Commercial mixers are essential to any restaurant kitchen or bakery that mixes dough, batters, sauces, mashed potatoes, icings, and many other mixed food products. A strong and durable commercial mixer more than pays for itself over time through its continual use, reliability and versatility.
There are three types of commercial mixers - the planetary mixer, the dough mixer and the vertical cutter mixer. Before getting into the details of each type of commercial mixer, let's begin with a basic discussion of what to consider when evaluating the best commercial mixer for your needs.
The Best Commercial Mixer for You
First and foremost, you'll want to consider what it is that you will be mixing, as different doughs and batters will vary in consistency. Thicker, denser, pizza doughs will require a stronger commercial mixer than a commercial mixer that simply takes care of whipped cream and meringues.
Meantime, the frequency of usage is another consideration - this is when choosing between a light duty mixer, standard duty mixer and heavy duty mixer comes into play. If you'll only be using your mixer for infrequent prep work or small quantities of baked goods, a light duty commercial mixer will suit just fine.
If your restaurant or catering business makes pizza dough or cake batter in-house, a standard duty commercial mixer is more suitable. For pizzerias making large quantities of thick pizza dough or bakeries/restaurants making larger quantities of batter, a durable, heavy duty commercial mixer is in order.
Heavy duty commercial mixers provide durability and flexibility, with many models accessorized to provide greater mixing options.
A planetary mixer, or vertical mixer, is a common form of commercial mixer that includes an agitator (the device that causes movement and the stirring motion) and a stationary mixing bowl. The agitator is often compatible with a number of interchangeable attachments that allow for a wide range of food products to be mixed, including dough, puddings, icings and meringues.
Additional attachments can allow for slicing, grating and chopping, further illustrating the versatility of the planetary mixer. The mixing bowl will often attach to the vertical column of the mixer and raise manually via a wheel or lever.
Some larger planetary mixers come with larger mixing bowls that raise and lower through the touch of a button, and most planetary mixers, regardless of size, can be used effectively with smaller bowls when only a limited quantity of output is required.
Commercial Dough Mixer
Dough mixers, or spiral mixers, include a spiral agitator that remains motionless while the bowl revolves around it. Dough mixers are suited for preparing high volumes of thick, dense pizza dough in a relatively short time, making them an easy choice for busy pizzerias and restaurants that specialize in serving pizza.
Dough mixers are less versatile than planetary mixers, as dough mixers aren't compatible with the various agitator attachments that accompany planetary mixers. Nonetheless, dough mixers are highly useful and offer the convenience as well of not requiring a bowl or agitator change when mixing smaller quantities.
Vertical Cutter Mixer
Vertical cutter mixers include a large, covered mixing bowl with an interior agitator that performs mixing that commercial planetary and dough mixers are less suited for.
Vertical cutter mixers serve a variety of functions including mixing sauces, chopped meat, chopped nuts, salad toppings, bread, and light dough kneading. A high horsepower motor allows for rapid production of bulk quantities of mixes that differ from pizza dough and cake batter.
Features of Commercial Mixers
Mixers vary in size, with smaller countertop mixers of capacities up to ten quarts not requiring much space. From there, mixers with 10-20 quart capacities are best placed on an equipment stand, with larger capacity mixers of twenty quarts or more best suited for the floor.
All commercial mixers are equipped with either a gear or belt-driven drive system, the latter tending to be less expensive to repair. Mixer speeds also vary widely, with many mixers featuring several different operating speeds and some mixers allowing for changing speeds during operations.
This can lead to greater efficiency for those commercial mixers that are equipped with this feature, as many mixers cannot tolerate switching speeds without first turning the mixer off to avoid mechanical damage. Finally, larger mixers are equipped with a greater horsepower engine that facilitates mixing larger quantities and thicker, denser dough.