Top picks in Stand Mixers

It's nearly unanimous that the KitchenAid series is the home choice for stand mixers, until it comes to price. Not everyone uses a mixer often enough or has the bankroll to pop out $400 for a mixer by the time all the bells and whistles are involved. And, do you need the bells and whistles? Do you need a six quart bowl? Probably not. Do you need a mechanized bowl lift? Probably not. Do you need over 300 watts of power? Unless you're constantly making bread dough, probably not. Do you need it to be red? Well maybe you do, and if you want to spend an extra $80 for your mixer to be red, no problem.

Considering all of the above things you probably don't need, we decided to cap it at $200. WHAT? I know. But, read around. Price is the biggest reason most people fret over buying a good mixer and end up with a crappy hand mixer instead. Everyone's convinced $300 is the standard baseline for quality and it's all uphill from there for something really nice. Not so.

Not surprisingly, only two brands made it into the picks, but we do have picks and they do include KitchenAid. If you want to upgrade from what's here, have at it. Go big bowl. Go red. Go 350 watts. I know I did (actually mine's still black, but with power). At baseline, here's what you can rely on without skipping a car payment.

For all the things you don't need, what you do need is an actual whisk mixer. A hand-held beater on a stand is not a stand mixer. That pretty much ruled out all Sunbeam products and similar to trim the field in this price range substantially. Fortunately, there are two ways to get your KitchenAid mixer under $200. One is to go factory refurbished and get some of the bells and whistles for something like 30% off the original sticker. Knowing how a lot of people feel about factory refurbished, there of course had to be another way. That way is to go basic. Meet the top pick. If you're interested in upgrading from here and you're not in the "please keep it under $200" camp, then stick with the KitchenAid from here on up until you're ready to spend over $500 and go pro. It's the best out there for home applications. This is not a steadfast recommendation for this particular KitchenAid model for all people. It's a steadfast recommendation for KitchenAid overall. These two options just put KitchenAid within the financial reach of most people who might otherwise have thought they couldn't have one.

Then, no great surprise, our up and coming second or third place favorite in almost all mechanized categories steps up to fill a gap. Hamilton Beach gives you two winning options. One comes with more bells and whistles than the low end KitchenAid in roughly the same price range as a factory refurb. The other is pretty basic but does what's needed, and at half the price. If this is a functional piece of equipment for you and not a counter decoration, and if you're on a budget, whip, froth and batter your day away with HB without feeling like you cheaped out. You're not going to be able to ask for accessories for Christmas and cut pasta sheets with it (attachments being a big part of the fun with KitchenAid), but if we're talking basic stand mixer applications you're in good hands.