An immersion blender can be a handy tool to have on hand, though not everyone has one tucked away in their kitchen cabinet. If yours is still on your wishlist, don’t worry, as there are plenty of immersion blender substitutes that work just as well. They can be as high-tech as a full-size countertop blender or as simple as a regular fork. Depending on what you’re blending, the right alternative may be closer than you think.
What are Immersion Blenders?
If you’re used to using a regular countertop blender, an immersion blender might seem a little strange. As opposed to using a glass or plastic blending jar to contain liquid, an immersion hand blender brings the blending to the food, immersing itself in ingredients contained in a pot, pan, or bowl. They’re simple to use by just inserting the blade into your ingredients and holding down the button.
It’s a great option to have on hand if you want to blend food while it’s still hot or want to blend large quantities of food that wouldn’t fit in most blender jars. It’s also useful if you want to partially blend food, as it lets you localize the blade to a particular area. Best of all, immersion blenders are fast to use and easy to clean. Many include blending rods that can be attached when needed and detached for cleaning.
However, as useful as they are, they’re better suited to some tasks than others. One factor to keep in mind when using an immersion blender is that they aren’t great at getting perfectly smooth liquids, especially in large batches. That means they aren’t your best choice when making large amounts of smoothies. One other tip to remember is that immersion blenders can quickly cause a huge mess if you’re not careful. Make sure their blades are fully submerged before turning them on.
The Best Immersion Blender Substitutes
Depending on what type of blending project you have in mind, some of these substitutes might be more useful than others. Take a close look at each of them to find out which best suits your needs – it may already been in your kitchen!
While many people use food processors and blenders interchangeably, they are actually created for two different purposes. Generally, blenders are more well-suited to, well, blending. They excel at breaking down liquid ingredients into smooth purees that can be drunk or slurped. Food processors, on the other hand, are made for slicing, grating, and dicing dry or semi-dry ingredients.
Of course, there’s plenty of overlap between the two, and in many cases, you can swap out one for the other. If you need an immersion blender to puree roast vegetables into a soup, a food processor can get you delicious results. The finished product may not be as smooth as it would be with a countertop blender, but then again, an immersion blender wouldn’t either.
A food processor can be a good immersion blender alternative for other chunky recipes like pesto, tomato sauce, or hummus. You probably shouldn’t use it for super-smooth blends like baby food or smoothies, or if you are blending small quantities.
If you’re looking for a good food processor to get started with, try this one by Cuisinart.
Full-Size Countertop Blender
If you want your finished product to have a silky-smooth texture and even consistency, the only way to go is a full-size countertop blender. The reason all comes down to science. Rather than simply cut through ingredients with a fast-spinning blade, quality blenders create thousands of small air pockets which tear apart your food from the inside out. It’s the reason why it’s hard to make authentic smoothies in any other appliance.
This means your countertop blender is a good choice for making purees and smoothies. However, it’s important to remember that most blenders aren’t made to handle hot ingredients, as they can break your blending jar and overheat your motor. As long as it’s cool enough to sip, you should be fine.
There are tons of quality blenders available, but one especially versatile option is the Ninja BL660. With a 72 oz pitcher and six separate blades, it delivers consistently smooth results in huge batches.
While a larger countertop blender is a good choice for larger batches of food, it can be a bit cumbersome if you’re working on a smaller project. One of the less-appreciated uses of an immersion blender is to create small batches of shakes or smoothies right in your cup. If you don’t have an immersion blender, a smaller personal blender can be another convenient option.
Personal blenders are a bit different from their larger, more powerful cousins. Sometimes called bullet blenders, they’re designed to create single-cup batches of shakes, smoothies, or frozen drinks at a time. They work just as well, but usually don’t make more than 24 ounces at a time.
If you’ve never used a personal blender before, try this NutriBullet blender. It can do everything a larger blender does but is much easier to handle and clean. Just make sure you’re aware of its 24 oz capacity before you buy.
If you have a stand mixer, you probably use it most commonly for cake or brownie batter. Its powerful motor and large capacity allow it to excel at mixing larger batches of dry and wet ingredients at various speeds. This makes it a good choice as an immersion blender substitute if your goal is to mix together pre-blended juices or incorporate ingredients together.
What a stand mixer doesn’t do particularly well is break down ingredients. If you pour in a pint of blueberries and walk away for five minutes, what you’ll end up with is a pint of mushy blueberries. Since mixers don’t have blades, they can’t break down skin, seeds, and rinds in the way a blender can.
If you’re looking for a reliable stand mixer at an affordable price, try this one by Aucma. It has six speeds and a 660-watt motor, letting you handle any batter or dough you need.
Electric Hand Whisk
Think of an electric hand whisk as the handheld version of a stand mixer, just like an immersion blender is to a countertop blender. Like a stand mixer, it does a good job of mixing ingredients until they are thoroughly combined, but not so good at breaking up food into smaller pieces. Even at high speeds, an electric hand whisk will struggle to break apart a stewed tomato.
These qualities make it a good alternative for an immersion blender when combining liquid ingredients in a hot soup, such as cream or stock, to ensure a smooth mixture. A hand mixer can also be a good choice for mixed drinks, as long as you don’t expect it to crush ice.
Many hand whisks today have a similar appearance as immersion blenders. This one by Vomelon has a sleek, lightweight design that’s great for whipped cream, beating eggs, and mixing salad dressings.
Chopper bowls come in a few different varieties, but basically, they’re hand-powered food processors designed to break down vegetables. Their advantage is that they’re more compact, quiet, inexpensive, and easy to use. This allows them to be a good alternative for an immersion blender when working with dry ingredients you want to break down into bigger pieces.
However, chopper bowls do have their limitations. The main one is that they don’t have the power to blend food as smooth as a blender will. They also take a bit longer to get the job done, as well as more effort.
Still, they are a handy kitchen gadget to keep around. Chef’n has a quality one that looks and works just like a mini food processor.
A Fork (The Old-Fashioned Method)
For some kitchen tasks, you don’t need a high-end appliance to get the job done. Something as simple as a dinner fork can be enough. Of course, it’s not going to be the best option for blending large amounts of ingredients at once, though it might be exactly what you need for a bit of mashing. It’s similar to an immersion blender is its ability to target one area of your bowl or pan at once. This makes it great for refried beans or chunky mashed potatoes when you want to leave whole pieces unbroken.
With a quick hand, a fork can also whisk eggs, whip cream, and blend mixed drinks. While each takes a bit of technique to get right, with some practice you can be a regular kitchen MacGyver.
Finding the Right Solution
An immersion blender can be a great tool to have on hand, though there are always plenty of good immersion blender substitutes to use in a pinch. Choosing the right option comes down to what kind of recipe you have in mind.
For liquid ingredients that need a smooth, even consistency, a countertop blender or personal blender can be good options to consider. Depending on how large your project is, one may be better than the other. If you want a slightly coarser blend, try a food processor instead.
If your goal is to mix rather than blend, try your stand mixer or electric hand whisk. The hand whisk can be especially useful, as it can be used directly in a hot dish in much the same way an immersion blender can.
Finally, for coarse or partial chops, a chopper bowl or regular fork are the way to go.