A few weeks ago we asked Kitchn readers who cook in small kitchens to share their most essential "pry-it-from-your-fingers" multi-tasking specialty tool or gadget. There were plenty of opinions, but one gadget kept coming up again and again, which gives us confidence to declare it the #1 essential tool for small kitchens. Can you guess what it is?
The immersion blender!
And we heartily concur! The handheld immersion blender is a multi-tasking whizz. It's lightweight and super easy to maneuver, it cleans up easily (soap, water, some parts can even be put in the dishwasher), and you can use it to blend, well, pretty much anything! Creamy vinaigrettes, smoothies, pesto, soup, whipped cream, dips... the list goes on. Top it all off with the fact that it's very affordable ($30 for the basic Cuisinart SmartStick, our favorite brand) and fits in a drawer, and we're sold!
Here's what you, our readers, had to say about it:
I ordered [an immersion blender] months ago and finally gave in and opened the box when I was making a strawberry rhubarb puree. I was a FOOL! Best thing ever and the blender has gone on the shelf. -Jules from Paleo Republic
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I was gifted [a Cuisinart immersion blender that also has a whisk and mini-food processor attachment) ~6 years ago, and used it to its sad demise about a year ago, when I bought the exact same model again. It gets used (any one of the three attachments) every single day. -Carrborogirl
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Immersion blender. We have the Cuisinart one that is a immersion blender/mini food processor/egg beater all in one. It's amazing. We make mango salsa, pina coladas, pureed soups, everything. We specifically registered for it because we just don't have room for a blender or food processor otherwise. -Boatharbor
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An immersion blender was one of the first things I bought on my small budget when I began to cook on a regular basis and use I it for soups, salsa, whipped cream and for beans...probably a few more things too. - thedabble
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I just got the Cuisinart immersion blender over the holidays and, so far, it's handled everything I've thrown at it - soups and smoothies - very well. Very easy to clean, and, if you're like me in a tiny apartment with little to no kitchen storage, one main plus is its tiny storage footprint. - PHDyogi
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If you buy an immersion blender with a "kit", it replaces a ton of one-off gadgets including an ice crusher, blender, and food processor and provides an electronic whisk. The Braun that I use has all of these attachments, and allows me to skip having a separate device for each of these other purposes. -Orchid64
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Looks like the people who don't see the point to an immersion blender are also people who have a food processor and a blender. I can see how you wouldn't want to buy something that duplicates those appliances. However, I don't have an electric mixer or a blender and my mini food processor is on the fritz, so I use my immersion blender for everything now (chopping, blending, whisking). - Pandorathecat
The immersion blender clearly beat out all the competition, but coming in at a close second for the most useful multi-tasking gadget was the food processor. Check out all the recommendations here.
Buy It! Cuisinart CSB-76 SmartStick 200-Watt Immersion Hand Blender, $34.45 from Amazon
More on Immersion Blenders:
• My Essential Appliance: Cuisinart Smart Stick Immersion Blender
• Quick Tip: Use Your Immersion Blender to Puree Fruit
• Immersion Blenders: Should You Buy One?
• Should I Buy a Food Processor or an Immersion Blender?
• I Have a New Immersion Blender! How Should I Use It?
More on Small Kitchen Living
• A Tale of 13 Appliances: What Stays and What Goes
• The Great Appliance Purge: An Update
• 5 Small Appliances You Can Live Without
• Make Small Kitchen Living Easier With this One Tip
(Images: 1. Small electrics composite via The Kitchn; 2. Cuisinart)