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Stand mixers are a favorite appliance for those who like to bake, but not every mixer can stand up to the rigors of bread making. Dense doughs that require plenty of kneading can overwhelm a mixer without enough power, and mixers that don't have variable speeds need to be watched carefully to make sure they provide adequate gluten development without overworking the dough.
If you enjoy making bread and want to incorporate a stand mixer into your baking routine, you'll want to choose a good quality mixer with the right attachments, capacity, and enough power to handle your favorite bread recipes. We researched, tested, and talked to LA-based food stylist Kelsey Weber to find out which machines performed best under the pressures of dough mixing. We found a variety of machines that should fit your needs, whatever they may be.
Keep reading for our picks for best stand mixers for bread—you'll find one for every budget below!
Best Overall: KitchenAid Artisan Series 5-Quart Tilt-Head Stand Mixer
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 reliable 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.
Our tester found that the Artisan mixer was able to mix up both bread dough and pasta dough without an issue. As a matter of fact, it smoothly tackled every task we throw at it, including cookie dough and churning butter from fresh heavy cream.
The handle on the bowl is 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.
Number of Speeds: 10 | Power: 325 Watts | Bowl Volume: 5-quart | Attachments: 1 Beater, 1 dough hook, 1 wire whip
"With this stand mixer willing to do the kneading, we gave it a go, and soon we had a silky ball of pasta dough. While the mixer’s motor got a little warm, it didn’t get hot so we didn’t worry about overheating...[T]he mixer did an excellent job kneading bread dough, and it didn’t complain one bit." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
Best Budget: Hamilton 6-Speed Stand Mixer
Head tilts high to help with bowl removal
Folding setting for delicate mixing
No splash guard
Paddle is plastic
For the price, the 300-watt Hamilton Beach 6-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.” Our product tester agrees: "The mixer seemed to strain just a little, but it still gave me a silky-smooth dough. ... It would be a great mixer for bakers with more modest needs," she notes.
Similar to KitchenAid, it has a mixing action that allows the attachment to revolve around the bowl to ensure even mixing. This model includes a 3.5-quart capacity stainless steel mixing bowl, dough hook, wire whisk, and plastic paddle.
Our tester highlights the folding option (in addition to the appliance's six speeds), which she says is particularly useful for folding in delicate ingredients, as well as for initially mixing ingredients more slowly that might otherwise fly out of the mixing bowl at higher speeds, like flour.
Number of Speeds: 6 | Power: 300 Watts | Bowl Volume: 3.5-quart | Attachments: 1 plastic beater, 1 dough hook, 1 wire whip
"With easy tasks like whipping cream, making butter, and whipping my fluffy frosting, this mixer did a great job." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
Best Countertop Display: SMEG 50's Retro Style 5 qt. Stand Mixer with Stainless Steel Bowl
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.
Number of Speeds: 10 | Power: 600 Watts | Bowl Volume: 4.8-liter (5-quart) | Attachments: 1 Beater, 1 dough hook, 1 wire whip
Best Heavy-Duty: KitchenAid Pro Line Series 7-Quart Bowl-Lift Stand Mixer
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.
Number of Speeds: 10 | Power: 1.3-horsepower | Bowl Volume: 7-quart | Attachments: 1 Beater, 1 dough hook, 1 wire whip
Best for Small Spaces: KitchenAid Artisan Mini 3.5-Quart Tilt-Head Stand 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. Since this machine takes up less space on a countertop or in a cabinet, it also makes a cute and indulgent gift for the up-and-coming baker in your life.
Number of Speeds: 10 | Power: 250 Watts | Bowl Volume: 3.5-quart | Attachments: 1 Beater, 1 dough hook, 1 wire whip
"[This mixer is] perfect for a single batch of bread, and it takes up less counter space for those in space-conscious kitchens. 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." — Kelsey Weber, Food & Product Stylist at KR Food Styling
Best Large Capacity: Wolf Gourmet High-Performance Stand Mixer
7-quart bowl offers lots of space
Can handle small quantities
More industrial than stylish
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.
When our tester mixed a batch of bread dough, they were impressed with the power and speed with which the mixer worked. The mixer gave no signs of distress, overheating, noise, or extreme shaking. Where other models may "walk" across countertops with extreme mixing, the Wolf Gourmet stood its ground.
Number of Speeds: Variable + Pulse | Power: 500 Watts | Bowl Volume: 7-quart | Attachments: 1 Beater, 1 dough hook, 1 wire whip
"No matter what speed I chose, the mixer gave a soft start, so it didn’t fling ingredients around the way a fast start can do. But even better is the pulse option that allows the mixer to be turned on and off in gentle pulses." — Donna Currie, Product Tester
Most Versatile: Ankarsrum Assistent Original Mixer AKM 6230
Built intentionally for kneading dough
An impressive line of attachments
7-year warranty on motor assembly
11 color options
Learning curve for assembling and operating machine
While this stand mixer may look and operate slightly different from the other mixers on the market, it packs no less of a punch. The 600-watt motor in this machine, situated beneath the mixing bowl, provides open access to the top of the mixing bowl. Adding ingredients in several steps is less messy and provides for maximum use of the bowl’s capacity.
Ankarsrum is a Swedish company that introduced this stand mixer style in 1940, under the familiar brand Electrolux. The mixer comes with a 7-liter metal bowl specifically for dough mixing and a 3.5-liter plastic bowl for use with the beater and whisk attachments. The dough mixing function includes a dough roller instead of the dough hook used in other stand mixer models. The dough roller pairs with a scraper attachment, which continuously scrapes the dough from the bowl’s sides while mixing. The dough roller rests on the side of the bowl as it spins or can be manually moved across the bowl and locked into the position that suits you best. Don’t let the operational learning curve scare you off, though—Ankarsrum provides a complete collection of videos to show you how to use your machine correctly.
The typical attachments are provided with this stand mixer, including two cookie beaters, two whisks, a dough mixing set, two bowls, and a bowl cover. Ankarsrum also sells an impressive selection of attachments that turn your stand mixer into a versatile small kitchen appliance. Attachments include a blender, juicer, meat grinder (with sausage stuffers), grain and coffee mill, slicer/shredder, and several pasta sheeters and cutters—among several others. The machine is heavy, clocking in over 20 pounds. But the extra weight provides more stability while mixing heavier doughs. The Assistent Original also comes with a whopping 7-year warranty for the motor, which is incredibly comforting if you plan on using your machine for heavy-duty dough mixing regularly.
Number of Speeds: 12 | Power: 600 Watts | Bowl Volume: 7.4-quart metal bowl and 3.7-quart plastic bowl | Attachments: 2 Beaters, 2 whisks, 1 dough mixing set [dough roller, dough scraper, dough knife], bowl cover
The KitchenAid Artisan Series 5-Quart Mixer is a tried-and-true mixer that will give you the mixing flexibility to hop from kneading doughs to whipping up frosting. If you’re excited to start mixing bread but aren’t ready to shell out several hundred dollars for a stand mixer, the Aicok Stand Mixer has been thoughtfully designed for beginner bread bakers.
What to Look for When Buying a Stand Mixer for Bread Making
Generally speaking, if you’re planning on making bread dough in your stand mixer, you’re going to want a mixer with a larger bowl size. For bakers making smaller loaves, a 5-quart bowl is really the smallest functional option for full-sized recipes. Even the smallest batches of dough need room to mix and expand. If you’re tight on space and need a smaller mixer with a smaller bowl, you’ll just have to get creative with half-sized batches. Ideally, a bowl that’s 6-quarts or more will give the dough space to mix and allow the dough to stretch and build a solid gluten structure.
Most yeasted doughs require a bulk fermentation period after mixing, which many bakers do directly in the mixing bowl. A larger bowl allows you to go straight from mixing to proofing without having to switch bowls. It’s also a good idea to remember that, while a bowl size indicates the maximum amount of volume it can hold, it usually mixes best with several cups to a quart fewer ingredients than the indicated bowl amount. Additionally, most larger bowls come with machines that pack more power.
When it comes to mixing bread doughs, the more power the better. Some countertop stand mixers boast up to 1000 watts of power, which is fantastic, but not entirely necessary. Stand mixers like the 5-quart tilt-head KitchenAid stand mixer function just fine with a 325-watt motor. With that said, a machine with an average power of 500 watts is going to ensure that your dough gets mixed without struggling.
Keep in mind that you should always keep a close eye on your machine while it’s mixing doughs, and take note of any signs of struggle. A machine that’s working harder than it’s designed to will overheat, make clicking or scraping noises, struggle to spin or stall out, and even smoke or give off a burning smell. To avoid overworking your machine, always mix the dough on the lowest setting needed to get the job done efficiently, and remember that you may need to finish the dough by hand. Also, realize that while a machine may claim to use 500 watts of power, some of that energy is going to the operation of the machine, and less power is actually going towards mixing your dough.
Design and Color
Stand mixers usually spend the majority of their time sitting on your countertop, which is why so many people lean towards mixers that are as attractive as they are functional. It might not be your biggest concern, but it’s worth it to consider how the machine is going to look in your space. Brands like KitchenAid, SMEG, and even Wolf Gourmet have designed machines with specific forms, colors, and finishes to accent your kitchen. Both the KitchenAid and SMEG mixers have retro designs and are available in a wide range of colors to match your cabinetry, kitchen linens, or cookware. Machines like the Wolf Gourmet and Hamilton Beach are designed for a more contemporary look with brushed stainless steel and shiny black surfaces. If you’ve got all stainless-steel appliances, going for a stainless-steel mixer would be a nice look. If you’ve got your heart set on a specific model, and aren’t concerned about the way it looks, that’s okay too. If it really clashes with your decor, it’s perfectly fine to store it away in a cabinet and just pull it out when you need it.
Settings and Controls
Every brand has designed the controls of its stand mixers a little differently. Whether it be a lever, dial or knob, or electronic button, the controls should be easy to understand and operate. Operating the machine should eventually feel like second nature while you’re mixing, so you can keep your attention on the food.
The settings for mixers range from three to twelve increments and cover low, medium, and high speeds at the very least. The more speed settings there are, the smoother the transition will be from one speed to the next, making it less likely that you’ll end up with ingredients flying out of the bowl. Machines with a “stir” or slow-start setting are also useful to avoid shocking the ingredients and making a mess. Additional settings may include timers, some with alerts, and automatic shutoff settings. While none of these settings are necessary, they’re a nice addition to the machine.
Since most stand mixers require a substantial financial investment, they all typically include a manufacturer’s warranty. Most stand mixer warranties only cover one to three years of use, which isn’t a very long time, considering that this is an investment that’s expected to last for years, if not decades. On the upside, most stand mixers are designed and constructed for the long haul, so you can take comfort knowing that as long as you take care of your machine, it should last a while. Any problems the machine may have due to manufacturing will probably show up well before the warranty period expires. If you’d like some additional coverage, some retailers may offer an extended warranty for an additional price.
How do stand mixers work?
With few exceptions, all stand mixers operate the same way. A motor is suspended at the top of the mixer over a bowl. Mixing attachments connect at the bottom of the motor and extend down into the bowl. The hub where the attachments connect moves is a planetary motion to move the attachments around the bowl, mixing your ingredients. The benefit of a stand mixer is the power that it brings to mixing. Stand mixers are typically stronger than hand mixing and hand mixer options, which have smaller and less powerful motors.
Are stand mixers necessary for baking bread?
Depending on the type of bread you’re making, stand mixers are not necessary for making bread. Most high water content, sourdough, and no-knead breads require minimal mixing in small batches, which can quickly be done by hand, even if you don’t have a lot of strength. The larger the batch, the more likely the dough will benefit from mixing in a machine. Other glutinous doughs that require substantial kneading to develop the structure can be made by hand but will require a lot of physical labor and will likely take longer to mix. These doughs will be much easier to make in a stand mixer and faster to make than using a hand mixer which might not stand up to the stress of mixing dough.
Can you over-knead bread dough?
Yes, you can over-knead bread dough, but it would take a great deal of mixing to over-knead a dough in a home mixer. A dough that’s been sufficiently kneaded will still have elasticity to it without falling apart. Signs that your dough has developed properly include ingredients pulling away from the sides and bottom of the bowl while mixing, and in some cases, the dough pulling away entirely and slapping against the side of the bowl. At this point, your dough has probably been mixing for at least five to ten minutes, and it’s pretty apparent that your dough is finished mixing. If you have to step away from the mixer and the machine continues to mix past this stage, the dough may overmix, which will result in a dough that’s hard and breaks instead of stretches. Once you’ve had experience mixing dough a few times in your machine, you should become familiar with the different stages of your dough. If your dough is only slightly overmixed, a longer rest time will help relax the dough.
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.
This article was updated by Jenny Kellerhals, a freelance food and beverage writer based in Queens, New York. Jenny has been a professional pastry chef for over 10 years, with extensive experience using both professional and home-grade kitchen equipment.