider the amortization of the original cost, and the fact that you're never going to have to replace it!
posted by whatzit at 8:25 AM on February 12, 2005

One other option is to check out auctions ( real ones BTW) , or used restaurant equipment . Try a google search for "used restaurant equipment" in your area, you might be surprised.
posted by lobstah at 8:40 AM on February 12, 2005

I'm going to go against the tide here. I own a KitchenAid mixer, and god bless it, I love it. But depending on what your wife plans to do with it, it may be overkill. Cakes certainly don't require it. Cookies, which are stiffer and harder to mix, might, especially if she makes large batches.

A cheaper mixer won't work through hardcore stuff like the kitchen. It won't last as long under high use. But if you're using it to make a cake or two a month and the occasional batch of cookies you're paying for a ruggedness you simply don't need.

If you go cheaper, make sure you get something that's still reasonably good quality. Don't buy a $50 mixer, buy a $100 mixer.
posted by jacquilynne at 8:46 AM on February 12, 2005

I also vote for saving up for a KitchenAid. I have the lifting bowl, and it's great because a) it has LOTS of power when you're kneading bread dough and b) I think it's easier to scrape the bowl since you can lower the bowl while the beater is going.
Now, for your question, asking about what to get if you can't afford a KitchenAid. As a stopgap measure, why not get a handheld mixer? You will still find it useful for stovetop uses and smaller jobs when you finally do buy the big guy, but it can be used quite well for cake batter and meringues in the meantime. Also, if you're living with a smaller kitchen it won't take up the valuable counter space that Mr. Big will use.
posted by nprigoda at 8:51 AM on February 12, 2005

I would pile on for the kitchenAid, just hope it isn't a V-Day gift.
posted by Duck_Lips at 9:16 AM on February 12, 2005

I've had expensive mixers and cheap ones. In the long run, the Kitchen Aid is the best choice, but I wouldn't be afraid to get a hand mixer for making cakes. I did that for quite a long time and got great results. The difference is in human input-- with a cheaper mixer, you'll work a bit more, but with a Kitchen Aid, all the effort is automated.

I just got back from living in England where I had an £8 mixer for four years, and it worked beautifully. The lone caveat is this: don't knead bread with an inexpensive mixer.

You may also want to check out eBay for mixers, as there are almost always some great deals there.
posted by yellowcandy at 10:57 AM on February 12, 2005

My mother (former test kitchen chef and food writer, and dedicated lifelong amateur cook) has been using her tilt-head model KitchenAid since the late sixties, and to my knowledge it's never had a single problem.
posted by Vidiot at 11:08 AM on February 12, 2005

CunningLinguist: I think everyone here answered it pretty thouroughly. More power in the bowl lift, easier to use. Go crazy and get some attachments. The juicer! The food mill! The pasta maker! Is this the Lovemarks web site?
posted by fixedgear at 11:14 AM on February 12, 2005

Oh yeah - and get a Braun hand blender. Twenty bucks, we give one as a housewarming gift to everyone we know. Makes smashed potatoes, makes things like sweet potato soup in one pot, chops garlic or nuts, makes instant pudding...very useful gadget.
posted by fixedgear at 11:16 AM on February 12, 2005

If it's not for a present, or if you are certain that she wouldn't mind having a nice used thing instead of a less-nice new thing in box, you might consider:

(1) Get a basic hand mixer now. It'll be fine for cakes and for the first stages of a cookie batter; when you start adding flour you'll have to resort to a wooden spoon.

(2) Cruise flea markets, yard/garage sales, the net, etc, for a used KitchenAid. If you do this, you'd prefer to find an older one that says "Hobart" on it, not one 2 years old. Hobart sold the KitchenAid line to someone else (Whirlpool?) a while ago and while it's still good, the quality isn't as absurdly wonderful as it was under Hobart (at least that's what I keep reading).
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:14 PM on February 12, 2005

Here is another vote for a refurb KitchenAide. Eat rice and beans for a few weeks and get it. You won't have to buy one again barring acts of war or god.
posted by spartacusroosevelt at 1:16 PM on February 12, 2005

You can sometimes get even high-end Kitchenaids at stores like Sur le Table at huge discounts - I saw a few display models (which have probably never been used - at more than 70% off. And the refurbs, as mentioned above, have the same warranty, so those are also a terrific value.
posted by luriete at 2:43 PM on February 12, 2005

Wow, am I ever bucking the trend here. I'd suggest dropping by Sears, picking up a two-beater Kenmore hand mixer and some steel or Pyrex bowls. Shouldn't set you back more than $30 or so.

I have a Kitchen Aid and yes, it does every sort of mixing thing just as you'd want it to, but where's the fun of making cake mix without having to wipe down the ceiling afterwards when you forget to turn off your hand mixer before you remove it from the bowl?
posted by ikkyu2 at 3:07 PM on February 12, 2005 [1 favorite]

Here here, ikkyu2! And really, licking the "paddle attachment" isn't nearly as much fun as licking the beaters!
posted by nprigoda at 5:44 PM on February 12, 2005

Amazon has refurbished KitchenAids for $145.
posted by mudpuppie at 6:32 PM on February 12, 2005

seventeen years ago I took back every wedding gift I could and used my store credit for a Kitchen-Aid (lower end model) It still behaves like it is brand-new. Indestructo.
I do have a hand-held kitchen aid mixer that is much less. That would do the trick until you could afford the stand mixer.
posted by davenportmom at 9:08 PM on February 12, 2005 [1 favorite]

I 'second hoping it's not a Valentines gift', unless she specifically asked for a new mixer as her gift.
posted by coolsara at 11:48 PM on February 12, 2005

I have a KitchenAid; I used to have a MixMaster. I usually make cookies and cakes.

I liked my Sunbeam MixMaster better than the KitchenAid. I thought it mixed better, and it took up less room in the cupboard. The KitchenAid has a slightly more powerful motor, but it doesn't seem to make much difference in the things I use it for.

Do not get a hand mixer if she's going to be doing anything heavier than frosting or whipping riced potatoes. They're just not strong enough. (Mr R burned out 3 before he gave in and bought the MixMaster.)
posted by jlkr at 4:14 PM on February 13, 2005

My favorite cake recipe is not one I would attempt with a hand mixer. I've been shopping for a stand mixer just recently, and KitchenAid doesn't appear to be sold in South Africa (no surprise). Here we are offered Kenwood (not the electronics outfit), and they look decent enough, and its what my mother-in-law uses, and if SHE uses it, it has to do the job (Yum, she's visiting in April, and she cooks when she visits, because she loves doing so). And she would never spend a dime if a penny would do.

And just BEWARE: I have noticed a trend in recent years of good name brands resting on their laurels and selling less-quality goods at better-quality prices. If Kitchen Aid has been sold, this wouldn't surprise me at all.

Note: I did not provide a link to Kenwood Kitchens because their website is next to worthless. Far more models are sold in stores than appear on the website!
posted by Goofyy at 11:35 PM on February 13, 2005

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