Blenders & smoothie makers
A jug food blender or smoothie maker is a versatile and easy to use kitchen appliance, great for simply blending sauces, soups, smoothies and shakes, and even pureeing baby food.
All blenders have a motor unit and a lidded jug with a small spinning blade at the bottom. Most blenders have a capacity of between 1 and 2 litres. Variable speeds give more blending control with most blenders having at least two speeds.
They are useful for puréeing food, and other prep tasks such as chopping nuts and making breadcrumbs. Some come with an ice crushing function and a mill attachment for grinding coffee beans.
Plastic jugs are lighter for ease of use and storing away, whilst glass jugs are heavier, more solid and less likely to get scratched. If you plan to blend the occasional milkshake or batch of soup, experts say a good, inexpensive blender will suit you well. But if you use your blender on a regular basis, you'll be better off with a sturdier, more powerful model.
A hand blender is an extremely useful and versatile tool for any kitchen, designed to be simple to use and easy to clean and store away. It is deal for quickly and easily blending, or pureeing small quantities. For example, you can blend hot soup in the saucepan, rather than having to transfer the hot liquid into a blender jug.
Hand blenders are ideal for pureeing baby food and some models offer additional attachments for whisking, frothing or chopping.
If you're drawn to the stylish metal hand blenders, remember they will be heavier to hold when blending, which could get tiring.
Food mixers / Stand mixer
A food mixer or stand mixer performs a variety of food preparation tasks, providing you with the tools to create professional, homemade dishes with ease.
A mixer’s main tasks are mixing cakes, kneading dough, whipping and whisking. Mixers are ideal for taking the hard work out of mixing large batches of cakes, dough or batter. Variable speeds give you complete control over your food preparation.
To further enhance a food mixer’s capabilities, some models have additional features allowing you to operate a wide range of attachments such as a pasta maker, a mincer, a liquidiser, a juice extractor, or a food slicer/shredder. Creative possibilities with a mixer are endless.
Another advantage is that they come with a deep, large-capacity mixing bowl and often a splashguard lid, which helps to keep ingredients in the bowl rather than splashing over the kitchen surfaces - something that can be troublesome with a hand mixer.
Hand mixers are essentially electrically powered whisks that you operate with one hand. They're really useful if you don't have the room or budget for a full-sized stand mixer or food processor.
The twin beaters fold plenty of air into the mixture giving it a light, fluffy texture, ideal for making cakes or mousses.
Hand mixers will suit fans of baking who don't want to invest in a pricey stand mixer.
Food processors are ideal for those who want a quick and easy time-saving appliance which will achieve basic tasks in the kitchen with a lot less effort than doing such jobs by hand. A food processor’s main tasks are chopping, slicing, mixing and grating.
They’re smaller in size than mixers and come in a range of designs and capacities. Mini food processors or compact food processors take up less space and are easier to store. Most models come with a knife and dough blade as well as shredding and slicing plates as standard. There are a variety of models available offering various levels of versatility depending on the extra attachments provided.
Additional attachments can include: blender, multi-mill, whisking tool, citrus juicer, dough tool, midi or mini bowl.
Food processors can also mix cakes, whip and whisk, but if this is the main reason you’re buying a food preparation appliance, a mixer may be a better choice.
Make sure you have enough kitchen counter space for the appliance you choose, also think about the height of any cabinets above where you’ll put the food processor that may obstruct the feeding tubes or lids.