Most helpful critical review
44 of 46 people found the following review helpful
A good mixer, but NOT Heavy Duty and NOT for bread-making!
on December 27, 2008
I went through 3 of these mixers in less than a year, then chose a different model altogether. The first arrived broken, and the other two started on fire (internally). The problem: I make a lot of bread and use my mixer an average of 3 times a day. This is not a commercial mixer and couldn't take it.
My peeve points are that, when shopping, I could find no way to determine what kind of mixer I needed. It took trial and error to figure out that I need a commercial mixer! NOW, I know that anyone can call KitchenAid, explain their needs, and get recommendations for the best ones for them, but it's a little late for that!(1-800-541-6390 M-F 8-8 EST, Sat 10-5 EST). Also, this mixer (Artisan 5 qt) could not even handle the bread recipes from the owners' manual! I followed the instructions to a T, but my house filled with nasty smelling smoke with only half of the flour for the recipes added (single batches only). Last, the C-shaped dough hook is a joke - the dough rides right up it & either has to be shoved back down repeatedly or it gets caught on the beater shaft and gets nasty black crud in it. The spiral dough hook is MUCH better!
That was the ugly. For the bad: No, KitchenAid is not top-of-the-line anymore. They aren't as high quality as they used to be, they are noisier than earlier models, and have only a third the life expectancy of the old ones.
The good: If you aren't going to be making a ton of bread or other high-load batters, this mixer is great! It will stand up well for occasional or frequent use. If you are looking for a mixer you will use at least daily, look at a "Professional" model, as this won't quite cut it. If you are really going to make your mixer work hard daily, with heavy batters, and a lot of attachment use, aim for a different brand. Bosch, Viking, or Hobart are heavier duty.
KitchenAid does have great customer service - they really do try to make you happy. You can call just for advice, too. If you're not sure which attachment or speed to use for a certain recipe, or want more information than the manual gives, give them a call! They are very knowledgeable and helpful! If your mixer breaks during the first year, they ship you a new (refurbished) one and have UPS pick up the old one a day or two later, packed in the same box you just got. Yes, you get the same color and model unless you specifically agree to something different. If it's after the warranty expires, the cost is reasonable, but you don't get a new mixer. Instead, they send you the box & packing materials, you send it in, they diagnose it & call you with the price, then you decide whether to fix it or not. The current price is $32 for shipping (flat rate for the packing kit shipped to you, mixer to them, and back to you - one fee, not each way). The diagnostic fee is $25 if you don't have it fixed, or waived if you do have it fixed. These prices are subject to change, of course, but right now, cheaper than anything else I have looked into.
As far as tilt-head vs bowl-lift models, there are pros & cons to suit different people.
If you think you want the tilt-head, do yourself a favor and measure the vertical space where you will be using it. You need at least 8 inches of room above the height of the mixer in order to tilt the head. The bowl of the tilt-head mixers also gets REALLY TIGHT. This was a problem for me because I have very poor strength in my arms, so I couldn't disengage the bowl.
The bowl-lift models are a little wider because of the support arms, and a little more difficult to clean because there are more nooks & crannies, but better for those with less than average arm strength. Scraping the bowl is a pain with either, but a little easier with the bowl-lift models. It's also easier to change beaters mid-recipe with the bowl-lift models.
So, this mixer isn't as fabulous as it's made out to be, but is a good mixer as long as you're not very demanding.
Basic tips: Check them out in local stores before buying. Many cooking specialty stores give demonstations, and have experts on site to answer your questions. Don't get western with the cover for the attachment hub - it is just clamped on and will pop off. The manual really does mean it when it tells you certain parts (wire whip, etc.) are not dishwasher safe! The detergent for the dishwasher deteriorates the metal, causing corrosion, pitting, weakness, or worse - just wash them by hand! And, when using an attachment, make sure it is COMPLETELY inserted with the tab on the side of the hub all the way in the notch on the attachment, and nob tight. Can you imagine what my husband did?! Trust me - major injury can and will occur if you don't pay attention!
Last, there is a nifty little rack to hold your beaters available in several locations. I found mine on Ebay, but have since found them elsewhere, too. It is called a "Mixer Maid" and definitely worth the $15 it cost me!