When it comes to beating egg whites, whipping heavy cream, or creaming butter with sugar, it’s hard to top a hand mixer. Sturdy and powerful, they’re a mere fraction of the price of a stand mixer, not to mention easy to clean and stash in a cabinet or drawer. To find the best of the best, I put 12 models to the test. These two delivered near flawless performances.
KitchenAid 9-speed digital hand mixer
$89.95 at cooking.com
Although this mixer lacks the bells and whistles of many other models, its superb performance and simple, satisfying design made it my favorite. Compact, well-balanced, and light (it weighs 2 pounds versus the average 2-1/2), this mixer excelled in all of the tests: It whipped cream and beat egg whites in just 80 to 90 seconds, mixed cake batter with ease, and worked its way through heavy, dense cookie dough without a single sputter.
As for its design, some of its most subtle features are its smartest. For example, you don’t have to push the “up” button nine times to hit top speed—just hold it down and the mixer works up through the speeds itself. Its handle feels comfortable in both small and large hands and has a slightly tacky grip that stays firmly in your grasp. It also has “on” and“off” buttons, a nice safety measure (see What to Consider, at right). The real prize, though, is its incredibly quiet motor; even when it’s set to high speed, you can hold a normal conversation. Attachments include beaters (which are rounded, so quieter), dough hooks, a whisk, and a blender rod (for making blended drinks). This model comes with a one-year limited warranty.
Best Bargain Buy
Waring Pro 10-speed hand mixer
$39.95 at cutleryandmore.com
Although half the price, this model was nearly on par with the KitchenAid in terms of performance. It whipped cream and beat egg whites in 90 to 100 seconds, and it mixed cake batter to perfection. But it was during the toughest test, making cookie dough, that it really stood out: This mixer plowed through the dense mixture without slowing or straining—an uncommon feat for a mixer at this price.
Where the Waring Pro loses a point or two is in its design: It feels somewhat bulky in the hand, is of average weight (2-1/2 pounds), and is about as loud as a typical hand mixer (its squared-off beaters don’t help, making a racket in some bowls). That said, I love the large, easy-to-read LCD timer display; it starts counting up as soon as the mixer’s turned on, which makes it easy to keep track of time, should you need to. It also has “start” and “stop” buttons to prevent the mixer from turning on when you don’t want it to and comes with basic beater attachments only—a good thing, actually, as it spares you from having to store other rarely used attachments. It has a one-year limited appliance and five-year limited motor warranty.