Generally speaking, the term “hand mixers” refers…
…to a portable electric mixing device that must still be plugged in to operate in the modern kitchen. A handle is mounted on top of a case containing the motor, with two metal beaters attached underneath at one end. In addition to speed controls and an eject button, you’ll typically find this on the handle.
In addition to hand mixers, non-electric rotary egg beaters may also be referred to as hand mixers. Decades ago, they were considered essential kitchen equipment. The electric version replaced them in the early 1900s, and most homemakers never looked back.
It takes much less effort and time to mix things with an electric hand mixer than with a rotary egg beater, and electric mixers have constant power. Although yet another option is a rotary egg beater available today. Among campers and in remote locations, where electricity isn’t readily available, they are quite popular. Vintage egg beaters are still available and commonly used in many households.
Hand Mixers Uses
The range of foods that can be mixed with a hand mixer is quite wide. You can use it to whip cream or eggs, mix cake batter and cookie dough, and make things like icing and salad dressing. It is the simplest way to mash boiled potatoes and one of the most common uses of it is for whipping them.
It is without a doubt that hand mixers have earned a solid reputation as an essential and practical food prep tool. Even those with stand mixers may find it difficult to let go of their handheld models because they are more convenient for mixing and blending small quantities.
However, there are some limitations. Mixing with a hand mixer can be difficult for batters or foods that have a heavy consistency. It depends on the softness of the food and the power of the mixer. It is better to use a more powerful stand mixer for some tasks (such as kneading bread dough).
In addition, some ingredients should not be mixed with a hand mixer. When making chocolate chip cookies, the chips should be stirred by hand into the dough at the very end. Using your electric mixer for that task can easily (and quickly) burn out the motor. Similarly, if you add nuts or some fruits to the blender, you may burn out the motor.
A hand mixer has detachable metal beaters that can usually be cleaned in a dishwasher. The unit can easily be cleaned and it doesn’t take up much space, so it’s easy to store. Hand mixers have a long life when used for what they were designed for.
Buying Hand Mixers
Electric hand mixers are relatively inexpensive. It is common to find a good quality hand mixer for under $50. A basic unit that includes three or four speeds and one set of beaters shouldn’t cost much, unless there is a design advantage. In addition to speed and power, additional accessories are factors that influence price.
Hand mixers are available with whisk attachments and dough hooks (though most do not have the power to handle bread dough). There are also models that come with built-in storage compartments for the beaters and cords. Looking for the best hand mixers? We have a list you can check.
Hand Mixers vs. Blenders
Would an electric beater replace a counter (or stand) blender? Not likely. Though some food prep can be completed with either a blender or a mixer, other tasks are better with one type rather than the other. For instance, it’s difficult to blend (mash) potatoes in a blender and trying to beat or mix salad dressing with a handheld mixer can be messy.
Then there’s a hand blender (also called an immersion blender) to consider. It’s a long wand-like appliance that typically has a blade on the bottom similar to a counter blender, but offers the portability of a hand mixer. Though you can blend foods in a bowl easily or smooth gravy in a pot, and some models come with a whisk attachment, this handheld appliance has its limitations. Primarily, it simply doesn’t have the power of a counter blender or hand mixer and shouldn’t be used for hard ingredients.
For most, kitchen appliances such as a hand or counter blender have a supplemental nature, though not all home cooks would agree. It’s often a matter of preference and the food task at hand.
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