When To Use A Hand Mixer Vs. An Immersion Blender

An easy question, right? Not so fast.

Mixers and blenders aren’t interchangeable. While both products are designed for mixing things up, they have their own set of uses that can help you decide which one is best for your specific recipe.

A hand mixer is the most common type of mixer on the market, and it is essentially a handheld motor with wires attached to the top. The wires detach for easy storage. Hand mixers generally come with three speed settings, which enable you to mix, whip and even knead ingredients together.

Hand mixers are available in a wide range of prices. For example, you can purchase one for around $20 or get more advanced models for more than $200. The higher-priced versions often have more features and may include additional attachments like dough hooks or wire whisks. You can also find hand mixers in the types of colors you want, including white, silver, pink and other shades.

To use a hand mixer, simply turn it on and insert the wire attachment into the mixture. Turn the speed to your preference and begin mixing until your recipe is complete. Some tasks may require you to use a spoon or spatula as well. Also note that hand mixers aren’t recommended for heavy, dense mixtures because they may not have enough power for these types of ingredients.

An immersion blender is another type of mixer that was made specifically for blending mixtures in their containers rather than transferring them to another container like a stand mixer would. Immersion blenders are typically hand-held, come with a base and several attachments, and are available in more advanced and less expensive versions.

These blenders enable you to blend in tall containers or even your pots or pans. Once the blade is inserted into your mixture, it can chop nuts or blend soups.

Unlike a hand mixer that has a side attachment to plug into an electrical outlet, an immersion blender must be placed on a counter or other flat surface near your stovetop so you can lift it up and down during the blending process. Also note that immersion blenders generally don’t have multiple speed settings like hand mixers do. Instead, they have just one blending speed.

Immersion Blenders

When it comes to the kitchen, immersion blenders are big stars. They’re the ultimate multitaskers, capable of whipping up a variety of sauces and purees in a jiffy. They even whip egg whites into stiff peaks—perfect for fluffy meringue pies. Plus they use less electricity than traditional hand mixers!

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But not all tasks need to be done with an immersion blender. Hand mixers are still necessary for creating and kneading dough, using whisk attachments for cake frostings or salad dressings, etc., and chopping vegetables is better done with sharp knives rather than blending them down into mushy pulp.

So when to use an immersion blender?

The quick answer: When your recipe calls for it.

So when do you need to use an immersion blender? First, read through the recipe carefully. If you have several steps, identify which step needs creating a smooth puree and make sure the instruction calls for an immersion blender in that step.

For example, if your recipe calls for chopping onions and celery together, they’ll get blended down into a puree (yuck!). Use an immersion blender in that step!  Still not convinced? How about other tasks that people often ask “how do I mix this?”

Examples include making mayonnaise or frosting cookies. You can use an immersion blender for making a mayo-based puree, but if your recipe calls for the batter to be kneaded with a mixer, then it’s not worth your time to use the immersion blender. Instead, find a mixer that works well for that task and stick with it.

Hand Mixers

If you’re going to use an immersion blender, you should know that it has its own limitations as a pureed food processor. It won’t work as well when making creams or roux mixtures like cornbread or potato dishes because they tend to burn on the side where they are mixed. Also, it leaves your ingredients ‘lumpy’ when you mix too much. For this reason, hand mixers are better for these tasks.

The one task that an immersion blender cannot do, even in the best of hands (or with the sturdiest blender), is dough-kneading. Unless you have a large bowl to hold a small appliance and a mixer at the same time, you’ll end up having to transfer your liquid mixture over and over again from your large bowl into the immersion blender and back into your large bowl again. It’s too time-consuming (and messy).

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So when to use a hand mixer?

The quick answer: When you need to knead dough or beat stiff egg whites for meringue, or when you need a mixer that can handle heavy cream, thick sauces, frostings, or mayonnaise.

So when do you need a traditional hand mixer? First, read through the recipe carefully.

If it calls for whipping egg whites into stiff peaks or kneading dough and your recipe will only be successful if those ingredients are mixed together thoroughly and eventually incorporated into another mixture (e.g. meringue or frosting), then use an immersion blender in that step!

For example, if your recipe calls for whipping egg whites into stiff peaks, but you’ll have to transfer your mixture over and over again because it’s not working very well in the mixer, use an immersion blender!

Otherwise, stick with a stand mixer (or large bowl) for this task.

Hand Mixers: The Best Tool For Some Tasks

Now you know how and when to use a hand mixer. You’ve also learned the difference between immersion blenders and traditional hand mixers. In some cases it is better to use an immersion blender (as they can handle some tasks that hand mixers cannot). 

Still not convinced? You can read through the process-by-process comparison of both tools. 

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Can you use a hand mixer in place of an immersion blender?

I’ve noticed that most other articles about hand mixers and immersion blenders seem to assume that you can use a hand mixer in place of an immersion blender. This is not necessarily the case. For example, if you want to mix your ingredients while they are still in their original containers, then the hand mixer is probably the best option because it provides more than one speed setting. However, if your recipe is mixed into a puree or if it’s mixed over and over again with no hope of combining it fully before moving on to another step, then an immersion blender will be better.

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Is a hand blender the same thing as an immersion blender?

It’s important to note that there is a difference between hand mixers and immersion blenders. Hand mixers are used with a bowl while immersion blenders are used straight out of their container or pot.  However, if you’re still not sure which tool is best for your current project, you can read through this process-by-process comparison of both tools.

What is the best hand mixer?

I had many questions about choosing a hand mixer for my particular project (making frosting for cookies). Frosting recipes often call for stiffly beaten egg whites and then adding sugar to achieve a creamy consistency.

Is it safe to use a hand mixer or immersion blender with frozen ingredients?

It is true that traditional hand mixers are not able to handle frozen food as well as immersion mixers. However, there is no reason to avoid using a hand mixer (or a large bowl) when freezing your ingredients. In fact, using an immersion blender in freezing steps can actually make things easier for you because all the ice crystals will break up and release flavors more easily.

Do I really need an immersion blender?

An immersion blender and a stand mixer are similar tools that perform many of the same tasks. The difference is that an immersion blender can handle liquid-based tasks (like making mayonnaise and frosting) better than a hand mixer, but can’t handle dough-kneading or heavy cream as well.

What is the best model of hand mixers?

If you’re in the market for a new mixer, I recommend sticking to brands like KitchenAid because they’re more durable and perform better for many tasks.  Hand mixers have three types of motors: DC, AC, and Digital.  DC motors are usually made with metal gears and shafts while AC motors are made with plastic gears.


Well, there you have it. The best way to answer this common question is simple: it depends on what stage you are in during your recipe. If time is a factor, then you might want to consider using an immersion blender because they are faster and more efficient than hand mixers. However, if you’re trying to make a dough or thick batter that doesn’t require fully combining your ingredients first (like with meringue peaks), stick with a hand mixer.

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