Stand Mixer Attachments Explained
When purchasing a stand mixer, it can be quite daunting looking for one with the right attachments for your needs. There are so many different ones to choose from, and the name of the attachment does not always give away what it will do, so if you are someone who needs information and advice on stand mixers and the many features, then this is the article for you.
With tips on stand mixer attachments uses, materials, extras to buy and more, this is your ultimate guide for stand mixer attachments.
Standard included attachments (and their uses)
Lots of good-quality stand mixers come with an assortment of useful attachments included. These are usually nothing fancy, just some simple mixing fittings which can be easily switched. Standard mixers usually come with:
This is a simple accessory which is usually made of metal. It is the most likely to be with the stand mixer as it is the most commonly used. The beater is great for combining thick mixtures and can be used for cakes, frostings, waffle batter, and much more.
This attachment is shaped like any other whisk, except instead of a handle, there is a small metal clip to help connect it with the mixer. Balloon whisks usually involve thin strands made of metal and they are often used to beat egg whites or whip cream, however, some cake recipes will call for a whisk depending on the thickness of the batter.
This is the third fitting which is normally included with the stand mixer. As the name suggests, the hook is used to knead the dough for bread and pastry, so that you can save both time and effort. The dough hook is usually made from a thick, c-shaped piece of metal with a plastic/metal disc near the clip, that keeps the dough from climbing upwards into the slot.
Other included attachments
If you have chosen a fancy or more expensive stand mixer, then there may be some extra attachments included. Companies like Kenwood and KitchenAid are likely to include attachments such as:
This is an upgraded version of the flat beater. The Flexi-beater uses a plastic rim on the side of the attachment which acts as a spatula to scrape the sides of the bowl whilst mixing. This means that instead of stopping the mixer every few minutes to scrape the batter back into the base of the bowl, you can leave the beater to do the task for you. The accessory isn’t used for a particular type of task, but it can be very useful as it will save time whilst baking.
Some stand mixers come with a splash-guard, and unlike many other attachments, this is an attachment that you may want to buy yourself if it is not included. The guard stops liquid or powdery ingredients from splashing out of the bowl as they get mixed together, which often happens because the mixer attachment inside will be moving very fast.
This attachment is very helpful when making anything that includes powdery dry ingredients (like icing sugar and flour), as these have a tendency to create clouds of dust outside the bowl, but also for whipping cream and the like.
Other stand mixer attachments and their uses
Of course, there are tons of other attachments, that are usually not included with the original product as they are not as necessary as beaters, whisks, and covers.
Some of them will be more relevant and useful to you than others, so if you are aiming to purchase any other attachments that fit your needs, then make sure you read the uses so that you know the attachment is something that you’ll actually get to use.
Lots of stand mixers have cutting tools which can be purchased separately. Most of these are not necessary for baking and cooking but can be useful for getting a more even slice, or you can just use them if you are lazy!
- Slicer – this attachment is usually a tube made of plastic with metal cutting plates inside. You place your chosen food inside and then press down with a plastic rod to make the plates move and cut or slice the food finely. This is great if you are looking to chop a vegetable (like carrots) quickly, or if you are after thin slices of fruit to decorate a cake or pie with. This type of attachment is also often included with food processors.
- Grater – the grater is very similar to the slicer in that it is the same shape and size, however, the plates inside are much smaller which means that it produces small strands of food rather than thin slices. This again can be used to quickly grate a vegetable (for a soup, for example), but the difference is that one is used for decoration and the other for chopping ingredients.
- Spiralizer – for creating decorative spirals of fruit and vegetables. This attachment would get plenty of use from someone who likes to decorate nice and savoury food, rather than baking or cooking.
- Biscuit cutter – this is the fitting for any efficient baker. If you are somebody who finds it particularly difficult to cut even shaped cookies or biscuits, or you are looking for a way to create lots of inventive shapes without owning a hundred cookie cutters, then this is the attachment for you!
These are the fun accessories – the ones that will turn your food from solid to liquid in seconds. Some of these are more specific, whilst others will churn up any food, but they are all worth having a look at.
- Blender – juicers and blenders are the simplest form of mashing attachment. They will achieve the same result as any of the subsequent items, but not to the same effect. If you would only use the blender for a specific food type, then one of the accessories below could be better for you.
- Mini chopper – this handy gadget will plug into the mixer, rather than attaching directly on it. The chopper is a tiny blender which is used to dice nuts, fruit and herbs.
- Grinder – the grinder or ‘mill’ is very similar to the mini chopper, except its purpose is to completely grind the food into a fine powder, instead of small chunks. This can be used for spices, whole peppercorns and sometimes coffee, although this depends on the make of your grinder.
- Citrus press – this piece of equipment does exactly what the name suggests – it presses the juice out of citrus fruits. This is mainly a time-saving attachment as the juice can be pressed by hand with a glass or plastic juicer, too and for a much lower price.
- Meat grinder – this is the final crushing device which is used to grind meats like beef, lamb and turkey for ragu-based dishes. This is particularly helpful if you want to decide what texture your ground meat gets, and what quality it is. Often, when getting the store bought ground meat, you never know what kinds of cuts they’re using, but with a meat grinder you can grind any meat to your own taste.
The final category of attachments include the ones which are used to create a specific dish, rather than changing the consistency of an ingredient. These are probably the most useful of all the attachments (bar blender), but they are accessories that you would only need if you wanted to make a specific type of food.
- Pasta maker – this is similar to the traditional pasta roller, with a handle, except the electric version does not require any effort from you. This can also have specific attachments for spaghetti, ravioli and tortellini, as well as the simple flattening tool. Simply add in your pasta dough and choose what type of pasta you want to create, and let it do the work for you.
- Ice-cream maker – the ice-cream maker is probably the most fun, as it makes a really nice dessert. It usually involves a freezable metal bowl, which can then be placed inside the main mixer bowl and churned using an included ice-cream churning fitting. With this attachment you can make your own homemade ice-cream with the exact ingredients you like.
Advice to be aware of
When looking into purchasing an attachment for your mixer, you should first of all be aware of the material it is made out of. Most trusted brands will provide metal equipment, which is durable and long-lasting, however, if they give you an option, you should always go for metal. Plastic can be better for some accessories like the Flexi-beater and the citrus press, but you may want to ask the company which of their products they recommend for a particular purpose.
You may also want to keep in mind that not all attachments will fit all mixers. If you have already purchased the stand mixer, then make sure you always buy products that are either made by the same brand, or specifically say that they are compatible with your make and model. If the stand mixer has not already been bought, then you may want to consider doing some research into brands and their dedicated attachments, so you can choose the fittings that you wish to have before purchasing the mixer.
Finally, you will want to look at the price. This is not applicable if the mixer has already been bought, but if it hasn’t, then you will want to not only look into the value for money mixers but also ones with reasonably priced attachments.