There are some obvious differences between hand mixers and stand mixers, but there are more subtle ones that might surprise you. I tend to keep both types of mixers in my kitchen because they serve difference purposes. They can basically do the same thing, but I like having both for the sake of convenience and the sake of perfection — often not at the same time. If you’re trying to decide whether it’s better to spend the money on a big stand mixer or save some dollars by going with a hand mixer, there are a couple things to consider.
Cost is a big factor. A good stand mixer can run more than $400, while a good hand mixer might only cost $40. That’s a 10x difference. Before you spend a small bundle on a stand mixer, you should be pretty sure you’re going to use it and feel you’re going to get your money’s worth out of it. Otherwise, you could end up resenting that gigantic mixer every time you see it sitting in the cupboard, for the hole in your wallet where your money used to be.
What You’re Making
If you’re big on baking breads or making large quantities of whatever you do make, a stand mixer is a really good idea. They are equipped to more easily cut through thick doughs and you are able to get a lot more done without wearing out your arms. With a good stand mixer, you just have to drop in the ingredients, let it work, and check on it periodically to make sure all is well.
On the other hand, if you’re just planning on making cake mixes and other, simple recipes that don’t require a lot of continuous mixing, a hand mixer should be able to take care of your needs. They don’t require a lot of power, and they’re great for quickly making real mashed potatoes that can still be a little lumpy (because, yum) or just making simple items. In those cases, you can probably really save a good bit of money and have absolutely zero problems.
If you’re looking for the most functionality possible, you’ll want a stand mixer. They have a lot more available options, and they can become almost any kitchen tool you need, short of a coffee maker. You can get pasta makers, milkshake makers, slicers, and other crazy stuff that plugs right into the top of a stand mixer or works with the mixing head.
If you just want minimal attachments like the ones that come standard with a stand mixer for a little less money, a hand mixer should really do the trick. While your stand mixer can still do all that and way more, if you don’t need it, you don’t need to spend the money on one.
Take Your Pick Or Get Them Both
I’m not big on spending extra money unnecessarily, but you can manage to get everything you need and more by getting both a hand mixer and a stand mixer. You’ll find situations where the hand mixer is more convenient because you don’t have to spend a bunch of time setting up and then cleaning the entire mixer afterward. You’ll also run into times when the stand mixer is the way to go because if you have to stand for 30 minutes with the mixer in your hand, your upper arm is going to fall off or you’re going to wish it would. When I got my first stand mixer, I didn’t ever think I would use it as much as I did, but now that I don’t have one, I feel totally paralyzed.
My personal suggestion would be to get both so you have a fully filled out set of options in your kitchen, but I’m not the one who has to use them, nor do I know what your budget will allow. I know I will be getting both and replacing my dear departed mixer that died while we were moving, but that’s me. Decide what’s best for your own situation, and get your mix on!