Hand Mixer - Definition and Use of This Kitchen Tool

Black & Decker Electric Hand Mixer
Black & Decker Electric Hand Mixer. Photo © Mifflin

A portable hand mixer is an electric handheld mixing and blending tool that has two removable metal beaters and variable speeds. It also has additional accessories such as a whisk. A hand mixer is a basic houseware essential for mixing, blending, whipping and beating.

How Mixers are Used

The range of foods that can be mixed with a hand mixer is quite extensive and includes such items as eggs, whipping cream, pancake batter, icing, cakes, salad dressings and more.

One of the most common uses is for whipping boiled potatoes. It is the easiest way to make mashed potatoes, using the standard metal beaters.

Batters or foods with a heavy consistency can be difficult to mix with a hand mixer. It depends on the softness of foods and power of the mixer. That's where a more powerful stand mixer can be more convenient.

Rotary non-electric egg beaters were kitchen essentials decades ago, but once they were replaced with the electric version in the early 1900's, most homemakers have never looked back. Electric portable hand mixers are considered much more efficient than non-electric rotary egg beaters, have constant power and the task of mixing requires much less time and effort.

That said, rotary egg beaters are still available today and quite popular for use in campers or in remote areas where this is no electricity. Many households still have a vintage egg beater and use it occasionally.

Electric Hand Mixers

Electric hand mixers are considered very affordable and usually retail for less than $80. In fact, you can often buy a good quality hand mixer for less than $50. Unless there is a design advantage, it's not necessary to pay a lot for a basic unit, which would include three or four speeds and one set of beaters.

Things that influence price are the number of speeds, power, and additional accessories.

Some models come with whisk attachments while others offer an innovative design with built-in storage compartment for beaters and the cord. Used for what they were designed for, a hand mixer has a long life.

Most kitchens have an electric hand mixer (or beater), and those with a stand mixer may be reluctant to let go of their handheld model. That's because, for small mixing/blending tasks, a hand model is more convenient.

Would an electric beater replace a counter blender? Not likely. Though some food prep can be completed with 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.

Hand Blender

Then there's a hand blender to consider. Though you can blend foods in a bowl easily with this handheld tool, or smooth gravy in a pot, this type of appliance has its limitations. There's no doubt that hand mixers have earned a solid reputation as an essential and practical food prep tool for the homemaker.

Other kitchen appliances such as a hand or counter blender for most, have a supplemental nature, though not all homemakers would agree.

For some, it's a matter or preference and the food task at hand.

As for care, a kitchen mixer has detachable metal beaters that can usually be cleaned in a dishwasher. The unit can be easily wiped clean, and this appliance is easy to store. A hand mixer makes an excellent wedding shower gift.

Read More About Blending and Mixing Appliances