I never, ever, ever wanted a stand mixer. To me, it always seemed like the ur-ripoff, a mammoth kitchen appliance whose sole purpose was to populate wedding registries just so your favorite aunts could collaborate on a generous gift. Spending $350 on an appliance that collects dust and takes up space on my countertop? I laughed at the idea. Then my fiancé snuck it onto our wedding registry, our family graciously gifted it, and I would now sooner give up my home’s HVAC unit before parting with my precious, beautiful gunmetal gray tilt-head KitchenAid stand mixer. (Plus the indispensable dust cover.) Although my love for this appliance grows by the day, I’ve always wondered what makes it so perennially expensive.
A typical KitchenAid stand mixer, purchased new, costs anywhere from $299 to nearly $800, depending on a number of factors. Various models include different levels of horsepower and torque for tough mixing jobs, and feature either a “tilt head” or “lift bowl” design, depending on which area of the mixer moves to remove the mixing bowl.
Size is, of course, another important factor. While the standard household stand mixer has a 5-quart capacity, sizes range from a “mini” mixer at 3.5 quarts to a big-batch mixer at 7.5 quarts. (And some people even spring for the industrial-sized Hobart, which I assume must be housed in the garage.)
Of course, other brands (Hamilton Beach, Cuisinart) carry different, often lower price tags, but even the thriftiest chefs seem to concur that when it comes to stand mixers, you get what you pay for, no matter the brand. Much of it comes down to the way a quality stand mixer is designed: like old cars, they’re made to last. Here are some other reasons these appliances are so costly.
Skeptics might ask, “Isn’t this thing just... a motor?” And yes, at its core, the stand mixer is a motorized rotary function—but that simplicity is its superpower. The design of the mixer around this centralized motor means that there are dozens of useful attachments that can make use of the same mechanism. The typical attachments include a dough hook and a whisk, but there are also pasta makers, meat grinders, spice mills, spiralizers, sifters, shredders, ice cream makers, juicers, and sausage stuffers.
If you actually use your stand mixer for all of these projects, the cost of the unit, even accounting for the price of the additional attachments, begins to seem more reasonable.
While a lot of appliances become more lightweight and streamlined as technology progresses, that is unlikely to happen with stand mixers—they’re heavy for good reason. The powerful motor needs a heavy base to keep it sturdy as it churns, producing the necessary horsepower and torque for tough projects—things that an electric hand mixer just isn’t designed to handle.
If you know you’re only ever going to make simple cookie doughs or fluffy buttercreams in your mixer, then sure, you can probably afford to go with something a little less powerful. But the size of the model will also keep the unit from overheating, so don’t be too conservative in your estimate.
Over on Reddit, home cooks have been questioning the price of stand mixers for years. For many commenters, the longevity of these appliances speaks for itself: users cite 25-, 30-, and 35-year lifespans, with mixers passed down through generations.
“Mine is 20 years old and finally broke after tons of pizza dough and cheese grating,” wrote one user. “I spent $15 on a new gear, and a couple of hours working on it, and it’s like new again.”
If you have an old KitchenAid model that still runs fine, you won’t need to upgrade to a newer model to increase functionality. The company has an attachment fit guarantee that states:
Printed on the box of each KitchenAid attachment are the words, ‘Fits all KitchenAid Stand Mixers.’ To stand behind this guarantee, if your attachment does not fit your KitchenAid Stand Mixer, KitchenAid will take the appropriate steps to ensure that you can effectively use attachments with your Stand Mixer, no matter how old the mixer or attachment.
Translation: you aren’t missing out on cool new features if you inherit your parents’ old mixer.
Perhaps the wisest counsel provided on Reddit were the words of user lxe, who writes, “No matter how high quality they are, the main thing that justifies the $300-400 dollar price range is demand. People buy them.”
“They are the TI-83 Plus of kitchen appliances,” they added, in reference to the expensive graphing calculator that has plagued high school supply lists for decades.
A stand mixer will never come cheap, exactly, but you can occasionally find good clearance sales at department stores once a new model is introduced and the store is trying to clear inventory. And since these units can occasionally even outlive their owners, they are a frequent find at secondhand shops—if you can catch them before they’re scooped up.