Blenders are kitchen workhorses, whether you’re whipping up nourishing breakfast smoothies or creamy dressings worth getting genuinely excited about salad. But full-sized versions can be clunky, noisy, and messy. Luckily, their sleeker cookware cousin avoids these issues: the immersion blender.
For the uninitiated, an immersion blender, also called a hand blender or stick blender, streamlines the process because it’s usually inserted directly into a mixing bowl or pot filled with whatever you’re pulverizing instead of putting the ingredients into a blender, eliminating one more thing to clean (and store when not in use). It typically has “a big grip on top, is easy to turn on, and you can adjust the speed,” explains chef Radu Grigore of Elaia Estiatorio in Bridgehampton, Long Island, who likes to use the tool for making large quantities of purées, soups, and sauces both at home and on the line.
Immersion blenders are compact, nimble powerhouses that can really minimize cleanup, too. “Using an immersion blender saves me a mess because there’s one less thing to wash,” says Jason Goldstein, food blogger and recipe developer for Chop Happy. “Instead of pouring tomato soup or sauce from a hot pot into a blender, the immersion blender goes in the pot, and you’re done!”
Ahead, Grigore, Goldstein, and a few other culinary pros share their seasoned picks for the best immersion blender for every type of cook and budget, plus savvy tips for getting the most out of this versatile tool.
You’ll typically find immersion blenders’ power capacities are in the 300 to 400-watt range for consumer (not commercial) devices, while more robust professional models often eclipse 400-watts for a smoother purée. Aside from wattage, speed settings are a key consideration: Goldstein prefers immersion blenders with at least two speeds to control the blend. Some have over a dozen speed settings, and pro models with self-regulating speeds do away with settings altogether. Instead, the ultra-responsive blade automatically picks up the pace or slows down as you’re pulverizing ingredients.
Handle and Grip
Look at an immersion blender’s handle and grip in terms of size, shape, material, and design. “Handle length is important as some pots or containers are deep, and you may have to get down low for full blending,” explains chef Glenn Rolnick, director of culinary operations at Virgil’s Real Barbecue and Carmine’s in NYC. “The handle should be comfortable to grip securely for several minutes, without feeling uncomfortable or slippery,” he says.
Corded vs Cordless
Corded immersion blenders tend to be more powerful and therefore preferred for commercial kitchens. They’re also often “more cumbersome, as you always have to watch where the cord is —especially if you’re using it near the stove or sink,” says Rolnick, who adds that cordless models are a better fit for home cooks working with smaller batches that don’t require as much motor power. “If you are not good at remembering to charge the cordless kind, get one that you plug in,” Goldstein says. “You want to be able to blend and not have to wait for it to charge.”
For the most part, the experts we queried prefer a simpler approach to accessories. “I have only used an attachment once, maybe 10 years ago, when I used a whisk attachment for the biggest Pavlova I ever made for New Year’s Eve in Romania,” says Grigore. Going a minimalist route accessories-wise may keep things running smoother overall, since “fewer bells and whistles means less can go wrong,” Miller says. A blade guard to protect the interior of a pot or bowl, if that’s a concern, is one notable exception, although “you still always need to be careful as the blade is quite sharp and moves at a high rate of speed,” per Rolnick.
Our Top Picks
Best Overall: Waring Quik Stik Immersion Blender
Both Miller and Grigore rave about Waring’s immersion blenders, which are available in an extensive range of sizes and power levels. For pro kitchen-caliber power and reputation in a more compact scale suited to home cooking, consider this model, which has a 7” stainless steel blade, 2-speed, high-efficiency motor, and 6’-long cord, and a relatively generous 3-gallon (a.k.a 12-quart) capacity. Note that it doesn’t come with any accessories (not even a blade guard), which is fairly typical of professional-grade appliances.
Best Runner-up: Braun Multiquick Vario Hand Blender
Rolnick says the brand’s older MR430 HC model is his go-to at home, but this newer option in the brand’s Multiquick range is worth considering. The popular 400-watt blender has nearly 3K ratings and an average 4.5 stars on Amazon. The brand’s signature PowerBell Anti-Splash shaft helps keep ingredients where they belong mid-blending, and there are an impressive 21 speed settings, plus an ultra-fast “turbo” option to quickly blitz ingredients. Like the innovative-for-its-time MR430 HC, this option comes with a blender, whisk, chopper, bowl, beaker, and wall mount. Fine with less accessories and speeds to maneuver? The MQ505 model, equipped with two speeds plusa whisk attachment and beaker, comes at a slightly lower price point.
Best Value: Kitchen Aid 2-Speed Hand Blender
Goldstein swears by this Kitchen Aid model, which has a removable 8” blending arm with a fixed S-blade, a soft-grip handle, and a lidded 3-cup blending jar to easily store leftover sauces or dressings. Reviews rave that it can blitz down ice (and tackle soap-making, should that ever crop up), is easy to clean, and surprisingly powerful for its affordable price point. It also comes in cheery hues like aqua and cherry red to brighten up your countertop.
Best Splurge: Robot Coupe Hand Held Compact Power Mixer
If you’re already an immersion blender devotee looking for an upgrade, consider this pro-grade stainless steel option from Robot Coupe.Miller and Rolnick both recommend this brand. There aren’t any attachments typically found in home cooking-centric versions because the bells and whistles are baked into the design of the blender itself. It self-regulates between different speeds (from 5,000 to 10,000 rotations per minute) to create smooth purées automatically. Also, the blade is removable, and so is the exterior bell surrounding the blade, so it’s a cinch to clean; there’s even an included tool to safely detach both parts. Plus, it comes with a wall-mounted holder for true blender superfans who want safe and easy access without needing to open a cabinet. Miller’s go-to is this 16-quart capacity pick with a 10” blade shaft, which should be plenty big for cooking at home.
Best Ergonomic: Breville Control Grip Immersion Blender
The major distinction of this smartly designed blender from espresso mainstay Breville? Its unique rubber handle and grip, which positions the power button in a more ergonomic side spot. No more contorting your fingers at awkward angles while blending! Plus, a bigger-than-usual jar (clocking in at 42-ounces) makes it easy to store leftovers or meal prepped soups. If you’re looking for accessories, this has a whisk and a chopper too.
Ask the Experts
What types of recipes can I make with an immersion blender?
Everything from creamy sauces and puréed soups to whipped cream, chocolate mousse, and icy blended drinks. Grigore uses an immersion blender at his restaurant to make a fava bean spread, while Miller uses one to make a fragrant mint basil oil by blending herbs and oil then straining before serving.
How do I clean my immersion blender?
There are a couple (slightly) different ways to go about it. For a corded model, Grigore says to remove the blade, tuck the cord by wrapping it around the handle. Then, wash the blade attachment with a soapy sponge, taking care not to stick your fingers near the blade. (Opting for a cordless blender? Follow the above steps, sans cord wrangling and tucking.) Miller suggests snapping off the attachment and run in the dishwasher, and hand wash the motor portion. Or, you can “blend” hot soapy water to clean, a method both Goldstein and Rolnick utilize in commercial settings. Treat it with care and you’ll be feasting on silky hummus and gazpacho for many years to come.
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