Your New Favorite Kitchen Tool: The Stand Mixer

a black stand mixer with a whisk attachment covered in whipped cream

Scan the trendy, fully-loaded kitchen of your favorite celebrity chef to spot that iconic kitchen workhorse, the stand mixer. Why is this trusty appliance so well-loved by both professional bakers and home cooks? A stand mixer is an investment that will simplify a multitude of cooking and baking tasks.

When to Use a Stand Mixer

A stand mixer is a baker's best friend. If you have been exploring the world of bread baking, you know that kneading that dough is a crucial step. But 10 to 20 minutes of kneading by hand is a time-consuming, tiring task that can discourage even the most dedicated baker. Use the dough hook on your stand mixer to knead that sourdough, focaccia or babka.

Pop in the paddle blade and your stand mixer will be stirring up cake batter and cookie dough. Thus, creating smooth and creamy whipped potatoes or buttercream frosting. Sub in the whisk attachment and the stand mixer takes over the monotonous task of patiently whipping heavy cream.

As an added bonus, many stand mixers offer available attachments that open up a whole new world of cooking and baking. Purchase various add-ons to roll and cut homemade pasta, grind fresh meats, slice veggies, juice fruits, and veggies, or even make homemade ice cream.

Stand mixers are available in a wide range of styles, colors, and price points. Serious bakers will opt for higher-end models that have larger capacity bowls and more powerful motors (usually more than 500 watts). Pricier stand mixers also offer useful features like splash guards and pour spouts (avoiding messy flour spills), tilting heads, and a greater variety of available attachments. You'll find a wide choice of models readily available from Amazon, Kohl's, Walmart, and most other online home goods stores.

A few trusted brands and models follow.

KitchenAid Classic

KitchenAid reigns as the iconic stand mixer, offering an enticing array of styles, features, and prices. The Classic is KitchenAid's entry-level stand mixer. With a 275-watt motor, a capacity of 4½ quarts, and 10 speeds, the Classic is an all-around great choice for the hobby baker. Look for the Classic for $299.99 at Target and Best Buy.

KitchenAid Artisan  

The KitchenAid Artisan is a highly-rated, top choice for home bakers. A bit of an upgrade from the Classic model, the Artisan has a 325-watt motor, 10 mixing speeds, and a 5-quart capacity, enabling the baker to mix up to 9 dozen cookies or four loaves of bread. Choose your favorite hue to match your kitchen décor—the Artisan is available in a whopping 20 colors. Check out the Artisan, priced at $429.9 at Williams-Sonoma. Looking for a stand mixer that is a bit lighter and smaller, not to mention easier on the wallet? Take a look at the Artisan Mini, a 3.5 quart model available for  $349.99 on Amazon.

KitchenAid Professional 600 Series  

KitchenAid's Pro Series is ideal for the serious baker. Splurge on this powerful mixer, with a 575-watt motor and extra-large 6-quart capacity that can tackle up to 13 dozen cookies or 8 loaves of bread. Treat yourself to this commercial-quality stand mixer, offered for $529.99 at Kohls.

Accessories for Every Kitchen Task

stand mixer attachments hanging in the kitchen
This rack contains a selection of steel attachments for a kitchen mixer.

All KitchenAid stand mixers feature a hub for the more than 10 available attachments, sold separately. Meal prep is a snap with a Fresh Prep Shredder/ Slicer, $59.99 at Target. Foodies can explore new recipes with a meat grinder and salad and vegetable slicer, available for $99.99 on Amazon. Fresh pasta can be an everyday treat with a pasta cutter attachment, $129.99 at QVC including a capellini cutter for angel hair and a lasagna cutter for thick noodles. Turn your stand mixer into a multi-tasker with a food processor attachment with a commercial-style dicing kit large enough to accommodate whole fruits and vegetables,  $199.99 at Kohls.

Cuisinart Precision Master

Cuisinart is another recognized and highly-rated brand of a stand mixer. The Precision Master is a top model with a large 5.5-quart mixing bowl and a powerful 500-watt motor. It also features a splash guard and pour spout. Like KitchenAid, Cuisinart offers a wide selection of attachments for its stand mixers. These are great for pasta-making, ice cream making, spiralizing veggies, and grinding meats. You'll have your choice of a dozen colors for $249.95 at Home Depot.

Hamilton Beach 4-Quart Electric Stand Mixer

When investing in a stand mixer, consider not only your budget but also your cooking and baking needs as well as your available counter or storage space. The Hamilton Beach stand mixers are highly rated in the more affordable category, perfect for beginner bakers and those with smaller kitchens. Look for the 7-speed, 300-watt model at Walmart for $109.99. Although a lesser capacity is limiting, you might prefer this lightweight model. The model includes all the requisite nice features like a dough hook, whisk and flat beater, a stainless steel bowl, and a splatter guard. Keep in mind, however, that there are no available attachments for the Hamilton Beach stand mixer.

Dash Everyday 3 Quart Stand Mixer

Not every kitchen needs all the bells and whistles in a stand mixer. Those looking for a  basic and inexpensive option will appreciate the Dash Everyday 3 Quart Stand Mixer. Unlike its heavy-duty cousins, this lightweight and compact stand mixer takes up little space and stores easily. Indeed, it is a good option for apartment dwellers and others with limited kitchen counter space. The 2.5-quart capacity and 250-watt motor cannot handle heavy kneading or large quantities of dough. However, it is perfectly capable of dealing with your cakes, frostings, and whipped creams. Best of all, the Dash is available for a very reasonable $49.99 at Kohls and  Bed Bath and Beyond in four colors.