It goes by many names: stick blender, hand blender, immersion blender.
You may notice that we use this small appliance in many Good Food for Bad Cooks recipes, and for good reason. It’s small, powerful, versatile, cheap, and so simple to use.
We use stick blenders for making soups, sauces, and dressings, blending ingredients, whipping eggs, making mayo, and puréeing all types of cooked fruits and veggies. It can be a real powerhouse in the kitchen. It makes your food taste better, your prep time go faster, and it takes almost no space in the cabinet.
It’s like the trifecta of kitchen appliances.
The stick blender is basically just a wand with a small, whirring blade at the end. They usually have only one or two speeds and range in price from about $19 to $50.
(Now, I know you can find some pretty pimped-out hand blenders with attachments and hefty price tags, but we’re talking the basic model here. It’s really all you need.)
What it’s good for
- Puréeing, like sweet tomato and bacon soup, or applesauce. You can blend right in the pot.
- Making eggs light and fluffy, like for this quiche.
- Emulsifying vinaigrette. (That’s fancy-talk for blending oil and liquid together so it will not separate, like in salad dressing.)
- Making homemade mayonnaise, Hollandaise, and mustard.
- Saving counter space. You gotta love an appliance that doesn’t hog the cabinet or have a million attachments.
What it’s NOT good for
- Making frozen smoothies. They are generally not equipped to tackle frozen fruit. You’ll need a regular blender for that.
- Crushing ice. (See above.)
- Puréeing hard vegetables. Very firm fruits and veggies will likely need to be steamed first.
- Blending certain types of batter. Not all batter should be blended and broken down completely. Many cakes, muffins, and pancakes need a little texture to bake up well. When in doubt, don’t blend batter with a stick blender unless the recipe says it’s okay.
- Making nut butters or flours. Unless you have an industrial-strength model, it’s just not going to have the power for these kinds of jobs.
Tips for stick blender success
- BE CAREFUL! Keep the blade under the surface of whatever you’re blending while the motor is running, especially if the liquid is hot. Lifting the blender while it’s running will splatter food all over you, the kitchen, and your dog/cat/baby/smartphone. (Don’t text and blend.)
- If possible, use a tall and slim vessel to hold what you are blending. It will blend faster and more evenly if you can really get the stuff moving around. Try blending dressings and sauces in a mason jar or a large, glass measuring cup.
- Unplug the blender and wash immediately after using.
Liz uses and recommends this stick blender: The Cuisinart Smart Stick. I’ve never tried it, but it’s pretty, shiny, and for $35 bucks it looks like a good deal to me!
I’ve been using an ancient hand blender made by Everyday Living for the better part of a decade. It’s so old, I can’t even find a link for it…sorry! I’m pretty sure I got it at a yard sale, it’s about the most basic model you can get. Since it still works like a charm, I haven’t felt the need to upgrade.
I think that’s a testament to just how useful and hardy these blenders are. If you’re the thrifty type, keep an eye out at yard sales and thrift stores. I see them constantly and you can often pick one up for $5 of less.
Here at GFFBC, we are all about keeping your kitchen easy and manageable. We know you don’t need dozens of fancy gadgets to make good food, and our recipes echo that belief. You should always feel free to experiment with kitchen tools; cooking should be fun! But know that just a few, well chosen items are all you need.
Whatever you call it, we think the stick-hand-immersion blender deserves a spot in your kitchen.
Do you have a stick blender? What are some kitchen tools YOU can’t live without? Share in the comments!+ Add to favorites