When you think of baking, you often assume that you need a stand mixer for whatever product you’re creating. Sometimes this is true, sometimes it’s not.
Having a stand mixer is invaluable when it comes to baking, and it makes the process a whole lot easier: it mixes ingredients quickly, efficiently, and thoroughly.
A stand mixer isn’t required for a lot of baking projects, and of course there are other alternatives. Getting a stand mixer, though, isn’t a waste of money, especially if you’re baking a lot.
As you read through this article, ask yourself, “do I really need a stand mixer?”
What can a stand mixer do?
- Mixing cake batter.
- Whipping egg whites.
- Kneading dough.
- Making frosting.
- Mixing ingredients.
Although stand mixers can be used for doing all of the tasks described above, they’re not at all the only way to process ingredients. All of these tasks can be done using different methods, which, although they do the job, are often slower than a stand mixer and may not produce the desired results.
Benefits of using a stand mixer
- It mixes ingredients in a short amount of time.
- It mixes ingredients thoroughly and ensures smooth, airy batters without lumps or unmixed ingredients.
- With the right attachments it can mix almost anything in any way: with a dough attachment it can knead bread, with a paddle attachment it can mix thinner batters, with the whisk attachment it can whip up egg whites or other batters.
- It’s faster, more thorough, and produces desirable results often better than other methods of mixing batters.
Drawbacks of using a stand mixer
- Most, are expensive, costing a couple hundred dollars or more, although there are some budget-friendly options.
- They are heavy and hard to move.
- It’s hard to access the contents of the mixer (i.e. to scrape the sides of the bowl to ensure all ingredients are mixed in) because of the attachments.
- Sometimes they’re not strong enough to do some types of mixing (for instance, I’ve been making bread before, and when I let the stand mixer knead it, sometimes it can’t handle the amount of dough and I need to take it out and knead it by hand).
Alternatives to Using a Stand Mixer
Mixing by Hand
Mixing by hand is probably the easiest way to bake without using a stand mixer. All it requires it time, effort, and baking tools, which you can read more about in our post about mixing batter by hand.
Benefits of mixing by hand:
- Requires only simple tools and your effort.
- Does the job.
Drawbacks of mixing by hand:
- It’s time consuming- your hand will never be as fast as a stand mixer, so it’s going to take a little while longer to mix your ingredients!
- It takes a lot of effort- it can be exhausting to mix ingredients, especially if it’s kneading dough for a long time or trying to whip egg whites or sugar and butter to get it to be fluffy.
- Hard to get the desired consistency- for example, if trying to mix butter and sugar by hand to get it fluffy there may be clumps of butter that you’re unable to completely smooth out by hand.
Using a Hand Mixer
Using a hand mixer is similar to using a stand mixer. The only differences are that it’s smaller and may not have the functions to do anything other than whisk the ingredients (i.e. it won’t knead dough for you).
See our article on hand mixers vs. stand mixers to learn more about the similarities and differences between these two options.
Benefits of using a hand mixer:
- Fast, as it is a machine and will whip things at a higher speed.
- Easy to use- small and relatively easy to handle.
- Does the job- creates a smooth batter that’s light, and it eliminates any lumps.
- Makes any batter more airy, as it whips air into the batter.
- Much cheaper than a stand mixer.
Drawbacks of using a hand mixer:
- The only function a hand mixer has is usually to whisk the ingredients.
- It can make a mess- the whisks can usually spray batter onto you or near you.
Another option not mentioned in this article is a non-electric hand mixer.
Using a Food Processor
Using a food processor (see a few of our favorites), or any machine fitted with a blade, such as a smoothie machine or dicer, is probably the best method to use if you don’t want to make a mess and want to use just one bowl for your baking project.
By using this method, you get the desired batter and you get it fast.
Benefits of using a food processor:
- No mess- you put all of the ingredients in one bowl and mix it.
- It’s fast.
- It’s simple, as all of the ingredients go in at once and then you mix.
- It can mix many things- dough, cake batter, etc. and it can also ground things up, like nuts.
Drawbacks of using a food processor:
- It often only has a blade attachment- hard to knead dough with, although it can be done.
- It doesn’t make batter airy.
- They’re often heavy and can be a little expensive- often around $100 – $200.
- You need to scrape the bowl constantly as ingredients tend to stick to the sides where the blade can’t get them.
Buying a stand mixer is a worthy investment. It mixes ingredients quickly and has the ability to make batters smooth, more airy, and more mixed.
If you don’t want to spend the money on one though, there are many alternatives to mixing, each of which do the job. I would say buy a stand mixer, but if you don’t you shouldn’t have a problem making perfect batters!