As we start heading into fall, if you're looking forward to making a lot of soup you'd be hard-pressed to find a more useful tool than the immersion blender. Sometimes called a hand blender or stick blender, these compact kitchen tools are able to puree ingredients right inside your pot or Dutch oven, saving you time and the hazard of transferring hot liquids into a blender.
Immersion blenders with whisk attachments can also make homemade whipped cream in seconds and many come with food chopper cups fitted with blades to turn your immersion blender into a small food processor.
After many hours of blending, whipping and chopping (and a whole lot of leftover soup), these three models made the cut as CNET's top recommendations.
WHAT Breville Control Grip
THE COST $119.95
AVAILABLE FROM breville.com
The Breville Control Grip is incredibly easy and intuitive to use and packs plenty of power, despite lower total wattage than some other blenders that were tested. It also has one of our favorite handles, which is both sturdy and comfortable. This hand blender weighs a manageable 3.8 pounds and has good balance. Even better, the rubber protectors on the bottom of the blade guard prevent it from scratching a pot or Dutch oven.
It comes with four handy accessories: a wire whisk, food chopper bowl, large jug for mixing and an ice crusher attachment that you can screw into the jug for making mixed drinks and smoothies.
WHAT KitchenAid Cordless Blender
THE COST $89.99
AVAILABLE FROM kitchenaid.com
KitchenAid's cordless hand blender has adjustable variable speeds and plenty of power to whip potatoes, blend veggies and emulsify pesto and salad dressings with ease.
The KitchenAid is easy to attach and operates with a comfortably placed safety switch on the backside of the handle. With its durable matte-plastic build, this slick blender feels smooth. It has great weight distribution and is a true pleasure to use. Just beware that the blender will run close to $160 if you choose the bundle with a whisk, food chopper attachment and blending cup.
WHAT Cuisinart Smart Stick
THE COST $69.95
AVAILABLE FROM cuisinart.com
Considering this formidable hand blender's reasonable price — along with a whisk, chopper and mixing cup — and its excellent performance, it's easily the best value immersion blender of the bunch. The Cuisinart sports 300 watts of power and an easy speed control dial on top of the handle for precision blending and whipping.
The only negative is that the safety button is located directly above the power button, which makes it awkward to hold both down at once.
The following CNET staff contributed to this story: senior editor David Watsky and copy editor Jim Hoffman. For more reviews of personal technology products, visit cnet.com.