The difference between mixers and blenders can be very confusing, especially if you don’t know anything about kitchen appliances.
Professionals or regular home cooks will be able to tell both apart in a heartbeat but you would be surprised by just how many people get confused between the two because of their similarities to other appliances.
What is the difference between a mixer and a blender? A mixer is a machine that mixes ingredients using a mixing tool. It is used to beat eggs, make dough, or whip cream. Meanwhile, blenders are equipped with sharp blades that cut through dense ingredients like herbs, whole spices, fruits, and more.
Read below to learn more about the differences between mixers and blenders and how to use them in different everyday scenarios!
What Are Mixers?
The best way to tell each appliance apart is to associate a task with them. In the case of mixers, think of them as a tool for bakers.
Mixers mix ingredients to form different things. For example, you can add flour, milk, eggs, salt, sweeteners, and other flavorings in a stand mixer to make cake batter!
Mixers are equipped with a beater or a mixing device that smoothly mixes or emulsifies liquids and other dry ingredients. The best thing about them is that they are extremely versatile and can be modified to fit different scenarios.
For instance, to make a dough, you can swap out the beater for a dough hook that can easily knead the dough to perfection.
The designs of mixers also set them apart from blenders. A mixer will usually consist of a mixing bowl, a powerful motor, a stand, and a beater and hook attachment.
Since mixers are somewhat modular, you can either swap out parts or add different modules to modify the purpose of the mixer. There is where things can get a bit confusing.
But don’t worry, you’ll catch on quickly!
Let’s take the example of the trusty KitchenAid Mixer that has been helping bakers make all the delicious treats you love since the early 1900s.
Primarily, the KitchenAid is marketed first as a mixer and then as a multipurpose machine for different uses.
What’s great about the KitchenAid is that it can be modified to fit different tasks. For example, you can either use it to make all sorts of baking goods or you could also simply swap out the parts for some other purpose.
The perfect example of this is how KitchenAids can be attached to a meat grinder!
So, in summary, mixers are primarily used for baking goods but can extend their purpose to other things too. A simple way of remembering each is to identify the appliance by its design and purpose.
What Are Blenders?
In comparison, blenders are similar machines that operate via a high-powered motor, much like a mixer. But in this case, a blender is used to finely chop food and to cut dense dry and wet ingredients.
Blenders have come a long way, from the old days when people used to chop food manually to now when you can just make a smoothie by blending fruits, vegetables, and other hard ingredients with a push of a button.
These appliances are equipped with an extremely sharp blade that can withstand the weight and density of ingredients as they move.
The basic idea behind blenders is that they can finely chop food, and in some cases, turn them into liquid as well.
A great example of its use is in the making of thick sauces, whole spice blends, or chutneys. To render these ingredients you will need something that can turn solid food into powder or liquid form—and this is where blenders shine!
The stainless-steel blade on blenders is sharp enough to not just cut through hard nuts or grains but they can also blend and emulsify dressings too.
In general, blenders are great for blending wet and dry ingredients. You may have noticed that most of the ingredients used in mixers are soft and pliable. Whereas in blenders, you can mix solid, rigid, and soft ingredients in different ways.
These appliances come in many different shapes and sizes but are usually cylindrical. A great example would be this Hamilton Beach Blender that can be used for 12 different functions!
The cylindrical shape is what allows blenders to emulsify, liquefy, and “blend” food together by creating a powerful rotating vortex.
The tornado, or vortex, moves food from the top to the bottom side where the blade is located. This way, everything is chopped until it is completely blended!
Also, try not to confuse blenders with food processors. These are two different appliances that serve the same purpose but in different ways.
An important aspect of blenders is that it usually uses wet ingredients or liquids (like water) to efficiently blend food.
A more appropriate use of blenders would be if you were to make chutneys. A basic chutney requires herbs, whole spices, and just a bit of water to get the vortex going.
Sure, you can just use dry ingredients but since blenders are powerful enough to separate oils from food, you would just end up with a lot of splattered mess, unless you use a liquid base to blend food.
Blenders are available in different sizes, you can use the larger ones to make smoothies while the smaller ones can easily make sauces, blend onions, and pulverize whole spices.
There is another, popular, type of blender called an immersion blender. This machine is used to blend food directly in the pot.
Think of this as a handheld blender that you can “immerse” in food to blend directly instead of moving the ingredients into a separate appliance.
Basically, you bring the appliance to the food rather than the other way around. These blenders are similarly powerful and can easily and conveniently blend food within seconds!
Nowadays you can find different types of modular immersion blenders that can be fitted with different mixing tools. For example, the Mueller Ultra-Stick features a modular design where you can swap out parts for different purposes.
Again, just like the KitchenAid, blenders are first and foremost a machine for cooking and emulsifying purposes rather than a tool for every task in the kitchen, as the marketing would have you believe.
Blenders Vs. Mixers
Here is a chart explaining the differences between these two appliances:
|Tall, Cylindrical with the blade and motor on the base.
|Wide, comes with a stand with a mixing tool and motor attached on top.
|To chop, emulsify or blend wet and dry ingredients.
|To mix (not chop) different ingredients together to form doughs, batters, etc.
|Comes in different shapes. Usually with a small base.
|Usually, large comes with a large base.
|Can be modular, especially when using an immersion blender.
As you can see, both of these appliances use more or less the same mechanism to process food but are termed differently because of how they are designed and what they can achieve.
Using Both Appliances
So, does this mean that you will need both appliances in the kitchen?
Well, yes and no.
The need for each appliance depends on your use. For most home chefs, having both appliances separately is almost a necessity as both machines can fulfill different purposes.
But if you are a full-time baker that only needs an appliance for baking then we would recommend that you go for a high-quality stand mixer.
At the same time, if you want full versatility and control over how you cook food then we highly recommend that you get both appliances.
Most people opt to get separate appliances for convenience purposes and it is not uncommon for someone to purchase both a blender and an immersion blender separately because of how each is used.
Both appliances provide different utility and convenience since they can be used in several ways. In the case of stand mixers, the best way to get the most out of these appliances is to buy attachments.
Modular mixers offer far more utility and convenience if you attach various modular components to them.
For example, we mentioned the use of the KitchenAid as a multi-purpose mixer that can both mix baking ingredients and also process meat and other things using its motor.
This is quite an ingenious way to get the most out of a singular machine. But for general purposes, a singular, high-quality stand mixer is all you will ever need for regular baking use.
To make things simple, we recommend investing in modular blenders and mixers so that you can get the most out of each product without worrying about buying a third or fourth appliance.
Other Similar Appliances
Mixers and blenders can be seen as the foundation upon which other appliances are built.
Just like blenders are used to quickly blend food together, a similar appliance called a grinder uses the same mechanism and methodology but with a more focused output or purpose.
Grinders are used to turn solid ingredients into powder. Now, you might be thinking, a lot of appliances with a blade can do this, just like a food processor—and you would be right!
But the point of having a separate grinder is that it comes in a smaller form factor and can also be included as an attachment for blenders!
To avoid confusion, just associate blenders as appliances with a cylindrical shape that are equipped with really sharp blades.
Meanwhile, mixers are appliances that are equipped with mixing tools or hooks to knead the dough and mix batters.
Similarly, juicers are another type of appliance that uses specialized blades that can finely process fruit pulp.
To make things even more confusing, some juicers come with a detachable top portion that allows you to access the motorhead. The motorhead can fit a blender on top too!
But not all blenders can be juicers because juicers usually require a larger component that needs to sit on top of a larger rectangular base.
However, you can easily use a food processor or blender to juice fruits and vegetables too!
Of course, this isn’t ideal, but when struck with an emergency, you may use either to process fruit juice, just don’t forget to filter the pulp using a fine-mesh strainer!
Mixers and blenders may sound similar but have largely different purposes.
One mixes ingredients to form soft doughs and batters while the other uses an extremely sharp blade to cut through dense ingredients.
Now that you know the difference between the two, here are some related questions!
Can you mix non-baking ingredients in mixers?
Yes, mixers can be used to mix all types of doughs. This includes mixing mincemeat too!
For example, instead of using your hands to mix in the spices and herbs for burger patties, you can instead put everything into a mixing bowl and mix the meat dough using a mixer!
What is the best appliance to make spice blends?
Anything with a blade, i.e., a blender, grinder, or food processor can be used to make all types of spice blends. You may even use each type of appliance interchangeably in some situations too.
The best appliance would be a small grinder that can fit multiple whole spices and turn them into powder.
However, you can similarly use a blender or a food processor to do the same task as well, provided that you have a huge batch of spices to prepare.
Which appliance is more likely to break down?
Since blenders and mixers are equipped with motors and moving parts, both of them can break down.
However, in the long run, mixers are more likely to stand their ground than blenders which are highly dependent on the quality and sharpness of the blades.
A blender is more likely to require maintenance because of its complex blade system and high-powered motor. This is why you should always opt for a brand that produces high-quality and warranty-backed products.
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