Is KitchenAid still the best stand mixer?

Child using a stand mixer with an adult
The best kitchen stand mixers Credit: Alamy

Since launching to the general public in the early 1900s the KitchenAid mixer has remained atop of every baker's dream wishlist. And with a wonderfully sturdy exterior, the retro design, and ability to be used for everything from cake batter to bread dough, who could be surprised?

The KitchenAid got its iconic name in 1918 when prototype models were given to the wives of factory executives in Ohio. The product - then referred to simply as the C-10 model - was such a hit, one woman was reported to have stated: "I don't care what you call it, but I know it's the best kitchen aid I've ever had!"

Word quickly spread and KitchenAid mixers saw such a high demand that in the late 1930s the factory would completely sell out of its products each Christmas as eager bakers hurried to get their hands on one.

But, nearly a century on from their debut, are KitchenAid mixers still the best around or are there better models on offer?

KitchenAid Artisan stand mixer

£499, John Lewis

The KitchenAid Artisan stand mixer exudes style and quality but, like other KitchenAid products, this comes at a price. If you're prepared to pay £500 for a mixer, this won't disappoint as it delivered almost perfect scores in our performance evaluation tests.

Its iconic retro design is a definite crowd pleaser and not only doesn't just look great, it's built to last. This stylish machine scored near perfect marks for performance and ease of use too - it was even efficient at mixing small quantities.

This is an ideal machine if you're a very keen home baker because it makes short work of batters and results in light, moist sponges and short, crisp pastries. It also coped well with heavier mixes such as Christmas puddings and bread dough. We think it's worth every penny and a solid investment.

Swan's Retro stand mixer looks stylish with its sleek curves and exciting range of colours. This retro style mixer is lightweight so it's easy to move around, unlike the KitchenAid and Kenwood stand mixers which are hefty beasts. It's easy to use with some good features, but while the attachments are dishwasher-safe they're also a bit on the flimsy side.

We were impressed by its kneading ability resulting in a smooth, shiny dough which baked into a loaf with a springy open texture and crisp crust. It beat heavy mixes well without excessive vibration, and fruit was evenly dispersed.

The whisking results were disappointing, and it barely whisked one egg white and. Even on the maximum setting aeration was poor. Beating was satisfactory but the cooked cake had a low rise and dense texture. This mixer is certainly worth considering, but not if you frequently batch bake.

The VonShef stand mixer may not be the brand you'd think of in this category, but if you're looking for an entry level model this could be a good choice. Like others, it has attachments for mixing, creaming, kneading and, while it is noisy, it delivered good results in many of our performance tests.

Its powerful 1200W motor did a great job of mixing large batches of cake batter, up to 2kg, and bread doughs  with ease. The suction feet also kept it firmly on the worktop. It was easy to use with well-positioned controls and it was easy to release the catch to raise and lower the mixer head.

Unlike most of the other mixers, this one has two handles on the bowl which makes removal quick and easy. The splash guard did its job preventing spills and splashes, and it was easy to remove for cleaning. Like quite a few stand mixers this one struggled to whisk egg whites, achieving low volumes even with maximum quantities. This mixer is a good choice if you aim to do lots of batch baking.

This Sage by Heston Blumenthal machine is a 1000 watt stand mixer with electronic controls, load sensor, countdown timer and 4.7 litre mixing bowl.

It is a very well-designed machine that produces consistently good performance results. The handle on the motor head makes it really easy to lift while the scraper can sufficiently reaches all of the mixture around the sides of the bowl.

The controls clearly show which speed is for which task and there is a useful countdown timer. This machine also has a great number and variety of speeds. An excellent stand mixer.

The Andrew James food mixer is a low priced stand mixer which on paper seems to do everything the pricier models do. It's available in four vibrant colours to match other appliances in the range and has a large 5.2 litre stainless steel bowl and standard range of attachments.

This stand mixer is a good choice if you knead lots of bread and make batches of fruit cake. It combined ingredients effectively and coped well with heavy mixes.

We found that the flexible beater was better at combining the ingredients than the flat beater and it was impressively sturdy and robust for the price, not vibrating excessively on the work surface. Our mains gripes were that it didn't pick up very small quantities, that it failed to whisk one egg white, and how it was very noisy in use. All in all, we think it's great value for the price.

The Kenwood kMix stand mixer is a five litre stand mixer with beater, whisk, dough tool and splash guard accessories. It is 500 watts and has eight speeds.

A well performing mixer that combines well and is very attractive with a sturdy and streamlined design. The accompanying instructions are very details and it combines ingredients and kneads bread well.

It cannot, however, reach small amounts of egg white so is not ideal for making small amounts of meringue.

What's not to like about the look of this machine? It's got the typical Smeg curves, colours and styling, and the 4.8L, high-polished stainless steel bowl complements a die-cast aluminium body available in a choice of seven colours. It comes with three attachments and has 10 different speed settings, slow for mixing heavier mixes and fast for whisking. We like its retro look, but its results in our performance tests were not entirely positive.

This good looking mixer impressed on some levels but disappointed on others. It scored high marks for kneading bread dough, mixing ingredients for pastry and creaming cake batter. But like most stand mixers, when cake making, you need to scrape down the sides of the bowl frequently to ensure all the ingredients are combined.

On the down side, whisking was disappointing. It was quite slow and didn't seem to aerate as well as some of the other table top mixers. It also struggled to whisk small quantities, such as one egg white.

The Bodum Bistro is a 700 watt stand mixer with six different speeds. It has a capacity of 4.7 litres and a retro design. We found it to be an attractive, well designed stand mixer which kneads bread and combines heavy mixtures well. It creates good suction on the work surface and feels sturdy.

However, we also found that it struggles to sufficiently aerate the minimum quantities of cake mixtures and eggs whites. The splash guard is also a little too stiff to remove for cleaning.