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Cheap Mixer Buying Guide

Our research points toward Oster for the best cheap mixers -- most notably the Oster Inspire (starting at $18), which comes in black (model 2577) and white (model 2534). The primary complaint in online reviews of this mixer is that it's actually too powerful and could use a lower speed.

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Otherwise, users generally report that it performs well and appreciate the variety of included attachments. The Oster 2500 (starting at $23) has the right mix of price, features, and precision to earn excellent reviews overall and qualify as a good cheap mixer. One other model to consider is the Hamilton Beach 62650 (starting at $26), with 290 watts of power and a convenient storage case. The compact, cordless design of the Oster 3-in-1 Twisting Mixer (starting at $20) may also appeal, but reviews indicate that this mixer doesn't generate enough power to mix much beyond a drink.

Mid-range hand mixers one rung above these cheap models may represent a step up in quality and power, but not necessarily. A $40 or $50 price is likely to reflect sleek design (which doesn't affect performance) and additional, unnecessary features, such as digital display or self-cleaning beaters.

Stand mixers, which are stationary and meant to be left out on the counter, are known for being more powerful, durable, and versatile but also more expensive than hand mixers. Designed for serious bakers who use the appliance frequently and for heavy duties such as bread dough, stand mixers start at about $70 and come with lots of function options and accessories, including a dedicated bowl. KitchenAid dominates this market segment, selling high-end mixers for around $300 and counting.

Combination hand/stand mixers are far less common than dedicated stand or hand-held mixers but have the flexibility to go either way. They usually come with more accessories than hand mixers and are easier to move and store than traditional stand mixers, in part because the stand is lightweight and the head can be removed. Prices start on the high end of our Cheapism range of $30 or less. One of the least expensive and most widely reviewed combo mixers, the Hamilton Beach 64650 (starting at $29), counts many fans among consumers unwilling to spend big on a stand mixer. However, many reviewers question its durability and criticize the design: As a hand-held mixer it's too heavy, they say, and as a stand mixer the parts don't lock in place and the beaters don't reach the bottom of the bowl, making for ineffective mixing.

Cheap hand mixers make the most sense for the casual user who won't be baking every day. They are lightweight and accommodate any bowl. And they still have the capability to mix common batters, including cake, as well as sauce and (with the right attachments) even thicker recipes such as pizza or bread dough.

by Tahirah Blanding (Google+ Profile)

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Filed in: Baking, Blenders, Cooking,
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