Which KitchenAid Stand Mixer should I get?
September 24, 2017 5:23 PM   Subscribe

I'm getting a KitchenAid stand mixer as a generous gift, and need to figure out which one I want. I think I'm comfortable with the bowl-lift rather than the head-tilt models (unless I can be convinced otherwise). But should I get the 5 quart or 6 quart model?

I am not a professional or even an avid baker, really. I do bake bread about once a week, and envision myself making cookies or other things more often as my kids get older. I also really want the pasta and meat grinder attachments, perhaps others as well. As far as volume output, I think I'd be fine with any of them. I don't need to make more than two loves of bread at a time. But from what I've seen the bigger models aren't physically that much bigger, but are more powerful. So are there any drawbacks I'm not thinking about for a 600 model? Space in my kitchen is not unlimited, I imagine the thing is so heavy that it would have to have a permanent spot on the counter. Would an artisan model be easy to put away in a cabinet while not in use (it doesn't seem like it to me)?

Also, if you have any recommendations as far as attachments go, that would be welcome as well, I'm considering anything except the ice-cream maker (already have one of those). Thanks!
posted by skewed to Home & Garden (20 answers total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I have the 600, and I have had to keep it in some awkward spots (it doesn't fit under my slightly-too-low cabinets in my current kitchen) but I've never been sorry I had the power. I've made some pretty gnarly pizza crust in that thing.

I make up for the space hogging by keeping all my extra kitchen towels in the bowl, which does double-duty keeping it from filling up with dust and dead bugs between major uses. In my current place I ended up putting one of these near the kitchen and using the cubbies for attachments, the food processor and blender and their attachments, and cookbooks.

My only attachment/add-on is a silicone-edged beater. The original beater has never been used.
posted by Lyn Never at 5:32 PM on September 24, 2017 [3 favorites]

I like my 5 qt bowl-lift. I don't need 6 qts of capacity, and it seems to me that a larger bowl would just be a larger pain in the neck to clean, and also take up more space in the dishwasher, sink, and fridge.

Mine sits on the counter.
posted by metaseeker at 5:36 PM on September 24, 2017 [3 favorites]

My 6-quart mostly lives in the basement, as I rarely need something with that much capacity and there's no storage space for it in the kitchen.

If you're not planning on regularly doubling recipes or making a lot of dough, the 5-quart will probably suit you fine.
posted by minsies at 5:43 PM on September 24, 2017

We have the bowl lift model, and it's proven to be very useful. As you noted, it is quite heavy, so it will need to have a permanent space somewhere if possible. Our kitchen doesn't have a lot of countertop space, so our mixer lives on top of our utility room fridge when not in use. My wife got the silicone edge beater, because she uses it mostly to make cakes like her cold oven pound cake. She also has the pasta attachment, which comes in very handy.
posted by Roger Pittman at 5:50 PM on September 24, 2017

I like my bowl-lift model. But I think both designs are pretty good in different ways

I also really want the pasta and meat grinder attachments

There's three pasta things. There's a set of rollers/cutters for making spaghetti (which I have and have used a ton, and can endorse), there's a dedicated pasta extruder (which I have and have used a ton, and can endorse), and there's a pasta extruder add-on for the meat-grinder attachment, which before the dedicated extruder came out I looked into a lot and everyone said it was terrible and I was like "I've made tons of pasta - I bet I could make it work fine" until I ran into a review by someone who said that was exactly their decision process, and sure enough, it's terrible. So I finally believed them, and as a result I don't have actually any first-hand experience with that one, but: get the cutter and/or dedicated pasta extruder and not the meat-grinder pasta extruder, apparently.
posted by aubilenon at 6:13 PM on September 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

You mentioned the magic words- meat grinder! We use our KitchenAid Pro 600 to grind meat and highly recommend getting it (I've heard of others having their motor burn out). Also, the OEM attachment is crap, get a smokehouse meat grinder attachment- worth every penny! (They're on Amazon, memail me if you can't find them)
posted by stewiethegreat at 6:16 PM on September 24, 2017 [4 favorites]

My only advice would be that if you bake you should get the most powerful one you can. Bread dough can really work a machine.
posted by Rufous-headed Towhee heehee at 6:16 PM on September 24, 2017 [5 favorites]

I'm an avid baker with the Artisan. I love it, it's fine, but sometimes I can tell I'm pushing it with certain thick doughs. If money/space is not really a concern then get the more powerful version.
posted by gatorae at 6:58 PM on September 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

Its been a long time, but I got a refurbished (they are floor models and photo shoot models that have returned to KitchenAid and inspected) Professional HAD bowl lift one directly from the KitchenAid website for about the cost of the tiny artisan ones they sell everywhere. Best deal ever.
posted by atomicstone at 8:00 PM on September 24, 2017 [1 favorite]

posted by atomicstone at 8:07 PM on September 24, 2017

The Bowl lift style is way better than a tilting head if you ever have stiff doughs or batters. The latch on the tilt lock is just not good enough and then the head walks up out of the bowl...
posted by janell at 8:39 PM on September 24, 2017 [2 favorites]

I have owned a few KitchenAids and Hobarts, I can tell you that whatever model you get make sure that it is all metal, in particular the gears. Plastic is weak and will fail, especially with heavy grain doughs. A very affordable splurge was the silicone edged beaters. Both the tilt and lift versions take space wherever you place and or use them. Attachments like the meat grinder add inches to the device when in use so be prepared to calculate that potential need for space use too.
posted by jadepearl at 12:02 AM on September 25, 2017

Got the 600 because I lie to grind meat and make bread. My MIL had the more stranded one cheap With plastic gears and you can really feel it strain doing anything but some cookies. If prince is an issue I got my 600 refurbished from the companies website for the same price as the smaller models. I got the bowl lift as I have upper cabinets. Definitely get one with metal gears, they make a bit more noise but they left so much longer..
posted by wwax at 6:31 AM on September 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

I have the Artisan with a meat grinder and a juicer, and I really want a set of pasta rollers/cutters. I bake bread (1 loaf or equivalent) a couple of times a week or more and cake and grinder-type stuff less regularly but enough that I need the machine or I'd never do either. I've never had any problems with it and for me, space is an issue. If I had the space in a cupboard, which I don't, I wouldn't use it nearly as much because even this little machine is quite heavy and awkward. I wish I had one of those cupboards that hide a counter with power outlets.
The reason I bought the meat grinder and juicer was that I had to get rid of my food processor in order to make room for the Kitchen Aid, and I felt a meat grinder + juicer + a Bamix would be better for my purposes than an extra food-processor appliance for the Kitchen Aid. I'm still undecided on that choice but it does fit my space requirements. The juicer is not nearly as good as the one I had for the food processor, and we don't have smoothies and that type of stuff as often as before because the Bamix only makes tiny portions, but the grinder is fine.
IMO the small machine is fine for a small household, but as you say, the difference in size isn't huge. If there's a choice between more extras or more size, I think I would choose the extras.
posted by mumimor at 6:43 AM on September 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

Oh, the "Soft Start" feature is super nice. In the range you're looking at they should all have it. It does a gradual speed build-up so the flour doesn't go flying all over the place.
posted by metaseeker at 6:55 AM on September 25, 2017

My Artisan is now ~12 years old. It lasted me through pastry school (practicing small batches of things at home) and continues to serve me well, but if I could go back, I'd buy the beefiest one I could find. If you bake bread once a week, I don't think the Artisan will last. It has always seemed to have a little trouble with bread doughs. It gets the job done, but sounds like it's laboring. I don't bake bread often. It mostly gets used for cookie doughs, muffins, and cakes.
posted by fiercecupcake at 8:39 AM on September 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Thank you all, I went with the 600. I got the silicon-edged mixer already. I think the smokehouse grinder will be have to wait for now, but I think is worth it for stainless steel. I'm still confused by all the pasta maker choices but will probably figure that out next.
posted by skewed at 9:34 AM on September 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

Best answer: I'm still confused by all the pasta maker choices

I might have made things more complicated with out of date information. It looks like they've discontinued the bad one I was recommending against (They've still got the manual online if you're curious).

The older system is the roller/cutter deal. There's a roller, which is basically a robotic rolling pin - you feed dough between the two rollers and it squishes it into a sheet. The spacing is adjustable, so you start with a big gap and feed the dough through it with a narrower and narrower gap until you have a sheet of pasta the right size. Then you can just use it for lasagna, or there's other non-adjustable attachments to cut it into spaghetti or fettuccine or whatever. Depending on what cutters you want there's a bunch of different purchasing options. I recommend the three-piece set (KSMPRA). (there's also a 5-piece set, and some piecemeal purchasing options).

There's also an extruder (KSMPEXTA). Basically the play-doh fun factory, but for pasta. There's little plates with different shape/size holes for spaghetti, macaroni, rigatoni, fusilli, etc. I've tried all of them except the spaghetti one (since I'd already been using the roller/cutter stuff for that for years) and they all work, but I like the rigatoni best, so that's all I ever use these days.

There's also a ravioli maker attachment, but it's expensive and has bad reviews so I haven't tried it, and I'm not linking to it. Instead I just use this with pasta sheets I roll out with the kitchenaid.

I eat a ton of pasta and have used both the roller and the extruder a lot. When I'm just cooking for myself, I can use either one to make fresh pasta quicker than I'd be able make dry pasta from a box. I can make the noodles while the water's coming to a boil, and then the cooking time is shorter.
posted by aubilenon at 11:01 AM on September 25, 2017 [2 favorites]

aubilenon, do you think I could use the roller/cutter for making film dough? I'd love to make my own pasta, but the real reason I'd like to have a machine is for filo, because I use a lot and it's insanely expensive here.
posted by mumimor at 2:23 PM on September 25, 2017

Huh! Pasta dough (at least how I make it, with semolina flour) is really not very stretchy at all, so I don't have a good sense of how the pasta roller behave with a more elastic dough. But it does come with recipes that just use regular wheat flour, so I guess it's probably fine!

I don't know a whole lot about filo dough specifically, but a quick search turns up a bunch of recipes and youtube tutorials about making it with pasta makers. So I guess it's doable, and maybe next time I need filo dough (which TBH is like once every few years) I'll try it!
posted by aubilenon at 3:07 PM on September 25, 2017 [1 favorite]

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