Author Topic: Cheapest way to replace stand mixer? (or don't bother)  (Read 8608 times)

blake201

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Cheapest way to replace stand mixer? (or don't bother)
« on: August 29, 2013, 09:52:05 AM »
Hi everyone! Hoping I can get some advice here. The old secondhand 1980s Sunbeam stand mixer I've used for years has died a horrible explosive death involving smoke, fire and walking across the counter, and I'm trying to decide how—and whether—to replace it.

My original plan was to buy a used or refurbished KitchenAid stand mixer for about $200 or hopefully less, but I keep questioning whether I'm just falling prey to brand mystique and something that is a "want" but not really a "need."

Surely there are other sturdy mixers I could buy used (maybe an older vintage one?) that would be awesome and reliable and able to knead bread and pizza dough into submission...

Background: We cook constantly and make things from scratch as much as possible, including a lot of baked goods and dough and even homemade pasta that are much easier to do with the help of a stand mixer. (Husband and I both work full time though, so cooking time is limited and we do appreciate some time-saving gadgetry).

Advice and recommendations very appreciated! And we're not about to buy a bread machine instead of a mixer, either (we had one and almost never used it and we have a small NYC kitchen).

So: What models of stand mixer are awesome and reliable and can easily be found used at low prices?

Spork

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Re: Cheapest way to replace stand mixer? (or don't bother)
« Reply #1 on: August 29, 2013, 10:53:24 AM »

If you're looking for used, look for a KitchenAid made before the mid 80s.  (1985, I think).  The older ones were made by Hobart and had metal gears.  They're indestructible. 

But... if it is truly dead, you might also try opening it up.  My mom's Sunbeam (from the 60s) did a bit of a smoking dance like you describe.  It was a buildup of flour from years of use inside.  I cleaned it out and replaced the brushes (while I was there) and it continued working. 

blake201

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Re: Cheapest way to replace stand mixer? (or don't bother)
« Reply #2 on: August 29, 2013, 11:29:53 AM »
Alas, at the time it died I was so freaked out by all the smoke and frightening noises that I didn't even think to try to open it up. I did try to find reasonably small-appliance repair shops, but they all quoted me more than $100 and sometimes even $200 to try and fix it. So I got rid of it.

I've been looking at KitchenAids on eBay but even the older ones seem to sell for $85 or more. I may eventually go that route but I'd be really interested to know if there are any less-coveted less-in-demand stand mixers (maybe ugly ones that work well?) that might be found for even cheaper.

Craigslist has a lot of newer Sunbeams for as little as $15... but from what I've heard, new Sunbeams are crappy and especially suck at mixing dough. The latest Consumer Reports roundup had them at the very bottom of the rankings with black circles for every test.

Conversely, I want to buy a mixer that lasts me 20 years or more like my old Sunbeam! Vintage Sunbeams up through the 1970s are supposed to be good but hard to get ones with all parts and attachments for a good price because they are pretty and coveted.


Undecided

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Re: Cheapest way to replace stand mixer? (or don't bother)
« Reply #3 on: August 29, 2013, 11:59:29 AM »
Various KitchenAid mixers continue to be made with metal gears and housings, which seems to be a major longevity factor. I don't have a comprehensive list, but if you google models, you can find a lot of information. I have had a KA "Heavy Duty" mixer since 2000, and I've made approximately 2 loaves of bread/week with the mixer during that time, plus other kneading and whisking, with no issues.

footenote

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Re: Cheapest way to replace stand mixer? (or don't bother)
« Reply #4 on: August 29, 2013, 12:04:28 PM »
+1 on Kitchen Aid stand mixers. Mine is over 20 years old and still runs like it's brand new. And we use it weekly.

Do you have a restaurant equipment supply place nearby? They often having older (and sometimes sturdier) used Kitchen Aid stand mixers for sale.

SisterX

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Re: Cheapest way to replace stand mixer? (or don't bother)
« Reply #5 on: August 29, 2013, 12:24:30 PM »
"If you're looking for used, look for a KitchenAid made before the mid 80s.  (1985, I think).  The older ones were made by Hobart and had metal gears.  They're indestructible."

The new ones do frequently have one plastic gear, which can break.  This gear is specifically designed that way so that if the motor is in danger of getting overloaded, the gear breaks rather than the entire motor.

Mine did that last year and we finally fixed it.  It's roughly a $5 part to replace and there are tutorials online about how to open up a KitchenAid and how to repair them.  And, the only reason mine broke is because I was kneading a bit too much dough for my mixer and accidentally stuck a spoon in at the wrong time, giving it far too much resistance. 

Although, I will also add that it took nearly a year to fix the mixer because I simply didn't find it to be a need.  (I too make pretty much all of our baked goods.)  We got it fixed partly because my MIL (who gifted it to us when we got married) threatened to buy us a new one and we didn't want her to waste that money.  So whether you *need* a new mixer or not, only you can decide.  It is nice to have, but if you've got a space problem in your kitchen anyway it might not be worth the storage space and the extra 5-10 mins/wk that you'll save on making bread.

blake201

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Re: Cheapest way to replace stand mixer? (or don't bother)
« Reply #6 on: August 29, 2013, 02:08:46 PM »
Although, I will also add that it took nearly a year to fix the mixer because I simply didn't find it to be a need.  (I too make pretty much all of our baked goods.)  We got it fixed partly because my MIL (who gifted it to us when we got married) threatened to buy us a new one and we didn't want her to waste that money.  So whether you *need* a new mixer or not, only you can decide.  It is nice to have, but if you've got a space problem in your kitchen anyway it might not be worth the storage space and the extra 5-10 mins/wk that you'll save on making bread.

Yes, this is what I'm struggling with — it's USEFUL and TIME-SAVING, but... how much can it do that I can't do with my arms and a whisk if I try hard (though I have a history of RSI and maybe whisking is not such a great activity for me), or maybe a little handheld mixer?

We have a small NYC kitchen, and got rid of our under-utilized breadmaker for space reasons. I may just try the 5-minutes-a-day artisan bread route... and I can probably make pasta dough in the food processor.

In fact, I was just looking again at Mark Bittman's Minimalist column on basic kitchen essentials hoping he had a suggestion for a cheap mixer, and he puts them in the list of inessentials (http://www.nytimes.com/2007/05/09/dining/09mini.html?pagewanted=all&_r=0:

"STAND MIXER Unless you’re a baking fanatic, it takes up too much room to justify it. A good whisk or a crummy handheld mixer will do fine."

Hmmm... I kind of AM a baking fanatic, but it's hard to bake without counter space.

Kira

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Re: Cheapest way to replace stand mixer? (or don't bother)
« Reply #7 on: August 29, 2013, 02:10:10 PM »
I LOVE MY KITCHENAID MIXER SOOO MUCH... It really reduces the "opportunity cost" of baking. I'll make double batches without blinking because it hardly takes any extra time and doesn't strain my shoulders.

I would check out some estate sales (not yard sales, dead people have better stuff) or craigslist.


Spork

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Re: Cheapest way to replace stand mixer? (or don't bother)
« Reply #8 on: August 29, 2013, 02:21:34 PM »
I would check out some estate sales (not yard sales, dead people have better stuff) or craigslist.

LOL.

...and they're less attached to their stuff.

lhamo

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Re: Cheapest way to replace stand mixer? (or don't bother)
« Reply #9 on: August 29, 2013, 03:05:03 PM »
can't you just use the food processor?  We have a small Cuisinart one that I got second hand from a friend and I use that for making pizza dough, etc.  Works just fine for a single batch (it is small). 

I have a Kitchenaid I got second hand before I got the food processor and have only used it once.  It is massive and heavy and never seems to be worth the bother of getting it out.  I really should sell it (paid quite a bit, even used, because they are hard to find here in China).

I'd try the food processor first.  Should be able to find a mixing blade if you don't have one already.

MrsPete

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Re: Cheapest way to replace stand mixer? (or don't bother)
« Reply #10 on: August 29, 2013, 04:34:18 PM »
Kitchen Aide, definitely!  It's expensive, but it will last.  I use mine several times per week, so it's not a frivolous purchase.  It's also versatile: you can add various accessories that do useful things.  When we renovate our kitchen, I want to include a pop-up stand that'll hide in the cabinet and keep it off the counter. 

Mine was purchased in the early 2000s, but I've had no problem with it. If earlier models were better, I wouldn't know. 

I tried to find one on eBay, but the shipping was just too high.  They do weigh a ton, so I do understand.  Eventually we bought at Bed, Bath and Beyond with a 20% off coupon. 

footenote

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Re: Cheapest way to replace stand mixer? (or don't bother)
« Reply #11 on: August 29, 2013, 06:02:13 PM »
A note about using a food processor in place of a mixer (stand or otherwise): food processors heat ingredients to a surprising degree. They can cause unintended ingredient-heating side effects. I have found the food processor to be an unacceptable tool for many recipes for this reason. (One of many examples: anything with butter you need to be cut in / mixed in and un-melted when it goes into the oven.)

ChicagoGirl

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Re: Cheapest way to replace stand mixer? (or don't bother)
« Reply #12 on: August 29, 2013, 07:06:42 PM »
I'm all for fixing things first or buying used or just use a little elbow grease and mix by hand, but if those options don't work out for you this could be a good option: On Thanksgiving day Kohls usually put their Kitchen Aids on sale every year. You can usually preview the sales flyer online a few weeks beforehand to see what they have on sale.

1. Couple the sale with a 30% coupon code (that can easily be found online) (I got $100 off sale price)
2. Take advantage of the rebate that is usually offered that time of year. (Usually $30 or $50)**
3. Thanksgiving weekend Kohl's offers $15 Kohls cash for every $50 spent, instead of their usual $10. (I got $75 Kohls cash to use toward items I needed anyway).
4. Last year my bank offered a cash back deal on Kohls purchases if I used my debit card (an additional $30 off) so check your bank cards and credit cards for additional cash back.

I ordered mine online and I think shipping was only $6 due to the weight of the item. Nice color selection online and the best part is that I didn't have to set foot in the store during the holiday sale. I use my mixer almost everyday, so to me it was money well spent.

**Last year's rebate from Kitchen Aid also included some kind of gourmet magazine, you can decline the magazine and receive an additional $12 on top of the rebate. If they do this offer again this year...read the fine print on how to get the additional $12 back. 

blake201

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Re: Cheapest way to replace stand mixer? (or don't bother)
« Reply #13 on: August 29, 2013, 09:44:56 PM »
Thank you everyone!

I think I'm going to keep an eye out for a Kitchenaid of any era or a vintage Sunbeam MixMaster at a good price (or maybe just a hand mixer, which would fit better in my little kitchen anyway)... maybe in the next couple of months one will cross my path.

... but in the meantime I'm going to try making 5-minute-a-day no-knead bread. I got this book from the library and they have the main master recipe online:

http://www.artisanbreadinfive.com/2009/10/26/our-new-book-healthy-bread-in-five-minutes-a-day-is-released-tomorrow-get-yourself-some-vital-wheat-gluten-and-make-our-whole-grain-master-recipe

Making bread is essential for us even regardless of saving money because my daughter has food allergies to nuts, eggs, milk and sesame... and it's near impossible to find bread from any bakery that isn't potentially contaminated with at least one of those things. There's one brand we can find sometimes but it is $4 for a tiny loaf.

m8547

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Re: Cheapest way to replace stand mixer? (or don't bother)
« Reply #14 on: August 30, 2013, 12:55:22 PM »
If I need to whisk something fast, I use an old hand mixer whisk attachment in my cordless drill. The hand mixer broke a few years ago, but the drill works great. It also works with an old hand mixer beater attachment for some mixing, but since it doesn't have a way to turn two beaters it doesn't mix as well. I also use it to blend soups, which is better than I could do by hand but not as good as a blender with sharp blades.

Katnina

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Re: Cheapest way to replace stand mixer? (or don't bother)
« Reply #15 on: August 31, 2013, 12:36:04 AM »
Agree on buying an old Hobart made KitchenAid stand mixer- they have all metal gears and can last forever if taken care of properly, unlike the newer ones which have plastic parts inside.
I found my 1970's one at a thrift shop for $75.  came with a dough hook, paddle, and whisk attachment.  Bought it over a year ago, have definitely used it to make enough bread to justify its cost!!

Daleth

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Re: Cheapest way to replace stand mixer? (or don't bother)
« Reply #16 on: August 31, 2013, 08:14:59 AM »
Given how you use your mixer, one thing to pay attention to is wattage. My mother-in-law, an avid baker who makes her own bread, told me that if I got a kitchenaid I should NOT get one of the "Artisan" models because they only have 300-something watts. She said if you're making bread on any kind of regular basis, you want a mixer whose motor is at least 500w. It's partly so making bread is more efficient and partly so you don't wear out the motor.

Katnina

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Re: Cheapest way to replace stand mixer? (or don't bother)
« Reply #17 on: August 31, 2013, 10:19:26 AM »
Also-since you're in NYC, I got my vintage kitchenaid at Housing Works and have seen others there before too.  Worth checking out!

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Re: Cheapest way to replace stand mixer? (or don't bother)
« Reply #18 on: August 31, 2013, 02:52:29 PM »
We do have an el-cheapo stand mixer but in reading this thread I only just remembered that we have it because we get it out so infrequently.  We have always found hand mixers to be sufficient for our needs, though I do confess from time to time to wondering if we should get a food processor.  Though now, without a recipe calling for one sitting here in front of me, I can't remember the specific reason why.

blake201

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Re: Cheapest way to replace stand mixer? (or don't bother)
« Reply #19 on: September 04, 2013, 12:46:04 PM »
Also-since you're in NYC, I got my vintage kitchenaid at Housing Works and have seen others there before too.  Worth checking out!

Ooh, a great tip! There is a Housing Works outpost in short walking distance from me in Brooklyn. I scouted out the Goodwill while I was getting back to school clothes for my daughter but of course they had nothing even halfway decent.

My food processor is a tiny 2-cup model, so not great for a whole big batch of dough.

There are restaurant supply places around here too, but they seem to be relatively pricey for the Kitchenaids.

I'm just going to keep hunting for a good quality used hand mixer via Craigslist or eBay but knead by hand in the meantime.

This weekend I made pita bread by hand and honestly, the 8 minutes of hand kneading wasn't really too bad. Still, I make bread and other baked goods so often (even aside from the cost savings, my daughter has serious food allergies to sesame, eggs and dairy so she can't eat almost any bread from bakeries/stores) I am still going to hunt for something.

Katnina

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Re: Cheapest way to replace stand mixer? (or don't bother)
« Reply #20 on: September 04, 2013, 07:05:42 PM »
Another option in the meantime is no-knead dough; my mom makes a batch every week.  I prefer kneaded but she likes the no-knead better.  Worth trying a batch! There was an nyt article about it a while ago: http://www.nytimes.com/2006/11/08/dining/081mrex.html?_r=0