There are several types of hand mixers available and these should not be confused with stand mixers. With stand mixers, the mixer or beater blades are mounted on a stand and drop directly into a bowl. These heavy-duty kitchen tools don’t require hand holding, and some of them are designed for very significant tasks like kneading bread dough or whipping up certain types of stiff cookie dough. Most hand mixers don’t have the same kind of power, but are fabulous for lots of everyday baking and cooking applications. They can also usually be stored in a drawer when not in use, whereas larger stand mixers take up much more room and may be impractical when counter space or storage options are limited.
People may note a few types of hand mixers to choose from. A very old-fashioned sort is the eggbeater. This is not electrically powered and requires handle turning in order to make two whisks spin and beat eggs or other ingredients. In settings where electric power isn’t available, eggbeaters still have their place. It’s not a bad idea to have one on hand, where it might be useful in a sudden power outage, for camping trips, or on vacations to rustic locales.
The two most common types of hand mixers that do rely on electrical power are simply called the hand mixer and the hand blender. Most mixers have two blades that spin, and have various speed settings. The blades are removable and tend to be dishwasher safe. In contrast, the hand blender is generally a single spinning device, which may nevertheless prove useful in various circumstances. It can also double as a blender in some cases and make things like shakes or puree soups.
Of the two types of hand mixers, the two-blade mixer is most common, and tends to have greater usefulness. Hand mixers can easily blend cake batter, make meringue, whip cream or create frosting. Blade types can vary in shape and material. Some are made of heavy duty plastic, and these may not be as useful when mixing very hot or boiling ingredients. Metal blades are more common and they may have a traditional wire whip shape, similar to a whisk, or they can have several interlocking sections that provide lots of room for aeration.
The single bladed hand blender may not have quite as many applications as the various types of hand mixers. Some do come with sharp blade accessories that can be used chop nuts, and they can easily whip cream or egg whites. They tend not to do as good a job mixing up large cake mixes though, but they are quite often small, and easy to store.
One recent addition to the types of hand mixers, which can prove very convenient, is the cordless hand mixer. Depending on design, cords on mixers can be an absolute nuisance. Most cordless types have a single blade, but may come with a set of different blades. They might not be quite as powerful, and they do need to be stored in a cradle so they’re fully charged and ready for use. However, many feel they’re a significant improvement upon older styles because they lack that annoying cord.