When you’re setting up a new kitchen, one of the most important things to consider for baking and cooking is whether or not you need a stand mixer, hand mixer, or just plan to mix by hand with a fork or whisk.
Below, we’ve pulled together information to consider as you make this important decision for your kitchen. We’ve looked at what hand mixers are for, how stand mixers make life easier, and a specific Sunbeam stand mixer model to consider.
Can’t You Just Mix by Hand?
Of course, you can just mix anything by hand. Stand and hand mixers relieve a lot of pressure from hands, elbows, wrists, and shoulders, however, as the machine cranks out the power, rather than your arms and back.
Mixing by hand also takes significantly longer than using a machine.
There are, however, specific times when mixing by hand is best.
- When a recipe calls for lightly beaten eggs
- Folding ingredients into a mix
- If mixing is done over heat
What is a Hand Mixer?
A hand mixer is a portable, lightweight small kitchen appliance that is used to beat or whip ingredients. These can either be powered by electricity or function manually.
A hand mixer comes in two varieties:
An Egg Beater
When the hand mixer is an egg beater, is it also known as a rotary hand beater, and has a crank on side that’s connected to the two beaters. This is a manual device, meaning no electricity is required. It requires more work, and is difficult to use by someone with arthritis or other hand pain issues.
Electric Hand Mixer
This is pretty much an egg beater, as well, only there’s no crank, and electricity does the work for you. This is the better option for anyone with pain issues in their hands, or needing to get something beaten faster.
A hand mixer comes with limited attachments like a pair of removable all-purpose beaters, a pastry beater, or some other minimal options.
A hand mixer is considered a basic kitchen need, and is often one of the first purchases someone makes when setting up a new household kitchen – like a recent college graduate. Some models can be pricey, but usually, a basic hand mixer can be found for under $ from a local retailer like Wal-Mart, Kohl’s or Target.
What Are Hand Mixers For?
Generally, hand mixers are for smaller projects, or for those who do not have stand mixers. Common baking and cooking projects that people use hand mixers for include:
- Making pancakes
- Creaming ingredients for making cakes or cookies
- Whipping cream
- Mashing potatoes
- Whipping up a small batch of cookies
If you don’t bake a whole lot, you can probably get by with just a hand mixer instead of the more expensive stand mixer.
If, however, you make elaborate dishes that require lots of blending and mixing, or a lot of baking of more than a tiny batch of cookies at a time, you probably want to get a stand mixer.
What is a Stand Mixer?
When it comes down to it, the stand mixer is the best you’ve got for baking and cooking-involved foods that require a lot of mixing.
Stand mixers have metal frames, the stand, that house a heavy-duty motor that can handle more difficult mixing tasks like thick batters and large quantities.
Stand mixers have specific bowls that are used within the frames. These bowls are usually a 4-quart capacity, but some may go higher to 6 or 8 quarts in household models and commercial models may actually go up to 100 quarts.
Stand mixers usually come with a variety of attachments, including a paddle, whisk, dough hook, and, of course, standard beaters.
Should You Get a Hand or Stand Mixer?
Unless you are outright against the use of electricity in the kitchen, you should at least have a hand mixer. If you do baking or involved cooking to any extent, it’s also highly advisable that you have a stand mixer. Many folks have both.
How to Choose the Right Stand Mixer for Your Kitchen
As we said, if you make baked goods or more involved dishes, you probably want a stand mixer. To help you better understand your needs in that area, here are a few tips on choosing the right one for your particular needs.
Think Through the Features
As you compare stand mixers, be sure to look at the different features each model offers. Some will come with a lot of bells and whistles that are handy, which others will have unnecessary functions that you’ll never use.
Be sure to look into the features and go with the ones you’ll actually use, rather than spending more on a model that has a bunch of features you don’t need. Convenience and usability are your targets, not “cool” options you’ll never use.
Some great features you may want to look for include:
- Locking tilt head
- Overload protection
- All-metal construction for durability
- Accessories you’ll actually use
- Onboard timers
- Splash guard
- Hubs to control accessories
- Good warranties
Think Through Power and Performance
While it feels like higher wattage would guarantee more power, this isn’t always the case. Some mixers just use more wattage to output the same amount of power. Try basing your decision on capacity as well, rather than just the advertised wattage.
Sometimes manufacturers provide capacity guidelines that tend to be a little high and not based on optimum mixing. Make your decision based on a reduced capacity at the same wattage.
If you make a lot of stiff doughs or batters, be sure to look for a model that’s specifically designed for this function. Burnout of motors can occur if a too heavy-duty task is the primary use of a stand mixer.
Always follow the manufacturer’s guidelines on how to operate the mixer, and remember that not all machines have an overload protection built-in. Many mixers are not designed to run continually for long periods of time.
Consider Price Versus Value
There are a lot of factors that influence the price of a stand mixer. Base models will cost a lot less, but they’ll have a lot fewer features.
More expensive units tend to have a spiral or rotating action, which covers a wide mixing area and gets closer to the sides of the bowl. This type of action pulls in the contents and mixes them better, and that means you’ll do less scraping.
The more power the stand mixer has, the more flexibility you have with using it.
Expensive mixers also tend to be better construction, which means they last longer and are much more durable.
Don’t Forget the Accessories
And, of course, accessories may be a big key to your decision-making process. Accessories do add to the cost of the mixer, but they also add a lot more functionality to the mixer as well. Make sure you consider power levels along with the accessories, to make sure they mixer can actually use the accessories you’re putting out money for.
Our Sunbeam Stand Mixer Review
To help you decide which mixers to consider for your home, we’ve decided to look into one of the more budget-friendly models from Sunbeam, a company that’s been around for over 100 years.
Overview of the Sunbeam Stand Mixer
The Sunbeam Mixmaster Stand Mixer FPSBSMGLW is a 350-watt stand mixer with a four-quart capacity, and 12 speeds. You can fold, knead, blend, cream, whip, mix, and more with this model. There’s a soft grip handle, and a burst of power mixer button that can add a boost of power to the mix at any speed.
This Sunbeam stand mixer has an off-center mixing to make it easier to add ingredients while you mix and should require less scraping.
The Sunbeam FPSBSMGLW has a soft-start function that helps minimize splattering through gentle acceleration.
The Sunbeam FPSBSMGLW also comes with a four-quart glass bowl, beaters, and dough hook.
Price Range for the Sunbeam Stand Mixer
We’ve found the Sunbeam FPSBSMGLW on various retailer sites available for anything from $ to $.
To find the best price, we recommend searching across the web at different retailers, and looking for deals or sales.
For in-store purchases of the Sunbeam stand mixer, you can often find a store that will price match for whatever the best price you’ve found online.
You may also want to consider purchasing an extended warranty for your Sunbeam stand mixer, to guarantee a longer life and usefulness in your home. Be sure to include this price in your overall cost considerations as you shop.
Our Verdict: The Sunbeam Stand Mixer FPSBSMGLW is a Moderate Model
This particular Sunbeam stand mixer is very budget-friendly, and would do the trick for basic baking and cooking needs in most kitchens. If you’re a recent college grad or newlywed and don’t have a ton of money to set up your kitchen, this is a decent model.
The wattage and capacity look good on the Sunbeam stand mixer FPSBSMGLW, but based on reviews, it’s more of a so-so model than a great one.
In a nutshell, if you’re looking for a cheap option, the Sunbeam stand mixer FPSBSMGLW will do the trick. But if you’re looking for something heavy-duty, you should probably look elsewhere.