What exactly is a hand blender anyway ?
What is a hand blender ?
A basic hand blender like our winning Russell Hobbs 22241 – does what it says – simply blends
A short definition, and the history, of the hand blender
A blender (often just a more modern word for liquidiser) is a kitchen appliance used to mix, purée, blend or emulsify food and other substances. The big old stationary blender came first of course, and that gets its power from the base that sits on the counter. A jug, or jar with a blade at the bottom sits on your work surface and you put the food into it. This type of blender is bigger, heavier, and usually more powerful than the hand blender that came next.
In the 1950’s the hand blender was invented – by Bamix of Switzerland. It was known as the immersion blender. This still seems to be the first official name given to the hand blender, and it’s still generically called an immersion blender in the U.S. Cuisinart seem to have coined the term ‘stick blender’ In the U.K., we tend to call it a hand, stick or wand blender.
Our top 3 picks
This year our winners cover everything from cheap and basic to powerful, sleek and expensive! We also see that the hand blenders in their effort to be the no. 1 kitchen gadget, they are updating with more accessories to try to cover as many food processor tasks too. We have 3 top choices for these too, we lovingly call them ‘hand held food processors‘ !
How a hand blender works
The rotating blade is at the end near the food , at the ‘end’ of the stick so to speak. At the other top end, known as the body, we have the heavier engine part that drives the motor.
So the hand blender goes into, or should we say, gets immersed in the food (not the other way round). Hence all the obvious names to call it! So its obvious its called a hand blender… because you hold it in your hand? Maybe its also called the ‘blender stick’ because you stick it into the food maybe just because it looks like a stick!
The removable end that attaches to the blender body is technically known as the shaft, but it can be called the leg, or the arm… makes sense if you think of this amazing tool like an extension to your arm, or that it just looks like a leg ! Some people even call it a hand blender wand. I get that… I for one, talk constantly about my magic blender, so I see the link!
How does the had blender fit into the world of kitchen gadgets ?
Now add to all this confusion, there is a whole world of other kitchen gadgets sold for specific purposes. We have food processors, juicers, mixers, grinders and choppers, and most recently mini or personal blenders, also known now as single serve blenders. If you like to specialise and have the budget, and the room for many specialist machines in your cupboards, as well as the time to assemble them, clean them all etc.. then…you are probably quite unusual ..and a lucky duck! So go ahead and have them all.
Specialise or marketise !
Bit by bit we can see that the manufacturers are all trying to specialise in each area, but add functionality that tries to also allow each gadget to cross over into another product’s territory. All of this to capture sales. This is where it gets confusing when they all tout they can do the same thing for you. By trying to make every product do everything for everyone, just for the sake of a sale, means we, the customer, can be left bamboozled by the choices.
Hand blender vs Personal blender vs Food processor vs Juicer vs Mixer vs Grinder ?
The hand held machines
The hand blender, the hand held mixer, and the personal (single serve) blender – are smaller and usually less powerful.
The hand blender is the most versatile, but only the more powerful ones can compete with the best mixers on heavy batters, or the not personal blenders that crush ice in their smoothies.
The counter top machines
The juicers, the food blender or liquidiser, and the food processor, the big mixers, and grinder / mincers – are bigger and usually more powerful.
Food processors are the most versatile counter top machines. They can do almost anything ( if you have the right blade / disk) except juicing.
So many hand blenders - what is the difference between them ?
You pretty much get what you pay for. Price tends to increase with better known brands, better quality, higher power wattage and number of speeds offered, the type of material the blender is made of, attachments and accessories included, and functionality. There are some really amazing deals on Amazon so the best thing is to check out our best buy hand blenders on our top 15 page. You will also see an Amazon UK live price that gives you an idea, but honestly you should click through the buttons to your own country because some brands are cheaper on their home turf. For example, if you are in Australia – look at Breville made for Austalian specifications. If you are in America, look at Cuisinart and KitchenAid models made for US specifications. If you are in the UK, check out Russell Hobbs and Kenwood. Braun, Bamix and OXO however all seem to be offering amazing deals everywhere in the world !
You will pay more for nice easy to hold, lightweight, well designed models. The Bamix is the smallest neatest set to get. Or you can go for mid range and add all the accessories you need to perform different functions. In this case though you might need more cupboard or counter top space to house it all!
What about a colour blender to fit with your kitchen accessories? Do you care, or is it best to stay classic or metallic looking? red blenders are very on trend which is why companies like KitchenAid offer a full range of kitchen accessories in red). Cuisinart used to be well known in the U.S. for its wide colour range. There are some nice celebrity branded ones and in pastel colours and Bamix have a huge range between 20 and 30 colours right up to gold plated!
CORD or CORDLESS
Most are electric and the cord length varies, and it can come curly or straight, but you can also find a few portable, 12V battery operated cordless blenders. They have to be a bit heavier though due to the battery.
Sleek or simple? White plastic, Classic metal, or what about a retro hand blender? Smeg have just joined the vintage party !
SINGLE or MULTI-PURPOSE
Just the stick! or a middle range blender that you can add accessories to, or one that can even acts like a food processor and can slice, julienne, grate, knead.
Professional grade or not? A stainless steel style commercial grade blender will probably have less equipment but do more functions. So space saving, higher quality, better design, more expensive, but will probably last you forever.
For more information on how to choose the right hand blender for you, click over here to our detailed buying guide.