Mixer Buying Guide
For whipping, pureeing, and a host of other food prep tasks, a reliable mixer is essential. The market is divided into hand mixers and stand mixers that range in price from $10 to $400.
Just about any stand or hand mixer will do for simple chores. Hand mixers cost less but don't do as well at heavy-duty tasks such as mixing dough. A few models we tested did a good job when we used their dough hooks, though.
If you're buying a hand mixer, look for one that comes with extra attachments. A separate whisk makes whipping easier. Wire beaters are easier to clean than traditional center-post beaters. In addition, mixers with slow start-up are less likely to cause splatters.
Stand mixers are the go-to appliance for mixing big batches of cookie dough, kneading bread dough, and whipping cream until it's light and airy. For an extra $60 to $140, you can add attachments that transform the mixer into a grinder, ice-cream machine, or fresh-pasta maker.
Our tests showed considerable differences in how well particular models of hand and stand mixers performed. And while manufacturers stress wattage and number of speeds, neither figure necessarily translates into better performance. Use this mixers guide to help your buying decision.
Match the machine to the way you prepare foods. You might find you need more than one. Which food-prep appliance best suits your style and the foods you prepare? Hand mixers can handle light chores such as whipping cream or mixing cake batter. And powerful stand mixers are ideal for cooks who make bread and cookies from scratch. Here are the type of mixers to consider.
These are best for almost everything a hand mixer does, plus mixing cookie dough and bread dough. Their drawbacks are that they are heavier and take up more counter space. Make sure you'll have enough clearance in the "up" position if it will be sitting on a countertop below an overhanging cupboard.
Stand mixers work in different ways. Some use two beaters, which spin against each other. Others use one beater, which spins in one direction and moves around the bowl the opposite way.
Light-duty stand mixers typically have stationary beaters and a bowl that sits on a revolving turntable. The bowl sometimes needs a push to keep spinning.
With most stand mixers, you tilt the mixer head up to remove the beater(s) or bowl; but on some models, you crank a lever that lifts or lowers the bowl.
Stand mixers generally come with one bowl and either single or paired beaters, whisks and dough hooks.
Some stand mixers have as many as 16 speeds and some hand mixers have nine or so speed settings. We think that three well-differentiated speeds are sufficient. The slower the lowest speed, the better, as slow speeds prevent spattering. Some hand mixers have a "slow start" feature, but you can achieve the same result by manually stepping through three or so speeds.
With some of the inexpensive hand mixers we tested, the switch you use to select speeds didn't line up well with the speed markings.
Locking power heads
You should be able to lock a mixer's power head in the "up" position so it won't crash into the bowl when the beaters are weighed down with dough. You should also be able to lock it in the down position so beaters don't ride up in the bowl when tackling stiff dough.
Original from: http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/mixers/buying-guide.htm