For light-duty jobs, hand mixers are an easy way to combine ingredients quickly, and with their low cost are invaluable for most kitchens.
Most hand mixers now seem to come with thin wire-style beaters instead of those with flat blades and a center post. The choice of beaters that are included with the mixer, can be an indication of the mixers strength and price point.
The flat blade-style is far superior at breaking up clumps of solids and blending them into the mixture, but requires a mixer with a heavier capacity motor to move those beaters due to their larger surface area (which is also why they have a central post for added strength and stability).
Personally, I feel the flat blade beaters are by far the best and whenever I do try and use the wire ones, I end up just switching them out since they don't do the same quality of job and take twice as long to do the same thing.
In the photos to the left, I was making a sugar cookie dough. Initially using the wire beaters the dough wouldn't come together any further than small crumbs, no matter how long I mixed it.
Once I switched to the flat beaters, the mixture quickly combined together into a smooth soft dough.
Regardless the type of beater, most of their posts should be a standard size and should be interchangeable with your machine (the end that attaches into the mixer).
The hand mixer I use did not come with the flat blade beaters so I found some at a thrift store. I have never had a problem with the machine bogging down using a blade style that it did not originally come with it.
Things to look for when buying
- Mixers with flat bottoms are the most stable when you need to rest the mixer. Some have contoured undersides so as to rest it on the side of the bowl. But if you have light-weight plastic or metal bowls, the added weight of the mixer on the side can cause the bowl to topple over. The Black & Decker mixer pictured right has 2 angles of flat edges, however the back edge you want rest the machine down on isn't long enough so it is very easy to tip over (especially if there is a added weight from batter on your beaters). Choose those mixers with a large (single) flat bottom.
- 3-5 speed settings are all that is needed for any hand mixing task.
- Balloon-style whisk attachment is ideal for whipping cream or egg whites. They whip these up in half the time of the regular beaters with great results.
GFC Tried & Tested Recommendations
If you do a lot of baking, a stand mixer can be a great investment. It has the capacity to mix up larger and thicker batters, and run for longer periods of time without fear of burning the motor out.
But its most convenient feature is its hands free mixing capability - allowing you to prepare other foods/ingredients at the same time, increasing your productivity (in theory anyway!).
What to look for when buying
- Beaters that revolve around the bowl are better for more thorough mixing, than those that have the bowl revolving around stationary beaters.
- Beaters that touch the bottom of the bowl will do a quicker job of blending than those that don’t. Some beaters have a rubber edge on them that acts as a spatula to scrape the bowl they turn (this Flex Edge beater is an extra attachment for Kitchen Aid, but is well worth the additional cost ~$30).
- When investing in a mixer, you want to make sure that it can handle a multitude of tasks. Aside from the beater/paddle attachment, ensure it also has a wire whisk for whipping cream and egg whites. For gluten free bread making, you won’t be needing the dough hook so don't invest in one if your machine doesn't come with it.
- How much the mixer weighs is important - they are supposed to be heavy. When mixing at high speeds and/or with stiff batters, you want a machine that is heavy enough so it will not dance around the counter when its running.
- Especially for mixers, quality is tied to price. Which is why Kitchen Aid stand mixers rarely fall below the $200 mark even on sale. These are the best non-professional mixers on the market, and are worth the investment. With heavy duty fabrication and strong motors, these machines will last over 10 years if taken care of. The one thing that you need to watch for is when the grease that is in the housing just above the beater, starts to break down. You'll notice a dark brown oil stain coming from the silver band (see picture). Over time (and heat), this originally thick white grease will break down turning dark brown and begin to separate. Once the oil has separated out it will be thin enough to leak out of the gasket. It is not hard to fix this problem yourself and there are several YouTube videos that can show you step by step how to replace the grease.
GFC Tried & Tested Recommendations
All the products that we have recommended to you have been tried and tested in our Gluten Free Club Test Kitchen, and have been chosen as our top picks based on their:
- Quality of the task they are designed to do
- Quality of manufacturing/Longevity
- Best value for your money
If you decide to purchase any of the items we recommend, Amazon will send a small percentage of the purchase price to the Gluten Free Club (at no extra cost to you!). We appreciate and value your support, thank you!