Stand mixers are some of the best appliances that you can have in your kitchen, especially if you love cooking. When you have a stand mixer, you’ll never have to tire yourself out stirring a cake batter and you’ll never break another spoon off in a thick bowl of cookie dough. Every stirring, mixing, and whisking task instantly becomes effortless.
That is, of course, if you have the right attachments and the beauty of the stand mixer is that there are attachments for each task you want to perform.
Chances are that your mixer came equipped with a paddle attachment when you bought it. You may have even used it without knowing what it was called. However, not all mixers come with attachments so if you need to purchase one separately, the paddle is a must-have. They will be an enormous help when you are preparing certain dishes or desserts; without it, you won’t be able to do nearly as much with your mixer.
What Are Paddle Attachments?
First of all, if you know what a flat beater is, you know what the paddle attachment is. They are essentially the same thing.
You’ll recognize the paddle by its distinctive shape, which is sort of similar to an arrowhead or a rounded triangle with two or three crossbars that divide the attachment into sections. This enables the beater to grab whatever is in the bowl and stir it effectively. These cross sections also offer greater support, which allows the attachment to handle ingredients that are tough or heavy.
The paddle is also called a flat beater because both sides are flat. The attachment twirls the ingredients and the gaps in the middle allow the mixture to go through the attachment itself to mix in with the other ingredients.
Some paddle attachments will have one edge that is wider than the other. This side acts as a scraper to get the sides of the bowl and it will give the attachment more leverage to push the ingredients.
The paddle, or flat beater, is arguably the most common stand mixer attachment, capable of handling a wide variety of applications. It’s a must-have item if you own a stand mixer, which is why it’s often included with your purchase.
Uses for Paddle Attachments
The paddle attachment is a standard mixing attachment because it’s so versatile and effective. This is a multipurpose mixing attachment that mixes everything from meat to cookie dough. You could also use it to do all of the following:
- Mix brownie, cookie, and cake batters
- Make frostings
- Mash potatoes
- Mix ingredients for meatloaf
- Pull pork
When you get into tougher mixtures such as bread dough or pizza dough, that’s when you’ll use the dough hook; however, the paddle is great for batters and dishes that need to be thoroughly and evenly mixed rather than kneaded.
While you can’t easily use something such as a whisk in place of the paddle, you can sometimes get away with using the paddle as a substitute for the whisk.
Some people use the paddle attachment to fluff up egg whites or mix egg yolks when they don’t have a whisk and while it’s definitely not ideal, it should get the job done. Otherwise, you’d have to resort to a hand mixer or a hand whisk.
How to Use the Paddle
The attachments for the stand mixer are generally easy to use. Your user manual will explain how to attach and detach each.
As far as using the paddle attachment, you want to start off slowly. Your mixer should have a few different speeds and you will usually begin with a slow speed so that you avoid splashing or knocking ingredients out of the pan. Once the ingredients begin to mix, you can start increasing the speed. You just want to watch the splashing. Wet and gooey ingredients may continue to splash even after the mixture has begun to form.
Once the mixture is complete, you can lift up the arm, remove the pull, and detach the paddle. Generally, you should rinse it off after each use. If you have a dishwasher-safe paddle, you can stick it in the dishwasher but if you have to hand wash, it will be easier the sooner you do it.
Is it Dishwasher-Safe?
Is the paddle attachment dishwasher-safe? It depends.
Sometimes paddle attachments are burnished or polished in a way that makes them not dishwasher-safe. They are just bare aluminum, lacking any coating that protects them in the dishwasher. Washing these paddles could ultimately damage the finish. Usually, with aluminum, there will be an odd dull film that forms across the metal, which could make it unusable.
Keep in mind that some bare metal mixing attachments are also dishwasher-safe so make sure that you read your user’s manual of your mixer or the packaging of your flat beater.
Otherwise, your paddle will be coated white, which means that it’s dishwasher-safe. Over time, this coating can start to chip away, revealing the aluminum underneath.
Paddle Attachments Come in Different Sizes
If you need to purchase a paddle attachment, remember that they will come in different sizes. You will want to look at the size of your mixing bowl and that will tell you which attachment to buy.
If you get an attachment that is too small, it’s not going to mix very well and a flex edge tool that is too small won’t be able to scrape the sides of the bowl. On the other hand, an attachment that is too large might knock the bowl around or even damage the machine.
When determining the attachment size, you need to know the quart size of your mixer. Is it a five-quart mixer? A seven-quart mixer? Once you know that, you’ll be able to purchase the right attachment and this goes for all other attachments.
What Is a Flex Edge Beater?
The flex edge beater is essentially a paddle attachment with a flexible edge that acts as a rubber spatula. It attaches to your stand mixer in the same way but it usually doesn’t come with the mixer when you buy it.
The flex edge will scrape the side of the bowl as it spins so that you don’t lose quantity because of ingredients sticking to the bowl. The flat edge will also be able to push more ingredients around, ensuring that they all get incorporated into the mixture.
The flex edge is great for mixtures that contain ingredients such as cream, butter, or honey, which are notorious for sticking and collecting on the sides of the bowl. The flex edge works great for mashed potatoes as well.
If your recipe specifically says to “scrape the sides of the bowl”, that would be a great time to use your flex edge. Sometimes recipes will specifically remind you to scrape the sides of the bowl because the ingredients are known to stick. If you have a flex edge tool, you can use this instead of the regular paddle and it should prevent ingredients from clinging to the sides. It will also make the bowl easier to clean once you are finished.
Other Attachments and Their Purposes
Aside from the flat beater, there are a few other attachments that you’ll use when mixing things with your stand mixer. Some of them include:
- Dough Hooks. Dough hooks are used almost exclusively for dough. They’ll knead bread doughs and other tough pastry doughs. Pasta doughs and pizza doughs will also require a dough hook.
- Balloon Whisk. The balloon whisk is a bit larger than the whisk you are used to, hence the word “balloon”. This large whisk is great for whipping egg whites and creaming other ingredients. Its size and shape incorporate a lot of air into the mix. However, it’s not strong enough to handle tough ingredients.
- Spiral Dough Hook. The spiral dough hook serves the same purpose as the other dough hook but it’s shaped differently. The other dough hook is shaped to resemble a “J” and pushes the dough against the sides of the bowl. The spiral hook presses the dough into the bottom of the bowl. Some mixers will come with the “J” hook while others might come with the spiral hook.
These are the two other essential attachments that, along with the paddle attachment, will probably come with your stand mixer when you buy it.
Stand mixers also have a ton of attachments that attach to the arm itself. These include peelers and slicers, meat grinders, food processors, juicers, and past makers, among other things. KitchenAid, for example, has over 80 attachments, add-ons, and accessories for their mixers so it all depends on what you want to cook.
When you are buying a stand mixer, you want to keep the attachments in mind. If you are planning on cooking a lot of cookies and pastries, make sure that your mixer comes with a paddle attachment. If you want to be able to make pasta or grind meat, make sure that the brand you buy has the right attachments available.