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Stand Mixer or Hand Mixer: Which Is Best for Baking?

A white stand mixer; a teal hand mixer; a red stand mixer

There are few things as relaxing and rewarding as baking. But when you’re ready to whip up a batch of your favorite cupcakes, is a stand mixer or hand mixer best for the job? With just a little bit of know-how and a few easy tips, you’ll know which mixer to use every time!

Hand mixers and stand mixers aren’t always interchangeable. Which one you should use depends largely on what you’re making. The process for cookies, for example, is very different from making bread dough or whipping a custard.

Each type of mixer also has its own strengths and weaknesses, but we’ll help you decide which to use for any baking recipe you’re getting ready to tackle.

What’s the Difference Between Stand and Hand Mixers?

At the most basic level, the difference between stand and hand mixers is right there in their names. Stand mixers are those large, often heavy, upright mixers you usually see on a baker’s counter. They typically feature a sturdy, C-shaped stand, a removable metal bowl, and whisks or paddles that attach to the top and spin in a double-circular motion.

Stand mixers also have to be plugged into an electrical outlet, so they require an appropriate space with access to electricity.

Hand mixers are the smaller kind you can, well, hold in your hand. They have a solid body with a cutout handle, and two long and narrow, detachable whisks. Some hand mixers are corded, while others are cordless and battery-operated for more maneuverability.

The Pros and Cons of Stand Mixers

A woman getting ready to crack an egg over a stand mixer
Kuznetsov Dmitriy/Shutterstock.com

Because of their larger size and greater weight, stand mixers are sturdier and more stable than hand mixers. When you’re using one, you can expect everything to stay put, even if you’re working with tough dough.

For larger batches or anything that requires some extra work to incorporate, you’ll need the strength and size of a stand mixer. Perhaps the biggest advantage to these kitchen workhorses is their versatility. With the right attachments (of which, there are many, for many different applications), you can use a stand mixer to make pretty much any type of batter, frosting, filling, or dough.

However, there are some recipes for which a stand mixer isn’t your best option. If you’re making a small batch of something, like cookies or a bit of frosting, for example, a stand mixer might not incorporate the ingredients as well.

You also might prefer the physical control offered by a hand mixer, as you can get a better feel for the texture of whatever you’re mixing.

Another very practical concern is space. If you don’t have much extra counter or storage space, you might not have anywhere to put a large stand mixer.

The Best Stand Mixers

A white stand mixer and a red stand mixer, sitting among baked goods

A stand mixer is worth spending a bit more on so you can be sure you’re getting a high-quality, reliable, and durable product. There’s a good reason that KitchenAid is the best-known stand mixer brand. Its Seven-Quart Pro Line model is the perfect example of the company’s reputation for quality.

The seven-quart, stainless-steel bowl is large enough for pretty much any recipe a home baker will ever make. The bowl-lift is also strong and stable, and keeps the bowl in place while you’re mixing. This mixer also comes with multiple attachments, including a dough hook, wire whisk, and standard paddle. You can even choose from several colors to coordinate with your kitchen décor.

If you’re looking for something at a lower price point that won’t sacrifice too much quality, try Cuisinart’s 5.5-Quart Stand Mixer. It has a slightly lower bowl capacity, but can still handle most recipes.

It also has a stainless-steel bowl and heavy-duty motor. The tip-back head makes for extra-easy bowl access, and the splash guard with pour spout makes adding ingredients a snap. It also comes in a variety of colors, from classic neutrals, to brights and pastels.

Cuisinart SM-50R 5.5-Quart Stand Mixer

A reliable mixer at a more moderate price point.

The Pros and Cons of Hand Mixers

A woman pouring milk into a mixing bowl while using a hand mixer.
Impact Photography/Shutterstock.com

Hand mixers are great for quick mixing, especially for something like frosting or a small batch of cookie dough or cake batter. Because they allow you to have greater control, you can also adjust more while mixing as you gauge the texture of your dough or batter.

Again, there’s also the storage space aspect: Hand mixers are small with detachable beaters, so they take up a lot less space in your kitchen.

On the other hand (no pun intended), hand mixers have limitations. Their thin, detachable beaters can’t handle large batches or heavy, dense mixtures. For anything other than light batters, doughs, or frostings, a hand mixer won’t be ideal. They’re lightweight and easy to use, but not nearly as versatile as a stand mixer.

The Best Hand Mixers

A white hand mixer in a bowl of cookie dough; a teal hand mixer on a counter
Hamilton Beach/KitchenAid

If you’re looking for a super-affordable hand mixer, consider the Hamilton Beach Six-Speed. It’s the little things that make this model stand out from the crowd. Not only does it include a pair of traditional beaters, but it also has a whisk attachment for whipping up eggs, cream, meringue, and other light recipes.

It also features a groove in the bottom so it will rest easily on the lip of a mixing bowl for added stability. It also comes with an attachable storage bin to keep everything together when you’re not using it.

Hamilton Beach Six-Speed Electric Hand Mixer

Affordable, but loaded with features.

For a little more control, take a look at the KitchenAid Five-Speed Ultra-Power Hand Mixer. It’s fairly standard with multiple speed settings and real, stainless-steel beaters that hold up well during the mixing process.

The biggest bonus of this particular model is its particular set of speed controls. While many hand mixers struggle with the “Slow” or “Stir” function, this one has a slow speed that actually is slow. This makes it much easier to incorporate ingredients without sending them flying all over your kitchen.

KitchenAid Five-Speed Ultra-Power Hand Mixer

Reliable with excellent speed controls.

Having the right mixer is crucial for creating reliably amazing baked goods, every time. Now that you know which stand or hand mixer to get, do you have everything else you’ll need for all that upcoming holiday baking?

Amanda Prahl Amanda Prahl
Amanda Prahl is a freelance contributor to LifeSavvy. She has an MFA in dramatic writing, a BA in literature, and is a former faculty associate focusing on writing craft and history. Her articles have appeared on HowlRound, Slate, Bustle, BroadwayWorld, and ThoughtCo, among others. Read Full Bio »
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