There are times when you want a little more control over your blend, and a countertop blender isn’t the ideal choice. Mixing hot liquids, beating eggs, whipping cream or cake batter are all better handled by different kitchen appliances. But when choosing between a hand mixer vs immersion blender, what’s the better choice?
The answer depends entirely on what you’re cooking and how you want it to turn out. To start, it might help to learn a little more about each of these handheld appliances, how they work, and how they’re used. Read on to master each of these important kitchen tools.
What is a Hand Mixer?
A hand mixer is halfway between an ordinary kitchen whisk and a bulky stand mixer. It uses an electric motor to spin an attachment at high speeds, letting you take the work out of certain blending tasks.
Often, hand mixers come with a variety of different attachments, including a whisk, cake batter mixer, dough hook, and even an immersion blender attachment. This makes them super versatile and ready to take on any task.
- Highly versatile
- Relatively inexpensive
- Lightweight and easy to use
- Less power
- Doesn’t blend as smoothly
What is an Immersion Blender?
Also called a hand blender or stick blender, immersion blenders take the basic design of a regular countertop blender and repackage it into a handheld device. This allows you to work with hot ingredients while they’re still in the pan or get a little extra control when blending coarse mixtures.
While some immersion blender models do have extra attachments, they are generally a little less versatile than hand mixers. Although for what they lack in multitasking, they make up for in power.
Want to get all the power and functionality of an immersion blender but don’t have one on hand? Try one of these substitutes.
- Delivers more power
- Able to achieve smoother blends
- Perfect for blending hot ingredients
- Less versatile
Comparing a Hand Mixer vs Immersion Blender
Now that you have a better idea of what these appliances are and how they work, learn a little bit more about their differences and similarities. This will help you pick the right tool for the job when it comes time to prepare your next meal.
If you aren’t familiar with either of these appliances, a quick look should be enough to tell them apart. A hand mixer consists of a small motor section with a handle attached, connected directly to a whisk attachment. There are different styles of design, but usually, the handle is perpendicular to the mixing attachments.
Immersion blender designs are usually more elongated, with a wand-like shaft that ends in a blender blade. The controls are directly on the handle, which is usually aligned with the attachment, giving a different type of hold than a hand mixer.
In both cases, the handles are usually made of a mixture of plastic and textured rubber, while the attachments are made of stainless steel. Stay away from plastic attachments as they tend to wear down more quickly. It’s also good to be aware that immersion blenders include sharp blades, while hand mixers are blade-less.
Each of these handheld appliances has a wide range of different uses, though the hand mixer has a few more as it usually includes more attachments. The standard whisk attachment is ideal for beating eggs, whipping cream, or creaming butter. On low speeds, it can also be a good way to mix wet or dry ingredients, as long as you aren’t looking for a smooth, puree consistency. Different hand mixer models may have attachments for bread dough, cake batter, liquid blends, and more.
An immersion blender, on the other hand, is specially designed to handle wet ingredients. In fact, it needs to be fully immersed in avoiding splattering your food all over your kitchen walls. Though when used properly, it is the ideal way to make purees, vegetable soups, mashed potatoes, and sauces of all kinds. It can even be used in some cases to mince vegetables or grind spices.
Power and Performance
Maybe the biggest difference between an immersion blender and a hand mixer is in their power. Immersion blenders have, on average, more wattage than hand mixers, ranging from around 500 to 800 watts compared to hand mixers’ 200 to 500 watts. This plays a large role in the kinds of tasks they can be used for.
Extra power means immersion blenders are better able to chew through tough ingredients like ice, spices, and thick blends like hummus and nut butter. It also means you get smoother results in less time. While it might not make much of a difference when beating eggs, some low-end hand mixers may struggle with thick mixes like cookie dough.
How They Work
Aside from all the points listed above, there is one crucial difference that separates these two devices. What you may not know about blenders is that they don’t break apart food by simply cutting through it. They actually create a vortex that sucks food toward it, allowing fluids to circulate evenly. This is especially important in countertop blenders but also plays a role when using immersion blenders, allowing you to insert the attachment into a tall glass or pitcher and create the same effect.
Mixers, on the other hand, don’t create a vortex but simply mix food as you would expect. Though this can be advantageous when you’re not trying to make a smooth mixture, such as with soups.
Cleaning and Maintenance
One challenging aspect of both of these kitchen gadgets is that they require thorough cleaning to function properly. Both of them have a variety of attachments, all full of nooks and crannies that get caked with food. However, if you stick with stainless steel attachments, you can at least detach them and clean them in the dishwasher.
Immersion blenders are slightly easier to care for, as their high power allows you to clean them by simply running them in a jar of water. This takes much of the hassle out of the cleaning process, whereas hand mixer attachments often have to be washed by hand.
Another factor to keep in mind is that blender blades dull over time. This means you’ll either need to replace or sharpen them regularly.
Ease of Use
Both of these appliances can be mastered with just a few uses, though the hand mixer is generally considered a bit more user-friendly. All it takes is a flip of the switch, and your ingredients will be mixed thoroughly. While there is some chance of splatter, it’s usually pretty easy to manage.
Immersion blenders won’t give you much more trouble, though there are a few tips to keep in mind before using one. First, make sure its tip is always completely submerged in liquid, or else risk making a big mess in a hurry. The high power of the blender will splatter ingredients much faster and farther than your average mixer. Second, immersion blenders create suction, which will draw your blade to the bottom of your pitcher or pan if you’re not careful. You need to hold it steady to keep the blade in the center of your blending vessel.
When compared to their full-size counterparts–stand mixers or countertop blenders–these two handheld devices are much more affordable. Generally, you can find a decent model for around $50 in either case, though hand mixers tend to be a little cheaper.
Immersion blenders’ higher price is thanks mostly to their reliance on power. They need a stronger motor to work properly, making for a higher price. You may find immersion blenders for sale under $25, though they’re not recommended.
Making the Most Out of your Hand Mixer and Immersion Blender
As you can see, each of these appliances is an indispensable part of any kitchen. While you may get more use out of one over the other, they each have their own unique niche in cooking. Hand mixers are the perfect multitaskers that can perform a wide range of tasks like beating eggs, whipping cream, and mixing soup. On the other hand, immersion blenders deliver a heavy dose of power for getting smooth purees and crushed ice.
If you’re looking for a quality hand mixer, there are plenty of good options to choose from. Check out some of the options below!
|Mueller Hand Mixer
|Hamilton Beach Professional Hand Mixer
|KitchenAid Immersion Blender
|Mueller Smart Stick