I’ll say it right up front: a hand mixer deserves a spot in your kitchen. Designed to expertly blend cookie dough and aerate cake batters, today’s versions are a far cry from the rotary beaters of bygone eras. The newest models embrace technology and convenience, and are speedier and more powerful than their predecessors, easily whipping egg whites or heavy cream into lofty peaks.
While a stand mixer reigns supreme when it comes to more complicated baking endeavors, food journalist Deanna Fox, a cooking school owner for 10 years, says it’s overkill for simple tasks. “Cakes, brownies, and soft cookie doughs all do just fine with the power of a three-speed hand mixer,” she explains. “I think a hand mixer keeps baked goods tender and makes soft pillows of cream, instead of globs that are 30 seconds away from butter. Plus, many kitchens aren’t big enough to justify a stand mixer for casual baking.”
Though hand mixers may feel like less of a commitment, you should still choose wisely. The variety of options makes it easy to spend a little or quite a bit. The frequency with which you bake and what you bake should help dictate the type that best suits your needs. To help you decide, I tested different models, and spoke with experts across the spectrum. Here are our seven favorites on the market.
Features to Keep in Mind
Speed and Power
Hand mixers are generally categorized by their speed options, some with as few as three and others boasting as many as nine. The majority of mixers are electric, weigh in at four pounds or less, and are compatible with any appropriately-sized bowl. The power range for good-quality hand mixers is between 200 and 250 watts. Optimally, a hand mixer will start running slowly—a gradual build-up that prevents ingredients from splattering out of the bowl—ultimately reaching a powerful high speed.
Higher-end models comfortably cut through dense batters and bread doughs, but it’s important to remember that hand mixers are traditionally geared towards lighter, shorter tasks than those performed by a heavy-duty stand mixer. And before you whip yours out for the first time, always read the user manual. Every one is different, so it’s best to acquaint yourself with the particulars before diving in.
Hand mixers usually include two metal beater attachments. Some models offer whisk attachments, and others might include a pair of dough hooks. For those who enjoy frothy hot chocolate or Dalgona-style coffee, look for models that offer a blending rod. Depending on the manufacturer, some attachments can be purchased separately.
These small appliances are pretty low maintenance; since the attachments can be removed from the body, they allow for easy clean-up. While some parts are dishwasher safe, others require hand-washing. Additionally, a number of mixers are now equipped with a storage bin or sack that houses the mixer with the attachments.
Stand Mixers vs. Hand Mixers
Consumers often assume that stand and hand mixers are interchangeable; they are not. Before purchasing, ask yourself how often you envision using a mixer and what kinds of batters you tend to favor. If you are a serious bread baker, cheesecake maker, or cookie pro who bakes several times a week, then a stand mixer might be better suited to your needs. For bakers looking to whip up the occasional batch of snickerdoodles, a tray of brownies, layer cake, or bowl of frosting, hand mixers are perfectly capable of performing these tasks. Additionally, hand mixers can work in tandem with stand mixers; for example, while a stand mixer is beating cake batter, a hand mixer can be used to mix up the frosting.
Consider size and comfort, too: Unlike heavy stand mixers, which require prime kitchen counter real estate, hand mixers take up minimal space, are portable, and substantially lighter. If you plan to go handheld, it’s important to find a mixer that you can hold with a relaxed grip and that can work with either hand. The details will ultimately enhance your baking experience.
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: KitchenAid 9-Speed Digital Hand Mixer
KitchenAid’s top-of-the-line handheld option offers more than substantial power and good looks. Two turbo beaters, a whisk, two dough hooks, and a blending rod provide plenty of mixing options, plus a nifty storage bag keeps everything together. The power lock secures the cord in place on either the right or left side (your choice), keeping it out of the fray. Weighing in at just two pounds, this mixer is comfortable, impressively powerful, and available in five colors. Designed with a no-tip feature, those of us who zip around a kitchen appreciate that it stays steady when standing upright. This model stays quiet even as it breezes through cookie doughs, batters, heavy cream, and egg whites.
With plenty of speeds to tackle a multitude of tasks, this was the first hand mixer I purchased with rubberized beaters. Even after several years, they are still perfectly intact. Ideal for use in a ceramic bowl or stockpot, it’s great for whipping up mashed potatoes and sturdy enough to distribute dried fruit through oatmeal cookie dough.
Though weighty at almost four pounds, its ergonomic grip makes it comfortable and easy to hold, and for its size, it doesn’t sound like an airplane about to take flight. I’ve used the whisk and dough hooks on more occasions than I could have imagined, leaving my stand mixer jealously watching from the sidelines. I’m a fan of its lockable swivel cord and the quick-release trigger that removes beaters. The attachments can be stored below the mixer in a snap-on case, but be forewarned: it’s a bit fiddly. Opt for this one in black over silver for fewer fingerprints.
Best No-Frills: KitchenAid 5-Speed Ultra Power Hand Mixer
I love this little mixer—it has stood the test of time, even in a high-volume bakery. I’ve relied on this five-speed wonder for years, witnessing it whip up heavy cream and meringue on the fly, and even whirling its way through commercial-size batches of pour-and-bake pie fillings (yes, even Thanksgiving pumpkin).
The powerful motor starts slow, builds to a comfortably high speed, is easy on the hands, and quick to clean. The stainless steel turbo beaters are the sole attachments—but honestly, they are all that you need. It comes in a crayon-box worth of colors and since it’s available at a comfortable price point, this is the one I love to give as a gift.
Best Cordless: KitchenAid 7-Speed Cordless Hand Mixer
For anyone with a compact kitchen or a lack of outlets, this hand mixer is indeed a dream come true. I was initially skeptical of a battery-reliant mixer, but after experimenting with two different cordless models, I was sold on this one. I like the slow stir option for keeping all your ingredients in the bowl, and for a small mixer, this does a fine job on lightweight batters (e.g. cookie doughs, brownies, 1-2-3-4 cakes).
The cordless convenience of whipping seven-minute frosting right over a double boiler makes it worth the price; ditto for meringue. A few words on the battery: Give yourself plenty of time, at least two hours, to fully charge it. (For those of us that might leave things for the last minute, there is a 10-minute quick charge option.) Pay strict attention to the battery indicator light, which lets you know when it’s time to dock it—but doesn’t leave it sitting on the charger for days on end.
Best Splurge: Dualit Professional Hand Mixer
The powerful Dualit Professional is a sleek little number with four speeds and a 300-watt motor that means business. It’s comfortable to hold, if a little weighty, surprisingly quiet, and well-equipped to tackle numerous tasks. I’m a fan of the flat blade beaters even though they might be considered old school; they are up to most mixing, blending, and beating challenges. Bonus points for attachments, like a balloon whisk and pair of dough hooks, made of durable stainless steel. One of its most talked about features is the retractable power cord that stows away into the rear of the mixer (admittedly, not without a little bit of coaxing). The no-nonsense eject button releases attachments on cue and the flat back sits handily on the counter.
Best Details: Cuisinart Power Advantage Plus 9-Speed Hand Mixer
Sometimes the little things make an appliance stand out, which is the case with the Cuisinart Power Advantage Plus. Speeds are illuminated by a clear LCD display, and the mixer can be navigated comfortably with one hand; a swivel cord makes it easy for both right-handed and left-handed use. I appreciate a mixer that stands squarely on the countertop without wobbling, as this one does. Take note of the automatic feedback feature which provides a mechanism that makes power adjustments based on applied stress. The mixer includes a pair of beaters, a chef’s whisk, two dough hooks, and a spatula, all of which are dishwasher safe. I liked the option of mixing thick doughs with either the beaters or switching over to the dough hooks.
Though not as quiet as some hand mixers, 220 watts of power and its ease of operation cannot be overlooked. Everything is backed by a three-year warranty, and it can all be housed in a plastic storage container. I suggest opting for the white finish, which is less likely to show stains and cleans up handily.
Best Retro Design: Russell Hobbs 4-Speed Retro Style Hand Mixer
This quirky, old-fashioned design is comfortable to grip and offers four speeds, plus a turbo boost. Outfitted with two traditional beaters, two dough hooks, and a whisk, the attachments are dishwasher safe and the cherry red color is certainly eye-catching. Better suited to quick, lighter mixes, it is surprisingly adept for most small tasks and comes with a two-year manufacturer warranty. At this price point, it is best suited for casual bakers looking for a basic hand mixer.
Ask the Experts
With what type of bowls can I use a hand mixer?
Stainless steel mixing bowls, glass bowls made from heat-resistant, tempered glass, and ceramic bowls are all suitable. Ceramic bowls, however, are prone to chipping and scratching and are better paired with a hand held mixer that uses rubberized beaters. Plastic bowls can be used in a pinch but tend to be too lightweight to handle mixing. Deeper bowls are preferred to prevent splashing. Remember to stabilize your bowl by setting it down on top of a slightly damp kitchen towel, increase speeds gradually, circle the bowl with the mixer, and take the time to turn off the mixer and scrape down the sides.
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