Have you ever bought a budget appliance, thinking you have discovered an absolute gem, only for it to break a couple of weeks later? I certainly have.
In my early baking days, I learned the hard way that it’s important to think about longevity when making pricy purchases with baking appliances. Unfortunately, it’s so easy to become blinded by big discounts and persuasive marketing messages that we often forget to really dig into the specs of the machines we are buying.
When it comes to electric mixers, many bakers get distracted by fancy designs and pretty colors that they forget what really matters. The most important part of any appliance is what’s going on inside.
The motor is one component that plays a hugely important role. After all, it’s the motor that dictates the speed and torque the mixer can produce. Another important part, and one that is often overlooked, is the gears. They directly connect the motor to the beaters mixing the ingredients in your bowl and because of this, they will bear the brunt of the resistance created by thick batter and dough.
This is why, as I’m sure many of us have experienced, hand mixer gears have a tendency to break. These gears are usually made of synthetic plastic, like Nylon, which is unable to deal with the constant stress of mixing thick batter or kneading dough. This inevitably means these gears are prone to breaking, or just gradually shredding, over time.
If you are curious about what the inside of a hand mixer looks like, here’s an insightful little video.
This seems to be an increasingly common problem. The majority of customers I see reporting issues with their hand mixers cite gears shredding as the most common issue, as opposed to motors burning up, or any other mechanical issues.
Stand mixers and commercial machines get around this by using metal gears, offering a more durable solution to plastic. So do hand mixers with metal gears exist?
I recently did some digging into this very question. Here’s what I discovered.
Do hand mixers with metal gears exist?
Unfortunately, as I am sure you know, finding a modern hand mixer with metal gears is extremely difficult. Nearly impossible, in fact. Most manufacturers simply don’t make hand mixers with metal gears anymore.
After spending countless hours scouring manufacturers’ specifications and user manuals, I was unable to find a single hand mixer that uses a metal gear system.
Why is it so damn difficult to find a hand mixer with metal gears?
Besides the fact that most manufacturers make it extremely difficult to learn about the inner workings of their appliances, allow me to share my thoughts as to why it’s so difficult to find metal gears in a hand mixer.
The first, and perhaps the most obvious answer, is the cost. The price of metal, combined with the cost of the injection-molding process, would undoubtedly be significantly higher than it would be to make plastic gears.
When it comes down to dollars and cents, this would inevitably increase the cost of each mixer, which would in turn decrease the profit made on each machine.
Another, equally valid, financial argument could be that by manufacturing mixers that have longer lifespans, fewer appliances will be sold. I also don’t think many people would be investing in their pricey stand mixers if our hand mixers were equally as robust. This would also explain why very few manufacturers offer replacement parts for hand mixers.
Whatever the reason, it has become evidently clear that if you want your hand mixer to have a long and happy life, these plastic gears simply aren’t built for frequently mixing stiff batter or kneading dough.
You have some options though
So you’re in the market for a hand mixer with metal gears but no manufacturer currently makes them… That’s quite the predicament.
The way I see it, you have two options.
Option #1: Buy a vintage mixer
Although most manufacturers now use plastic gears, this wasn’t always the case though. Pre-2000, many hand mixers used metal gears. If you are really desperate, you could source a second-hand version of your favorite vintage hand mixer on eBay. Plenty of well-known brands, like KitchenAid, used metal gears in their old hand mixers.
That said, this does come with other inherent issues. If you opt to buy a second-hand mixer made in the 80s, how do you know the condition of its mechanical components?
The chances are the mixer’s gears have a significant amount of wear in tear after several decades of use and probably can’t take much heavy mixing either. You might also have other problems to worry about, like damage to the motor. Not to mention that old appliances are not exactly reliable and tend to be fire hazards.
Option #2 Buy a stand mixer
I’m sure you probably don’t want to hear this but if you really want a mixer with metal gears, then it might be time to invest in a stand mixer.
That’s probably not the answer you were looking for, but hear me out.
High-quality stand mixers not only have considerably more power than hand mixers but many use metal gears to transfer this power. KitchenAid mixer gears, for example, are made completely of metal. The Classic models are an exception, they use a Nylon worm gear that is designed to shred under excessive resistance as a safety feature to protect the motor from being overloaded.
If your budget doesn’t quite stretch to a KitchenAid, then there are still plenty of other great mixers worth considering.
Because all these mixers have all-metal gear systems, you will be able to cope with the stiffer batters and doughs you plan on whipping up. Of course, KitchenAid is the big name on my shortlist, although the Hamilton Beach mixers are also great, and cost a fraction of the price.
After hours spent scouring the internet, I was hoping to share a long list of hand mixers with metal gears. Unfortunately, this just wasn’t possible, it seems that manufacturers just don’t make hand mixers like they used to.
Instead, it seems like we are all being nudged towards owning stand mixers if we want mixers that are capable of tackling the stiffest mixtures.
If you know of a hand mixer with metal gears, please share it in the comments below, I’m sure plenty of bakers (me included) would hugely appreciate it!