Detailed hand blender buying guide
Which stick blender and attachments do you need to buy and why ?
Ok, it’s easy to see all the benefits of having one of these hand blenders, but there are so many out there and the price range is huge ! So first of all we would say…
Focus on your needs.
We would advise you think about two important points.
1. what you need it to do for you
2. how much you want to spend.
Which of these is the higher priority for you? Unless you are going for the top grade and top price blenders that do everything, then its all about compromise. Isn’t everything in life !
It could be time to simply focus on what you need it for, and not worry about how long it will last, or everything it could do for you in the future ! For example, we have been seeing more and more people recently go for the Masha Immersion Hand Blender, so we’re keeping an eye on it. It’s a very well rated 3-in-1 set that boasts that it perfectly blends & purees baby food, vegetables, and potatoes. Looking at its reviews, it certainly seems to be well loved for these tasks. Maybe the plastic blades also appeal to young mums… or maybe it’s the perfect potato mashing that appeals to those with arthritic hands… or maybe it’s the oh-so reasonable pricing and the 90 day no questions asked guarantee to show how confident they are in its abilities !
Your main buying decisions
Below we have outlined the 7 main criteria to help you narrow down your choices. Once you have been through these, we hope you find a match between your needs, from one of the most awarded hand blender brands / models, or a match with one of our own top picks for best in 2019 (based on awards, reviews, tests and experiences all through 2016/17/8.)
What you need to look out for when buying a hand blender
7 point CHECKLIST
1. Power, speed and control
2. Quality and Durability
4. Ease of use
1. Power, speed and control
For light infrequent things you don’t need much power / speed. For thicker heavier harder things you need more, and better, power and control. Judging only on the number of watts though can be a bit of a red herring (see FAQs) . Most sellers and mini – reviewers tout that over 200W is good, or that the higher you go and the more speeds you can have, the better the blender is. It certainly seems to mean that the price goes up. This is probably why you will the majority in the 400W – 800W range, and this works for most designs.
1b. build quality
However, just because one blender has a higher wattage number, it doesn’t mean it is necessary, or that it will guarantee better results, or even that it will last longer. So it´s not just about the horsepower ! It´s more about the type of and quality of the design, and speeds combined with power to deliver the results you need. Of course, if you don’t need it to do much volume, or if you are only blending soft or cooked foods anyway, for example pureeing for baby foods, creaming soup, or simple smoothies (check out our recipes here) then you would probably be happy with a blender under 200 Watts.
Speed is very important, and you need to be able to control it. It´s important to have a high and a low speed, or a range where you can vary the speed for different uses. You need a fast speed to be able to pulverise or blitz things, but a nice slow one for more delicate jobs like whisking, emulsifying sauces and mayonnaise. Check if it’s easy to reach and change the speeds whilst blending. Is it easy to reach the controls with buttons, or dials? Is it easy to press the buttons..some have a soft-touch design. We have evaluated this aspect by trawling through all the customer reviews we can find !
2. Quality and Durability
2a. material – plastic or metal
What is the material the hand blender is made up of, and is it the same for each of its parts ? ( the blades, their protectors, and the shaft, the handle, main motor body part too). What is the warranty and repair service ?
Think of how often you might want to use your little blender. Will it last? We looked at metal vs plastic. Some customers report leakage… of both liquids and parts ! These are the things you need to watch out for.
People also seem to ask if the blades will scratch their non- stick pots and pans. I have never known anyone to have problems with scratching and I think this comes down to how you use it, so do read the manufacturers guide when you buy it. You will find the main materials are generally plastic and / or steel.
You usually get what you pay for and stainless steel or brushed chrome hand blenders naturally will cost more. Costs can be saved, or quality can go up, depending on how you look at it if the shaft, ( the end with the blades in it – which can be called the wand, arm, or leg) is made of a different material to the main ‘engine’ part. The engine part is usually at the top of the blender – the part where you wrap your hand around.
So it goes without saying that the more plastic used, the cheaper it should be. Bear in mind also that the more plastic used, the less durable it can be, and it will get stained more easily. So if you use Turmeric a lot then be prepared to own a yellow stained plastic blender shaft! ( See how to clean that off in our FAQs section. )
Metal blender shafts are less likely to strain under pressure than plastic ones ..this is where I have heard of bits cracking off some plastic ones. So its worth deciding on how much you will use your stick blender and what you need to use it for.
Here we looked at ergonomics, leg length and blade height. Is it easy to hold, and use, and clean? Do you have small or arthritic hands and need a nice slim neckline. Is it easy to switch on and off? Can you get your fingers or thumb on the buttons or dials easily.
3a. colours and image
Do you need it to look good ! Do the colours need to match a kitchen theme you have… red, white, silver, black, green or blue ? Vintage looking or modern and sleek/ or does that not matter. If you are swayed by what your favourite celebrities and chefs are using, we have trawled through the gossip pages and found which hand blenders the celebrities have chosen – including the Kardashians, Gordon Ramsay, and many more.
3b. noise levels
Does it overheat, and will it be too noisy or start vibrating in your hand? It seems that the cheaper the model, usually the noisier it is, but that’s not always the case. So look out for this in our review summaries.
3c. blade design
For small quantities such as baby food, be sure that you have a blender that will reach the food and not splash ! Make sure you have a beaker or small, slender enough jug to blend into. Also, check that the blades aren’t too raised up to be effective with small quantities, or getting to the bottom of the beaker. You will find some brands have unique trademarked patented blade technologies to increase speed, power, or make a better purée.
3d. power cord
There is nothing more annoying than the power cord not reaching your pot, and an extra-long cable is a real luxury. A neat curly one is also much easier to use than a long dangly straight one that can get the way. For me, no wire at all is also most appealing in a cordless blender. We’re going to look at this in more detail in a blog article on battery operated blenders vs electric blenders. Leg length – just like us humans perhaps, the longer the easier it can be ! But then, it easier it can be to fall over 😉
4. Ease of Use
4a. size and weight
First of all is it easy to control, comfortable to hold, not too heavy or awkward? Is the weight nicely balanced. Is it small enough, and is it light or heavy to hold – does that matter to you? I read a great description somewhere that they should be no longer than a (A4) sheet of paper, and about as heavy as a (2lb) bag of sugar.
4b. finger trouble
Do you think you would mind having to hold a button in for a while, or do you prefer clicking power and speeds on / off , up/ down? Or is it better to have a dial you can turn ?
Secondly, is it easy to clean? Everyone seems to be most concerned about how to clean a handblender… is your immersion blender dishwasher safe? For me I find its not that important. It´s so easy to just run the blade end under the tap for a few seconds as soon as I turn the blender off. For stubborn food, about 20 seconds under warm soapy water does the trick, or, turn the stick blender on for a few seconds when its under soapy water and that should get rid of everything. A simple design is best so food doesn’t linger in little nooks. You should be able to just wipe the leg and motor end clean.
Some stick blenders have attached blades ( i.e. they don’t come apart from the shaft), others have interchangeable blade ends. If you can change them, is it easy to take them off and on? If you really like to use the dishwasher, just check which parts of the blender are dishwasher safe. Usually some are, some aren’t. One final point to consider is if the blender gets very hot with use, if this is the case, then let it cool down a bit before washing.
5a. kitchen tasks to be done
What can the hand blender do and how good is it? Will it blend, emulsify, whip and puree, crush etc. Is it suitable for thick mayonnaise, chunky dips, salsa and pesto, smoothies, whipped cream, baby food and creamy soup….and what about hard nuts and ice !?!?
Really this is the most important part isn’t it. The problem is the manufacturers use one term to describe their tools, and the cooks and chefs can use a completely different term to describe the technique you need, or the resulting food ( eg whisk, whip, froth). This is a topic I really want to master so watch out for our new blog article on how to use your hand blender !
5b. attachments and accessories
This is where the attachments come into their own.most blenders have a whole host of bits & bobs that come with the basic blender.
A simple stick blender should come with a blade that blends, or mixes. They can also come with a few extra blades to a better chopping or whisking job. Some hand blenders come with bowls, beakers, jugs, or little processing units as extra attachments. Some beakers come with handy lips for pouring and lids for storing food. You can get carrying bags and wall mounts for some. Really the more attachments you have the more you are building up into a food processor so think about how you will use this machine and if a more sturdy processor is what you want on the counter top anyway !
We looked at the the attachments and accessories for the Bamix blender in another post, where we also researched the favourite high quality accessories we would choose if we were configuring our own immersion blender from scratch.
6a. value for money
What’s it worth to you, and what can you afford to spend now ? Usually we feel you get what you pay for, but the most important thing is to make sure your money is going on something that’s going to be most useful to you. So you really have to think about what you want to use it for, otherwise you will start the build a useless collection of kitchen gadgets you don’t need.
If you just want to try one out you can get basic starter models for between £10 and £20 (e.g. Russell Hobbs). These will simply be a plastic, on/off, chop/blend a little type of gadget. Mid range models about £40 -£70, (e.g. this Kenwood) and with these you can usually expand the functionality by adding accessories. Once you are going between £100 and £200 (but which Bamix should you buy!) you are paying for style, reputation, durability and of course functionality.
This is where the brand, after sales service, and customer reviews come in. If you are in the UK you may prefer to buy a UK brand (e.g. Kenwood), and, if you are in the U.S., an American brand (e.g. Cuisinart). If you associate the Swiss with high quality you may prefer to go with Bamix. A huge majority are loyal to brands like Braun who have been making gadgets for years.
What do hand blender reviews tell us? It seems that people are most concerned about the blender scratching pots and pans, but they shouldn’t. The suction action of any decent blender means that the power pulls the food up from the bottom of the pan so you don’t need to worry about moving it along the base of the pan. The blade is also protected with a guard so check that out, and also how low down the blade is.
Next, cleaning seems to be a main query. Again, these are so easy to clean that I don’t see the problem here. We’ve covered that above in our ease of use section.
how long will your hand blender last?
The more important issues in reviews are longevity. Will your hand blender last? Complaints about the ends shattering usually come from over use or misuse of plastic shafts. The better the material, the longer it will last. The stronger the material, the heavier jobs it can get though ! Plastic shafts can take on food colour but it´s easily shifted with some vinegar.
There are usually answers to everything, and compromise is the name of the game! You should find plenty of reviews on your buying website.