Mixer attachments explained
By Christina Woodger
Find out what attachments or accessories you can expect to get with a stand mixer, what they do, and which are worth having.
If you're looking to buy a stand mixer or kitchen machine, it's worth knowing what attachments and extra accessories you can get, and whether you'll need them. Below, we explain what options are available, so you can decide what's most important to you, and what you should expect as standard.
A stand mixer that has loads of extras, such as a food processing attachment or a blender, could be tempting as you're getting three kitchen gadgets for the price of one. But if it does a less than brilliant job with these extras, or can't make a decent cake, you'll be left disappointed.
Once you've decided which attachments you want, make sure you check our independent stand mixer reviews before buying to find a model that suits your needs.
Standard mixer attachments
Most stand mixers will come with three standard attachments:
- Flat beater or mixer blade The most common attachment. This attachment is for combining any mixture that has a normal to heavy consistency. Use for cakes, biscuits, pastry, icing and even mashed potato.
- Dough hook Suitable for kneading all kinds of dough and heavier pastries.
- Balloon whisk A large metal balloon whisk. Best for whisking egg whites, whipping, creaming ingredients or for light cake mixtures and batters. The large whisk incorporates much more air into the mix, but shouldn't be used for heavy mixtures, as it could get damaged.
What to look for
Full metal attachments are likely to last longer, and dishwasher-safe versions will make your life easier (cleaning a balloon whisk by hand can be fiddly). Better attachments have a small lip where the attachment slots into the mixer, to make it easier grip when removing without getting covered in cake mix.
Extra mixer attachments
Some stand mixers will also include these useful extras:
- Splash guard: A plastic lid with a hole or hinged flap in it that fixes over the top of the mixing bowl to stop splashing when you're adding ingredients. On some models this needs to be attached before you start using the stand mixer. Handy if you make a lot of icing as it prevents lighter ingredients such as flour or icing sugar being flung out of the bowl and dusting your kitchen.
- Flexi-beater: An update of the original flat beater. This is essentially the same attachment, for the same type of task, but it has a silicone / rubber spatula edging on the outer edge of the beater. This scrapes ingredients from the sides of mixing bowl as it goes, helping to prevent the common problem of unmixed ingredients getting stuck on the side of the bowl. We've tested this attachment where available, and found it usually does a good job of scraping the bowl clean, although some are better than others.
- Jug blender: Some stand mixers come with a jug blender attachment that fixes to the top of the mixer arm. Perfect for blending smoothies, soup or even to purée food. If there’s a dosing hole for liquids, you can make mayonnaise, too.
What to look for
Some splash guards have a hinged lid so you can add ingredients but also completely seal the bowl during mixing. Others just have an opening with a small feed chute for adding ingredients. It's worth having a look in the shop to see which style you prefer.
Jug blenders can be made from plastic, glass or thermo-resistant glass. Some will be suitable for crushing ice or grinding coffee, but not all. Check the specs before buying to ensure you get one that does what you need.
It might be cheaper to buy a separate small blender. We've found some great blenders for less than £50, so take a look at our blender reviews to see if a mini blender is better for you.
Food processing mixer attachments
Additional accessories that are only available with certain models, or for an extra cost, include a range of food processing attachments that can expand the skill set of your mixer:
- Mini chopper For chopping nuts, herbs and spices.
- Slicer/grater Like a mini food processor attachment. Will slice and grate food.
- Citrus press For pressing fresh juice.
- Slow juicer Some mixers have a slow juicing attachment, so you can juice harder veg and fruit.
- Grinder or mill Grinds spices, pepper or dried fruit. Some mills can grind coffee, too, but check the instructions first.
- Meat mincer This accessory means you can mince your own meat and fish to make burgers, fishcakes, patés, terrines or meatballs. On some models, there’s a choice of a medium or coarse mincing screen, and an additional pipe attachment for making sausages.
- Pasta maker for making a variety of pasta shapes and spaghetti.
- Spiralizer KitchenAid makes a spiralizer attachment for their Artisan mixer.
- Biscuit cutter Some models let you churn out shaped biscuits.
- Ice-cream maker This is usually a freezable bowl which you can use with the main mixing tool to make your own ice-cream.
What to look for
More established mixer brands such as Bosch, Kenwood and KitchenAid have a wider range of attachments available to buy separately. If you aren't sure what you want, it's worth looking at mixers that have the option of buying extra accessories further down the line.
Whatever attachments you decide on, make sure you buy the best mixer. The most important thing is that it won't let you down where it matters - with core baking jobs. Find out which mixers made it to the to of our tough tests, beating rival models to become Best Buy mixers.
Do I need a mixer or a food processor?
Some stand mixers will chop nuts, herbs and spices, but they don't tend to be quite as good at this as some food processors or mini choppers which are specifically designed for this task and which can also tackle really hard ingredients, such as ice, nutmeg or coffee beans.
If things such as chopping, slicing and grating are your priority kitchen tasks, then a food processor will probably suit you better. If your priority is blending soups and smoothies, then go for a jug blender.
If you're not sure what you need, our handy video guide to baking gadgets will explain the pros and cons of each.