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I'm a pro baker, and honestly, I use this $19 Hamilton Beach hand mixer more than my $320 KitchenAid stand mixer

The No. 1 bestselling Hamilton Beach 6-Speed Electric Hand Mixer can do 90% of what my stand mixer can, and it's just $19 at Amazon.

Attention, home bakers: Can I let you in on a little secret? Before I started testing and writing about kitchen products for a living, I worked with them all day as a professional baker. And while I adore my $320 KitchenAid Bowl-Lift Stand Mixer for tackling larger projects at home, I have to confess that, most of the time, I reach for the $19 Hamilton Beach 6-Speed Electric Hand Mixer I bought nearly a decade ago. After years of experience, I can confidently say that this little appliance can accomplish at least 90% of the tasks I'd bust out my bulky stand mixer for, and it's so much more affordable. It comes as no shock to me that it's an Amazon No. 1 bestseller with tens of thousands of perfect ratings — keep scrolling for my review.

Need a hand (mixer)? This compact, durable gadget is just the ticket for baking made quick and easy. 

$19 at Amazon

An affordable, versatile appliance

In my opinion, anyone who bakes on a regular basis should own some sort of electric mixer. Not only do they save time, but some tasks require more power than even the strongest arms can provide (creaming butter and sugar together, anyone?). And if you'd rather not spend hundreds of dollars on a large stand mixer that'll take up precious real estate in your kitchen, this 250-watt hand mixer is a fantastic alternative.

My Hamilton Beach 6-Speed Electric Hand Mixer is still going strong after nearly 10 years of use, which speaks to how durable it is. I've used it for whipping up cake batter and cookie dough, frosting, whipped cream ... nearly any dessert you can think of. Unless I'm baking in bulk, I really don't feel like dragging out my stand mixer — that thing is heavy! But for the majority of baked goods I make at home, my hand mixer does the job just fine.

the white Hamilton Beach hand mixer against a pink background
Hamilton Beach? I'll Hamilton Preach about the wonders of this lightweight hand mixer to anyone who's willing to listen. (Amazon)

Baking bells and whistles

As the name implies, it has six speed settings to choose from. I use the lower ones for mixing and the higher ones for beating. Need to whip up egg whites for meringues? You'll have to stand over a bowl rather than setting and forgetting with a stand mixer, but this small yet mighty appliance is up to the task. Even though I have to be glued to it rather than multitasking, it's so powerful that most mixing jobs are done in a jiffy. Plus, my arm doesn't tire out the way it would if I were whisking by hand.

The model I have comes with two beaters and a whisk attachment, though this slightly more expensive model also includes dough hook attachments should you want to try your hand at bread. I appreciate that it has its own storage case for holding the attachments when not in use because otherwise, I'd have to dig through my chaotic drawers to find them.

Another cool feature? The end of the base has grooves to act as a bowl rest, allowing you to set it on the edge of your bowl when you're not mixing. Thus, it spares my counter from sticky goo that could otherwise drip off. And it's not just for making sweet treats, either — Amazon shoppers have found myriad uses for this machine.

author's photos of baked goods made using her Hamilton Beach hand mixer: assorted cookies and cake
Cookies and cake and frosting, oh my! My trusty Hamilton Beach hand mixer never lets me down. (Britt Ross/Yahoo Life)

Nearly 50,000 Amazon customers love this hand mixer, too

"Saves so much time!" exclaimed one satisfied shopper. "I used to cut up chicken by hand. This little machine shreds a chicken breast in less than 30 seconds!"

"I bought this after hand-mashing potatoes for Thanksgiving and deciding I'd had enough of that," shared another impressed buyer. "I've never been excited about a hand mixer, but this one really is great. It's super easy to use and clean (even with arthritis) and mashes potatoes to perfection. It will be getting a lot of use."

"Wow, first of all, let me just say that this mixer has power. Like so much power," wrote a final fan. "In fact, that is my only complaint. I wish it had a mode that mixed a little slower. However, with a mixer that's a good problem to have, so I would absolutely recommend this. I have made dozens of cakes with this and it's a dream." (Psst: For batters and doughs that require gentler mixing, I usually just use a whisk or spatula.)

Psst: Mother's Day is coming up, and this would make a stellar gift for the baker in your life.

$19 at Amazon

Another mini appliance I just might like more than my full-sized one? This Cuisinart toaster oven.

Faster food, cooler kitchen — this compact appliance is a no-brainer, especially during the warmer months. It saved my butt a few years back: I was all set to host Thanksgiving, and about a week before the holiday, my oven died. I bought this and prepared every side and pie in it — it saved the day. (As for the turkey, my mother-in-law ended up taking that on!)

Since then, I've found that using this toaster oven for cakes, brownies, baked pasta and even roasted tofu and vegetables is my preferred route. It heats up in no time, plus it can fit a decent amount of food for my small household: six slices of toast, a 12-inch pizza or even a 4-pound chicken.

Check out my full Cuisinart Deluxe Convection Toaster Oven review for more. 

$159 at Amazon

If you have Amazon Prime, you’ll get free shipping, of course. Not yet a member? No problem. You can sign up for your free 30-day trial here. (And by the way, those without Prime still get free shipping on orders of $25 or more.)

The reviews quoted above reflect the most recent versions at the time of publication.