Hand blender attachments explained
Hand blenders can be one of the most versatile tools in your kitchen cupboard when you have the right attachments and know-how. Below, we explain what all the common attachments are, and which to use in an array of common kitchen tasks.
A hand blender is unlikely to excel as well at specific tasks as specialist kitchen appliances, like stand mixers as whisking, jug blenders at blending or food processors at chopping vegetables. But a great hand blender helps to replace the need for many different appliances - in turn helping you save cupboard space and money.
Most common hand blender attachments
All hand blenders will come with a main blade head - to be used for most blending jobs, well suited to smoothies or soup. The head can be made of either plastic or metal; plastic will in general be lighter and cheaper than metal, but will also stain more easily.
Most hand blenders will also come with a beaker – a cup-like container, usually with a capacity of a bit over 500ml, and which the blade unit can fit snuggly into when blending in order to minimise splash.
Paying more for a hand blender usually means it will come with more attachments and accessories. This will be useful if you’re looking to do more jobs with your hand blender.
Here are just some accessories that premium hand blenders can also come with:
- Whisk head – either entirely replaces the main blade head, can be used to whisk, whip cream, and mix light cake mixes and batters.
- Star blade head – replaces the main blade head (sometimes called the S-blade head), should be used for shredding meats and mincing.
- Frothing blade head – replaces main blade head, mainly can be used to froth milk but can also mix cake, pancake or muffin batters.
- Masher – replaces the main blade unit, uses a dull plastic blade to mash boiled potatoes.
- Mini chopper – a small stand that the main hand blender unit can be fitted onto, well suited to chop nuts or herbs but could also be able to chop onions or carrots.
- Food processor – a larger stand that the main hand blender motor unit will snap onto, will be larger and take up more space than a mini chopper but is able to handle bigger portions and will in general be better for heavier mixes like pesto or hummus. Can also come with different blades to grate cheese, and slice vegetables.
Which job to do with which attachment?
Some attachments will be able to do multiple jobs, but some jobs require specific attachments.
|Task||Attachment to be used|
|Blending heavier mixes, such as pesto, hummus or salsa||Regular blades and beaker, mini chopper or food processor|
|Blending lighter mixes, such as smoothies or purees||Regular blade head and beaker|
|Blending soup||Regular blade head straight in the saucepan or in beaker, start at a very low speed to avoid splash, or in food processor|
|Chopping nuts, herbs or onions||Mini chopper or food processor|
|Frothing milk||Frothing blade head|
|Making bread crumbs||Mini chopper or food processor|
|Mashing potatoes||Masher attachment straight in the saucepan|
|Mixing light cake mixes and batters||Whisk, although a frothing blade head can also be used in some cases|
|Shredding meat||Star blade head|
|Whisking egg whites||Whisk|
Some hand blenders will come with some nice accessories which aren't essential to do any of the jobs we've stated above. But these extras could come in handy:
- Pan guard – a small plastic rim that goes onto a metal blade head, to prevent it from scratching non-stick pans.
- Splash guard – this either goes on the arm of the hand blender or can act as a lid on the beaker. It will help prevent any splashes from going onto your work top counter.
- Lid for beaker – this makes the blending beaker into a useful storage container, in case you wanted to store your smoothie, soup or puree in the fridge.
- Storage case – self-explanatory - will help keep all the attachments and accessories neat in your cupboard.
Should I get a blender, mixer or food processor instead?
Hand blenders have the ability to replace many other appliances with the right attachments. But if you're specifically looking to do a few kitchen tasks, and do them often, buying a dedicated appliance could work out to be the more worthwhile long-term investment.
Blenders will excel with blending lighter mixes like smoothies and purees. But most will warn against the blending hot ingredients and liquids in them. As such, it is recommended that you don’t use them to blend soup using freshly cooked and hot ingredients.
This is particularly the case with mini or personal blenders, as the heat will cause pressure to build up, which then can’t escape and can lead to the blender bursting.
If you’re looking to get into baking – whether that is whisking eggs into meringue, whipping cream, mixing cake batter or kneading dough – a stand mixer is your best bet. Some will also have special attachments to chop nuts, herbs and spices, but they don’t tend to be quite as good at this as some food processors or mini choppers.
If things such as chopping, slicing and grating are a priority for you, then a food processor could be a better option. A dedicated food processor or mini chopper can be cheaper than a hand blender with these attachments, and is more likely to excel at these tasks, but they won't have the same versatility that a hand blender can offer.