Stand mixers are growing in popularity, with an endless selection of brands available on the market today. In 2018, it was estimated that $462 million dollars were spent on stand mixers in the US which were up from $325 million in 2010.
So, it makes sense that if we are spending so much on this trusted kitchen appliance, we want to get the full value and use out of them. I’m here to tell you that they offer so much more than just creating the perfect cake batter. If you want to find out what the most popular uses for a stand mixer are, keep reading.
What is a Stand Mixer?
First things first, let’s make sure we are all on the same page with what we are talking about here. At the risk of insulting your intelligence, a stand mixer is a type of food mixer that is attached to a heavy-duty base that sits on a countertop, similar to its portable counterpart, the hand mixer. Both types are used to combine a variety of foods for making sweet and savoury dishes.
Stand mixers usually come with three standard attachments that all serve a specific purpose. With your stand mixer, you get a dough hook, a flat beater (or paddle attachment) and a wire whip.
What Can a Stand Mixer Be Used For?
Whipping – Eggs, Cream, Potatoes and Aquafaba
A stand mixer comes into its own when it comes to whipping ingredients for an extended period of time. A handheld whisk is the usual low-tech way of achieving stiff peaks or velvety whipped cream. However, this can take time, muscle and lots of energy.
The whisk attachment for your stand mixer is the ideal tool to speed up this laborious task. It is so simple to use, simply put your ingredients into the bowl, insert the whisk attachment and you’re ready to go.
You can beat eggs for scrambled eggs, whip up some frosting for your cake and even use it to create light and airy mashed potatoes. Taking it one step further, the whisk attachment is excellent for making aquafaba, a vegan alternative to whipped egg whites. It is made using the water from a can of chickpeas and whipping it until it turns light and fluffy.
Scrambling isn’t the only way that a stand mixer can transform eggs into a scrummy dish. Meringues are a surprisingly simple and delicious dessert to make. Making the mixture is a bit of a lengthy process, but a stand mixer makes it a whole lot easier. The success of meringues is heavily weighted on how well the egg whites are whipped and taking it slow when adding the sugar. A stand mixer does the whipping for you, allowing you to just focus on adding the sugar, bit by bit.
Once you’ve mastered French meringues, you can then go on to making Italian meringues, which involves adding heated sugar syrup to the egg whites in your stand mixture. If you’re looking for another recipe to master, try a Swiss meringue buttercream for a super creamy and delicious topping for cakes or cupcakes.
Take a look at how to make the most scrumptious Italian meringue!
Kneading – Bread or Pizza Dough
Few things are nicer than a loaf of freshly made bread. The smell, the texture, the taste – they can’t be beaten. Arguably, the kneading part of bread making is the most labour-intensive and can be a real turn-off for home bakers.
Your stand mixer will sort this out for you. Using your dough hook, you can speed through the kneading process in half the time. I recommend roughly bringing your dough together first (you could use a paddle attachment for this), then popping it into your mixer to finish it off.
A word of caution though, it is much easier to over-knead bread dough in a mixer than by hand, Bread recipes usually say to knead dough for 10 minutes by hand. Using a mixer should take about 5 – 7 minutes. Keep checking your dough as it mixes and once it gets to a smooth firm ball, it’s probably done.
Another dough that does really well in a stand mixer is pizza! There is something so satisfying about making a homemade pizza from scratch, and a stand mixer will certainly help with this. As with bread, bring your dough to a rough ball shape before letting the mixer do its job. Also, keep a close eye so you don’t over knead it.
Batters – Cakes, Cupcakes, Pancakes and Cookies
Any type of batter does well in a stand mixer. The paddle attachment is your friend here, transforming the raw ingredients into the perfect batter for cakes, cupcakes, pancakes or cookies. These batters are usually made from flour, eggs, a sweetener, fats and liquid.
There are two main methods for making batters; the all-in-one method or the creaming method. The all-in-one is pretty simple, just add in all of your ingredients and mix, mix, mix! This method is handy if you don’t have a lot of time. There is a bit of prep involved as you need to chop up your butter into smaller pieces so it will incorporate properly.
The creaming method is one of the most well-known ways to create a batter. It involves beating together the butter and sugar, followed by the addition of eggs, liquid and dry ingredients.
A stand mixer is super handy for this as you can set it to work on the butter and sugar, and then easily add in the rest of the ingredients as the mixer is doing its thing. The challenge here will be adding in sifted flour. You’ll need to sift your flour into a bowl and then add it piece by piece (rather than sifting it straight into the mixing bowl itself).
Both methods work really well for most cakes, cupcakes and pancake recipes – meaning you can whip up a tasty treat in no time.
Shredding or Mixing Meat
You might think that your stand mixer is only for sweet treats – think again! You can put your stand mixer to work to prepare pulled pork, shredded chicken, meatballs or meatloaf.
Want a quick way to shred up some cooked chicken breasts? Stick ‘em in your stand mixer with the paddle attachment and set it to a low power setting. In a minute or two, you’ll have delicious shredded chicken, perfect for sandwiches, salads or dinner. You can also use the same method to create delicious pulled pork.
Making meatballs, burger patties or meatloaf is relatively easy to do but they involve mixing your meat by hand to get a good consistency and a thorough mix. Consider using your stand mixer with the paddle attachment to bring the ingredients together. Put all of your ingredients into the bowl, insert the paddle attachment and off you go. This will make short work of mixing up your meat.
Get Adventurous with the Attachments
You can get a stand mixer attachment for almost anything these days. Fresh pasta, ice cream, ground meat and chopped vegetables are at your fingertips with a stand mixer.
Pasta rollers come in a variety of shapes and sizes and allow you to make fresh pasta at home. Pasta making involves rolling out your pasta dough super thinly before passing it through a set of blades that will transform it into your desired shape.
Almost any shape can be made at home including spaghetti, tagliatelle, fettuccine and linguine. Once you start making and eating fresh pasta, it will be hard to go back, so you have been warned!
Baking in the hot summer months can involve a bit too much heat and hard work. Thankfully, an ice cream maker attachment allows you to continue baking, despite the heat. Whether it be fruity or chocolatey, vegan or dairy, you have endless possibilities when it comes to making homemade ice cream with your stand mixer.
Fancy making your own ground beef or sausage? Well, there’s an attachment for that too. Grinding meat at home allows you to add flavour, choose your desired texture and gives you peace of mind as you know exactly what is in your meat. It can even be used for making vegetarian falafels or vegetarian burgers. If you want to go one step further, try making your own sausages with the sausage stuffer attachment.
Slicing a lot of vegetables can be a real pain, especially if you’re cooking for a big group. Investing in a slicer or food processor attachment for your stand mixer will make easy work of endless slicing and dicing. You can get a myriad of attachments that will slice, dice, shred and spiralize your favourite veggies.
So what can a stand mixer be used for? Anything and everything! There is an infinite amount of uses for a stand mixer. From cakes and cookies to pasta and sausages, your stand mixer can do just about anything.
Investing in some key attachments will change the game when it comes to getting the most out of your mixer. Thankfully there are oodles of these on the market, so you’ll never be short of options.