Hand mixers and hand blenders, though sounds similar are actually very different. Though as they are similar in certain aspects it can be hard to know which you will need for what type of cooking.
Hand mixers are much more commonly used for baking than any other application, using the attachments to beat together fats and sugars. Whereas hand blenders are better for creating a smooth liquid such as soups, smoothies and sauces.
So if you are wondering what appliance is better for you I have outlined what each appliance does, what the differences are between the two and which might be best for you.
What Is A Hand Mixer?
A hand mixer is one of the staples of a modern kitchen, or at least it is often considered to be. Generally speaking, a hand mixer is any mixing device that is handheld but still requires to be plugged into a wall outlet. In a one-sentence definition, we sweep away whisks and stand mixers – how impressive!
The basic design of a hand mixer comprises a rounded handle which is typically ergonomically designed to be comfortable in your hand. The inbuilt handle typically has a trigger or some other form of a switch to activate the internal mechanism designed to turn the beaters.
Hand mixers generally have two holes on the base, into which two beaters will fit, clicking into the mechanism ready to mix whatever they are submerged into. The switch of a hand mixer typically has some kind of speed control which allows you to fine-tune the speed of the beaters.
On top of the handle, you’ll typically find a button that ejects the beaters.
With that definition in mind, as it is the one we’re going to be talking about in this article, there are other, more traditional types of hand mixer which typically are no longer made.
Decades ago, hand mixers used to be hand-cranked, with a small handle needing to be turned, and your motion passing through gears to amplify it to the beaters.
Rotary beaters, as this style of appliance is sometimes known, are quite popular for campers or in areas where there is no electricity.
What Is A Hand Blender?
A hand blender, also known as an immersion blender or stick blender, is a solution to the problem that faces a lot of households who might want to buy a blender: countertop blenders take up a lot of room and are typically very expensive.
Hand blenders take the business portion of a countertop blender (the spinning blades) and remove them from a large jug. Instead, the blades are at the end of a short stick, with the stick being designed to be immersed in a thick liquid, and draw chunks down to the blending area.
When chunks get too close, they get liquidized.
Hand blenders are great for a number of different uses, but they’re most commonly used to liquify soups, stews, and smoothies right there in the pot.
This is the most convenient use for them, as it means that you no longer have to blend a large pot of soup by hand, instead simply immersing the business end of a stick blender will allow you to have perfectly creamy soup in no time.
What Is The Difference Between A Hand Mixer & A Hand Blender?
There are a number of key differences between hand blenders and hand mixers, so let’s break them down and get through them one by one.
Firstly, we need to discuss what they do. A hand mixer works by pairing two whisks together such that their movement complements the other – you get no dead zones in the bowl because the other whisk is picking up the slack. This means that hand mixers are exceptionally good for, you guessed it, mixing. On the other hand, hand blenders are used to blend things.
This is a big difference, as it means that the metal components of a hand blender are typically sharp, which the beaters of a hand mixer are typically dull. Therefore, a hand blender is much more suited to chopping and liquefying than it is for mixing.
Secondly, we need to quickly talk about how they work. As I said above, a hand mixer pairs two beaters together. This means that the overall speed of the beaters may not need to be set very high, as the sheer amount of beating happening will increase due to the higher surface area of beater in the mixture.
Conversely, hand blenders typically only have an inch or two of blade length in their construction. This means that they may need to be moved around more, or have to spin more rapidly in order to get an equal or greater amount of work done.
Something often not considered about the difference between hand mixers and hand blenders is the fact that the beaters on a hand mixer are often interchangeable. While they aren’t interchangeable across different brands, the whisk-like beaters of some hand mixers can be replaced with dough hooks, for example.
This means that hand mixers can be much more versatile products, being used for a number of different uses. On the other hand, the blade that a hand blender comes with is typically the one that it will have forever. Unless you set about cutting open the hand blender, you’re unlikely to actually change the use case of it.
Another small yet meaningful difference between hand blenders and hand sixers is that hand mixers usually have different speeds at which they can run. This is because some applications may need a slower, more relaxed speed than other applications.
For example, making buttercream icing takes much less effort from a hand mixer than whipping together egg whites and sugar to make a meringue.
Generally speaking, they are often very similar prices. This is because of the nature of pricing a lot of kitchen equipment – a lot of people will be willing to pay less money for an appliance which, simply, doesn’t work as well.
Despite this, however, you can expect to pay every so slightly more for a hand blender than a hand mixer, provided they’re of roughly the same quality as each other.
This is because hand blenders are often expected to have more power – typically they are asked to chop through root vegetables quickly and easily, which is something that hand mixers would never be asked to do.
Which Is Right For You?
A hand mixer is better for general cooking and baking – it mixes the food. A hand blender is better for smoothies, soups, and shakes, etc.
Deciding which of these two appliances is right for you is a matter of deciding which set of tasks you’ll typically be more likely to do.
Hand mixers are much more commonly used for baking than any other application. The beater attachments are perfect for effortlessly combining together different sugars and fats to make cake batter or icing, while they aren’t used as much for other things.
The beater attachments are very similar to whisks that you might use in the kitchen, so you could, in theory, use a hand mixer to whisk something. However, it’s hard to imagine a situation in which a hand mixer would be more useful than a whisk – a whisk is simply more maneuverable in the kitchen or at a stovetop.
A hand blender is, on a completely different side of the spectrum, used almost exclusively for cooking rather than baking. The primary function of a hand blender is to blitz different soups and stews to make smooth liquids ideal for light lunches. This use case is much more commonly seen when cooking – for example, when making a smoothie or a soup.
Hand blenders are also used for making milkshakes, as they typically hand small air inlets around the blades. These inlets are used to bring in extra material, causing it to be quickly and effortlessly whipped, becoming thick.
With those use cases in mind, you really need to consider the recipe that you’re planning on making. Only when you know what you’ll be using it for can you really say which one would be better for you to pick up.