Looking for a stand mixer that is capable of making bread and pizza dough without busting your budget?
Live in an apartment and have a limited amount of space, and require a product that performs multiple functions (with additional attachments)?
If so, one of the Cuisinsart SM-55/SM-55BC/SM-55BK models may be right for you.
As we alluded to in Foodal’s 2015 Stand Mixer Guide, this machine will suit the needs of the average household and allow you to bake the breads and homemade pizzas that you’ve dreamed of, without emptying your wallet of all of its cash.
At a reasonable price and with 800 (claimed) watts and a 5 1/2-quart capacity bowl, 12 speeds, a timer, and soft start, this model is a great buy. You will not find the same level of features in a comparable machine.
Although we hate to turn this in into a KitchenAid vs. Cuisinart Stand Mixer contest, comparisons will undeniably be made by many customers and other reviewers. As Cusinart’s chief rival, KitchenAid has held market share in this appliance category for decades, and Cuisinart is a relative newcomer to producing these devices.
Power and Speeds
Cuisinart rates the SM-55 at 800 watts. As Foodal’s Guide to Stand Mixers alluded to, this wattage rating really doesn’t tell you squat, as manufacturers often use this measurement as a marketing tool.
This machine has the ability to easily mix up enough fairly thick dough for two bread pans without flinching, and can easily make a double batch of oatmeal cookies. The machine also performs well with thicker pizza dough (enough for two 14” pizzas).
Although the Cuisinart SM-55/SM-55BC/SM-55BK models are lighter in weight than others in this class, we found that the machine stays put without much vibration or noise (probably one of the benefits of the plastic/nylon gears). But more importantly, the mixer does not “walk” down the countertop.
Thetwelve speeds are more than adequate (we prefer models with at least six), and this allows you to dial in the exact speed you need to match the thickness and consistency of your ingredients.
This machine also has more slow speed options than any other approaching this price range.
No Bowl Scraping, Please!
Moreover, the planetary action works well with this device, and the ingredients are mixed very thoroughly with no bowl scraping required. We’ve noticed that toptenreview.com claims this machine has no planetary action, which is patently false (that’s not the only bad bit of data we’ve seen on that site).
Unlike models from other manufacturers, the bowls supplied with the SM-55 line are very easy to remove. In KitchenAid’s tilt models, they are often very difficult to detach – especially after mixing bread dough.
On SM-55, simply tilt the head back and twist the bowl to lock or unlock. Easy peasy.
Cuisinart’s 5-quart bowls are also made of a very high quality stainless steel with handles. We love handles as they make removal, transport, and pouring so much easier, and this is a feature that you don’t always find on lower-priced stand mixers.
We also like the fact this is a tilt-head model that allows easy access to the bowl and easy removal of the supplied whisk, dough hook, beater, and other attachments.
We found that the tilt-back head locked the mixer in the up position well, although we did note one reviewer who said hers had broken and felt that the locking mechanism was cheaply made.
We did, however, notice some lateral side-to-side movement that you don’t find in any of the KitchenAid models.
We liked that this model shipped with a whisk as well as a paddle and hook.
The dough hook works fairly well, and although there is some climbing of the hook by the dough, it’s less than that found on some comparable models due to the slimmer and deeper bowl. If you keep your quantities in moderation, this shouldn’t be a problem.
Compact and Lightweight
The fact that this appliance is lighter in weight than its peers makes it easy to move around, and its smaller dimensions allow it to fit much more earily under cabinets. It can even tilt under many of them – the mixer is 12 ½ inches tall, whereas standard cabinet height about the counters (at least in the US) is 18 inches.
Its 15 ½-inch depth also ensures that the Cusinart SM-55/SM-55BC/SM-55BK will not protrude onto your workspace if left on your counter or under your cabinets for storage as well as use.
This also means the mixer easily fits inside of the cabinets, should you choose to store it.
Slow Start and Splash Guard Keeps Your Ingredients Intact
The Cuisinart also features a slow start operation that allows the mixer to slowly spin up when you’ve selected a higher speed, keeping the ingredients in the bowl.
The SM-55/SM-55BC/SM-55BK models also have several low speed functions not found on other mixers in this price range. The fold mode enables you to operate the machine in two different ways, handling your dough delicately and assisting you in managing the gluten formation in your baked goods.
The fold function includes a pulse mode that combines the ingredients for a more crumbly or flaky crust, and a continuous mode to blend those chewy yeast and pizza doughs.
To keep all of your ingredients in the bowl, a one-piece splash guard is also included.
Unlike some of its competitors (looking at you KitchenAid), the SM-55’s splash guard is well designed, it is not a pain to use, and it simply works. It forms a fairly tight seal and keeps flour and powdered sugar where it is supposed to be – in the bowl, not all over the counter and the rest of your appliances.
This makes cleanup a snap!
Timer Allows You to Multitask
The Cuisinart SM-55/SM-55BC/SM-55BK models include a 15 minute timer function, which means you can now work on other prep and chores while the machine is operating! This is very nice to have.
Got a delicate sauce simmering on the stove? No problem – let the mixer do its thing while you tend to your sauce, and there’s no need to worry about over-kneading your dough.
While we did not personally test this function, other reviewers found that the overload shut-off control worked as advertised.
This feature shuts the machine off if it becomes overloaded, before this has a chance to destroy the gears or motor.
This a better feature, in our opinion, than the nylon sacrificial worm gear found in KitchenAid’s tilt head mixers, such as the Artisan model (note that the bowl lift models such as the Professional 600 series do have an overload shut-off instead of the sacrificial gear).
These include a citrus juicer, pasta maker, blender, food processor, and meat grinder. While the number of attachments are not as numerous as those available from KitchenAid, we find them all to be of very high quality. Cuisinart does cover the basics, and provides all you need for standard cooking tasks.
Click here to view all of the attachments that are available.
Like the KitchenAid, the SM-55 provides several different ports that these attachments can hook into. The power outlets on the top and rear of the machine operate the food processor and blender, while the front port on the top operates the citrus juicer.
The meat grinder and pasta maker attach to a concealed port on the front of the mixer head.
The outside is a nice metal composite, available in one of three color choices.
Although a bit thinner than that found on its rivals, the SM-55’s exterior is pleasing to the eye and serviceable for the job it needs to do. Some what suspiciously, it looks quite a bit like a Kenwood Mixer. We suspect that these are identical (or nearly identical) machines made in the same Chinese factory.
The Cuisinart does have a much better bowl design that is deeper with convenient handles, and the base Kenwood does not have the slew of slow start and timing functions that the Cuisinart has (although upgraded Kenwoods are available, albeit uncommon, in the US).
Although this machine has a three-year warranty (with five years on the motor), consumer reviews on Amazon indicate that any time something breaks, you must box up the entire machine and send it to Cuisinart on your own dime for any repair or service that may be required. And that it takes up to six weeks to fix.
Parts are not available for separate purchase if you want to repair it yourself outside of warranty, or have your local guy work on it.
Although paying for shipping is pretty standard throughout the small appliance industry, the lack of spare parts is disconcerting. This is NOT the case with KitchenAid, as you are easily able to find any part you need, and they also pick up shipping both ways while under warranty – of course, thjis is only a year on most models.
With the lack of available spare parts, it seems like the SM-55 may be a “use until it quits” machine, and then ship it off to the landfill – at Foodal, we prefer an appliance that can be repaired and maintained instead of ones that are simply thrown out with the rubbage as they age.
This Cuisinart Stand Mixer is available in three different colors: the standard SM-55 which is white, the SM-55CR which has a brushed chrome finish, and the SM-55BK which is the black version.
The outside of all three models are made of a light gauge metal composite material – this gives it a less robust appearance than that of its chief rival, the KitchenAid.
Want to see the machine in action? Take a look at Cuisinart’s official video.
Foodal’s Ratings of the Cuisinart SM-55
Cuisinart SM-55 5-1/2-Quart 12-Speed
- Available Accessories
- Build Quality
- Warranty/Parts Availability
- Overall Value
Power - we found that the actual power to be higher than some of same of other competitors at this price point. Don't be fooled by manufacturers' gimmicks with using wattage figures to describe how much energy is available at the mixer head. Wattage figures can only be used to compare models made by the same company (and sometime that doesn't even hold true). However, we found the Cuisinart to chew through everything we through at it to include tough bread dough.
Available Accessories - Cuisinart makes (or has made for them) all the basic accessories to use with the power ports that one really needs - meat grinder, food processor, blender, etc.
Performance - we found the performance to be above average with this model; it's thoughtfully designed bowl functions very well and keeps the ingredients in the bowl. The shield was very well designed, the low speed options were great, and the timer was very useful - all features NOT found on other machines at this price level.
Build Quality - The construction of this machine is quite good with mostly metal parts and although we weren't impressed by the looks (it's been compared to a sewing machine), it's functionality won us over. And the fact that it is a conveniet tilting style machine rather than a cumbersome bowl lift model helped us see past the utilitiarian appearance.
Warranty - 3 years. What more could you ask for?
Value - Our value rating is a based on looking holistically at all the above criteria and comparing it to the cost of this machine. At it's price point, the Cuisinart SM-55/SM-55BC/SM-55BK Stand Mixers offer a really great set of features and if we required a decent machine cable of light to medium tasks (and the occasional bread dough batch), this one would be towards the top of our lists.
We’ve found the Cuisinart SM-55/SM-55BC/SM-55BK Stand Mixer line to be a solid option for those who are looking to buy an appliance that is capable of making 1 to 2 loves worth of bread dough, or mixing up a reasonable amount of cookie batter.
If you are serious about making lots of bread on weekly basis, we’d also consider taking a hard looks at the KitchenAid 600 Series, or even the quite pricey but very robust Ankarsrum Original/Electrolux Assistent.
Click here to read more stand mixer reviews on Foodal.