The Cuisinart Smart Stick CSB-76 offers no whisk or chopper attachments. It's simply a stick blender with an On button; most experts and owners say that suits them just fine. Easy to use and easy to clean, it's our Best Reviewed budget hand blender.
Blends, purées and whips with ease. Rarely does a blender impress owners this much. The Cuisinart Smart Stick CSB-76 is beloved by most of the 1,500 owners who post reviews at Amazon.com and Cooking.com -- one of whom writes a lengthy poetic ode to the Cuisinart CSB-76 based on Dusty Springfield's "The Windmills of your Mind" ("like a circle in a spiral, like a blade upon the meal").
This hand blender has no chopper attachment, so chopping isn't an option -- but for blending, puréeing, whipping and more, most owners find it powerful and effective.
"Blended a pot of Irish root vegetables to a creamy soup in less than a minute," says one owner at Cooking.com. "Perfect on hummus," reports an Amazon.com user. Some find it strong enough to blend thick homemade soap.
"It does a great job on homemade baby food, gravies, smoothies, making homemade whipped cream, glazes, etc.," another Amazon.com customer writes. "I use mine several times a day."
Experts agree. In one test, the Cuisinart CSB-76 purées potato-leek soup until it's completely smooth and perfectly emulsifies homemade mayonnaise.
The CSB-76 receives mixed reviews for performance with frozen foods. One Cooking.com customer can't get the hand blender to pulverize frozen blueberries, and "don't even try it with ice cubes," an Amazon.com reviewer warns. But many say it whips up a fine smoothie. One user even blends daiquiris with ice -- a tough test for any blender.
Push one button to blend; when finished, throw it in the dishwasher. No hand blender could be simpler, owners say. It's just a stick with a blade on one end and an On button at the other. The one-piece blade/shaft detaches from the handle, and it can be thrown into the dishwasher -- which users love.
"It SO surpasses a regular blender -- for smoothies, soups, sauces -- because it is so bloody easy to clean," writes one owner at Cooking.com. An Amazon.com reviewer agrees: "Just push the detach button and boom -- clean it in one step."
Both experts and owners find the Cuisinart very comfortable to hold. Although it's good for tough tasks, the steel blade guard could scratch nonstick cookware.
Can withstand years of daily use, but an internal plastic gear may break. One Amazon.com user calls the Cuisinart Smart Stick CSB-76 "the Energizer bunny of immersion blenders." This user's CSB-76 held up during more than five years of daily use, blending smoothies (fruit, yogurt and ice), sauces and soups.
Plenty of owners agree the CSB-76 is a rugged workhorse. "I purchased this item in December 2009, and it is, by far, the best hand blender I have ever owned," writes an Amazon.com reviewer in July 2012. "Four hand blenders met their death in my hands, usually within three months of purchase." Another owner used the CSB-76 for four years before it wore out and then bought another one. "Yes the gear is made of plastic, and yes it did wear out, but we [used] it almost every day."
The plastic-gear problem also plagues the step-up Cuisinart Smart Stick CSB-77 (*Est. $60): Hundreds of owners review that model at Amazon.com, and 25 percent complain that the plastic blade gear broke quickly. The cheaper Smart Stick CSB-76 doesn't suffer this problem to the same degree; a fraction of reviews mention it, although we have seen a spate of them recently.
At about 14 inches long and 2 pounds, the Cuisinart CSB-76 is a couple of inches shorter and a bit lighter than the top-rated Breville Control Grip BSB510XL (*Est. $70 to $100) that comes with attachments (a chopper bowl and whisk). Like many other hand blenders, the Cuisinart shaft detaches from the handle and "stores in 2 pieces, so it fits easily into our equipment drawer," says one owner at Cooking.com.
The color choices are also appealing to owners. In addition to the standard shiny stainless-steel blending shaft, the Cuisinart CSB-76 has 11 different handle color options: white, brushed chrome, pink, turquoise, magenta, orange, blue, green, raspberry, yellow or purple (we also saw a few other colors for sale at Amazon.com that aren't listed on Cuisinart's website, like red, parsley and spring pink). "I was afraid the colors were painted on and would wear off but it is the color of the plastic." one Amazon.com customer reports.
If you want a basic hand blender -- to purée soups, whip up smoothies, blend homemade mayonnaise and the like -- the Cuisinart Smart Stick CSB-76 is the obvious Best Reviewed pick.
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1. Choice magazine
Australia's Choice magazine (similar to Consumer Reports) tests 26 stick blenders ranging in price from $10 to $209 (including the Cuisinart Smart Stick CSB-76), but most of them aren't available in the United States. Although all succeed at puréeing soup and emulsifying homemade mayonnaise, some prove easier to use and clean than others.
Review: Handheld Blenders Review, Rebecca Gatto, May 18, 2012
2. Food & Wine Magazine
Food & Wine magazine tests 76 small appliances for its nine-category roundup, but we aren't sure how many immersion blenders are included. The Cuisinart Smart Stick (editors don't specify a model number) places second among stick blenders, winning praise for its simple operation and "noticeably sharp" blade. Editors particularly like the deep hood around the blade, which helps funnel food to it.
Review: The Best Immersion Blenders, Kristin Donnelly, March 2008
The Cuisinart Smart Stick CSB-76 earns an average rating of 4.5 stars (out of 5) in more than 1,200 reviews posted to Amazon.com. Most owners say they are happy with this basic stick blender. Of the negative reviews, many focus on the blender's inability to chop ice or large chunks of frozen fruit, things for which it's not suited. However, a few recent reviews report that the plastic blade-rotating mechanism broke.
Review: Cuisinart CSB-76 SmartStick 200-Watt Immersion Hand Blender, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of Aug. 2012
This cookware retailer allows owners to post brief hand-blender reviews. The Smart Stick CSB-76 earns an average rating of 4.5 stars out of 5 in more than 300 reviews, making it the site's highest-rated hand blender. Users say it works well and is easy to clean; many say they use it to make protein shakes and smoothies.
Review: White SmartStick Hand Blender by Cuisinart, Contributors to Cooking.com, As of Sept. 2012