Mixer and Food Processor Buying Guide - Best Buy

Is it possible to become a better host or hostess, serve food and appetizer creations that you can really be proud of, and love the look of your kitchen all while saving time and energy? With the right mixer and food processor, you might be surprised what you can accomplish in the kitchen. Use our guide to help you find the perfect mixer and food processor for your needs.

Mixers

    First, let's look at the difference between a mixer and a food processor. A mixer is generally used for baking. When you need to mix dry ingredients, whip egg mixtures, even knead bread dough, you'll want a mixer. You'll also find a wide array of attachments that let you do everything from make pasta and ice cream, grind meat, make fresh juice and more. A food processor is used for other cooking needs like chopping, slicing, mincing, pureeing and emulsifying fruits, vegetables and other ingredients.

    In the past, mixers were a simple unit with two beaters attached to a hand crank. Today, you can find everything from conveniently sized hand mixers to help get those small, everyday jobs done to large-capacity stand mixers with all the speeds, power and attachments you need to make batches of goodness in just about any size. So how do you choose the right mixer for you?

Who They're For

  • Stand Mixers

    Are you someone who often hosts holiday parties and other get-togethers for family and friends? Do you host these kinds of events more than just a couple of times a year? Maybe you're looking for a high-quality mixer that you can proudly display in your kitchen. Or you may have fond memories of a loved one's classic mixer and want to continue that tradition. If you say yes to any of these, you're probably in the market for a stand mixer. With their large-capacity bowls, powerful motors and wide array of attachments, a stand mixer is the perfect addition to any kitchen where baking is a common activity.

    • Hand Mixers

      On the other hand, maybe you're looking for a smaller mixer that is easy to store, easy to clean, inexpensive and also helps with lighter cooking needs. Hand mixers are a great way to make everyday baking more convenient and enjoyable.

      • Immersion Blenders

        Another easy storing, easy-to-clean option for quick blending and mixing is an immersion blender. For more information on these types of blenders, check out our Juicer and Blender Buying Guide.

What to Look for in a Mixer

If you think you have to choose between style and performance when deciding on a mixer, think again. With our selection, it's easy to find a mixer that fits in with your kitchen décor and performs like a pro. Here are some important things to consider when deciding on a mixer.

  • Design

  • A tilt-head mixer or a bowl-lift mixer?

    Most stand mixers have a tilt-head design. In this design, the bowl remains stationary and locked into a base, while the mixer head and motor are on a hinge that allows the mixing attachments to lift free of the bowl. When lowered, the tilt-head mixer locks into place. However, there are some brands, like KitchenAid, that offer a number of bowl-lift models. This design locks the bowl onto a frame and then lifts it up to meet the mixing attachments.

    Why choose one over the other?

  • One advantage of a bowl-lift design is that the mixer can fit beneath your cabinets, stored out of the way on your countertop and might not even need to be pulled out to use. Bowl-lift mixers often have a larger bowl capacity as well. On the other hand, a tilt-head design gives you more access to the bowl during prep time–perfect for adding more ingredients without stopping the mixer.

  • Here are some other design items to look for:

  • Weight - When you're baking large batches and have a bowl full of ingredients, you don't want your mixer "walking" on the countertop. A lighter-weight mixer might move too much to be effective. Choose a mixer with some heft to it.

  • Slow-start feature - You will often need to start slow to keep ingredients in the bowl and to mix loose ingredients properly.

  • Wattage - Here's a quick wattage guide to keep in mind:

  • Liquid only ingredients, like eggs or cream, requires 250 watts of power (most handheld mixers are in the 250-watt range)

  • Mainly dry ingredients, like cake mixtures, require about 300 watts

  • Wet and dry ingredients together, like cookie dough mixtures, require approximately 350-375 watts

  • Thick mixtures, like bread dough, require 500 watts or more

  • Other specialty needs, like meat grinding, might require up to 700-750 watts

  • Also, as your batch size goes up, so should your wattage


Metal gearing - Your mixer is an investment that you want to last. Metal gearing, such as stainless steel, simply lasts longer than other materials like plastic or nylon.

Locking feature - Make sure your stand mixer has a locking feature that sets your mixing bowl in place and keeps it there.


  • Capacity

  • While wattage is important, it's not the only thing to look for in terms of how much your mixer can handle. Be sure to also pay attention to the listed capacity, rather than going by wattage alone. A mixer's capacity will be shown in either cups or quarts. A standard capacity of a mixer is four quarts. But if you plan on mixing larger amounts of ingredients, look for a bowl with up to six quarts of capacity.

  • Speed Options

  • Look for multiple speed options before making your mixer decision. Each speed, or rotary option, is used for specific needs, from standard mixing to whipping to gently kneading. Here are some things to look for:

  • Many stand mixers have 10 or more speed options.

  • Even basic hand mixers offer as many as five different speed options.

  • Be sure your mixer (whether it's a stand mixer or handheld) has a slow-start option. This is critical for gentle mixing and ensuring your ingredients stay in the bowl and don't get launched to the ceiling.



Mixer Attachments

  • Mixing is just the beginning. Once you truly get into the art of baking and food preparation, you'll see a whole new world of opportunities. And the right mixer can help you get there. Keep in mind that you might want to take things further than just mixing, beating and whipping. Here's a list of attachments you might want to consider before making your decision:

  • Meat grinders

  • Juicer attachments

  • Pasta makers and rollers

  • Ice cream maker

  • Slicer/shredder attachments


Food Processors

A food processor is must-have small appliance for anyone who wants to spend more time at the dinner table and less time on tasks like using a knife to chop, slice, or dice, or spoon mixing a dip. Whether you want to chop vegetables for salsa, create a creamy pesto, mince herbs for custom seasonings, or even puree fruits and vegetables into baby food, a food processor can easily handle these types of food preparation and a lot more.

Choosing a Food Processor

First, you might be thinking why not just use my mixer for food processing? They seem to accomplish the same thing, and it would save space and money.

The answer is in the design. Mixers are designed to be used with a bowl. A bowl's rounded bottom requires at least some liquid to keep food in constant contact with the blades. Food processors, on the other hand, are designed with broad, flat bottoms and wide, sweeping blades. The result is that you won't need additional liquid in order to get the most out of your ingredients. Plus, the blade designs are much different than even the blade attachments on mixers. With a food processor, you can chop, mince, slice, puree, emulsify and more.

  • Design

  • When it comes to choosing a food processor, there are a few key design components to look at before making your decision:

  • Weight: Make sure to choose a design that features a heavy chassis. This will prevent the food processor from "walking" on the counter once the blades get spinning.

  • Wide feed tube: You'll want to make sure you can fit larger items, like potatoes and whole tomatoes, down the feed tube without slicing them. If you have to stop and cut up food to fit down the feed tube, it defeats the purpose of saving time using the food processor in the first place.

  • Safety features: Make sure the bowl of the unit locks into the base, and the cover locks securely to the top of the bowl. Also ensure the blades cannot turn until the entire processor is locked into place.

  • Simple controls: Most models have a couple of speeds to choose from. Make sure the controls are easy to use, and the surface is easy to clean.

  • Quiet operation: Some models feature quiet operation great for smaller homes with kids.

  • Versatility: Check that the food processor either comes with extra blades of different sizes and styles or that it will accept them.

  • Capacity

    Food processors come in a wide range of sizes. You'll find everything from small three-cup units for chopping small amounts of food to 20-cup professional-grade designs that have more speeds, functions and attachments to choose from. Here's a simple guide to help you decide on the right size:

  • If you usually cook for one to three people, a small food processor with a one- to four-cup capacity might be just fine.

  • For families of four to six people, look for medium-sized units with a capacity of six to eight cups.

  • If you cook for groups of seven or more, you should consider a larger unit with 10 or more cups of capacity.

When it comes to capacity, keep two things in mind before you decide. First, many people will keep a small, three-cup food processor handy for everyday use. Then, they'll choose a larger unit for those special needs. Also, if you go too small, you might have to do multiple batches, which reduces the time-saving benefit of a food processor. You can also look for a unit that comes with two bowls—a smaller bowl for everyday use, and a larger one for bigger recipes.

  • Speeds

Most food processors have one, two or three speeds, as well as the very helpful pulse speed function. It's important to ensure that the food processor you're considering has a pulse function, preferably a one-touch pulse button. The pulse function makes sure that you don't over-process your food. For instance, if you touched the "on" button to lightly chop some vegetables for a salsa, it would keep chopping until you turned it off, possibly resulting in a soupy puree. The pulse function stops this from happening by allowing you to control the chopping one push at a time.





Food Processor Attachments

Many food processors include several different blades. If a food processor doesn't include a blade you need, make sure it can work with one that you can purchase separately. Metal blade designs are preferred because they hold their sharpness much longer than other materials and don't need to be replaced as often. Here are some food processor blade designs and what they're used for:

  • S-shaped blade: Also known as a Sabatier blade, this is the basic blade for chopping and mincing food. It consists of two small, curved blades arranged on opposite sides of the central pillar.

  • Shredding discs: These discs include specialized features that let you perfectly shred an array of vegetables.

  • Slicing discs: These specialized blades allow food like carrots or cucumbers to pass through while slicing them into consistent sizes.

  • Dough blade: This blade is made of plastic or metal and has straighter paddles used to make dough for bread and pizza.

  • Egg whip: This blade features long, straight paddles that are used to beat items like eggs and cream until fluffy.

  • Julienne and French fry discs: These discs are used to cut food into matchstick-size or French fry-size portions.

  • A citrus juicer: This is used to squeeze juice from oranges, lemons, limes and grapefruit.

  • A non-citrus juicer: This feature does more than just puree fruits and vegetables. It also strains or separates the pulp into the bottom of the bowl.

Shop Online or In Store

Find a wide variety of mixers and food procesors on BestBuy.com. Your local Best Buy store also has a selection of both small appliances. Plus, our friendly Blue Shirts are there to answer questions and help with choosing the best small appliances for your needs.