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How to Buy Mixers

For whipping, puréeing, 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. Consumer Reports

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.

Stand mixers are more expensive and take up more space, but a good one can save you a lot of muscle power. A heavy, powerful stand mixer can knead even two loaves' worth of bread dough with ease.
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.

Types of mixers
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.

Hand mixers
These are best for light-duty tasks such as whipping cream or egg whites, mixing cake batter, and mashing potatoes. But they are not as good as some stand mixers at mixing dough.
Most of the top-performing hand mixers have wire beaters without the thick center post found on traditional-style beaters. The wire beaters performed well and were easier to clean.

Stand mixers
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 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.

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