Blenders are a very useful tool to have in the kitchen. They can take chunks of fruit, ice, and juice and transform it into a cold, fruity treat. They can take chunks of vegetables and turn them into a smooth puree. There are so many things that couldn’t be done if it weren’t for a blender.
If you’re in the market for one of these essential appliances, you may wonder whether a countertop blender or an immersion blender would be a better option. This guide will take you through the pros and cons of each and what you need to know to make your blender purchase.
What Are Immersion Blenders?
Immersion blenders are sometimes called stick blenders because of their shape. Unlike a countertop blender, which has a container to hold what you’re blending, immersion blenders go wherever something needs to be blended.
Let’s say you’re cooking a creamy broccoli soup on the stovetop, but there are more chunks of broccoli than you would prefer. You can take your immersion blender, stick it in the saucepan, and blend away. This saves so much time and energy. No need to pour the piping hot soup into the countertop blender to blend. It takes just a few seconds to plug the blender in (or not, if it’s a cordless immersion blender), a few more to blend as needed, and then it’s to the sink to be cleaned.
What are immersion blenders good for? They’re good for salsas, salad dressings, and sauces. They’re not, however, going to break up ice for drinks or turn ice cream and milk into a milkshake. That’s not what they’re built for.
What Are Countertop Blenders?
Countertop blenders are the blenders most people think of when they think “blender.” They’re fairly large and heavy. There’s a base that sits on the counter with the motor inside it; the jar sits on top of the base. There is a blade that is either attached to the base or inside of the jar that does the blending. A lid goes on top to keep the contents of the blender from splattering all over your cabinets, counter, and floor. It has different settings to determine the speed at which it blends.
What You Can Make With an Immersion Blender
Not sure what you can do with an immersion blender? Here are some ideas:
- Salsa. If you’re a fan of smooth salsa that you find at your neighborhood Mexican restaurant, this blender is for you. Make fresh salsa quickly by throwing in some tomatoes, onions, peppers, garlic, and cilantro, and blend away.
- Pancake batter. This is best made using the container that came with the blender. Put the batter in with whatever liquid you want and any other needed ingredients, and blend. Most of these containers have a spout, so you can easily pour the batter right onto the griddle.
- Tomato sauce. Cook tomatoes, remove from heat, and blend. Voila!
- Smoothies. This is a great one because it’s so much less mess to use the immersion blender. Just realize that it might not do well with ice or frozen fruit. You’ll have to do some testing to see what your blender can handle.
- Whipped cream. Not too surprising, but immersion blenders do awesome at making whipped cream. Yum!
What You Can Make in a Countertop Blender
What you make in a countertop blender will largely depend on the blender you choose. Inexpensive blenders are made for basic uses, while high-performance blenders can blend pretty much anything. Here are some ideas of things you can make in a countertop blender:
- Quick breads. If you don’t have a stand mixer, quick breads are something that you can mix up in your countertop blender. Try banana bread; first blend up the bananas and then add in the bread ingredients.
- Frozen drinks. If you’ve never had a lemonade slush or homemade strawberry limeade, you’re missing out. Blenders are perfect for mixing up slushy frozen drinks.
- Smoothies. Though immersion blenders are also great for making smoothies, sometimes a blender is preferable. If you’re making smoothies for more than one person, for instance, or if you have chunks of frozen fruit, a countertop blender is the better choice.
- Nut butters. If you have a high-performance blender, homemade nut butters are possible. This means you can make fresh nut butter at a fraction of the cost. Plus, you can control what goes into it.
Tips for Using an Immersion Blender
If you’ve never used an immersion blender before, here are some tips to get you started:
- Be sure to rinse off your immersion blender right away. It’s so small and easy to use, it might be tempting to just leave it on the counter when you’re done and not clean it. You’ll regret it later, though, because there are some hard to reach areas on these blenders. If you rinse it off right away, there’s no problem.
- Make sure there’s enough of whatever you’re blending. It doesn’t work if the dish you’re trying to blend in is too shallow or there’s just not enough stuff to blend. There needs to be enough to cover the blade.
- Move the immersion blender around as you’re blending. This might be up and down for tall containers or around in a circle for larger containers. It helps the blender do a better job.
Now that you know a little more about what a countertop blender and an immersion blender are and their differences, you might be wondering which blender you should choose. Really the answer is both. They each have their pluses and minuses, but in the end, both have a role in any kitchen.