What is the difference between a hand mixer and a stand mixer?
A hand mixer is a handheld device, broadly best described as an electrical beater or whisk. They can be a lot cheaper than stand mixers, but often struggle with heavy loads and don’t help your arm muscles too much as you stand over a bowl. Some allow extra attachments such as blenders or spiralizers, but these usually sit at the top end of the price market and are rare. Stand mixers do the job without any extra work from you and are a lot more flexible in use, allowing you to get on with other tasks if necessary whilst keeping an eye on the progress of the mixer.
Which brands produce the best mixers?
Many of the leading small appliance brands have ventured into the stand mixer world with the rise in popularity of home baking, including Morphy Richards, Kenwood, SWAN and SMEG. If you have a particular brand preference with appliances, then it is likely they have a mixer available. SMEG and SWAN are the leading brands if you are after something with a retro, colourful look, but the KitchenAid and Kenwood brands are seen as the industry leaders for professional stand mixers.
Are all stand mixers a similar size?
Mixers can vary widely in both size and weight. Think about your kitchen; if you are low on space or can’t keep the appliance out on the bench, a smaller model is best. If it is going to be a real focal point of the kitchen, however, then the size of the appliance may be relatively unimportant but ensure that you look at plenty of images of the product if you are particular about design.
Which attachments are available?
No mixer is exactly the same, and each appliance is able to do slightly different things. Most come as standard with a balloon or wire whisk, a beater and a dough hook, which conveniently means you can make both bread and cake mixes with the same machine.
Some offer different whisk variations, meaning you can use a separate tool for whisking egg whites to the one you would use for combining a heavier flour-based mixture. There are a few, mostly high-end, mixers available which allow you to attach blenders, vegetable slicers, juicers and even meat mincers.
These products are perfect if you are not only a regular baker, but also a regular all-round cook. If this is something you would want to consider, it is best to look into all of the extra attachments which are usually sold separately to see if they have the right ones for your needs.