The KitchenAid mixer has been around for a hundred years, but is its latest state of the art version worth $1300 plus attachments?
Anyone who has come into contact with a professional baker or been hopelessly addicted to The Great British Bake Off will know that KitchenAid stand mixers are the best of the best. Anyone who has been near a department store will know that they do not come cheap.
But, in honour of the KitchenAid mixer’s 100th birthday, I wanted to put it to the test to see if it really was life changing. It would want to be, to justify the $1299 price tag for the 100 Year Queen Of Hearts KSM180 mixer. (Note: You can currently get it on eBay for a slightly more palatable $879.95.)
Being five seasons deep into The Great British Bake Off meant my family had no shortage of ideas for what to do with the mixer, and we found that we used it almost every day. It was a very different experience to the mixer at my parents’ place growing up, which was maybe used for birthday parties and then banished for being too difficult to clean.
Those machines always had the distinct odour of “overworked motor on the brink of death”, despite usually being a $400 model. Meanwhile, this KSM180 was extremely powerful, easy to clean (with most attachments being dishwasher safe), and didn’t once seem to strain no matter how thick a dough I asked it to mix or which attachment I asked it to drive.
What set the KitchenAid apart for me was all the wonderful, incredibly expensive attachments. Having the Sifter + Scale both sift and weigh the flour took out some of the guess work. Is the Sifter + Scale attachment worth $250 on its own? Absolutely not. But it’s nice to have.
The Pasta Roller attachment was another expensive accessory at $149, but took out most of the hard work from making my own pasta sheets. It's ideal for someone who wants to avoid buying soft plastic packaging or likes to make their own pasta to satisfy a dietary restriction. Using that roller attachment nearly got me past the trauma of the "hand made ravioli incident" of 2010, and I’m already looking into more of the pasta attachments with a view to moving away from using store bought. It was so easy and drama free, even if it’s not dishwasher safe.
My favourite attachment, though, was the Vegetable Sheet Cutter. At first glance, it is the weirdest and most unnecessary attachment ever; it turns fruits and vegetables into sheets. But upon further inspection and some added creativity, it is a godsend for making the perfect scalloped potato bakes, or getting the fruit thinly and evenly sliced for a beautiful tart. It’s up to you whether that’s worth $219. There’s also an ice cream maker, a meat grinder, a ravioli roller and stuffer (which would have been great in 2010), and more.
After spending a few weeks with the KSM180, and eating homemade bread every morning for breakfast, homemade pasta for dinner, and homemade cakes and cookies for dessert, I have put on a lot of weight and can’t imagine life without having a good quality stand mixer.
Whether the mixer and the attachments are worth the lofty prices are another matter. There is no question that these are the Rolls Royce of mixers, and in many ways KitchenAid mixers remind me of Dyson vacuum cleaners; they are undoubtedly the best, they have several models at different price points (though the more expensive is always the most powerful), and it’s the kind of appliance that will work and keep being used for years. But, if you’re hesitating to justify the cost, there are plenty of cheaper competitors who do a good but not equivalent job.
If you use a stand mixer every week, then it’s definitely worth a look at the KitchenAid range, because they’re powerful, built to last and easy to clean. If you only get it out of the cupboard a few times a year, get a good hand mixer or a cheaper stand you’re willing to replace every few years.