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A stand mixer is a baker’s best friend, but there’s a lot more it can do in the kitchen besides mix dough—so no need to store it away for summer. If you’ve been thinking about taking the plunge but you still need some convincing, check out all the things you’ll be able to do with your KitchenAid (or any other brand).

I’ll admit, as much as I love food and cooking, I’m not much of a kitchen tool junkie. Set me up with the basics—a good chef’s knife, cutting board, cast iron skillet, a couple spatulas, some tongs, and one or two mixing bowls—and I’m pretty much good to go.

So for me, something like a stand mixer, as gorgeous and iconic a kitchen piece as it is, has always seemed like a bit of an unnecessary extravagance (especially given the $200-$400 associated price tag).

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Related Reading: What to Do with Your New Stand Mixer

“It would be different if I was more of a baker,” I would think, dismissively. But, apparently, the joke’s on me. As it turns out, the stand mixer is much more diverse and multifunctional kitchen gadget than meets the eye, proving it can be useful beyond the expected cookie-dough-and-whipped-cream game. And I’m not just talking about all the cool things you can do when you shell out for fun add-on attachments like a pasta maker, spiralizer, or juicer, either.

To prove the point, we’ve rounded up eight of our favorite food-related creative and unexpected ways to use a stand mixer, plus one that’s just for fun:

1. Mixing Meatballs

classic Italian meatballs in red sauce

Chowhound

I hear you grabbing your pitchforks and torches, purists, but the fact of the matter is throwing all of the wet and dry ingredients in the mixing bowl and simply flicking a switch makes meatball assembly molto easy. P.S., Meatloaf-lovers should also take note of this “Sorry, just got my nails done” hands-free technique—it’s almost the way mom used to make it, just, you know, a little less work.

Related Reading: These International Meatball Recipes Make the World Go Round

2. Whipping Perfect Mashed Potatoes

Chowhound

You’re going to want to earmark this pro-tip for the holidays, trust (and you probably wish you’d known about it for Thanksgiving). Because the holiday cooking season is already enough work, we recommend skipping the “I have to do it all by hand” martyr act and leaving the potato mashing to the machine. The resulting taters are smooth, fluffy, and, best of all, elbow grease-free.

Related Reading: Can You Make Mashed Potatoes Ahead of Time?

3. Shredding Chicken, Turkey, Beef, or Pork

Chowhound

Craving chicken salad? Turkey enchiladas? A pulled pork sandwich? Cut down on your hanger time by tossing the tender, cooked meat in your mixing bowl, set the the speed to low, and let the paddle attachment do all the shredding for you:

4. Making Marshmallows

Chowhound

Most stand mixer owners are likely familiar with using the tool to whip up perfectly glossy, stiff-peaked meringue. Perhaps less obvious, but equally effective is to use the mixer to make blue ribbon-caliber marshmallows. Seriously, your hot chocolate and s’mores will thank you.

5. Scrambling Eggs

scrambled eggs recipe

Chowhound

If you love hosting large groups of your nearest and dearest for brunch, consider setting aside the whisk and mixing bowl in favor of this more efficient electronic solution. Save the bicep work for the gym, not the massive batch of scrambled eggs.

Related Reading: This Secret Ingredient for Scrambled Eggs Is a Game-Changer

6. Mashing Guacamole

Nachos with Guac

Chowhound

The same philosophy as above applies if you’re hosting a big group for a backyard barbecue and need to make enough of your signature guacamole to go around. I mean, come on, running out of guac mid-fiesta because your arm got tired of mixing? Not acceptable. Be smart: Let the stand mixer do the work and use the mortar and pestle for presentation only.

Related Reading: 5 Guacamole Mistakes You’re Making

7. Making Homemade Candy Hearts

easy diy conversation heart candy recipe

Neil Tierney

While it does take time and patience to cut out all those tiny hearts, making your own candy is shockingly easy with a stand mixer (you definitely wouldn’t want to try mixing this dense, sticky dough by hand). Outside of Valentine’s Day, use the same technique to make any other treats you desire, from candy flowers to an edible alphabet, all in any color and flavor combos you want. See how to make DIY conversation heart candy.

8. Making Homemade Soft Serve

Did you even know it was possible to make swirls of soft serve at home? It is—and your stand mixer is the best tool for the job! Admittedly, the process is a little tricky, and since it involves dry ice, you’ll want to be careful, but if you love a good kitchen project, this is the ultimate one for summer. Get the Homemade Soft Serve Ice Cream recipe. (And don’t forget the chocolate dip!)

Related Reading: More Ways to Make Ice Cream without an Ice Cream Machine

9. Making Homemade Play Dough

Sure, everyone knows that stand mixers are great for mixing dough—cookie, bread, pizza—but it turns out you can also use your machine to make another (decidedly less tasty) variety: Play Dough. Talk about your #funcreativeDIYparentgoals.

Related Reading: Beat Boredom with Edible Crafts for Kids

Ready to take the plunge? See which KitchenAid mixer is best for you. And check out all the best KitchenAid attachments that make it even more versatile (and fun).

Header image courtesy of Shutterstock.

Maryse Chevriere is a certified sommelier, James Beard Award winner for @freshcutgardenhose, and author of "Grasping the Grape," a no-nonsense but really fun guide to wine.
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