When it comes to choosing between a hand mixer or stand mixer, it's not really a matter of recommendation since both are very practical kitchen appliances, but more about price, versatility, and function. Each type of mixer has its own pros and cons. Many homemakers start with a hand mixer which is more affordable and then add a stand mixer to their line of appliances as they can afford it.
Portable hand mixers generally come with limited attachments such as a pair of removable all-purpose metal beaters, though some models include a few more. Electric hand mixers have replaced vintage manual rotary beaters - collectibles which can still be found in campers or in today's vintage kitchens.
A hand mixer is considered a basic housewares item and usually is one of the first purchases made when someone is setting up a kitchen. Though some models can be pricey, you can often find a hand mixer for less than $30. Compared to mixing a cake batter by hand, a hand mixer does a better job of mixing and blending ingredients. Creaming recipe ingredients, whipping fresh cream or mashing potatoes is much quicker with a hand mixer because of the mixer's power and consistent mixing. A variety of speeds are used for different mixing needs. You'll use a hand mixer often even if you don't tend to bake much.
A stand mixer takes mixing foods to a whole new level. There are a few things to consider if you're interested in buying a stand mixer. It allows you to blend, mix or whip for longer periods without tiring. And since stand mixers generally have much more power than a hand model, you can more easily mix heavier cookie batters as well as knead bread and mix pie dough. We sometimes tend to skimp on mixing minutes when holding a portable hand mixer, but a stand mixer has the power to do a better mixing in less time. And the preset mixing action provides a more efficient blending of ingredients.
Since you can walk away for a few moments to gather ingredients or start clean-up, a stand mixer saves you overall food preparation time and provides hands-off convenience. All of the above leads to an enhanced beating, mixing or blending, and that usually leads to better baking results.
You can basically mix anything you usually do with a hand mixer in a stand mixer. The only drawback is that a portable hand mixer can be used in any bowl or pot, while a stand model is limited to the capacity of its bowl. But you can do more with a stand mixer when it comes to mixing power and heavier batters or doughs. As for storage, a stand mixer can be stored in a cabinet but you'll use it more if located conveniently on the counter. A hand mixer needs the least storage space and is often stored in a deep drawer or in a cupboard.
How to Choose
So which is best for you? At the very least, you should have a hand mixer. But if you're an avid home baker or bake for the sheer benefit and food savings it affords your family, you'll enjoy the extra power and function of a stand mixer. If you often bake for school or social functions, you'll be very glad to have a stand mixer. Some kitchens have both. And stand mixers such as the KitchenAid™ models, offer additional function with special attachments that allow the mixer motors to run other helpful kitchen tools. Such a multifunction appliance could save you counter space and money if you intend to purchase all those appliances.
A stand mixer is higher priced than a hand mixer, so you'll want to be sure you'll use one before purchasing. For more buying tips, read my stand mixer buying tips.