Hand blenders, or immersion blenders, sometimes get a bad rap as kitchen appliances. Some cooks consider them toys, not serious blending tools. Others look at them as good for only frothing a drink or beating eggs. Those are unfair descriptions, a well made hand blender, like the Mueller Austria Ultra Stick, is a very useful small kitchen appliance and can be used for a surprisingly wide range of kitchen tasks. It’s not a toy, it’s a very handy home blender that should be in your kitchen.
An immersion blender is meant to be stuck into a bowl or jar with the intention of blending, mixing or frothing whatever ingredients are in that jar. Some basic uses of an immersion blender are to whip cream (it works really well for this!), froth cream or milk for a beverage, blend ingredients for a smoothie, mix soups, make salsa and other kitchen chores that you don’t want to do by hand.
A hand blender is a stick with a motor on one end with the other end that is immersed into the mixing jar. The mixing end usually has a blade system that is covered by a stainless steel casing cap and can be switched out with a wire whisk. A powerful motor is at the other end and the whole unit only weight about 2 1/2 pounds. Clean up is a breeze, you can put the wire whisk and the blade assembly in the dishwasher when done.
Portable Yet Powerful
As opposed to a traditional countertop blender, a hand held doesn’t have a mixing jar and can be used anywhere at anytime. Mixing and blending is best when you use a jar, beaker or glass that has a flat bottom. The blades are covered by a cap (cowling) for safety but they don’t move and can’t bend with curves. The whisk attachment does work fine with curved bottom jars, but it is meant for liquids only.
This immersion blender has a surprisingly powerful 500 watt motor. There are some traditional blenders that don’t have motors this strong. 500 watts gives the blender enough power to blend bananas, mix salsa or handle other chunky ingredients. You can’t chop foods with an immersion blender, you need a countertop blender or a food processor to do that task.
The motor end of this blender is also the grip end. If you are going to use a hand held blender, it had better be designed properly. Luckily, this unit is very well designed and easy to handle, even if you don’t have a lot of hand strength. The grip is sure, not slippery, and has well placed grips on both sides. This is a two speed appliance and the control is very basic and simple. You choose the right speed and turn it on. No programming, no wondering if you have picked the correct speed.
There are two attachments included with the Mueller Austria Ultra Stick blender. The milk frother is wonderful if you like lattes or other espresso drinks. You can froth cream or milk in a second and add it to your drink. A whisk is the other attachment and it does the same chores that a whisk on a mixer will do. You can beat eggs, mix soups or blend sauces with this attachment. All of the mixing attachments are easy to remove and can go right into the dishwasher for easy cleaning.
There are some things that you can’t do with an immersion blender that you can do with a traditional countertop blender. You can’t crush ice, a popular use for blenders and mixed drinks. Some ice crushing can be done with the blade system, but it is a lot of work and the results are uneven. A hand blender is not made to chop fruits or vegetables, another popular task for countertop blenders. You can blend and puree fruits and veggies, but you have to start out with small pieces of any ingredient.
Why buy this hand held blender? It’s small, it’s portable and light weight, and it is very convenient. Clean up is easy and, best of all, it’s inexpensive. Retail pricing for the Mueller Austria Ultra Stick is usually less than $30, quite a bit less than a traditional counter top.
Why shouldn’t you buy this blender? It’s limited as to what it can actually do. If your recipe calls for a lot of chopping of fruits and vegetables, you won’t be happy with this unit. Maybe you use your blender to make frozen drinks. That won’t go well with this appliance, crushing ice isn’t a task that this blender does well.
Overall, we recommend this hand held blender. Your budget may limit you to only one blender, but if you can afford it, having both a hand held immersion blender and a traditional countertop model will make your cooking and baking experiences much more pleasurable.