So you’ve got all the tools to make that delicious cake you have been dreaming about all week yet you are sitting here scratching your head trying to figure out which attachment to use; the beater vs whisk attachment?
Although you might think that both attachments can be used interchangeably, the whisk and beater are actually very different from one another. They have very different functions: one is designed to incorporate ingredients and the other is made to beat air into mixtures.
So which one should you use? The answer to this question very much depends on what you are making! Let’s look at this beater vs whisk business in a bit more detail.
What does a beater attachment look like?
Depending on whether you have a stand mixer or a hand mixer, the beater attachment might look slightly different. But ultimately, both types of mixers do the exact same thing.
On a stand mixer
On a stand mixer, the beater attachment is most commonly known as a paddle or a flat beater. It takes this name because the attachment looks like a flat rounded triangle. It has 2 to 4 crossbars going through the middle which helps the batter fold over itself and is installed by twisting it in place.
Because stand mixers are much bigger and significantly more powerful, they are idel for mixing larger quantities of stiff batter. As well as the flat beater, you also usually get a balloon whisk or wire whip with your stand mixer. Depending on the model you might also get a dough hook, a bowl, and sometimes a splash guard.
Some models also have a flex edge paddle attachment which has a flexible silicone edge. The flex edge helps scrape the bowl as it rotates around the bowl, minimizing the need to manually scrape down the bowl. You can find a flex edge beater with just one silicone side or one where the whole beater is covered.
On a hand mixer
With a hand mixer, you usually get two beaters. A beater on a hand mixer is more like a mixing blade without being sharp. Each beater has 4 metal blades with rounded edges that all connect back to the main body of the beater.
Hand mixers are great for mixing smaller quantities as you get more control over the mixture. With a hand mixer, you usually just get the two beaters. Some higher-end models will also include a whisk and dough hooks. As an electric mixer is hand-held, you tend to buy a bowl separately.
Similar to stand mixer models, you can find hand mixers that offer silicone-covered beaters which helps scrape the bowl and minimizes the annoying clinging of the beaters around the bowl.
What does a whisk attachment look like?
The whisk, also known as a balloon whisk or wire whip, looks pretty much the same on both a stand mixer and a handheld whisk. It is made up of 6-11 wires that all meet back in the center of the attachment. You can also get a manual whisk too.
What do these attachments do?
The beater attachment will become your best friend in the kitchen. I use it to make most of my cakes, cupcakes, cheesecakes and I even sometimes use it to mash potatoes with. It is truly the most versatile attachment for both hand and stand mixers.
The beater and paddle attachment is used to combine and incorporate ingredients without beating too much air into the batter. It does this by gently folding the cake batter over the crossbars. Traditional cakes like a victoria sponge or a typical chocolate cake use self-raising flour or other leavening agents to help the cake rise. So, beating air into the mixture is not required.
If you beat too much air into a cake that already has leavening agents, it is very likely that it will collapse in the oven and come out looking very flat and rubbery.
The beater is also used to cream ingredients together, like sugar and butter to make buttercream frosting.
Rule of thumb: when in doubt, reach for your beater or paddle attachment.
The whisk is best used for baked goods that are very light in texture. For example, a chiffon cake or angel food cake will require the use of a whisk as it relies on beaten egg whites to get its fluffy texture.
A balloon whisk, also known as a wire whip, beats the mixture just like a paddle attachment or beater would. The only difference is that it has wires and is not flat. When whisked at a high speed, the wires push air through the mixture and create bubbles. These bubbles add air into the mixture causing it to double in size and become fluffy and light in texture.
The balloon whisk is most commonly used to beat egg whites into meringues or thickening cream into whipped cream.
If you have a hand mixer and are wondering why there are no whisks included, the beaters on a hand mixer can also be used as whisks. Just watch which speeds you select when using your hand mixer. If you are beating ingredients for heavy mixtures like cake, use the lower speed settings. If you are whipping meringues or double cream, use the higher speed settings.
Hand-held whisks are also worth a shout. They are so versatile and can be used for so many things. I tend to use my manual whisk for smaller baking jobs where I don’t need to bring out my big stand mixer, and for cooking. When I am making a roux, for example, I will reach for the hand whisk to break up the flour and butter. I also use it when I am making custards or curds as well as pancake batter.
How to use the beater and whisk attachments
Both attachments are really easy to install and use. On a stand mixer, the paddle and whisk is installed by placing it in the shaft just underneath the head of the stand mixer. Lock the attachment into place and you are good to go.
Make sure that your mixer is turned off on the wall while you are attaching the accessories. This goes for any type of attachment. Depending on whether you have a tilt head mixer or a bowl lift you might need to tilt the head of the mixer back before you attach the beater or whisk.
To remove the attachment, turn the mixer off from the wall, tilt the head back or lower the bowl depending on whether you have a tilt head or bowl lift, twist the attachment to unlock it and remove it.
On a hand mixer, you will usually find two holes underneath the head of the mixer. Those two holes are where you attach your accessories. The process is similar to what you would do with a stand mixer. Just twist the attachment into place and it locks it in.
To remove the attachments, all hand mixers have an eject button on the handle of the mixer. Press the button and the attachments will eject. Again, make sure that your hand mixer is turned off when you are doing this so you don’t accidentally lose any fingers!
Okay so now you have installed your attachment, how do you use them? That is the easy part! Turn the mixer to the desired speed and let your attachment do its thing by beating and mixing.
If you are using a hand held whisk, the easiest way to put as much air into the mixture is by mixing really rigorously. If you are making a curd or custard, gently swirl the whisk around the bowl rather than mixing really hard.
If you are still scratching your head wondering which attachment you need to use, take a look at my quick guide with some of the most popular baked goods we make alongside the most suitable attachment.
Don’t forget that if you have a hand held electric mixer, the beaters also double up as your whisks.
|Beater/Paddle Attachment||Wire Whip/Manual Whisk|
|Creaming Butter and Sugar||Heavy Cream|
|Cupcakes||Custards (gentle whisking)|
|Mashed Potatoes||Pancake Batter (gentle whisking)|
|Roux (gentle whisking)|
|Very light mixtures (chiffon, angel cake, tiramisu etc)|