By hand or by machine?

There are so many things we learned to do, and some of us learned how to do them by hand and others learned how to take a more efficient approach and use machines. For example: Mayonnaise by whisk or fork or by IB or FP? Egg whites by balloon whisk or by IB or electric beaters? Smooth sauces by blender or tamis? Sliced potatoes for potatoes au gratin by FP, mandoline or knife? Grated potatoes by FP or box grater?

Assuming we are cooking at home and that the panic of a restaurant is not present, we have the time to pick either path. Which do you pick or do you mix it up? Which do you enjoy more?

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egg whites = hand blender or stand mixer

mayo = Immersion blender. I’ve never made it any other way.

dough kneading = depends on the dough. close crumbed sandwich bread or dinner rolls? stand mixer. Sourdough batards? by hand. baguettes? stand mixer. cookies? usually stand mixer but if I’m doing a half batch I might drop to the hand blender. egg pasta? by hand.

I fully embrace steel, plastic, and electricity replacing my noodley arms…


I’ve made mayonnaise with a fork and a soup plate (and egg yolks and oil, etc., of course). Got me over my Fear of Emulsions. Try it, you’ll like it…:joy:


Mayonnaise and friends: a working jar and coil whisk.
Egg whites: hand mixer
Smooth sauces and puree soups: immersion blender
Sliced potatoes: depending on thickness, by hand or ceramic hand mandoline
Grated potatoes: hand held grater

I don’t particularly “enjoy” any process, but pick the one with least clean-up.

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I do most by hand . Especially pesto . Mortar and pestle. The texture is no where near the same in fp or blender. The slow road is always superior.


Yeah I made aioli with a plastic fork once. Came out great!


Emulsions I can handle. My pasta saucing is getting way WAY better. I think I might want a new pan though. The current one we have that’s big enough for two portions has straight sides which is not ideal for the pan-toss that seems to really work the best for aerating and emulsifying fat/cheese and starchy pasta water.

But I do not have the endurance or patience to be whipping eggs and vinegar for 10 minutes straight while drizzling in oil and not turning my counter into a greasy disaster.

A big factor for me is the volume needed of the product. Grating zucchini for fritters (big kiddo’s summer favorite) with just a pound of zucchini microplane grater all the way. 4 pounds of zucchini for with plans for leftovers hello FP! Anything whipped usually involved the IB or stand mixer as time is money in my kitchen. See also, Swiss buttercream frosting for birthday cakes.


Mayonaisse by stick blender
Dough by hand
Food processor for larger amount of chili pastes etc (sometimes stick blender), smaller amounts in pestle and mortar
Hand grater (one of those rotary things) for cheese, grater for thin potatoes for chips, knive for all other thicknesses
Coffee beans with a hand burr grinder
Most by hand as there is no power were I am and I run on limited solar.

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Coil whisk vs ballon whisk?

When do you use one over the other?

Agree, making for 2 is different from making for 20.

Egg white, mayonnaise, whipped cream > hand blender.
Spices > mechanical mill
Coffee beans > hand burr grinder
Dough cake, bread and brioche mostly KA mixer, except tart case which I find hand knead is better, machine can easily lead to a dough that shrunk away from the side of the pan when baking.
Mashed potato > hand burr grinder
Smooth sauce, puree soups > hand blender
Fish soup > hand mix with the tool below

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For me, it depends on the size of the job and cleanup afterwards. A small chopping job knife and cutting board, big job – food processor. For mixing, a big job and the stand mixer goes online, small job then a whisk. When the job is kind of middle of the road, then I’ll use this old time crank beater and for chopping this hand spin chopper, both of which can go right into the dishwasher for cleanup.

As far as kneading, I’d rather do that by hand.

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Slicing/grating… by hand as I never had an FP that I thought did good job.

Chopping/mincing… Small quantities by hand, large in the FP.

Just about everything else is done in blender, FP, stand mixer.

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For bread doughs, I used to think doing it by hand was superior to using the hook attachment in the stand mixer. Not sure why, and wasn’t snobby about it, but I guess just because I started making bread years before I got the stand mixer. Now I pretty routinely use the mixer for bread and pizza doughs, except maybe challah (and not sure why I’ve stuck to counter kneading for that one??). Daughter #2’s college is close enough she can come home weekends if she isn’t running around with friends and whenever she comes home, she makes bagels for the week using the stand mixer for kneading and resting steps for the dough. She’s probably never kneaded dough by hand.

I’ve only made meringue once with a balloon whisk and actually broke a wire on the thing I was threshing the stuff so hard (and it was my favorite whisk!). Not the best environment - was renting a house on Islamorada in the Keys and it was damned humid. But the rental didn’t have a mixer or beaters or anything. It worked out - see my profile pic (it’s Key Lime pie with meringue - for some reason everyone wants to put whipped cream on it but that’s just wrong!). Normally meringues are with electric beater, sometimes the stand mixer whisk if it was already out for something else.

Slicing taters, and other veggies, I now really like the mandoline. There was a thread on mandolines recently where I mentioned having had a bad (cheap) one to start with but once I got a decent one gave up the knife when it comes to slicing veggies, unless I only need, e.g., one tomato.

For some reason I find cleaning the food processor to be pure drudgery, so I still grate potatoes or anything else needing grating on the box grater despite the FP’s grater & slicer attachments doing a fair job of it. I pretty much only use the FP for making butter nowadays. Oh, hummus too.

Like Lectroid said, I only use the immersion blender to make mayo. That’s the first way I learned. I’ve seen other methods and tried one (regular blender) just once, but the IB is just so darned easy. Start at the bottom, hit the power, draw it up, and presto! Done in 4-5 seconds. Can’t imagine trying to whip it up using a balloon. How long’s it take?

Edit - any recipe calling for minced garlic, ginger, turmeric, lemon grass, etc., I use the microplane grater instead. Is that wrong?

I use a coil whisk for almost everything. They fit into pan edges and sweep the pan floor. Cold work (mayo) or stove (custard, hollandaise, cream sauces, gravy).

Ballon? For mixing large amounts of semi-liquid where I would otherwise use a blender. Like crepe batter. Never for stove work/cooking.

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Balloon, no, I can’t see that either. But a coil whisk and “working jar”, it’s almost as fast as with immersion blender albeit with less clean up. Just rinse whisk. Lid the jar and you’re done.

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Thanks. Do you spin the coil whisk or what? I don’t have a coil - are you talking the guy on the left or the right of this pic? People seem to use the term for both.

My default is manual. The one regular exception is I usually use an electric coffee grinder.

My view is that the work of human hands almost always more appreciated and rewarding than machine-processed.


How? Hmmm. It’s a wrist action. Just like stirring fast with a spoon but with the whisk sweeping the floor of the container or pan.
Sauces emulsify instantly.


I’d call the one on the left a coil and the one on the right a Delbor.

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