Definition: A hand or immersion blender is generally referred to as a stick or hand blender and this design is always handheld. A stick blender differs considerably from it's counterpart - the counter or platform blender, in terms of function, price and common uses.
Exactly what a stick blender is called is based on the manufacturer's preference. All three - stick, hand and immersion terms refer to the same type of appliance.
And all must be immersed (in food) to blend without making a mess.
Though they may have different functions and features than counter blenders, these hand blenders are extremely versatile and convenient for blending and mixing foods. Their main feature is the immersion design which enables blending of foods right in a bowl or in a pot on the stove. That means that with care, you can use it to blend or mix hot foods, eliminating having to transfer contents to a bowl just to blend it.
Common uses for stick blenders include smoothing lumps from gravies, blending liquid batters, smoothing out chunks from pasta sauce and processing small amounts of baby food - just to name a few. This is the go-to-tool if you want to serve lump-free gravy.
A stick, hand or immersion blender can blend smaller amounts of food than a regular sized counter blender, which makes one a very handy kitchen tool. One could help you save money, when you can blend dinner left-overs for the baby's next meal.
It also tends to minimize clean-up.
Though variety is small, there are some immersion blenders with a convenient cordless design and some models have stronger blades that can blend ice in a smoothie. These should be confirmed from product details before buying. Stick blender power can vary slightly, with most commonly being low powered, compared to larger counter blenders.
You can buy an immersion blender with or without accessories, which typically include chopper components. That can be very convenient, especially if you have no need for a stand-alone food processor and your chopping needs are small. Performance of these dual function stick blenders is very good.
An immersion blender is considered a type of blending and food processing appliance, but should not be confused with a counter blender or food processor. They are quite popular and have earned a special place in the kitchen for convenience, a blender design that's compact to store and a versatile blending function.
Read More About Blenders & Food Processors:
Blender 101 - From Buying to Caring for a Blender
Before You Buy a Kitchen Blender
Immersion, Stick and Hand Blender Reviews
Difference Between a Blender and Food Processor
Making a Blender Easier to Clean
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Also Known As: stick blender, hand blender, immersion blender
Examples: I prefer to use a stick blender for pureeing a small amount of baby food in a bowl and to use a jar counter blender for blending a smoothie.