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A Mixer, also known as a Dough Mixer or Stand Mixer, is a kitchen appliance used to mix (no surprise there) ingredients. They are invaluable in mixing DoughBatterDressing, Emulsions but also useful for Aerating (whipping-up) Butters and Cheeses.

It is believed that the first electric mixer was invented by Rufus Eastman in 1885 but mixers did not garner much attention from home users until the 1910 introduction of the KitchenAid and the Sunbeam Mixmaster. By 1920, home mixers were widely adopted. Originally, Mixers labeled each speed according to its operational function (Mix, Whip, etc.) Today the speeds are just listed numerically.


The second dimension on which Mixers are categorized is by how it mixes the food. There are 4 main ways in which the mixer moves the Agitator (the part that sticks into the bowl) against the ingredients. Each method describes a type of Mixer: Standard MixerPlanetary MixerSpiral Mixer and Vertical Cut Mixer.

Mixers are described by a combination of their capacity and their mechanical method of mixing ingredients. The capacity of the mixing bowl (2 Qt., 5Qt., etc.) actually defines the capacity of the mixer but in general Mixers are separated into 3 main types each with a different range of volumes: Countertop Mixers, Bench Mixers and Floor Mixers.

The action of the Standard Mixer is just to spin the Agitator(s) in the bowl.

The Planetary Mixer moves the Agitators around the bowl in an elliptical, orbital pattern while also spinning them in the product to be mixed.

The Spiral Mixer is built horizontally and has a center spindle with paddles or blades that mixes the ingredients.

The Vertical Cut Mixer is more of a vertical cylinder shape with a number of blades coming off of its center spindle. Vertical cut Mixers can mix but are also used for cutting and chopping.

The Countertop Mixer or Stand Mixer is the type we are most likely to see at home. Countertop mixers normally hold 5-8 quarts and can have various speeds and attachments.  Countertop models are usually Standard Mixers, though they can be Planetary Mixers.

Bench Mixers and Floor Mixers are more likely to be found in a commercial establishment. Bench mixers are much larger than countertop mixers, generally holding 10 to 24 quarts, but can still be used on a heavy-duty work table.

Floor Mixers are really only seen in the commercial environment and can go from 30 quarts to 80 quarts, or even more, depending on the food processing operation.


Proper Maintenance (and using the right sized mixer for the job) should keep your Mixer working faithfully for years in you do the following :

  • Clean it Regularly -- Clean the mixing bowl, attachments, and shaft after each use. Use soapy water and a soft brush or rag. Don't use scouring pads or steel wool.
  • Lubricate it Regularly -- Good lubrication, with a food grade lubricant,  will keep your Mixer's moving parts running freely. The owner's manual will have directions and a recommendation for how frequently to lubricate your Mixer.
Culinary Uses

The primary components of a Stand Mixer are the motor, the mixing bowl, the stand and the blades or paddles. A typical stand mixer will include a few Agitators, or Mixer Attachments to maneuver the ingredients. Typical Mixer Attachments include a Mixer Wire Whip, used for Aerating (whipping-up) Cream and Egg Whites; a Mixer Paddle or flat beater, used for mixing Batters or Beurre Composés (Compound Butters); and a Mixer Dough Hook, used for Kneading Doughs.

If you overload or overwork Mixers, you will eventually break it. It is that simple. Pay attention to the size of the mixer and the job at hand. Work in batches to avoid overloading the machine.

Finally, Mixers are not Blenders which have sharp blades and normally operate at much higher speeds that allow a Blender to ChopPuréeLiquefy, etc. A Mixer on the other hand doesn’t typically have sharp blades and works at much slower speeds.