The Truth About the Top 6 Immersion Blenders of 2020

THIS ARTICLE WAS ORIGINALLY POSTED IN JUNE OF THIS YEAR.
THIS UPDATE IS POSTED BECAUSE OF SIGNIFICANT CHANGES IN PRODUCT OFFERINGS AND MARKET PRICE OF SOME OF THE KEY PRODUCTS.
We take this as an example of how quickly the market landscape can change on Amazon today, even in only 90 days.

After posting a recent recipe specifying the use of an immersion blender rather than a stand blender, a friend asked a really pointed question.

An ‘Immersion Blender.’ What on earth is that?

I will admit that for decades I didn’t have an immersion blender in my kitchen. But today, it is probably my single most-used appliance.

In short an immersion blender is a hand-held device you immerse in a liquid to blend it quickly and easily wherever the container happens to be, without making any kind of splash or mess. You will find these referred to under a variety of names: immersion blender, stick blender, blender stick, hand-held blender, hand blender, smart-stick, super-stick, ultra-stick. But all of these are immersion blenders.immersion blender or stick blender

Unlike a stand mixer, you don’t have to transfer the substance into a special bowl. And unlike a two-beater hand mixer, an immersion blender is narrow enough to fit into a small space like a pint glass jar. You can even easily use one while something is cooking on your stove top. And it will not mar the surface of whatever you insert it into like a hand mixer will, at least not as badly.

I still wouldn’t insert it into an enameled Le Creuset pan, for instance. I have. But I held my breath and was really careful . . . and have decided to not press my luck again.

But used in anything stainless steel, copper, ceramic, or glass, it works like a champ.

And unlike a hand mixer, an immersion blender fits into the small opening of a jar, narrow container, or other small space and makes very little or no splatter mess.

Most immersion blenders come with the regular cup-like blender attachment and also a wire whisk attachment. Some even come with a milk frother. And as you “upgrade” through the product line of many of the manufacturers you often get containers and other unique attachments included. Cuisinart even makes an electric knife attachment that comes in one of its upgraded packages.immersion blender with attachments

But do you need the other attachments?

In most cases, no. At least not as long as the blender you buy comes with both a blender-cup attachment and a whisk attachment. You do need the whisk. (The exception might be if you routinely make Bullet Proof Coffee and you like to froth it. In that case, having the frother attachment would be important.)

For example, we keep unsweetened whipped heavy cream in the refrigerator at all times. It particularly comes in handy for our morning Bullet-Proof Coffee. An immersion blender with the whip attachment submerged in about 1/4 cup of cream in a Mason jar is invaluable in whipping up a fresh batch every 2-3 days.

The whisk attachment is also perfect for quickly whipping up eggs or any kind of concoction you need to lighten by adding air to in your prep process.  You will likely find you use the whisk attachment at least as much as you use the blender-cup attachment. Maybe more. But nothing makes mayonnaise as easily and of as predictable consistency as an immersion blender with the blender-cup attachment.

These hand blenders are great for making peanut butter, salsa, purees, soups, sauces, smoothies or milk shakes, for whipping cream, beating eggs, frothing milk, and blending coffee drinks like One and Only Bona Fide Bullet-Proof Coffee.

And an immersion blender is absolutely is essential in making Mimi’s Avocado Oil Mayonnaise.

I wouldn’t use them for mixing heavy dough, mashing potatoes, crushing ice, or making frozen cocktails like a Frozen Margarita or a Daiquiri — at least not unless you purchase one with a very high wattage motor. Personally, I would opt for the smaller wattage and then just make these heavier items with a different appliance like a standing blender or food processor.

But a good immersion blender is a go-to, super-easy tool that is easy to pop off the head and toss into the top-rack of your dishwasher when you’re done.

So what are the main things to look for in an Immersion Blender?

Having used an immersion blender almost daily for the last half decade, in my opinion the the most important factors to keep in mind are: (1) weight, (2) comfort in the hand, (3) ease of one-handed operation of the “on” button, (4) ease of changing the attachments, (5) ease of cleaning, and (6) the overall quality of construction. And I would suggest you weigh these in your purchase decision in that order.

Of course, price is always a consideration. But as buyers, we each weigh price differently. For some price is at the very front of the list. For some, it’s at the last. For most of us, we narrow the field by our main criteria, then purchase the one that comes in at the lowest price point.

Two important notes.

Be sure to remember that as counter-intuitive as it may be, quality of construction does not necessarily mean the device must be heavy. In fact, the more you use this device, the more you will find it is in the lack of weight of this device that causes the cream to rise to the top, so to speak. The lighter the weight, the more money I am willing to pay for it. BUT, the actual market cost does not always reflect the lightness of the weight. Many of the strongest and lightest materials are more expensive to use in the manufacturing process than heavier weight materials.

But our testing did not show a hard-and-fast correlation of lighter weight materials costing more in market place pricing of the blender. In fact, our top pick is both one of the lightest and one of the least expensive on the list.

You might notice two things always advertised  in the summary of immersion blenders are not part of our review criteria: motor wattage and the number of speed settings.

using an immersion blenderImmersion blenders currently available on the U.S. market range from 200-watt to 1,000-watt. And they range from a simple ON/OFF button to what is called “variable speed,” which really tells you nothing more than that there is an extra dial to mess with.

In reality, there seem to be one-speed, two-speed, three-speed, and five-speed versions. But unless you are planning to attempt to replace other kitchen appliances all together, a two-speed immersion blender is all we can imagine you will ever need. In fact, ON/OFF would work fine as far we’re concerned.

My personal initial immersion blender purchase was a 250-watt blender that has never given an ounce of trouble or so much as sneezed at any job thrown at it. It has a HI/LO/OFF setting, of which I have only used HI and OFF. It has been perfectly adequate and is still blowing and going. In fact, you can see it in operation right here in these pictures. I’ve used it so much the name is wearing off.

So don’t use wattage or the number of speeds as a significant criterion in your decision-making unless you plan to use your stick blender for very heavy jobs like mashing potatoes or making dog food.

One last note.

Whenever you shop on Amazon and are comparing items, be sure to actually read the Customer Reviews. And when you do, be sure to pick Most Recent in the drop-down menu on the top right. We find recent reviews a much better indicator of quality of a product than Amazon’s rating system of 4.3 stars or 4.9 stars. Remember Amazon aggregates review ratings from the beginning of the item’s offer on the Amazon marketplace. So if a product has been on the market for 6 years and it started with some quality control issues that have been fixed for the past four or five years, the product you receive is going to well exceed Amazon’s star numbering. The reverse is true if the company was recently sold and the quality control has dropped sharply (which is unfortunately often the case). Reading through the most recent reviews is going to alert you to that. This trick particularly helps counter-balance early “paid” reviews of many products that falsely inflate Amazon’s early quality ratings.

 

Here’s what we tested and what we found.

 

Koios 800-watt/12-speed Immersion Blender

This hand-held immersion blender came only in Black at the time of our initial review last June, even though the primary construction was stainless steel. The eye-candy part of the Koios has changed. It now is offered in Red and in Stainless Steel, with the Red about $10 less than the metallic.

But more than the exterior color has changed on the Koios.

The motor is copper, which seems to be a premium construction on these. But both the attachments and the weight of the based unit have changed.

It now ships with the standard blender-cup attachment as well as a whisk, a mixing beaker, and a food processor/chopper attachment. They seem to have switched out the latter two for the milk frother it initially was marketed with. Now there’s no milk frother.

The unit Koios was marketing last June was 2.4 lbs, in what was then a mid-range weight for stick blenders. But now, the Koios weigh 3.26 lbs — which is the wrong direction as far as we’re concerned.

Like every other model we found, with the exception of one, the Koios is manufactured in China.

We understand Koios is not exactly a household brand, so we did a little research for those who like to know about the company they buy from. We had a hard time tracking down the ownership of this company with certainty. We think it is a subsidiary of Koios Beverage Company, a U.S.-based company that appears to be affiliated with Rocky Mountain Soda Company.

The Koios immersion blender works well, looks nice, and comes in at a decent price for a first-time buyer.

But it does have a few things that underwhelm us. And they are particularly glaring at the current weight of the unit.

You have to press two separate buttons at the same time to change the attachments. That may not seem like a big deal, but other models are a lot easiest to maneuver, and for aging hands or people with dexterity issues, it is a detail worth paying attention to.  Also, the diameter of the handle is a bit big for us. The smaller your hands, the more of a problem this would be for comfort. And last, we find the dial on top for speed to be awkwardly placed.

But here’s the real kick in the head.

Three months ago you could buy the Kois 800-watt/12-speed Immersion Blender on Amazon at the lowest price of any of the stick blenders we tested. We added it to our list then for buyers who wanted the best bargain on an immersion blender. But it is no longer the lowest price of the six blenders on our list. So this is not remotely the best deal any more as far as we are concerned.

Müeller Ultrastick

As far as we can tell, Müeller does not offer a bunch of different packages with different accessories. The model we tested is 500 watts with nine speeds and it comes with a whisk and a frother as well as a blender-cup. It is a sleek Silver with Black detail and has a state-of-the-art copper motor. It comes with a 2-year warranty, which most of these don’t.

Some my not be familiar with the Müeller brand. But it is well-respected Austrian company  that primarily is known for its high quality kitchen and cooking devices. Müeller’s manufacturing plant is located in China, but has strict Austrian quality control. And customer reviews attest to a high level of consistent quality in the product.

As stick blenders go, although the Müeller Utltrastick is not the lightest, it is definitely one of the lightest we tested. It’s only 2.16 lbs.

We found it easy to use, relatively quiet when operating, easy to change out attachments and to clean, and overall, we really liked it.

But here’s the big update.

Three months ago, when this stick blender was our #1 pick, hardly anyone knew the name Müeller in the U.S. and sales volumes were relatively low. Today it is the #1 seller on Amazon. And while these kinds of stats are constantly changing, it is important to point out that the Müeller Ultrastick is now priced the lowest of any of the models in this review. The price has dropped shockingly. And the resulting uptick in sales over the last quarter show it.

You can purchase the Müeller Austria Utltra-Stick 500-watt/9-Speed Immersion Blender on Amazon at an amazingly good price.

We promise you this baby does not dissappoint. And for our kitchen use, it comes with exactly the right accessories.

 

KitchenAid 2-Speed Immersion Blender (no whisk attachment)

If you are like me and have other KitchenAid appliances, you probably have a decided leaning towards this brand. They produce quality.

Oh, and color. They produce great color.

KitchenAid is the one immersion blender that comes in a really wide array of bright colors: Cranberry, Crystal Blue, Empire Red, Guava Glaze, Hot Sauce, Lavender, Majestic Yellow, Matte Gray, Pistachio, and Twilight Blue. If you are lucky, you might be able to exactly match your KitchenAid stand mixer, your vegetable peeler, and your can opener. The company is known for carrying its specialty colors over to multiple gadgets, at least while a given color is still being manufactured. If you are a KitchenAid fan and big on color-matching, this is your gizmo.

As I’ve said before, two speeds in an Immersion Blender are plenty as far as I’m concerned. And, far more important to me, KitchenAid has produced a lightweight stick blender here that weighs only 2 lbs. The diameter of the handle is just about perfect. Without a doubt, KitchenAid continues to design quality. Gotta hand it to them for that.

The only drawback with this KitchenAid is that this model does not come with a whisk. It comes only with the blender-cup attachment and a lidded 3-cup mixing jar. And unfortunately, KitchenAid does not appear to sell the whisk attachment for it separately.  So you can’t buy the base model and then upgrade it later. At least not that I’ve found.

I promise you will find the whisk far too useful to consider purchasing a stick blender without one.

Unfortunately, the only way to purchase a KitchenAid hand blender with a whisk is to buy an “upgraded” model that comes with a whisk. But doing so jumps the price to well over $100. You can see the review of that model farther down in this review.

If you are absolutely certain all you would ever use is the blender portion, then the KitchenAid KHB1231 2-Speed Immersion Blender (without a whisk attachment) is available on Amazon. Prices are variable and change frequently, sometimes from hour to hour in the same day. Some colors cost more than others, some less. At the moment of this post, the two colors that seem to be the best bargains are Pistachio and Midnight Blue.

Braun MQ505 Multiquick Hand Blender

Braun is a German company. Their immersion blender line is German-designed but manufactured in Poland. This is the only model in our review that is not manufactured in China. In fact, it is the only immersion blender on the current American market we could find that is not made in China. So if that is important to you, this is your baby.

Three months ago Braun was the best-selling stick blender on Amazon even though the Austrian-designed Müeller had a higher Customer Rating. But that has changed. Müeller has taken Braun’s #1 spot. But it may have taken Müeller ‘s price gouging to do it.

But that does not mean that Braun makes and inferior product, because it doesn’t.

We LOVE the weight of the Braun. It is only 1.59 lbs, which goes a long way in our book. And it has the smallest circumference of all of the blenders we reviewed, at only 2.2 inches in diameter. So this is great for small or aging hands.

It ships with the standard blender-cup attachment, as well as a whisk and a 20-ounce blender cup. All great so far. Braun definitely makes a quality appliance. That has not changed.

But there are some things we didn’t like about the Braun.

To change the attachments, you have to depress two buttons at the same time, then pull the attachment off with the other hand. Admittedly, that’s  a minor inconvenience, but there’s more. Even though the overall Amazon review rating is high for the Braun, the most recent reviews indicate quality control issues and sketchy customer service. That seems to us to be a bad combination. But worse, a couple of recent reviews mention that the whisk has a tendency to rust if you put it in the dishwasher. For us, that’s unacceptable. Ease of cleaning is huge. And it is one of the most important advantages of using a stick blender.

But those things aside, this Braun is still a top choice of a lot of Amazon customers. And there is a reason for that.

If German-engineering and a non-Chinese factory are overwhelming issues for you, you can find the Braun MQ505 Multiquick Hand Blender on Amazon at a reasonable price. And it certainly is the lightest of the bunch of hand blenders we tested — which goes a long way with prolonged use.

If you are willing to take the time to hand-wash and dry the whisk (we’re not), this is a really good choice.

 

Cuisinart Smart Stick 2-Speed Hand Blender

Like KitchenAid, Cuisinart is a name many know and trust. And I admit, I am one of those loyal Cuisinart lovers. The name is usually indicative of high quality and durable kitchen ware. That may be why this immersion blender falls in the higher price range of our reviews.

But brand loyalty shrinks when it isn’t supported by continued excellence.

This 2-speed Cuisinart immersion blender is a comely Stainless Steel and Black and ships with a whisk and 16-ounce beaker as well as the standard blender-cup attachment. And an addition since our review three months ago, it now comes with a food processor/chopper attachment as well.

But at 3.5 lbs, it is way too heavy to be comfortable to use even if we liked the button configuration, which we didn’t.

The design flaws don’t stop with the weight. We hated the buttons on this model. Instead of the raised hard plastic used on most hand blenders, these buttons are rubberized and recessed into the body of the handle. We found them tiring to hold down. And in looking over Amazon customers reviews, many other customers had complaints about the comfort of use as well. We simply expect better design from an industry leader like Cuisinart.

We wanted to like it. We really did. But unfortunately, we really didn’t.

However, if you are a die-hard Cuisinart fan, you can purchase the Cuisinart CSB-79 Smart Stick 2-Speed Hand Blender here on Amazon. We just honestly think there are better immersion blenders on the market at a lower price than this Cuisinart.

(Sorry Cuisinart. But we are still sold on your food processors!)

 

KitchenAid 5-Speed Hand Blender

The second KitchenAid model we tested is the KHB2561 in Onyx Black.

It comes in at the highest price of the models we tested. But it comes with a whole slew of extras. It has a whisk, a food processor/chopper, 2 containers, an 8″ arm, a 13″ arm, and a storage case — and, of course all with expected KitchenAid quality control.

I’m not sure when the 13″ arm would be important, but I have no doubt it would come in handy. And that does not appear to be an option with any other stick blenders on the market.

On this model, KitchenAid abandoned it’s normal colorful exteriors and went instead with classic neutrals. The finishes vary: Cocoa Art Silver, Contour Silver, and Brushed Stainless in addition to the Onyx Black model we tested in our kitchen. But the colors available on Amazon change pretty much from day to day.

One of the lightest stick blenders we tested, this KitchenAid weighs only 2 lbs. We love that!

But other than the 13″ arm, the rest of the bells & whistles that come with this model are probably not usable in my kitchen. I certainly don’t need any more containers or a case for my immersion blender. There’s already a niche where my immersion blender “lives” in a kitchen drawer and it would be a waste of time and energy to keep such an often-used item in a zippered case. So the storage case seems like more of a marketing ploy than a usable component — unless you plan on traveling with it for cooking demonstrations possibly.

KitchenAid makes a variety of stick blenders and offers an even bigger variety of bundles along with them. But none are under the $100 price point except for the version that has no attachment other than just the blender-cup. In our assessment, a stick blender lacking the whip attachment is simply not a reasonable offering given the other excellent hand-blenders on the market at much lower price points that ship with a whisk. For the purposes we find a stick blender most important, this model is the lowest priced one KitchenAid offers. But hovering at the midpoint between $100 and $200, it is far from cheap.

But there is a lot to love. The “hand” of this KitchenAid model is great. The buttons work easily. It’s light and comfortable in the hand, ergonomically well-balanced. Honestly, we can find no fault in this blender. Except for the price.

The bottomline is: We love the KitchenAid. But we can get one we like equally as much for less than 1/5 of this price.

Duh. Right?

 

So what’s the So Frenchly verdict?

 
 

 

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