If you already own a countertop blender, you might wonder what additional role, if any, an immersion blender could play in your kitchen. For the most part, the benefits of an immersion blender, a.k.a. stick blender or hand blender, come down to convenience.
While a countertop blender can do nearly everything a handheld immersion blender can, its size and bulkiness make it impractical for small jobs and small kitchens. Owning an immersion blender means that when it's time to emulsify a sauce, purée vegetables, or smooth out a creamy soup, there's no need for a clumsy transfer of ingredients from cooking vessel to blender jar, with the attendant risks of splashes or burns. All you need to do is plug in this handy device, and you'll be ready to blend, directly in the cooking pot or other container of your choice. That makes cleanup a lot easier, too.
Once you've gotten your hands on a trusty, high-quality immersion blender, there's no shortage of ways to put it through its paces. Try cooking your way through these 17 recipes—including rich and warming butternut squash soup, a quick and easy aioli for dipping, and two takes on cauliflower purée—all of which take full advantage of this magical machine.
Soups and Vegetable Purées
Chicken Paitan Broth (Tori Paitan Dashi)
Perfect as the base for a bowl of creamy ramen, this chicken paitan broth was originally designed as a "second broth" (niban dashi) made from the leftover ingredients from our chintan shoyu recipe, but you can just as easily make it from fresh chicken and vegetables instead. Here, an immersion blender allows you to quickly and easily blitz chicken bones and water directly in the pressure cooker; when strained, the resulting broth is milky, rich, and flavorful. If you're crazy for the tonkotsu broth you've tried at ramen shops, think of this as a close cousin that's just as tasty and far easier to make at home.
Smooth and Silky Cauliflower Purée
Puréeing lightly simmered cauliflower with butter, aromatics, and vegetable or chicken stock turns this often-bland vegetable into a rich, silky, memorable side dish. It's ideal served alongside a crisp-skinned roast chicken and jus.
Rich and Nutty Roasted-Cauliflower Purée
While a simple, mild cauliflower purée makes a great complement to a meaty main course, this robustly flavored version is better suited to a more central role. Here, we roast the cauliflower until it's taken on a nice amount of color, and brown onions and garlic in butter before blending all the ingredients together, so every element of the purée contributes its own deep nuttiness. Try serving this alongside a more modest main, like poached fish or chicken, or go all out and dollop it next to a sizzling steak.
Easy, Summery Zucchini-Basil Soup
This is the perfect dish to make if you find yourself drowning in zucchini and basil from your garden, and it's incredibly quick to boot. Zucchini's high water content means that it breaks down in record time, allowing it to retain the lovely bright-green color you see in the finished soup here. We blend the squash with leeks, celery, garlic, and plenty of basil for a refreshing and summery soup—an immersion blender placed directly in the saucier turns it silky-smooth in a flash.
Broccoli Cheese Soup
A lot of the broccoli cheese soup out there is essentially a bowl of liquid cheese, with very little broccoli in the mix. We didn't want to stray too far from the classic version with this recipe, but we did take steps to make the broccoli more of a player. Charring the florets and simmering the stems before blending it all with aromatics and two cheeses not only minimizes waste, but builds in layers of different types of broccoli flavor, too.
Classic Butternut Squash Soup
The key to a really delicious butternut squash soup is—perhaps unsurprisingly—concentrating the flavor of the squash itself. To do that, we roast the squash until it's deeply browned and caramelized, then blend it with a base of browned butter and sautéed onions. Looking for a similar soup that's not quite so deeply flavorful, but still very tasty and suitable for a weeknight? This 35-minute stovetop butternut squash soup has you covered.
Perfect Refried Beans (Frijoles Refritos)
Some of us like our refried beans creamy and smooth, while others prefer them slightly chunky, with the occasional whole bean dotted throughout. This master recipe allows you to choose exactly how to make them: with black beans or pinto beans, cooked with either lard or vegetable oil, adapting them to be chunky or smooth. If you like your refried beans on the chunky side, you can probably get by using a potato masher for a rough mash; for those who want a smoother consistency, an immersion blender is your friend.
Sauces and Condiments
Quick and Easy Italian-American Red Sauce
This sauce aims to give you all the flavor of a slow-cooked tomato sauce, but in much less time—about 40 minutes. Tomato paste adds a concentrated, long-cooked flavor, while a mixture of dried oregano and fresh basil contributes Italian-American flavor and freshness. We use canned whole tomatoes puréed with an immersion blender, which tend to be better in quality than canned crushed tomatoes.
Italian Salsa Rossa (Tomato and Bell Pepper Sauce for Boiled Meats)
Is this salsa delicious with tender, simmered meats, like our classic bollito misto? Absolutely. Can you eat it with just about anything else? You sure can, and probably should. The bright-orange sauce is a combination of tomatoes, roasted red pepper, and sautéed aromatic vegetables, thickened with a panade made from bread and vinegar and infused with salty richness from Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese.
Italian Salsa Verde With Parsley and Capers
Like the salsa rossa above, this bright sauce, a creamy mixture of parsley, capers, anchovies, garlic, lemon juice, and a hard-boiled egg, is good on nearly anything. (It doesn't hurt that it requires no cooking and comes together in about 10 minutes.) The egg helps emulsify and enrich the sauce, while salted capers add a sharper, cleaner finish than brined ones.
Whipped Feta Dip
There are plenty of feta dip recipes out there, most of them calling for cream cheese or a mixture of sour cream and mayonnaise as a creamy base for the sharp feta. We opt for thick Greek yogurt instead, whose tartness makes a good complement for the salty cheese. All it takes is blending the yogurt and feta with a little minced garlic and olive oil to produce a smooth, flavorful, versatile condiment that's terrific with sliced fresh tomatoes, crudités, pita, and much more.
Foolproof Two-Minute Hollandaise
Traditional Hollandaise sauce can be a real pain to make: Overcook the eggs and you wind up with scrambled eggs; undercook them and the sauce will be too thin; get the temperature wrong and it'll break and separate. That's a lot of stress to take on for a sauce. But using an immersion blender to emulsify it makes it fast and just about impossible to mess up. In a method that's similar to the one used for our two-minute homemade mayonnaise, simply combine egg yolk, water, lemon juice, salt, and melted butter in a small container, and the blender will make short work of the ingredients to produce a perfect Hollandaise. It's essential here to use a container that just barely fits the head of your blender.
Foolproof Béarnaise Sauce
Very few things go better with a perfectly seared steak than creamy Béarnaise sauce. The only catch? A traditional Béarnaise, which replaces the lemon juice from a Hollandaise with vinegar, white wine, shallot, and herbs, is very easy to mess up. This version uses hot butter and an immersion blender for a sauce that you couldn't get wrong even if you tried.
While we're on the topic of fast and foolproof, we'd be remiss if we didn't mention this two-minute aioli. While a traditional aioli combines nothing more than garlic and olive oil using a mortar and pestle, our updated version calls for an egg yolk to help bind the sauce, which emulsifies in no time with the help of an immersion blender. We particularly love this aioli as a dip for grilled asparagus.
Homemade Pistachio Cream
To make this lovely pale-green chantilly, we rely on an immersion blender to whip together Homemade Pistachio Paste with cream. The resulting topping is thick, creamy, and perfect for dolloping onto ice cream sundaes or fruit tarts, or just eating out of the container with a big spoon.
The Best Applesauce
For an applesauce that's a step beyond what you're used to buying at the supermarket, we cook unpeeled apples with Toasted Sugar, apple cider vinegar, and aromatics like cinnamon and orange zest. Once the apples have been cooked until they're fall-apart tender, simply blend them until smooth with an immersion blender. This is an applesauce to spoil you for all store-bought options.
Vegan Chocolate Chip Cookies
When we say these vegan chocolate chip cookies are as good as their nonvegan counterparts, we really mean it. An oat slurry, made by combining rolled oats and water and puréeing with an immersion blender, gives the cookies necessary protein and helps to emulsify the dough without eggs. Roughly chopped chocolate flavors and thickens the dough, while refined coconut oil makes an ideal stand-in for butter.