In head-to-head competitions, stand mixers always outperform hand-held mixers. The most obvious difference is the amount of force force. A decent stand mixer can knead bread dough, but even the best-quality hand mixer fails miserably at this task. A stand mixer also frees up the cook to take on other tasks. If you can afford to spend several hundred dollars on a good stand mixer, we recommend that you do so.
If you can’t justify such a big investment, a hand-held mixer is more than adequate for many day-to-day tasks. When making cake batters and cookie doughs, whipping cream or beating egg whites, we’ve found that a hand-held mixer can yield the same results as a stand mixer, just a little more slowly. In addition, a hand-held mixer is compact and easily transported. If your workspace or budget is restricted, a hand-held mixer can prove most valuable, especially if you’re willing to knead dough by hand or stand over the bowl while the mixer does its work.