KitchenAid Pro Series Mixer vs KitchenAid Classic
Considering getting a stand mixer? It really isn’t a question of whether or not to get a KitchenAid. It’s more which KitchenAid mixer is right for you.
Ever since introducing the first stand mixer for home use KitchenAid has remained the premier producer of high quality home mixers. Other manufactures have tried to displace the champ but none have.
If you’re looking for a reliable and durable stand mixer that delivers superior performance, you can’t go wrong with a KitchenAid.
But which one? KitchenAid produces several models at several price points.
The least expensive end of that spectrum is the KitchenAid Classic Plus Series 4.5-Quart mixer.
The KitchenAid Professional 600 Series 6-Quart mixer rests towards the top end.
What are the differences and which one will work best in your kitchen?
Bowl Size Is One Obvious Difference
To begin with the obvious, the Pro Line machine has a larger bowl: 6 quarts vs 4.5.
For most home cooks, the 4.5 quart capacity is quite adequate. It can handle most recipes. If fact, I’ve mixed double batches of cookie dough and bread dough in mine without difficulty.
However, some cooks (you know who you are) need the extra capacity. They frequently make even larger batches of whatever they’re doing. The Pro Line becomes a consideration.
Physically, the Pro Line mixer is bigger and somewhat heavier than the Classic.
However, and I think this is a significant consideration, both fit under a standard upper kitchen cabinet.
That’s a Small But Important Point
I use my mixer often enough that I leave it out on the counter. I like to be able to slide it back under the upper cabinet when I’m not using it so I can use the counter space.
Some other high-end mixers are too tall to fit under the cabinets, so you either have to put them away (awkward, and it also makes it less likely you’ll get it out to use it) or give up use of that part of your counter.
The Motors Are Different
Another difference between the two KitchenAid mixers we’re considering here is the size of their motors.
As you might expect, the Pro mixer has more horsepower than the Classic. It has a 575 watt electric motor vs a 275 watt motor in the Classic.
That’s clearly a significant difference, but it makes less difference in performancethan you may expect. This is where KitchenAid’s superior engineering becomes evident.
The strength of the motor is only one factor in determining how a mixer performs under load. What you’re really interested in the the force applied at the business-end of the machine.
In cars, the performance point is “where the rubber meets the road”, as the slogan says. In mixers, it’s where the hook meets the dough.
Between the motor the the implement it’s turning are a series of gears. It’s the combination of these gears and the motor that produce the final force. Getting the optimal balance for a given machine requires complex engineering.
I think that picture gives you a pretty good idea of just how complicated stand mixer design is.
Get it right and the mixer delivers steady performance even as the consistency of the dough changes. Anyone who has mixed cookie dough or kneaded bread by hand knows how the texture of the dough changes as you work it.
Good mixers remain steady as the dough changes. Lesser ones lose speed inconsistently, leading to variations in results.
Even worse, get the engineering wrong and even a high horsepower motor will burn out. I saw this happen in one test of a $300 brand name mixer. It did fine at the lighter tasks but when it came to kneading a stiff dough it shuddered, overheated and even started smoking!
The KitchenAid Classic handled the same dough recipe without a problem.
However, you can expect the heavier motor in the Pro Line to hold up better under heavy usuage in the long term.
3 Tests of Performance
But how does the KitchenAid Classic perform overall compared to it’s heftier, more expensive sibling? The answer surprised me.
KitchenAid mixers are very versatile, especially when you start adding accessories (and if you get a mixer, I suggest you do – you’ll get more out of it). However, we can get a pretty solid idea of a machines capabilities if we look at just three common tasks: whipping egg whites, creaming butter and sugar and kneading bread dough.
I’m particularly interested in the whipping egg white since I like to make meringues. They’re light and healthy and tasty and versatile. And they impress people whenever I serve them.
I suspect that’s because most people have tried whipping eggs whites by hand with a whisk or hand mixer. Doing it that way is a chore.
A good stand mixer changes that. You can produce soft to stiff peaks effortlessly.
In a side-by-side comparison, both the Classic and the Pro do extremely well at the lighter task of whipping egg whites, as well as the slightly more challenging task of creaming butter and sugar smoothly together.
But what about the challenge of kneading dough?
I really expected the Pro to have the advantage in this test and it did. Surprisingly, not as much as I expected.
Even with double batches of dough, the Classic stayed steady, strong and consistent as the gluten developed and the dough stiffened. The Pro also did great, but the dough wasn’t noticably better
I attribute that to the quality of the engineering that I mentioned earlier. Each machine is designed as unit for optimal performance given its components.
Although I haven’t tested it, I suspect the Pro model would have the lead if you were kneading multiple batches of dough on a regular basis. While the Classic is solid, the Pro is definitely more heavy duty and would hold up better under that kind of use.
And there’s another difference you should be aware of: the way the bowl and mixing implement are brought together.
The Tilt Head Is a Potential Weak Point
The Classic mixer has a tilt head. In this arrangement, there is a hinge at the rear of the mixer. You tilt the head back to get it out of the way as you release the bowl.
When it’s time to mix, you lower it down and latch it into place while it works.
That latch is a potential weak point. One testing lab found that in a “torture test” of kneading multiple batches of stiff dough one after the other, that latch loosened and didn’t hold the mixer head in place very well.
On the positive side, if they pushed down and held the head in position manually, the mixer kneaded the dough just fine.
The Pro Line uses a different design. On these mixers the bowl is held firmly in place by metal arms on each side and you raise it up to engage with the mixing implement.
The housing is one solid piece so there is no hinge latch to give way.
For heavy duty, very frequent use this is the more durable design.
Truth be told, many people don’t need it.
Is Style Important to You?
If so, you may need to get the Pro.
Similar to Henry Ford’s famous quip about the color offerings for his first Model T (“They can have any color they want as long as it’s black.”), you can get the Classic in any color you want as long as it’s white. (You can get a KitchenAid mixer with 4.5 quart bowl in different colors but it costs more.)
The Pro, on the other hand, is available in 10 colors, all pretty cool.
Here are a few colors to give you some idea of what’s available:
So Which Mixer Is Best for You: Classic or Pro?
Well, if money is no object it’s simple. Go for the Pro. It’s does everything the Classic does at least as well and can handle long term, heavy use even better.
If you’re doing big volume recipes very often, again go for the Pro. The larger bowl size will come in handy.
But realistically, money is a consideration for most of us. And most of us aren’t turning out multiple loaves of bread or stiff pizza crust day after day.
A very common situation is a cook who week to week will most often be baking a cake or a batch of cookies or some brownies, alternating with occasions to whip cream or egg whites and less frequently kneading dough for pasta or bread.
In other words, a variety of tasks, but nothing steadily or constantly demanding.
For that cook, the KitchenAid Classic may meet their needs completely.
However, some cooks need the KitchenAid Pro. This is you if you frequently make recipes in large batches. You’ll make good use of the extra volume of the Pro’s bowl.
It’s also you if you frequently use the mixer to knead stiff doughs, such as for bread or pizza or bagels.
A friend of mine is known for her homemade bread. She frequently makes multiple loaves at a time for her family and to share with friends. Using the Pro, she makes it look easy, and she can expect that appliance to hold up well for years, even under that kind of heavy use.
Now the Classic will do an excellent job of kneading dough on an occasional basis. It just isn’t going to hold up as well as the Pro if you call on it to do heavy kneading every day.
Bottom Line, They’re Both Great Machines
So in summary, you really can’t go wrong. These are both excellent appliances that you can expect to serve you well for years, even with frequent use.
If your budget can easily afford it, go for the Pro.
If you need to need to be a little more cautious with your finances and you are a typical home cook the Classic will very likely meet your needs.
However, if you frequently prepare very stiff doughs and batters, it’s prudent to save up a little longer to get the Pro. It’s greater durability under that type of load will pay off in the long run.