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Tilt-head allows easy bowl removal
Dishwasher-safe bowl, beater, and dough hook
No “soft-start” option
Bread machines are great, but you can make bread without them. Combining the ingredients in a stand mixer and oven-baking is another great method. The KitchenAid Artisan Series stand mixer might be the most iconic model out there, known for its durability and performance when mixing everything from meringues to pizza dough.
With 10 speeds and a 325-watt motor, this model features a 5-quart mixing bowl and standard paddle, dough hook, and whip attachments (with a power hub to use with a multitude of additional attachments). Weighing in at 23 pounds, this stand mixer will stay in place without worry while in operation, and the tilt-head mechanism allows for easy removal of the mixing bowl.
“I also like the pouring shield (on this model),” says Kelsey Rose Weber, an LA-based food stylist who has been using her KitchenAid mixer daily to churn out loaves for friends and neighbors. “Baking bread can get messy really fast, and the pouring shield helps with the clean-up.”
She also cites the handle on the bowl as a plus (allowing you to retain a firm grip while scraping bread dough out of the bowl) and the coated dough hook (making it dishwasher-safe). Since the machine is often a constant fixture on the counter, it also helps that there are over 32 available finishes, allowing you to color-coordinate with your kitchen decor.
Great for heavier, denser doughs
Spiral dough hook kneads exceptionally well
7-quart capacity can make 8 pounds of dough
Not great for small quantities
Large and heavy
If your bread-baking habits are higher in volume, the high-performance KitchenAid Pro Line 7-quart Stand Mixer is an outstanding option. It’s a bigger, more powerful version of the trademarked KitchenAid design that can mix up to a whopping 8 pounds of dough at a time. With 10 speeds to choose from, this mixer excels at kneading heavier doughs thanks to its quiet yet powerful 1.3-horsepower motor and has the capability to knead for longer without overheating.
This mixer features 10 speeds, and its heavier weight—approximately 31 pounds—ensures that the machine won’t budge when it’s in use. The bowl-lift utilizes a crank that locks the bowl into place, and it includes a wire whip, paddle attachment, and a spiraled dough hook, which mimics hand-kneading. If you bake often, you’ll love how this mixer performs; it’s a true workhorse and lives up to everything you’d expect from a professional-grade mixer.
Similar functionality as full-size version
Takes up less counter space
“Soft Start” feature eliminates ingredient “splash-out”
Tough to make larger recipes
Doesn’t include pouring shield
If you’re looking for the capability of a full-sized machine but simply don’t have the room for one, look no further than the 3.5-quart version of the KitchenAid Artisan Stand Mixer. Armed with the same functionality and tilt-head feature as the full-size version, this 250-watt model is perfectly sized for mixing smaller quantities. Bonus: This model has the “Soft Start” feature that eliminates ingredient “splash-out” when turning the mixer on.
“It's perfect for a single batch of bread, and it takes up less counter space for those in space-conscious kitchens,” says Weber, who has used and gifted this model to friends. “It doesn't have a pouring shield, so it can get a little messy, but it’s perfect for bakers who are medium-skilled and making single loaves of bread.”
Brand known for quality and craftsmanship
7-quart capacity great for baking in bulk
Strong 500-watt motor
Though this stand mixer is fairly new to the game, the Wolf brand is known for superior quality and craftsmanship, as demonstrated by its highly sought-after gas ranges. This professional-grade machine features a 7-quart capacity bowl and a robust 500-watt motor that can handle 8 pounds of dough at a time. Like the KitchenAid Pro Line mixer, this model uses a bowl-lift, but Wolf’s proprietary design lifts and lowers the bowl with an easy turn of the bowl’s handle.
Bakers will enjoy the great control of mixing speed thanks to the variable speed dial and a pulse function for slowly adding ingredients into the mix. The Wolf Gourmet High-Performance Stand Mixer also includes a flat beater, whisk, and dough hook that are all top-rack dishwasher-safe, making for hassle-free cleanup. If you already own Wolf products, you’ll appreciate the styling of this mixer, as its red knob and brushed finish coordinates well with other Wolf appliances.
Similar mixing action to higher-end models
Tilt-head allows for easy bowl access
Not as many speed settings
Might need to stop to scrape sides
For the price, the 300-watt Hamilton Beach 7-Speed Stand Mixer does a decent job at mixing most bread dough and batters for quick breads. “The Hamilton is great for smaller batches and for softer doughs,” says Weber. “For the price point, this mixer will be a great addition for a novice baker.”
Similar to KitchenAid, it has a similar mixing action that allows the attachment to revolve around the bowl to ensure even mixing. This model includes a 4-quart capacity stainless mixing bowl, dough hook, whisk, and flat beater, as well as pouring shield to prevent splashes and spills when adding ingredients to the bowl.
Weber notes that it isn't as durable or sturdy as higher-end mixers and that it may struggle with super sticky batters and denser doughs. Because it only has seven speeds, she also advises bakers to be careful not to overmix or undermix their dough.
Signature retro design
Powerful 600-watt motor
Not as many attachments available
Higher price tag than similar models
The Italian brand SMEG is known best for quality appliances in stylish, award-winning retro designs, and the brand's stand mixer does not disappoint. This compact mixer has a die-cast aluminum housing with a powder-coated enamel finish reminiscent of a classic car, complete with chrome accents and gearshift-like speed control on the top of the unit. It’s available in more than half a dozen colors.
Like many other mixer brands, the SMEG comes with the trinity of attachments (flat beater, wire whisk, and dough hook) and a pouring shield. But the SMEG brand doesn’t get by on looks alone—when it comes to performance, this machine keeps up with the KitchenAid Artisan Series with its similar planetary mixing action, 10 speeds, and tilt-head design. In fact, this mixer boasts a 600-watt motor, almost twice the power as the KitchenAid version, and it has the “Smooth" start function, which starts the machine with a slower initial speed to prevent ingredient splatter.
The 5-quart mixing bowl maxes out at almost 3 pounds of bread dough, so if you’re baking larger quantities, you’ll have to do it in batches. If you value form and design a little more than functionality, then you’ll favor the SMEG Stand Mixer for its sleek looks and solid performance.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
The author of this piece, Bernadette Machard de Gramont, specializes in global food and wine content. She interviewed LA-based food stylist Kelsey Rose Weber for this piece and has personally used the KitchenAid Artisan series. She often uses her KitchenAid Pro Line mixer at home to bake traditional French boules, brioche, and the occasional chocolate-cinnamon babka.