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Commercial Mixer Buying Guide

Commercial Mixer Buying Guide

With numerous innovative features and attachments, commercial mixers are some of the most useful and versatile pieces of equipment you can invest in! To aid you in selecting the best commercial mixer, this guide will go over the types of mixers and their uses, mixer purchasing considerations, and what size mixer you will need for the task at hand.

Mixer Types

There are 3 types of mixers, dough, planetary, and vertical cutter mixers, and each type of mixer has its own unique advantages that make them the best choice for certain applications. Below, we'll break down the 3 types of commercial mixers and their uses.

Person pouring flour into a large dough mixer

1. Dough Mixers

Dough mixers, also known as spiral mixers, consist of a spiral-shaped agitator that remains stationary while the bowl revolves around it. This specialized design folds dough more efficiently than other mixer types to ensure it develops a proper structure without overworking it, making dough mixers the best commercial mixer for pizza dough and bread dough. They are ideal for establishments that need to mix large quantities of dough at a time.

Application: Mixing, kneading, mashing, whipping, and churning

Use to Make: Pizza, bread, pastries, and cookies

Best For: Bakeries, pizzerias, and caterers

Person pouring brown sugar into the mixing bowl of a planetary mixer

2. Planetary Mixers

A planetary mixer is designed with an offset shaft that revolves within the mixing bowl while the bowl itself remains stationary. With this construction, your mixer will reach all parts of the bowl without leaving areas of unmixed ingredients. Many planetary mixers also come with a power take-off hub, so you can add slicing, chopping, and whisking attachments and mix ingredients to different textures.

Application: Mix, knead, mash, and whip

Use to MakeFrosting, sauces, mashed potatoes, cookies, and dough

Best For: Caterers, restaurants, and bakeries

Person pouring ingredients for salsa into a vertical cutter mixer

3. Vertical Cutter Mixers

A vertical cutter mixer features a large covered mixing bowl, a high horsepower motor, and an interior agitator that lets it perform a variety of functions for fast, bulk production. Vertical cutter mixers can be used to perform a variety of prep tasks, including chopping, kneading, mixing, and cutting, depending on which attachment is being used. Use them to puree sauces and soups, chop cooked meats, potatoes, and nuts, or mix batters and doughs.

Application: Puree, chop, cut, mix, and knead

Use to Make: Sauces, soups, salads, batters, and doughs

Best For: High-volume restaurants, cafeterias, dining halls, and food production facilities

Planetary Mixer vs Spiral Mixer

A planetary mixer is considered a more all-purpose mixer because the removable wire whip, dough beater, and dough hook attachments allow for much more flexibility in mixing. Many planetary mixers can also accept standard #12 attachments like meat grinders and food processors to further increase the versatility of the mixer.

A spiral mixer is specifically designed to gently and efficiently mix and knead dough. A spiral mixer provides operators with more control over the dough, making it the preferred choice for making large quantities of pizza and bread loaves.

Mixer Styles

In addition to the different mixer types, you can also choose from different styles. You must consider how big you want your mixer to be, and where you want to place it in your kitchen.

Countertop mixer on a table next to flour, milk, and spices

Countertop Mixers

  • Can be conveniently placed on counters or work tables to maximize space
  • Ideal for low- to-standard duty use
  • Capacity is typically less than 10 qt.

Stand mixer being used with a meat grinder attachment

Stand Mixers

  • Best suited for use on a mixer table
  • Ideal for standard- to heavy-duty use
  • Capacity is typically 10 qt. to 25 qt.

Person pouring sugar into a floor mixer

Stand Mixers

  • Designed to sit directly on the floor
  • Ideal for standard- to heavy-duty use
  • Capacity is typically above 20 qt.

Parts of a Mixer

For the most part, commercial mixers share common components and features. Most mixers will include front and rear covers, a safety/bowl guard, mixing device attachments, a bowl lift wheel or lever, a bowl, and power/speed controls. Some units may feature electric bowl lifts or additional attachments, but in general, commercial mixers will operate in a similar fashion.

Parts of a mixer

Commercial Mixer Features

In addition to the type of mixer, you will also need to consider the drive system, mixer speeds, horsepower, bowl lift system, and safety features of the unit to ensure it is the best model for your needs.

Drive System

Mixers generally come with either a belt-driven or gear-driven system. While both types are designed to stand up to the rigors of commercial use, there are some benefits and disadvantages to both.

Belt-driven mixers use a simple strap system, similar to an engine belt, to turn the agitator inside the mixing bowl which makes them easier to maintain and repair. However, it can experience belt "slip," or insufficient grip between the belt and drive, which reduces the velocity ratio of the mixer system.

Gear-driven mixers utilize an intricate inner assembly of gears and cogs to prevent slips and stutters. The gears eliminate the risk of drive system slip. However, when repairs are needed, they tend to be more expensive than a belt system.

Horsepower

Larger mixers tend to have a higher horsepower motor than smaller models since they're mixing more material at a time, and larger mixers are also better suited to handle thicker, stiffer dough (like pizza dough), which require more power to mix than lighter mixtures.

Bowl Lift

On planetary mixers, the mixing bowl usually attaches to a yoke at the sides or near the vertical column on the machine, and is raised and lowered one of two ways:

Manual bowl lift systems raise and lower the bowl via a wheel or lever. On some smaller countertop planetary mixers, however, the bowl does not move. Rather, the entire upper housing of the mixer, mixing device included, tilts back and permits access to the bowl.

Electric bowl lift systems raise and lower the bowl automatically with buttons or a similar interface. This is more common on larger mixers with larger mixing bowls.

Mixer speed adjustment knob

Mixer Speeds

Mixers typically feature several different operating speeds, which affect how quickly the agitator (or bowl, in the case of spiral mixers) revolves.

Be sure to read the manufacturer's literature, as certain products will mix better at certain speeds, and on a planetary mixer the different agitator attachments will perform differently. 

You also need to consider whether the mixer lets you change speeds during operation. Some models allow you to adjust on the fly, which can be a big boost to your productivity.

Keep in mind that not all mixers are engineered to handle the mechanical stresses associated with adjusting on the fly. For those mixers, you must shut the unit off before changing the speed. This helps prevent internal damage and ensures the end user's safety during operation. 

Mixer bowl guard

Bowl Guard

A plastic or wire housing around the top of the bowl, the guard prevents hands, clothing, or foreign objects from coming in contact with the agitator during mixing, and most mixers are required to include one to comply with OSHA regulations.

Your staff should understand the dangers of operating the mixer; for example, trying to bypass the guard by putting hands/fingers/utensils in or under it during operation can have very negative consequences and your training should cover the proper way to operate and clean commercial mixers for the safety and security of your staff.

How to Choose the Right Commercial Mixer

Before making your purchase, there are three main questions you will want to ask yourself:

What Will You Be Mixing?

Different types of dough and batter will have different consistencies, and as a result, not every mixer is right for every job - kneading a batch of thick, stiff dough is going to require more power than mixing meringue or icing, for example. A commercial bread mixer and pizza dough mixer will be different than a mixer meant for whipping delicate egg whites.

Finding the absorption ratio (lbs. of water divided by lbs. of flour) for some of your most commonly used dough is a good way to figure out what types of mixers might best suit your needs; the lower the absorption rate, the more difficult the dough will be to mix and in turn, the more powerful your unit should probably be.

absorption ratio chart

What Type of Usage Do You Expect From Your Mixer?

All mixers are designed to handle the rigors of commercial use, but some are better equipped for certain types of mixing than others; be sure to check the manufacturer's literature on the product pages for more information.

Sugar being poured into a standard duty mixer

Standard Duty Mixer

  • Ideal for caterers, restaurants, and cafes that makes batter and dough in-house
  • Good for whipped cream, batter, and occasional batches of pizza dough on low speed

Heavy duty mixer on the floor

Heavy-Duty Mixer

  • Ideal for high-volume bakeries, pizzerias, and central kitchens that make batter and dough in-house
  • Good for cake batter, mashed potatoes, pastry or pie dough, and pizza dough.

How Much Will You Be Mixing?

How much you will be mixing plays a large role in what size of mixer you will want to look at. A small restaurant can take care of most needs with a 5 to 20 qt. planetary mixer. In contrast, a pizzeria or bakery will want to look at 40 qt. or larger, or even a spiral mixer in very large-scale applications. This is because the mixer is being used almost constantly and turning out high volumes of product.

Also, be mindful of the fact that the bowl can't be filled to the brim and different ingredient factors will affect how big each batch can be:

  • Higher flour protein content = smaller batch size
  • Lower water temperature = smaller batch size
  • Less water in the dough = smaller batch size
  • Higher mixing speed = smaller batch size
  • More oil/shortening in the dough = smaller batch size

Our mixer capacities chart (below) is a great way to determine what size of mixer is best for you.

PLEASE NOTE: This chart is not a definitive guide for every mixer; the values represent a typical capacity for the products that we carry and are meant to help you determine the best commercial mixer for your needs. Please refer to the manufacturer literature (located under "Specsheet" on our product pages) for more detailed information about what each specific model can handle.

N/A = Certain mixers in this size category may not be suitable for this type of mixing. Consult the manufacturer's literature for more information.

5 - 7 Qt. Mixers 10 - 12 Qt. Mixers 20 Qt. Mixers 30 Qt. Mixers 40 Qt. Mixers 60 Qt. Mixers 80 Qt. Mixers 100 Qt. and Above
Egg Whites 0.25 qt. 0.5 qt. 0.75 qt. 1.5 qt. 1.75 qt. 2 qt. 2 qt. 4 qt.
Icing 2 lb. 5 lb. 9 lb. 18 lb. 25 lb. 36 lb. 65 lb. 100 lb.
Mashed Potatoes 3 lb. 5 lb. 12 lb. 23 lb. 30 lb. 40 lb. 60 lb. 100 lb.
Mayonnaise (Qt. of Oil) 1.5 qt. 3 qt. 6 qt. 12 qt. 13 qt. 18 qt. 30 qt. 50 qt.
Pancake Batter 2 qt. 4 qt. 6 qt. 12 qt. 16 qt. 24 qt. 32 qt. N/A
Shortening & Sugar, Creamed 3 lb. 6 lb. 12 lb. 24 lb. 35 lb. 48 lb. 65 lb. 120 lb.
Whipped Cream 1 qt. 2 qt. 3.5 qt. 6 qt. 8 qt. 12 qt. 16 qt. 30 qt.
Cupcakes / Muffins 3 lb. 12 lb. 20 lb. 30 lb. 45 lb. 60 lb. 90 lb. 165 lb.
Layer or Sheet Cake Batter 3 lb. 8 lb. 15 lb. 30 lb. 40 lb. 60 lb. 90 lbs 165 lb.
Pound Cake Batter 3 lb. 8 lb. 14 lb. 30 lb. 40 lb. 55 lb. 100 lb. 185 lb.
Sponge Cake Batter 2 lb. 5 lb. 9 lb. 18 lb. 40 lb. 36 lb. 65 lb. 140 lb.
Bread / Roll Dough, Light 4 lb. 5 lb. 18 lb. 45 lb. 45 lb. 75 lb. 170 lb. 180 lb.
Bread Dough, Heavy N/A 3 lb. 16 lb. 30 lb. 35 lb. 60 lb. 140 lb. 175 lb.
Doughnut Dough, Raised N/A 2 lb. 7 lb. 15 lb. 25 lb. 30 lb. 60 lb. 100 lb.
Pasta Dough N/A 4 lb. 7 lb. 8 lb. 15 lb. 30 lb. 65 lbs 100 lb.
Pie Dough 3 lb. 5 lb. 13 lb. 27 lb. 35 lb. 60 lb. 75 lb. 60 lb.
Pizza Dough, Light - Medium N/A 3 lb. 10 lb. 20 lb. 32 lb. 60 lb. 155 lb. 125 lb.
Pizza Dough, Heavy N/A 4 lb. 20 lb. 40 lb. 45 lb. 70 lb. 155 lb. 190 lb.

Types of Mixer Attachments

Mixer accessories can be used to increase the versatility of your unit. Let's go over the types of mixer attachments and their uses below.

Flat beater mixer attachment

Flat Beater

  • Most versatile mixer attachment
  • Best for beating frostings and batters, mixing cookie dough, and creaming ingredients

Wire whipmixer attachment

Wire Whip

  • Incorporates air into light, liquid mixtures
  • Best for whipping and whisking egg whites, cream, and frostings

Dough hookmixer attachment

Dough Hook

  • Movement mimics kneading dough by hand
  • Best for heavier doughs like pizza, pasta, and bread doughs

Pastry knife mixer attachment

Pastry Knife

  •  Perfectly blends fats and flour together
  • Best for mixing pie dough and other pastry dough 

Mixer Attachments for PTO Hubs

There are a variety of different mixer hub attachments that can be used on the Power Takeoff (PTO) hub on your mixer, letting you perform many tasks beyond mixing just dough and batter!

However, the hub size on the attachment has to match the hub on the mixer. Most commercial mixer hubs and attachments are #12 size so this is seldom an issue, but still check this before purchasing.

Grater/Shredder

  • Include a housing with a shredder disc
  • Can adjust the size of the finished product by using a different disc
  • Perfect for shredding items like vegetables and cheeses into fine pieces

 

Meat Chopper/Grinder

  • Comes with a plastic pusher to guide the meat into the attachment
  • Variety of grinding plates to adjust the grind size
  • Ideal for making meatballs and sausages

 

Vegetable Slicer

  • Features slicer knives that cut food into smaller pieces
  • Ideal for cutting potatoes, fruits, and cabbage
  • Can be converted into a shredder by replacing the slicer blade

 

How to Maintain Your Commercial Mixer

Proper use and care can help extend the life of your mixer. Keep these simple steps in mind for a better overall experience with any mixer you purchase.

  • Follow the proper guidelines for how much product your mixer can handle.
  • Remove attachments and accessories and run them through the dishwasher or wash them by hand after each use.
  • Mixers should always be turned off and unplugged before cleaning and never submerge the units in water.
  • Use a damp cloth with sanitizer to clean the main part of your mixer after each use or at the end of every day.
  • Remain engaged with your mixer throughout the mixing process. Do not leave it unattended.
  • Be sure to use a food-grade machine oil on the attachment shaft to minimize the risk of breakage.
  • Do not shift gears on the fly unless your mixer explicitly has this feature.

How Often Should Commercial Mixers Be Serviced?

  • Have service agents perform regular oil changes every 6-12 months depending on use.
  • Have service techs perform annual or biannual checks to prevent breakdowns.

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