How to Knead Dough in a Stand Mixer

If you want to start baking bread at home but don’t have a bread machine, don’t worry.  You can bake beautiful loaves using just your stand mixer.  

loaf of sandwich bread that was kneaded by stand mixer

Before we get into kneading dough in your stand mixer, I want to go over the two major downsides of using a stand mixer vs a bread machine.  Making bread without a bread machine is certainly possible but I definitely prefer having one. 

 First, kneading in a stand mixer requires just a touch more babysitting.  You have to turn the machine on and off for the dough and the motor to rest, you have to check the consistency of the dough, and you have to remove it and then use a bowl cover during the rising process.  

Second, the average stand mixer (especially most home Kitchenaid brands) are not really designed to knead dough day after day.  It is too hard on their motor. Bread dough is much stiffer than something a cake batter or frosting, and you knead it for much, much longer than cookie dough.  So over time, kneading in the mixer will wear out the motor.

That being said, if you really dislike kneading by hand and only bake bread occasionally, it is a good option.  There are a few things to keep in mind for the best results.

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    First, mix the ingredients right in the mixer bowl

    When you add the ingredients, there is no need to be fussy about the order they go in.  Just put everything in the bowl, attach the dough hook, and set it on the lowest setting.  Let the machine mix for a minute or two, and then come back and see if it the dough is too dry or too wet.  

    bread flour, water, salt, and yeast in bowl of stand mixer

    It should have formed a ball and clear the sides of the bowl. If it hasn’t, and seems like a batter or is constantly sticking to the bowl, start the mixer again and add more flour.  Do this a teaspoon at a time.

    bread dough in stand mixer bowl that is too dry and not forming a ball
    too dry!

    If the dough is too dry, then there will be dry and crumbly bits and it will not have formed a ball.  Again, you start the mixer on low and add water a teaspoon at a time.

    bread dough on dough hook that is correct consistency, dough is clearing sides of bowl
    this is correct!

    How long to knead in the stand mixer

    Once the dough has the right level of moisture, it’s time to knead.  Keep in mind that we need to do this on the lowest setting and it will take a little bit of time.  Kneading bread dough is not like mixing up a cake. We’re going to be here for a while. Set a timer and stick to it so you don’t rush the process.

    So let the machine knead for five minutes on the lowest setting, then turn it off and give it a five minute rest.  You may notice that the top of the stand mixer feels very warm. This is normal, and a sign that the motor needs a break.   After the five minute rest, start it back up again for another five minutes on low. Now it has been kneading for a total of five minutes.  We can start checking the dough to see if it is ready.

    How to tell if dough is kneaded enough

    The best way to see if bread has been kneaded adequately is to check for “windows”.  These are areas in bread dough that are translucent when stretched out. To check for them, you remove a golf-ball sized piece of dough, and try to stretch it out.  If it immediately tears, the gluten is not developed and it needs more kneading time. If it stretches easily into a thin layer, this is a window, and it means that the dough has been kneaded enough.

    dough ball that is tearing after insufficient kneading
    not kneaded enough, tears easily

    (There are exceptions to this rule of course.  Very wet doughs, or doughs with a very long rise, will not always form windows and they don’t need to, because of their very long rise times.  This is the principle behind some artisan bread recipes and high hydration pizza dough.)

    dough ball that has formed translucent windows with windowsill in background
    it’s ready!

     You can’t necessarily expect the dough to be ready after ten minutes of kneading time.  Most of the time it will require a few more five minute sessions. Just make sure you are letting the mixer rest for five minutes, then turning it on low for another five minutes,  

    The dough rising stage

    Once you have kneaded enough that you see windows, it is time to move to the bulk dough rise stage.  This can be done in the same bowl that the stand mixer used. Just quickly wash it out and coat lightly with vegetable oil.  A cooking spray works best. Gently shape the dough into a ball and place into the clean bowl. You need to cover it either with a damp tea towel or with plastic wrap, and allow it to rise in a warm place until doubled in size.  This can also be done overnight in the fridge.

    dough ball in mixer bowl that is getting ready to rise
    before first rise

    From there, you simply proceed with the rest of the recipe such as shaping, the final rise, and baking.

    dough that has completed first rise in bread machine bowl, ready to shape and bake
    after first rise

    Step by step bread dough in a stand mixer

    1. Add the ingredients, mix them, and check to see if dough is too dry or too wet.
    2. Knead the dough on the lowest setting. Knead for five minutes, let the machine rest for five minutes, and continue this process until windows have formed in the dough.
    3. Shape dough into a ball and place in a clean bowl to rise until doubled in bulk.
    4. Proceed with the rest of the recipe to shape, proof, and bake.

    You don’t need a bread machine

    So don’t feel limited by the fact that you don’t have a bread machine.  You can bake bread consistently using your stand mxier as long as you keep in low and give the machine a break.  I made bread with only a stand mixer for years and it was fine.

    That being said, a bread machine is not expensive and makes the process so simple.  I never recommend baking in the machine, so a very basic model is fine. It is completely worth it just for kneading and rising.  They are also readily available at yard sales and thrift shops. 

    Don’t ever let equipment stop you from something you want to do!  There is almost always a workaround. So pull out the stand mixer and get to work! It’s easy!

    Need more help getting your supplies together?

    Check out my baking resources page, with my favorite bread baking tools.

    And learn why instant yeast is best for baking bread at home.

    If you are just getting started, try these recipes

    And here is a further in depth look at baking yeast breads.


    Click here to subscribe By on September 10th, 2019

    12 thoughts on “How to Knead Dough in a Stand Mixer”

    1. i have found it faster if i take a store bought bread and soak it in water then when soggy put it in the mixer to blend and it forms like a dough so then i remove it and pour it into a form and bake in the oven and so thereby in essence i have made bread but avoided the hassle of making the dough from scratch measuring flour wateer etc since i used a bread that was already professionally made and they already put whatever ingredients were necessary i don’t have to go to the trouble as they say work smart not hard

      Reply
    2. This is very interesting. I have a KitchenAid. In their instructions for Kneading it states, “Kneading in a mixer for 2 minutes is very efficient and is equivalent to kneading 10-12 minutes by hand.
      It will be necessary to adjust the kneading times in your favorite recipes, to avoid over kneading.” I have not necessarily held to 2 minutes, but found much less time has worked well for most bread recipes.

      Reply
      • I agree, these times are way off, or they are meant for much lower powered mixers. Kneeding for 10+ minutes in a kitchenaid will lead to a crust like a motorcycle helmet and a dry, rubbery texture underneath.

        Reply
    3. Thank you. I wanted to try a brioche type of bread and was stressing out because if the long kneading time. My mixer can’t handle it. Never thought uh can just ‘stop and go’ every 5 mins!

      Reply
    4. I sent you an email, but just in case…

      I have a situation… when I’ve kneaded dough in my mixer, this has happened to me: first the dough forms a ball (like after one or two minutes), and then it starts to stick to the bowl and look wetter. What I’ve done up to now is take it out of the bowl and knead by hand adding more flour. The hand kneading I do is normally no higher than 10 minutes. So far, I haven’t made a bread loaf I have loved; they have turned out dense. I thought that the dough looking wet again after quickly forming a ball meant I was overworking it. After reading your article, I see that’s not the case. Could it be my bread loaves are turning dense because I didn’t knead enough, and the dough just needed a little more flour to form a ball in the mixer? The window thingy does help, but I’ve been afraid to knead the dough in the mixer because of what happened before. Can you give me words of advice, or tell me why the dough looks wet after forming a ball after 2 minutes? I’d really appreciate it.

      Reply
        • I have had the same problem. Starts to form a ball then it seems to turn moist and sticky again after a little while. Thats when I have added flour but know that it’s not going to be as light. Or my dough rolls up on the hook and have to stop it and scrape off hook and mix again. Sure would like for you to share that email with the test of us or repeat your thoughts here.

      • I’m having the same problem… the dough clings to the hook then seems to get very loose and wet and pools at the bottom of the mixing bowl. I add a TBSP of flour and it clings to the hook again but then it loosens up again and the dough pools at the bottom of the mixer. I add flour and it just keeps repeating. I don’t know if I’m over mixing. After adding flour 3 times, I generally stop and knead by hand. The baked bread comes out ok but I don’t know why this happens. Thanks for any suggestions!

        Reply
      • My dough does the exact same thing. Pulls away from the edges after 2-3 mins. Then sticks to the sides if I continue to keep kneading. What should I do?

        Reply

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