Overmixing or undermixing can doom any recipe. Here's what you need to know.

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Hand mixers come in, well, handy. Portable, though still plugged in, these electric mixing tools give you more flexibility than a bulkier stand mixer and more power than working by hand.

You may have kept the decades-old mixer you bought when you moved into your first apartment or maybe you're shopping around for just the right baking tools for your wedding registry. No matter the make or model, when it comes to elevating your baking and cooking, it's important to know how to use your hand mixer correctly.

Though each comes with a slightly different set up, you can always expect two metal beaters and a minimum of three to five speeds. Some mixers may even have ten or more speeds. Selecting the correct speed is as essential to the process as playing the correct tempo for a piece of music. If your cadence is too quick or too slow, it just doesn't come out right. Overmixing or undermixing can doom any recipe. The higher speeds on your mixer are generally best for creating a smooth consistency by beating or whipping while the lower speeds are meant for lighter mixing and creaming. Here's exactly what speed to choose for your cooking or baking needs, though remember to follow your recipe if it calls for something different.

The Ultimate Guide to Hand Mixer Speeds

  • LOW: This setting is for your slow mixing needs. It's best for stirring and combining. Use it for adding dry ingredients, like flour, to a batter or when adding wet ingredients to dry. You should also always start at this setting before increasing your speed.
  • LOW-MED: Semi-heavy batters work best at this speed. You can use it to mix cookie doughs and batters for pound cakes.
  • MED: The middle speed is great for creaming butter and beating frostings or mashed potatoes. It's also the right speed to use if you need to finish a batter by mixing it well.
  • MED-HIGH: This speed is ideal for fast beating or whipping. You might use it to make meringues or to beat frostings or mashed potatoes at a higher speed.
  • HIGH: The highest speed is best for whipping cream and egg whites.

Helpful Hand Mixing Tips

  • Don't forget to start at the lowest speed and work your way up. Gradually increasing your cadence will help keep your ingredients from flying out of the bowl.
  • Undermixing and overmixing can be disastrous. Pay close attention to what your recipe requests.
  • Don't overfill your bowl. Even though your hand mixer is powerful, you can easily ruin the gears by working it beyond its intended capacity.