I’m sure most bakers already know that in the world of kitchen appliances, electric mixers are usually lumped into two groups; hand and stand mixers. The former of those is the more powerful, completely hands-free alternative. The latter are the mixers that don’t have a fixed base and require you to maneuver the appliance around the mixing bowl.
Regardless of which electric mixer you own, I’m sure we can all agree that these machines are an absolute lifesaver. Recipes, where electric mixers don’t come in handy, are few and far between. With your trusty mixer prepare to say goodbye to the time-consuming, arm-aching, whipping and mixing.
If you are one of those people who don’t have an electric mixer already… What are you waiting for?!
I’m sure some bakers enjoy the sense of achievement that goes hand in hand with a bit of manual mixing but for the vast majority of us, the benefits of having a perfectly incorporated batter or dough at the click of a button far outways this.
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What happens if you don’t have time to get a shiny new mixer delivered? Don’t worry, you have some options, although it’s going to be a bit tricker (and time-consuming) to get that beautifully mixed batter!
Electric hand mixer substitutes
When you boil it down, your choice of electric hand mixer alternatives is going to come down to either a manual or an electric substitute. Here’s what I think your best options are in both categories.
Without the help of an electric mixer, the chances are you are going to have some good old-fashioned arm power to get the best results. Here are a few tools that might lend you a helping hand.
Best For: Light batters and meringue
A handheld whisk is up there as one of the best hand mixer alternatives on offer. It will come in handy for whipping eggs, mixing light batters, or any other recipe that requires air beaten into the mixture.
You will probably find that a whisk will do a good job at thoroughly mixing your ingredients if you can keep at it for long enough, that is. Prepare to get a sweat on and be whisking away for a while if you are dreaming of those picture-perfect meringue peaks.
A whisk is great for the likes of a Chiffon cake or Genoise sponge but it will undoubtedly struggle when it comes to the thicker batter like cookie dough as the batter will clog up the whisk.
A Wooden Spoon
Best For: Thick batters
If you are planning on making a cake that’s a naturally thicker batter like a carrot or pound cake, for example, then the whisk probably isn’t going to cut it. The chances are the batter will just get caught up in the whisk’s wires and clog up all the gaps. Not only will it make a mess but it’s also a nightmare trying to get the stuck batter out of the whisk.
It’s time to grab that trusty wooden spoon and get to work. You will get more control using a wooden spoon and be able to fold the mixture easily.
Best For: Gently incorporating/folding and icing
A silicone spatula will come in very handy for those times when a little more finesse is required. Not only is it the original inspiration for a stand mixer’s flex edge beater, perfect for scraping every last drop of the mixture out of the bowl, it’s also great for gently incorporating ingredients.
The spatula isn’t really effective at making a cake from start to finish. The silicone is too flexible and it doesn’t have the ability to whip any air, so you will probably use it alongside the whisk or the wooden spoon to fold any meringue to your batter or to gently mix in any last ingredients.
The spatula is best for folding in meringue, making a sheet cake, swiss roll, angel cake and anything that requires a gentle touch.
Best For: Kneading dough
Okay, so this is probably an obvious one but if kneading bread using an electric mixer has become the norm, you might have forgotten that people actually used to knead dough by hand. Crazy right?
By hand, it takes about 25 minutes to get the perfect knead, whereas a good stand mixer will do it in under the 10-minute mark. It’s not just a massive time saver though, a stand mixer will often do a better job of kneading dough than most home bakers. Many bakers will over-flour the dough to compensate for its stickiness, often compromising the texture of the end product.
Nevertheless, finding the right kneading technique is a bit of an art, and a good technique will help develop the gluten stands in the dough, helping make the beauty airy and open-structure bread.
If you want to brush up on your hand-kneading technique, there’s a great little video that will help you nail down the perfect technique.
There are a few other kitchen appliances that might come to your rescue as an electric mixer alternative and save you from the manual labor of the tools mentioned above.
Best For: Cake batter, cheesecake (cream cheese)
Your stand blender and immersion blenders can both come in handy for baking if you are in desperate need. It is quite effective at mixing all the wet ingredients but it will not whip much air into your batter, so the end texture might not be what you want.
If you do use your blender, mix in the eggs, melted butter and sugar until light in color. Tip the wet mixture out in a bowl and start folding in the dry ingredients. You could mix all the batter in the blender but you do run the risk of over-mixing as blenders are very powerful. If you overmix, you will develop too much gluten in the flour and the texture of the cake will not be pleasant.
Going down the blender route is a quick and easy option but be prepared to sacrifice the texture of your cake.
It is also good for making a baked cheesecake batter. Here’s a great video showing you how to make a simple sponge cake with the help of your blender.
Best for: Kneading dough, whipping cream
I know you are probably raising an eyebrow at this one, but yes, you can knead dough in a food processor. This is the least time-consuming way to knead dough and it can have it ready in just under 90 seconds. Don’t believe me? Here’s Babish proving how effective these machines are for kneading dough.
All you need to do is add all the ingredients and let it knead until you have an elastic dough. You do need a food processor that is powerful enough to withstand the toughness of the dough.
The food processor is also great for whipping cream. Before I got an electric hand mixer, I used to whip cream in my tiny food processor. Not the most efficient as I had to do it in batches but it whipped cream in a matter of seconds. Watch that you don’t over mix and curdle the cream.
What’s your favorite mixer substitute?
There are many electric hand mixer substitutes out there, some more efficient than others. A spatula and a wooden spoon are handy for making cake batters, but you won’t get much air into them. A handheld whisk will definitely make all the difference when whipping up meringues or whipped cream, but be prepared to get your workout done.
Electric substitutes like a blender or food processor can also work well if you are in dire need to make a cake, but ultimately, an eclectic hand mixer will give you the best results in anything you bake.