Kitchenaid Stand Mixer devotees: which model should I get?

I’ve been eyeing Kitchenaid stand mixers for the past year or so, and I had gotten very, very close to justifying the expense of a $150 reconditioned model to myself. However, my lovely mother and delightful in-laws gave me, in aggregate, $200 for Christmas. This opens up new vistas for me.

I bake my own bread, two to three loaves a week. Right now I use my food processor, which I do love for other purposes, to knead the dough, but I would much rather be able to make more than one loaf at a time, and whole-wheat doughs strain the motor. I do a moderate amount of other baking as well, and I’d probably do more if I didn’t have to use my hand mixer to do jobs that stress it almost to the breaking point (although it’s a Sunbeam that I got for my wedding, 25 years ago, and it’s doing fine aside from beater wear and tear).

If you have a Kitchenaid stand mixer, and I know many of you do, which model do you have and why do you love it? Is it worth the extra expense for the higher-powered models, or is the 250-watt model good enough for most home uses? What attachments do you find most useful? I’d also like to hear what you use your mixer for most and maybe find out how much use you get from it for jobs other than baking. And, of course, I’m interested in hearing about what color your mixer is and what you’ve named it. Thanks in advance!

I have this mixer, exactly as shown. Sam Stone originally bought me a grinder/shredder attachment with it, but I had him take it back because it isn’t something I’d use. He got it because I like to bake and have a nasty breed of arthritis that made mixing stuff like gingerbread dough impossible by hand – and my food processor couldn’t handle dough that stiff.

Aside from using this mixer for dough – sweet dough/breads mostly – regular baking tasks, and mashing/whipping potatoes (today, almost five pounds at one shot), I have also used it to make bath salts (Epsom salts and additives), and it managed all of that just fine. I’d say from your current demands that you would be fine with this mixer, but the manufacturer’s guide to the products gives you a good idea of what kind of tasks each model can handle.

I count this mixer as one of my favourite kitchen items, and it set me and Sam on a mission to replace things by attrition with items of similar quality, which we’ve been doing for a few years now. It makes the whole food preparation experience much more pleasant when you have reliable knives, cookware, utensils, and appliances.

I have a 300W “Ultra-Power,” white, received as a gift. In theory, it can knead bread dough – I’ve done that only once. Alton Brown has some explaining to do about his “anyone can bake bread” claim. While he’s here, he can also explain the “foolproof” biscuits that generated a nearly liquid dough–the strongest adhesive man has ever seen–then requested that I “fold it over two or three times using wax or parchment paper, then cut it with a biscuit cutter.” My kitchen may never be the same. I believe I completely coated a 25 inch piece of wax paper, both sides, in biscuit glue. And you can’t cut liquids with a biscuit cutter, even after you’ve added three times the amount of flour (by weight!) the recipe calls for…

…but I digress. I use the mixer constantly, to make everything from cookie doughs to frozen custard ice creams (whip the egg whites in it while you’re heating the cream – heck of a lot easier than a hand mixer or a wire whisk.) You need to assist it a little for things that need to be whipped, since the attachment doesn’t quite touch the bottom, but that’s a matter of stirring with a spatula once or twice (and no…you can’t do it while it’s mixing. Or at least I can’t. Need half a spatula?)

The thicker doughs make it groan a little bit, but don’t stop it. I can’t actually remember anything that brought it to a stop, although it “kicked” once and threw an apparently-still-frozen stick of butter a couple feet. That was my mistake, though. My only advice is: buy an extra bowl for whatever you get; having two makes a whole range of recipes easy that would ordinarily require a hand-mixer in addition, or a stop to wash. And if you manage to make biscuits with it, send me the recipe.

And after this step, throw them away and try using egg yolks instead.

We have the 250w “classic” version - white. We have the grinder attachment (which I’ve used and loved) and a few others which I’ve not used.

My wife uses it for everything and its not let her down yet. She bakes breads, cakes, cookies and anything else you can think of. I’ve used for for the same as well as ground my own meats for gyros and burgers.

I’ve never felt like it needed more power.

If you want to make bread, get the biggest baddest KitchenAid you can afford.

I have what used to be the biggest, baddest one they made 10 years ago, and it does great for 2 loaves. Any more than that, and you exceed both the bowl capacity and strength.

The new ones are stronger and have larger bowls, so I’m guessing you could make 3 loaves in one of them. I’ve been mighty tempted to upgrade, but haven’t quite been able to justify it yet.
As for your other questions - I use it for everything. Cookies, bread, beating egg whites. I have attachments for grating cheese and making homemade sausage, and I use those as well. I finally have a kitchen large enough to leave it out on the countertop at all times, a practice I highly encourage. It’s heavy enough that it’s a hassle to pull in and out of a cupboard when you want to use it.

I don’t the model mixer we have on that page. It’s a bowl-lift model, and I think it’s 325 W in cobalt blue. We don’t use lilke I thought we would, but we bake cakes and cookies and such. I’m sure it’s way more than we need. I got in on sale for around $300, I think. I bought it for my wife’s birthday, or perhaps Mother’s day, along with a new broom.

I’m kidding about the broom, y’all.

I have what I think is an older version of this one, in white, although I desperately wish it was flame orange. It’s probably about ten years old, so my dough hook doesn’t look like that one. I’ve got the grater and meat grinder attachments too, and I use both once in a while.

Mostly, I make cheesecakes in it. I wish I had two mixing bowls, as with my main recipe, I have to whip cream and beat the cream cheese mixture, so I have to do some transferring and washing mid-cooking. I do also make pizza dough once in a while, and it performs admirably. I find that I only bother to get out the grater when I have massive quantities of cheese to grate, as for pizza. I use the meat grinder even more rarely, but it does make a perfect chili-ground venison.

I don’t understand why anyone would bake break with a mixer (or a bread machine). The satisfaction of baking bread comes in kneading by hand.

I have a 20 year old “Classic” model 45SSS. It has a bread hook. I may have used it once for bread. However, I’ve bakes a lot with it over twenty years - including some stiff doughs that have required the hook. Works great.

I don’t have other attachments, as the Cuisinart food processor does a lot of the other things I need to do.

A mixer is really nice if you’re interested in ciabatta type breads, or anything else with a high water content. Otherwise, I guess it’s just that I’m lazy. :smiley:

My inlaws got me a standard 4 1/2 quart for Christmas last year. I always baked, but now I bake much more, and in greater quantity. I made eight loaves of ham and black pepper bread last Wednesday, two spongecakes and gingerbread on Saturday, and today I’ll probably make something else.

It’s my most favouritest toy ever. Just having it living on the counter is an invitation to play with food.

Heck no it doesn’t. The satisfaction of baking bread comes when you EAT the lovely homemade yummnummy bread!

OK, for me HALF the satisfaction is in kneading the bread. Soon to be all the satisfaction since I think I may have mild celiac sprue and am giving up wheat for the New Year in an attempt to figure out if that improves my digestion. But I doubt I’ll give up making the occational loaf, there is a lot of pleasure for me in kneading.

Thank you all for your input! I thought I’d be weighing my options for a while, but I’m off to the store and unless they’re out, I’d be willing to bet I’ll be bringing one home with me. Since I do want to use it for bread (the kneading was a lot more fun before I started getting arthritis in my hands) and I have a history of pushing appliances to the limit, I’m going to see if I can get one of these.

TimeWinder, I don’t know what Alton Brown’s recipe called for, but I make biscuits the same basic way I do pie crust, cutting the fat into the flour and then mixing the liquid in gently before I roll it out. If you mix too much or add too much liquid, that might result in paste. What happens with your bread?

Oh, I have that one. It’s wonderful. I don’t bake as much as I used to, but when I do, it certainly is a time saver. On the other hand, mine is black. It was a gift. I don’t know why they even make them in black, they show everything and get water spotted.

Unless you have arthritis, in which case kneading is out of the question. I use my basic model for breads, cookie dough, etc. and have the pasta and grinding attachments, along with the sausage tubes. I’ve used them all and it’s a great machine. However (isn’t there always a ‘however’?), for more than one loaf, you really need the larger capacity, unless you do it in batches.

Not much to add. Don’t know the model or size of our KA other than to say it doesnot have the arms around the bowl or the handle on the bowl.
All I wanted to say is whatever model you buy make sure it is the one you want because we bought ours 20+ years ago when we were in law school and it is still running strong.

AB’s recipe, from I’m Only Here for More Food doesn’t involve rolling at any point; you “fold” the batter to keep the abuse down. In any case, I don’t want to hijack this thread, so I’ll open a new one about the biscuits if I decide to try them again. I’m sure the fault wasn’t in the stand mixer (I’m not even sure I used the stand mixer on the biscuits, in fact I suspect I didn’t).

I am now the proud owner of an 475-watt Empire Red KitchenAid Professional HD Series 5-Quart lift-bowl stand mixer with burnished flat beater, burnished spiral dough hook, and wire whip. I’ve also cleaned the kitchen, which was still a post-Christmas-baking catastrophe, and rearranged the counters to give it a place of honor in the corner by the kitchen window (the toaster and breadbox are just going to have to get over it and try to be content squeezed in by the microwave). I’ve also washed the bowl and mixing tools and I’m seriously considering making whipped cream to put on leftover pie, because I don’t have time to make bread right now and I can’t stand to wait. I’ve also started to notice that the red of the mixer clashes a little bit with the window trim, which is a muted clay red, and I’m wondering how much trouble it would be to repaint the kitchen to better coordinate with the mixer. I’m sure I’ll calm down soon.

Thank you for all your help!

Dayum. Ain’t you the mixing fool! I can almost smell the bread baking from here. Butter me a slab while it’s still warm, willya?

I bought my K45SS (ecru? Beige?) on eBay for $76.00. It’s a bit small for my liking, and it had a tough time doing a recipe for two loaves of white bread. I’d be surprised if it could do two wheat. The website says it’s good for three loaves of white - it is a dirty lying website. I do my bread by hand.

I still have to remind myself that I have this awesome mixer and that I should use it, rather than doing everything by hand. I really don’t mind baking by hand, but damned if it isn’t easier with a mixer.

I want a bigger mixer. I suppose one of these days I will get a larger one. For now, though, this does just nicely.

For those of you who wish your mixer was a different colour: Get it painted, like Alton Brown did. His is a lovely gray with flames.