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Hand Mixer vs. Immersion Blender: What’s the Difference and Which is Best?

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Are you looking to upgrade your kitchen toolbox? If so, then picking up a hand mixer or immersion blender is probably a great idea. But what are the differences between these two devices, and which one is right for you?

There are many types of blenders. Read on for a deep dive into the world of handheld mixing tools as we decide which comes out on top: hand mixer vs. immersion blender.

hand mixer vs immersion blender

Who Are Hand Mixers and Immersion Blenders Best for?

Although both these devices serve similar purposes, each has its own specific uses. By understanding who hand mixers and immersion blenders are designed for, you can choose the one that’s going to best fit into your lifestyle.

A hand mixer is perfect for…

  • Anyone who needs a versatile mixing device – Hand mixers are a baker’s best friend and are ideal for crafting beautiful cake batter, whipping cream, or even kneading dough.
  • Making sauces and dips – Crafting homemade mayonnaise and salad dressing has never been more straightforward than with a hand mixer by your side. You can even use the device to create delicious mashed potatoes.
  • Those looking for a stand mixer alternative – Hand mixers are also a great option for anyone who is considering investing in a stand mixer, but doesn’t think they’ll use it enough to justify the expense.

An immersion blender is perfect for…

  • Anyone who wants to craft fantastic soups, sauces, and smoothies – An immersion blender is a great example of a kitchen tool that is built around ease-of-use and convenience – you can have solid foods liquified in a matter of seconds.
  • An easy-to-use solution – This is much more practical than having to transfer solid foods over to a standing blender before mixing.
  • When you’re dealing with small batches of food – This is because an immersion blender motor is not particularly powerful and can struggle with hard foods or large volumes of ingredients.

Quick Summary: What’s the Difference Between a Hand Mixer and Immersion Blender?

Hand mixers are great for:

  • Mixing ingredients for baking
  • Kneading dough (by using dough hooks in place of the beaters)
  • Mashing potatoes

Immersion blenders perform best when:

  • Making baby food
  • Blending soups and sauces
  • Making smoothies

Hand mixers and immersion blenders have physical differences too. An immersion blender is a long, slim device that has rotating blades fixed to the end of the handle. A hand mixer has a more boxy shape and uses spinning beaters to mix ingredients.


What is a Hand Mixer?

A hand mixer is a handheld mixing device with variable speed settings. Hand mixers come complete with two removable beaters that slot into the underside of the device. When the mixer is turned on, the beaters rotate in opposite directions to one another.

Although hand mixers are handheld, they are typically plugged into the wall via a power cord. The main body of the mixer contains a powerful motor that drives the beaters at the desired speed.

Hand mixers have an impressive range of uses, from mixing and blending to whipping and beating. For this reason, they are a super versatile addition to any kitchen. Whether you’re a baker or a chef, you’re bound to find plenty of uses for a hand mixer.

woman mixing cream with a hand mixer

Pros

  • Versatile – the powerful motor of a hand mixer means that it can quickly adapt to different cooking situations.
  • Affordable – hand mixers have been around for decades and continue to get cheaper all the time.
  • Relatively safe – revolving beaters are less likely to cause serious injury than sharp blades.

Cons

  • Not great for blending hard foods – things like chocolate chips will typically slip between gaps in the beaters rather than being broken down
  • Old-fashioned design – a hand mixer’s fixed cable can get in the way
  • Difficult to clean – hand mixers have multiple components that need to be cleaned after each use

The Best Hand Mixer – Cuisinart HM-3 Power Advantage 3-Speed Hand Mixer

The HM-3 is Cuisinart’s entry-level hand mixer, but it certainly doesn’t feel like it. The main body of the device is constructed from a thick, durable plastic that can stand up to the stresses of the kitchen. This is paired with two metal beaters that slot into the underside.

This hand mixer features three different speed settings to cycle through. When you first start mixing with the HM-3, the device engages its “SmoothSmart” technology to gently bring the beaters up to speed and prevent any splattering out of the bowl.

This Cuisinart hand mixer gives you 200 watts of power to work with, which is more than enough for making whipped cream or rustling up a cake batter. In short, the HM-3 Power Advantage is simple but extremely effective.


What is an Immersion Blender?

An immersion blender (sometimes known as a stick blender) is a device designed to replicate the functions of a countertop blender in a handheld form. An immersion blender is effectively a set of rotating blades that are attached to the end of a long handle.

To use an immersion hand blender, all you have to do is insert it into your ingredients and activate the power. The unique housing around the blades funnels food down towards the blades, resulting in a smooth consistency.

Although a handheld immersion blender can basically do the same things as a countertop blender, it can be more practical in many cases. For example, when making soup, you can put the device straight into your cooking pan and blend the solid foods with ease. An immersion blender is one of our top blenders for being the best blenders to puree food.

For this reason, even those who already own a countertop blender appreciate the addition of an immersion blender to their toolbox.

person blends fruit using an immersion blender

Pros

  • Easy to use – incredibly straightforward blending experience.
  • Extremely practical – being able to blend right in cooking pots is very useful.
  • Straightforward to clean – the blade assembly is the only part of an immersion blender that needs cleaning.

Cons

  • Not good with hard or frozen foods – the low-power immersion blender blades struggle to cut through hard ingredients.
  • Not very useful for baking – an immersion blender has more limited uses than a hand mixer.

The Best Immersion Blender – Vitamix Immersion Blender Stainless Steel 18 inches

Vitamix’s immersion blender is a truly brilliant product that we have no hesitation in recommending to anyone. Vitamix is another brand that is known for quality and produces a range of excellent kitchen products.

The useful LED display on the top of the device lets you know what speed setting you’re operating at. You can then cycle through the speeds using the buttons on the front of the ergonomic handle.

The final thing we should mention is the blender’s “Easy Twist” lock assembly. Hand blenders are known to be easy to use and clean, but Vitamix has taken it to the next level. You can pop the blades off the handle with a simple twist and throw them into the dishwasher for easy cleaning.


Hand Mixer vs. Immersion Blender: The Main Differences

It’s clear that hand mixers and immersion blenders serve different purposes, but what actually are the main differences between them? As a brief overview, hand mixers are generally useful in more cooking situations but can be more difficult to use than immersion blenders.

One of the great things about these tools is that they are much quieter than standard blenders. If you’re dealing with noise and want to figure out how to make your blender quieter, you might just be better off with an immersion blender or hand mixer.

Ultimately, it’s all about working out what you need from your mixing device and choosing the one that matches up the best. Let’s take a closer look at the main differences between hand mixers and immersion blenders to help you do this:

hand mixer blade vs immersion blender blade

Versatility

When it comes to choosing between a hand mixer or an immersion blender, versatility is going to be one of the biggest decision-makers. In short, hand mixers are much more versatile and have a wider range of uses than immersion blenders.

This is because a hand mixer is able to mix and semi-blend in different situations. As the name suggests, an immersion blender is primarily designed for blending ingredients together. With that said, many modern immersion blenders do come with attachments for mixing, but their performance is usually not as efficient as a hand mixer.

We should point out that versatility in itself is not a reason to choose one of these devices over the other. If you know that you only want to use your tool to make sauces and soups, then you should definitely be looking at an immersion blender, for example.

Size

Since a hand mixer’s beaters rotate at quite a slow rate, they’re not able to deal with large quantities of ingredients at a time. This can be frustrating if you’re trying to make something like baby food in a large batch.

On the other hand, immersion blenders are very powerful and don’t really have a capacity limit. You can stick your blender straight into a large bowl and the blades will cut through the ingredients with ease.

Safety

Hand mixers and immersion blenders both have rotating blades that can do some serious damage if you’re not careful.

Immersion blenders protect the user by housing the blades inside a plastic shield. This also serves a secondary purpose of funneling ingredients into the blades. You should never put your hands underneath an immersion blender, especially if the device is plugged in.

Hand mixers have open blades, but they’re not quite as sharp or fast as the cutting edges of a blender. Of course, it’s still absolutely essential to keep your fingers well away from hand mixers during operation.

Hand mixers typically have a safety function that ensures the blades are locked into place before they can start rotating. This prevents them from flying off the device unexpectedly.

Cleaning

One of the biggest differences between hand mixers and immersion blenders is how easy they are to clean. For many people, ease of cleaning is one of the main factors they consider when choosing their kitchen tools.

In this category, immersion blenders definitely come out on top. The blade housing is the only part of the blender that requires cleaning, which can be removed from the device with ease. In most cases, you can put the blades straight into the dishwasher for cleaning.

Hand mixers are a little more difficult to maintain. They’re made up of multiple parts that need cleaning after every use. Hand mixers definitely are not a pain to look after, but they are more time-consuming than immersion blenders. For the most devices, both the hand mixer blades and immersion blender blade can be put in the dishwasher.

Ease of Use

When it comes to ease of use, both devices are relatively simple and straightforward. We’d say that immersion blenders are easier to use since all you have to do is press down, hit the button, and repeat. They also usually have fewer speed settings than a hand mixer.

Although the actual process of using an immersion blender is easier, you can generally get more effective results when you know what you’re doing with a hand mixer. Because hand mixers have more power, they will blend things faster than an immersion blender. Hand mixers allow for more control and can be used in more situations.

Cost

Immersion blenders and hand mixers are both available at a range of price points. You can get a budget version of either for around $2o, with most standard devices sitting around the $50 mark.

There is a slight difference in cost at the higher end of the spectrum, though. Premium hand mixers typically won’t stretch past $100, whereas flagship immersion blenders can reach around $150.


FAQ

What should you not use an immersion blender for?

Immersion blenders don’t pack the same power as a countertop blender, so they shouldn’t be regularly used for hard, frozen ingredients. You can definitely get away with blending frozen fruit once in a while, but be aware that it will be putting extra strain on the device’s motor.

Can you make a smoothie with a hand mixer?

Making a smoothie with a hand mixer is difficult, but an immersion blender might work better if the fruit is half frozen. A real blender is your best option if you’re trying to make a smoothie. If you’re making a smoothie with your immersion blender, you should try using fresh fruit wherever possible to avoid damaging your blender with ingredients that are too hard.

What is the best hand mixer for mashed potatoes?

If you’re going to be using your mixer to make mashed potatoes, then you need to look for one that comes with reinforced helix beaters. Using regular beaters for potatoes is likely to put too much stress on your handheld device and could break it.

Can you use an immersion blender for milkshakes?

Absolutely. Using an immersion blender is one of the easiest ways to produce delicious milkshakes quickly. Be sure to blend your ingredients in short bursts when making a milkshake to get your desired consistency.


Final Verdict

We hope this article has given you a better understanding of the differences between a hand mixer vs. immersion blender and has helped you decide which is best for you.

In our view, each device has its own advantages, and it’s down to the individual to work out what will improve their kitchen experience the most.

For additional reviews, check out these other comparisons:

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Richmond Howard

Richmond Howard started World of Blenders in 2022 to help people solve all their blender issues and buy the best blender for their kitchen! He's tested dozens of blenders and on his other site, Meal Prepify, he's helped over 3 million people learn how to meal prep.

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