Cheap cookware usually comes with a small Dutch oven, so we sought out five larger, better options under $80, from enameled cast iron to a stainless stockpot.
During our research we found many hand mixer reviews online, although most are written by consumers, not experts, and consumers tend to be harsh in their assessments. Virtually no mixer under $30 receives a perfect score, as reviewers seem to find something wrong with every model.
Mixing Results.Ingredients are certainly critical to a delicious result, but even the best won't yield a satisfactory outcome if your mixer doesn't perform well. The two Oster models we recommend -- the Inspire (models 2577 and 2534, starting at $18) and the 2500 (starting at $23) -- both seem to have what it takes. The Oster Inspire is noted for its versatility. On the Target website, reviews mention successful meatloaf, bread, cookies, cakes, and muffins. The Hamilton Beach 62650 (starting at $26), another good option, has won over a vast majority of shoppers who have posted hand mixer reviews on the Walmart website. One says it makes quick work of chocolate chip cookie dough. Not so the Oster 3-in-1 Twisting Mixer (starting at $20), which received the lowest score in one expert test with the same type of dough. It was also judged only fair in a test of how fast it could whip heavy cream.
Power and Wattage.Most hand mixer motors draw 150 to 350 watts and our top budget picks range from 240 to 290 watts. lthough marketing materials may emphasize a powerful motor, only a large difference in wattage (say, between a hand mixer and a stand mixer) is likely to translate to a noticeable difference in power output. Experts do say afewer than 175, but they point out that mixing power depends on a variety of other factors, including the design and motion of the beaters.
Hand mixer reviews can shed more light on how powerful a mixer is. Overall consumers have few complaints about a lack of power from the mixers we recommend. In a review on Newegg, one baker comments that the Oster 2500 (starting at $23) has a strong enough motor to cut through thick batters and another user hasn't needed anything beyond the second speed (out of five). The slightly more powerful Oster Inspire had no problem kneading heavy bread dough in a test by the Good Housekeeping Research Institute, which praised the resulting loaves. Reviews of the Oster 3-in-1 Twisting Mixer on Amazon warn that such a feat would not be possible with that diminutive model. It's cut out only for smaller jobs such as mixing drinks and beating eggs.
Ease of Use.Even if you need a mixer for just a few minutes, you should be able to handle it with ease and comfort. If possible, shop for mixers in person and get a feel for your chosen model before you buy. Look for one that's well-balanced and light enough to hold until you finish the job. Some mixers feature conveniences such as retractable cords, swivel cords (for left-hand use), and extra grip, although consumers shouldn't necessarily expect these from a cheap model.
Based on shipping weight and consumer feedback, the Oster 2500 totals no more than 3 pounds, which is on the low end for a budget mixer. It is one of the few low-cost mixers with an ergonomic design aimed at making the task more comfortable. Not many mixer reviews address the comfort or control of the Oster 2500, but on Amazon one reviewer mentions it has a comfortable handle and another appreciatively notes the compact size. At 4.3 pounds in the box, the Hamilton Beach 62650 weighs enough to draw some complaints in reviews at Walmart. Still, several other reviewers say they don't mind the weight. The Oster Inspire is a little lighter than the Hamilton Beach but still weighs 4 pounds. Although it may be too heavy for some, a few reviewers on Amazon point out that the added heft makes this mixer feel more solidly made than other cheap models. Both of the Oster mixers on our list of top picks have dishwasher-safe beaters for easy cleaning and the Inspire features a retractable cord.
The Oster 3-in-1 Twisting Mixer is the lightest model we researched, at about 1.6 pounds. Users who have posted hand mixer reviews on Amazon find this cordless model easier to call into service than a full-size hand-held or stand mixer for things like beating eggs, smoothing gravy, and whisking oil into made-from-scratch salad dressing. However, some have found it challenging to keep the mixer charged.
Durability.For the most part, low-cost hand-held mixers seem to last at least several years, depending on how often they're used and how heavy their regular workload. Only a few consumers comment specifically on longevity in hand mixer reviews. One owner of the Hamilton Beach 62650 reports on the Walmart website that the mixer is nearing two years of reliable service. The Oster Inspire is capable of lasting for at least five years, according to one reviewer, who admits on the Target website to not treating appliances very well. It's important to care for your mixer as directed if you want it to last. Mishandling a mixer can also negate the manufacturer's warranty. Back to top »
You can pick up one of these four recommended cookware sets for yourself or for a gift on a budget of less than $80.
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