The quality of baking depends largely on the baker, but the equipment you choose has a large impact on the quality of your products, especially if you are launching a new bakery. One key to success is having a reliable commercial mixer that creates the highest-quality product possible.

Choosing a mixer for your commercial kitchen is important and it must fit each kitchen’s unique needs. The right mixer can impact productivity and efficiency in day-to-day operations, as well as the time and money spent on equipment maintenance and repair — dollars that can add up over the life of the machine.

Before investing in a mixer, bakers should consider the kinds of foods they plan to create most often. Whether it’s breads, cookies, muffins or other pastries, knowing what type of dough or batter the majority of your recipes require and how thick the consistency will all play a role when it comes to deciding the best mixer for your operation. There are mixers on the market designed to meet a wide variety of needs — whether you produce many types of products in your kitchen or stick to mixing just one type of dough.


One of the first considerations when purchasing a mixer is physical size. A mixer that is too large can be an unnecessary investment for a kitchen that makes mostly small batches of lighter load ingredients. But purchasing a mixer that is too small to adequately meet kitchen needs can harm the long-term reliability of the machine. Depending on the volume of product produced, mixers typically used in a retail bakery can range from 60- to 140-quart capacity.

“Buying the wrong size mixer is a common mistake. People either buy one too small for the job, which is hard on the mixer, or they may buy a mixer that is too large, which is an unnecessary investment,” says Megan Pettit, marketing specialist for Hobart Food Equipment Group. “It’s important to avoid overlooking the available space in the kitchen, making sure there is plenty of footprint to accommodate the mixer that you purchase.”

What you will mix and the expected batch sizes are also key factors in selecting the right size mixer. Some mixers are designed for certain applications. For example, there are mixers designed specifically for pizza dough that provide more torque for heavier dough mixing jobs.

“Mixer sizes for retail bakeries are usually based on flour capacity. Since flour is the main ingredient, most bakers will base the batches on full bags of flour,” says Jerry Murphy, vice president – sales for Gemini Bakery Equipment Co. “They will dump full bags of flour and only weigh the minor ingredients. For that reason, the most common sizes are 100-lb flour capacity or 200-lb flour capacity.

“Batch sizes and mix times for all the products is important to know in order to determine how many mixers are needed,” says Murphy. “A professional can review these products and usage requirements to help guide you to the best solution for your bakery.”


Having a mixer with the proper capacity is very important. It impacts productivity, quality and efficiency in the kitchen. Too small of a mixer and the equipment is overworked; too large of a mixer and it runs inefficiently with longer mix times.

“If you purchase a mixer that is too small for the job you risk overtaxing the motor, which can lead to repairs or premature failure of the equipment,” Pettit says. “Also, if the mixer is too small and the bowl is too full, the mixer can’t thoroughly incorporate all of the ingredients. That is going to negatively affect the consistency of the finished product.”

Choosing a mixer based solely on advertised horsepower is another mistake, since manufacturers’ operating systems are different. Instead, look for mixers based on a tested ingredient capacity.

Mixers used in commercial kitchens are typically either planetary style or spiral style. Planetary mixers use gears to emulate the rotating bowl action of a spiral mixer, whereas spiral mixers use motors and a pulley system instead of gears.

Planetary mixers offer great versatility for a wide range of jobs, such as mixing dough, cakes, whipped toppings, icings and meringues, so it’s crucial to pick the right style.

Spiral mixers are well-suited for mixing heavier doughs, and those from Hobart offer versatility by allowing users to mix less than 10% of the unit’s capacity — so you can mix small to very large batches in the same machine. A reverse bowl function makes the smaller batches possible.

“Some bakers choose planetary mixers for their versatility as they typically have interchangeable tools. Planetary mixers are good for icings, batter and soft cookie doughs however they are not the best for dough mixing,” says Rick Liberatore, regional sales manager at Gemini Bakery Equipment Co. “The gearing in a planetary mixer is not well suited for the resistance a bread or roll dough requires for proper gluten development, causing excessive wear on the equipment. In addition, the dough adheres to the hook and basically rides along with little kneading taking place so gluten development usually takes longer.”

Absorption rate

Manufacturers offer mixer capacity charts that show the amount each mixer is capable of handling for specific ingredients and applications.

To determine the right size, it’s important to understand the absorption ratio, because the recommended maximum capacity of the mixer depends on the moisture content of the dough. The absorption ratio percentage is determined by taking the water weight divided by the flour weight.

According to Pettit, absorption rate— or the water weight divided by flour weight — determines the moisture content of the dough or batter and, with it, the recommended maximum capacity a mixer can handle. It’s important for bakers to understand this so that they don’t exceed the capacity of the mixer, which can be very hard on the motor.

Absorption rate, along with other factors and ingredient complexity determine the stiffness or resistance of the dough to mixing. Higher absorption rate doughs like ciabatta are generally easier to mix. Some lower absorption doughs like bagels typically require a single speed mixer. Most dough mixers are two speed. First speed, low, usually around 100 rpm on the spiral arm is used to blend the ingredients. High, usually around 200 rpm, is used to develop the gluten structure. There are single speed mixers, usually around 150 rpm on the spiral, some people even call them bagel mixers because they are used in low absorption doughs usually in the low 50% range, Murphy says.


What you will mix and the expected batch sizes are also key factors in selecting the right size mixer. Some mixers are designed for certain applications. For example, there are mixers designed specifically for pizza dough that provide more torque for heavier dough mixing jobs.

You may also want to consider a mixer that uses a variable frequency drive (VFD) motor. VFD technology allows the mixer to change speeds — to maintain the correct speed even as the mixing load increases or decreases — without stopping. Mixers with VFD technology can also offer built-in overload protection to help prevent damage to the motor.

“Variable frequency drive is an excellent technology to help bakers gain consistency, quality and productivity,” Pettit says. “The drive changes the frequency and voltage of the electrical current reaching the motor to determine the mixer’s speed and to protect the motor and gears if a baker exceeds the motor capacity. With this technology, bakers can save time by shifting speeds when the mixer is in operation; there’s no need to stop. And VFD precisely controls the motor, which ensures consistent incorporation of ingredients.”

To choose the right mixer for the job, think about what you’ll be making in your commercial kitchen, what batch sizes you prefer and how much kitchen space you have available. There are mixers on the market designed to meet a wide variety of needs — whether you produce many types of products or stick to mixing just one type of dough.

Ensuring your chosen mixer meets your needs makes you more efficient and productive — and helps save you time and money.

“Dough mixers have several variations depending on the application; fixed bowl, over tilt, removable bowl, base discharge, double tool. Features that allow a baker to mix to energy or mix to temperature or a combination of both,” Murphy says. “Labor savings can be realized with various levels of automation e.g. bowl lifts, chunker. Again consultation with a professional is the best approach for finding your ideal solution.”