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.
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.
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
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 Make: Frosting, sauces, mashed potatoes, cookies, and dough
Best For: Caterers, restaurants, and bakeries
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Before making your purchase, there are three main questions you will want to ask yourself:
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.
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.
Standard Duty Mixer
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:
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.|
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.
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.
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.