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What are the different types of blenders?

Blenders are one of the most versatile machines in the kitchen, whether you’re making margaritas, cream of mushroom soup, or homemade cashew butter, blenders can pretty much do it all. 

Now the question is finding which is the best blender for you?

There are two different types of blenders primarily recognized in the culinary world: the countertop blender and immersion blender. The former is the classic device most of us associate with frozen drinks like watermelon slushies and smoothies; The latter is primarily used to blend dishes you’ve already got cooking on the stove. Understanding how to use a blender properly will help immensely in the kitchen. 

That said, few people know just how multi-functional blenders can be. Below, we detail the two main types of blenders, their strengths and drawbacks, and how to know when each device deserves a starring role in your kitchen.

#1 Countertop blenders

A staple appliance for any kitchen, countertop blenders are a type of full-size blender that breaks down food while standing upright. They’re composed of two main parts: the blender stand and the blending container. 

Countertop blenders have a blender jar that can come in a variety of materials, most commonly in hard plastic, glass, and stainless steel metal.

Even so, glass is typically considered the best blender material. This is because of its:

● Durability – Glass is less vulnerable to abrasion when you’re blending tough, sharp, or bulky ingredients, like ice cubes.

● Lack of porosity – When scratched, glass blending containers won’t absorb food residue, stains, and odors. This is one of the main drawbacks of polymer-based blending containers.

Glass was once the common choice material for blenders, but there are reasons why some people gravitate toward plastic instead. Plastic tends to be much more lightweight than glass. Plastic is also much more durable and when accidents happen in the kitchen, which it too often does, plastic blender jars can take the impact of tumbles and falls. There are different grades of plastic, all safe to use even with hot food, but higher grades of plastic will last longer and take multiple falls without cracking.

Countertop blender uses

Smoothies are arguably the most well-known use for countertop blenders—but this kitchen appliance’s range is virtually infinite. 

Other common uses for countertop blenders include:

● Soups

● Non-dairy milks (e.g. almond)

● Spreads and dips (e.g. hummus)

● Nut butters

● Ice creams and sorbets

● Blended cocktails and frozen drinks

● Milling flours and spices

Countertop blender pros

Endless smoothie-making potential aside, there are some device-specific advantages of owning a countertop blender:

● Versatility – Countertop or kitchen blenders are considered a backbone of any kitchen’s cadre of tools, since they open up an incredible breadth of recipes to experiment with.

● Blending power – Compared with immersion blenders, countertop blenders bring unrivaled pulverizing power to the kitchen. The best countertop blenders can homogenize hard, textured, and even awkwardly shaped foods, like ginger. High quality, powerful motors can even mill grains and spices to make your own customized spice or flour blends. The large, powerful motor will also blitz through foods in seconds and pulverize hard-to-grind foods almost instantly to a velvety smooth texture.

● Portability with accessory attachments – It’s probably not the best idea to tote around your entire countertop blender—but many are equipped with detachable tumblers designed with a sippable cap that you can take on the go. A personal blender enables you to blend up beverages and take them on the road with you. These types of personal blenders are ideal for busy people who love their frappes, smoothies, or protein shakes.

Countertop blender cons

Countertop blenders are undoubtedly heroes of the culinary appliance world, but they do have some limited use cases. Some cons for these types of blenders are:

● Lack of portability and requires using the blender jar – Unlike immersion blenders or a stick blender, countertop blenders may require a degree of forethought when cooking. For instance, if you’re preparing a pureéd soup with a countertop blender, you may have a harder time achieving a velvety consistency. It can also be onerous to migrate batches into the blender and back to the pot again (especially if what you’re blending is piping hot, like soup).

● Producing noise – Immersion blenders may win when it comes to blending high-volume recipes—but countertop blenders are notorious for reaching fever pitches in the kitchen. In other words, compared to a hand blender or stick blender, most countertop blenders are loud. If you’re sensitive to noise, you may be disinclined to use them regularly in your domestic routine. Countertop blenders are powerful machines with larger motors than immersion blenders and will produce much more sound than a smaller but more portable immersion blender.

#2 Immersion blenders

What is an immersion blender? Also referred to as wand blenders, stick blenders, and hand (or even handheld) blenders, immersion blenders are bonafide wizards in the kitchen. They’re made of a handheld “stick” or “wand,” with blades secured at one end (the head) to do the blending.

Unlike a countertop blender, immersion blenders don’t have a built-in vessel for carrying their yields. They’re meant to be used on foods and ingredients being made in separate containers, like a dutch oven or pot on the stove.  

Immersion blender uses

Far and away the most common use for immersion blenders is making soups and stews, particularly of the pureéd variety. 

Immersion blenders are predominantly used to blend or emulsify:

● Starchy vegetables, like potatoes or squash

● Any other cooked vegetables, such as stewed tomatoes or onions

● Dressings and sauces

Immersion blender pros

Anyone who cooks up a storm making soups, salsas, and similar fare would benefit from keeping an immersion blender in their kitchen. These devices are best known for:

● Emulsifying large volumes – If you host large groups for occasions like Thanksgiving dinner or Superbowl Sunday, immersion blenders can help you cook more efficiently. Since they’re not limited by the size of a blending container, the only volume that affects how much you’re able to make is the vessel you’re already cooking in—perfect if you’ve got plenty of mouths to feed.

● Easy to store – Immersion blenders are slim, cylindrical, and relatively lightweight. They slide easily into drawers and won’t take up undue space in your cache of kitchen tools.

● Do more than just blend with attachments - Since stick blenders can remove the blending head, they can also be used to chop, whip, slice, and do so much more with attachments. Accessories such as the food processor attachment, chopper, whisk attachment, and others will give you much more versatility and accomplish more tasks in the kitchen than just blending alone.

Immersion blender cons

As convenient as immersion blenders may be, some kitchen connoisseurs have a few critiques about this style of blender:

● They are not as powerful as countertop blenders - Countertop blenders have a much larger and more powerful motor which results in super smooth and velvety smoothies, soups, and finely milled flours. While immersion blenders have many perks, one being lightweight and easily portable, they instead have a much smaller and less powerful motor. This results in less smooth textures for liquids and they do not produce smooth nut butters.

● They require more physical effort – Immersion blenders are also called “handheld blenders” for a reason. In order to properly blend foods, you will need to hold and maneuver the immersion blender in your blending vessel. Sometimes, this requires moving around and angling the stick blender so that you can fully blend or emulsify all of the foods in your vessel. This can sometimes be a tedious task that, if you are doing it often, can be more efficiently and quickly accomplished with a more powerful and fast countertop blender.

● Their recipe capabilities are more limited – Unlike countertop blenders, immersion blenders are chiefly used for pureés and soups (or other foods cooked within larger vessels). They have their place in the kitchen, and of course as mentioned earlier can be much more versatile with add-ons such as a food processor or whisk attachments. But the smaller and less powerful motor limits the versatility of the immersion blender to rougher textured smoothies and purees.

Countertop vs. immersion blenders: Which should I choose?

Countertop and immersion blenders were invented and developed for different applications, recipes, and culinary objectives. So, if you value versatility in the kitchen or have an adventurous spirit when it comes to cooking, you’ll likely want to keep both in your kitchen.

To minimize the cons and get the most out of your countertop blender, look for models that have:

● A range of controls – Different recipes require different consistencies, which require different blender settings. If you’re making walnut butter, the same blender speed or pre-set program probably won’t work as well.

Amp up the utility of your countertop blender by investing in a machine that has multiple preset blender settings designed for common recipes such as green smoothies. Intuitive programs will make your blender one of the most ambidextrous tools in your kitchen, whether you’re making a finely milled flour, grinding up ice, or keeping it classic with a banana shake.

● Noise reduction capabilities – Dedicated to making a protein shake before your 6am workout? Getting an early start on weekly meal prep but don’t want to disrupt the kids’ sleep schedule? Blenders built with noise-reducing technology can be an enormous boon to those who want to stir it up without causing a ruckus. 

● Style and Looks - Appliances that are truly versatile and get daily use in your kitchen – you want them to also look great on your counter if they’re going to be taking long term real estate in your kitchen. Especially with countertop blenders that are not easily portable and do not tuck away in your drawer (like an immersion blender), you want something that will look good in your kitchen and has both great form and functionality.

As for your immersion blender? You can maximize its strengths by keeping an eye out for features like:

● Reduced suction – Immersion blenders with a bell-shaped design help prevent food from being absorbed into the blades. Not only are these designs much easier to keep clean, but they’ll likewise deliver you a superior product in texture, flavor, and satisfaction factor.

● Comfortable build – User-unfriendliness is one of the top complaints about immersion blenders—but newer models are designed to keep comfort and dexterity top of mind. The more comfortable the model, the more control (and less cramping) you’ll enjoy while you’re blending.

● Additional attachments for the ultimate versatility - Not all immersion blenders are built the same and neither do they come with attachments that add amazing versatility to your kitchen arsenal. Immersion blenders that come with a food processor and/or chopper attachment make small kitchen tasks--such as chopping garlic–a breeze. You can even whip up eggs quickly without cramping your wrist with a whisk attachment or slice or grate cheese with a food processor attachment that includes multiple discs.

Blend it with Breville

It doesn’t matter whether you’re blending up another round of margaritas or your great, great grandmother’s Pomodoro recipe: Choosing the highest-quality, most versatile appliances lets you achieve more than a meal—it lets you make magic.

When you furnish your kitchen with Breville kitchen appliances, you redefine what’s possible in your own kitchen. Our countertop blenders and immersion blenders give you more control over what you make while simplifying your cooking process from top to bottom. With designs made to be displayed on your kitchen counter, you’ll be as proud to have them in your kitchen as you are to use them.

Sources: 

The Spruce Eats. Definition of an Immersion Blender. https://www.thespruceeats.com/immersion-blender-995723

Consumer Reports. Blender Buying Guide. https://www.consumerreports.org/appliances/blenders/buying-guide/


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