Experts at Good Housekeeping, Food & Wine and elsewhere praise the Cuisinart Smart Stick CSB-77 hand blender: It produces a beautifully smooth purée, includes whisk and chopper attachments and doesn't break the bank, they say. Unfortunately, the seemingly sturdy stainless-steel body hides a vital internal gear made of plastic – and more than 100 Amazon.com reviewers say that sooner or later, that gear breaks.
Blender stick does a great job, but chopper and whisk attachments get mixed reviews. For basic puréeing and blending, experts and owners say the Cuisinart Smart Stick CSB-77 is superb. In a Good Housekeeping test, it "fully puréed a thick vegetable soup in 90 seconds." One Amazon.com customer uses her hand blender to purée homemade tomato soup, "Within less than a minute, the soup had a silkier and smoother texture than I've ever gotten with a standard blender. It was truly of restaurant quality." Food & Wine testers agree that the Cuisinart "purées beautifully," thanks to its extra-deep blade-hood that helps pull food toward the "noticeably sharp blade." It's even "powerful enough to purée fibrous broccoli for soups," writes Anjali Prasertong at TheKitchn.com.
Frozen-fruit smoothies pose no problem, either: The Cuisinart CSB-77 passes the test at Good Housekeeping, About.com and TheKitchn.com, as well as in real-life use. "It's not designed to crush ice," warns Mariette Mifflin, About.com's guide to housewares, but she says a nice smoothie or frosty drink can be achieved by blending shaved ice
Although the chopper and whisk attachments receive mixed reviews, Mifflin praises them: "I especially love the whisk attachment, it whipped heavy cream faster than my hand mixer," she reports. In her test, the chopper produces nuts, onions and vegetables that are "very consistent and uniform in size."
Many owners agree: One owner review at Epinions.com confirms that the chopper is amazing for small tasks, helping to avoid pulling out the bulky full-sized processor for nuts, onions, graham cracker crumbs or making baby food. At first, the whisk "seemed especially flimsy" to one Amazon.com reviewer, but it "has a lot more power to it than one would think, easily beating up some cookie dough."
Despite some positive reviews, the CSB-77 attachments receive some unflattering feedback. Several users say the whisk is unusable because it splatters food everywhere. And one Amazon.com customer ridicules manual instructions to cut meat and vegetables -- even cooked vegetables -- into half-inch pieces before putting them into the chopper. "Why would I bother to put an onion into a chopping device after having chopped it into 1/2" pieces? I tried cutting onion into quarters but…some pieces turn into gruel and big ones get hung up on the blade."
While other models in this price range have three or more speeds, the Cuisinart CSB-77 has one. Most experts and owners say one speed is enough, but others prefer more speeds.
Comfortable and easy to use -- but requires hand-washing. Expert testers immediately notice the Cuisinart CSB-77's comfortable grip. A "lip" at the top rests on the hand, making it feel lightweight and easy to control, says Mifflin at About.com.
The design is user-friendly, according to one Epinions.com review. "You simply snap on the part you want to use, plug it in, and push the wide button on the handle to start the motor. Then, when you're finished, you just unplug it and push the little button near the attachment to release the part." Other reviewers agree that the blender shaft and attachments detach with ease.
Cleanup is messy. The blender shaft is not dishwasher safe (the manual says you must hand wash it and "be mindful of the permanently mounted razor sharp edges"). The chopper lid also requires hand washing. You can't immerse the chopper lid in a sink full of dishwater. According to the manual, you must wipe food off with a damp cloth or sponge. "Clean it as soon as you're done to avoid stuck-on messes," warns one Epinions.com user.
Cleanup isn't the only messy task with this hand blender. Several owners report that the whisk attachment slings food everywhere. One Amazon.com owner says, "The whisk is scary. [I] Tried whisking some…and ended up with pudding covering a good portion of myself, the wall and surrounding area. I think you probably need to use the tall narrow container that the machine comes with, otherwise watch out." Other owners blame the single speed: The whisk "goes far too fast and you end up with egg (or whatever) all over the place," one Epinions.com user writes. Owners who experience such messes say they avoid using the whisk attachment.
Sturdy looks can be deceiving. One plastic gear proves to be the Cuisinart CSB-77's downfall in reviews. This hand blender receives more than 450 About.com user reviews, with 25 percent giving it the lowest possible rating-- almost always because of complaints that the plastic-rotating gear broke.
One Amazon.com owner whose plastic gear broke concluded that someone "decided to cheap out on the most important part -- which has rendered the unit useless And although Mifflin at About.com praises the Cuisinart's "impressive 3-year limited warranty," customers note that it doesn't cover shipping. "I bought the blender and it suddenly stopped working after 8 [uses]," one Amazon.com user writes. "I called Cuisinart who offered me a new one if I returned the old blender. I had to pay for the shipping and handling for both the new AND the old one. It ended up costing me half the price of the blender." Another Amazon.com customer paid $20 to send a broken CSB-77 back to Cuisinart under warranty -- and the replacement blender broke, too.
At first glance, the CSB-77 appears to be durable. Less expensive hand blenders -- including the step-down Cuisinart CSB-76 (*Est. $35) -- have a plastic shell, but the entire CSB-77 (except for the black handgrip) is encased in brushed stainless-steel. Reviewers love the polished and "elegant" look, but an Epinions.com reviewer cautions that while the stainless-steel finish gives the CSB-77 "a slight edge in the style-department, [it] can easily scratch Teflon surfaces."
Measuring in at about 14 inches long and fewer than 2 pounds, this Cuisinart model is a couple of inches shorter and a bit lighter than reviewers' favorite high-end hand blender, the Breville Control Grip BSB510XL (*Est. $70 to $100). An Epinions.com user says the Cuisinart is still long enough to reach the bottom of a standard soup pot.
The Cuisinart Smart Stick CSB-77 blends well -- until it breaks. Its whisk and chopper attachments get mixed reviews, and hand washing can be a chore. If you're looking for a do-it-all hand blender with attachments, reviewers prefer the sturdier, almost completely dishwasher-safe Breville Control Grip BSB510XL. If you don't need attachments, the Cuisinart CSB-76 is worth considering -- although some owners now have similar complaints about the internal plastic gear breaking.
1. Good Housekeeping
Testers at Good Housekeeping say the Cuisinart Smart Stick CSB-77 is good at puréeing thick soup and crushing frozen fruit. They praise its ergonomic grip but wish it had more than one speed.
Review: Cuisinart Smart Stick Hand Blender CSB-77 Immersion Blender, Editors of Good Housekeeping, Oct. 2010
2. Food & Wine Magazine
Food & Wine magazine tests 76 small appliances, but it's unclear how many stick blenders were included. The Cuisinart Smart Stick wins second place, but the model isn't specified. Editors say the Smart Stick is easy to use, with a sharp blade and extra-deep blade guard that helps draw food toward the blade.
Review: The Best Immersion Blenders, Kristin Donnelly, March 2008
The Cuisinart CSB-77 hand blender averages 3.5 stars (out of 5) in more than 450 user reviews. Most owners are pleased with the unit, but a quarter of the reviewers assign it a 1-star rating, usually complaining that the plastic rotating gear broke.
Review: Cuisinart CSB-77 Smart Stick Hand Blender with Whisk and Chopper Attachments, Contributors to Amazon.com, As of Sept. 2012
Mariette Mifflin, housewares and appliances guide at About.com, gives high marks to every immersion blender she tests, including the Cuisinart Smart Stick CSB-77. She says this lightweight stick blender is comfortable to hold and whips heavy cream faster than her hand mixer. (Note: ConsumerSearch is owned by About.com, but the two don't share an editorial affiliation.)
Review: Cuisinart SmartStick CSB-77C Hand Blender with Whisk and Chopper Review, Mariette Mifflin, Not dated
The Cuisinart Smart Stick CSB-77 earns a spot on TheKitchn.com's list of essential kitchen appliances. In this brief review, Anjali Prasertong says she uses it at least once a week to purée soups, frozen-fruit smoothies, hummus and more.
Review: My Essential Appliance: Cuisinart Smart Stick Immersion Blender, Anjali Prasertong, Feb. 6, 2012
Sixteen Epinions.com reviewers give the Cuisinart Smart Stick CSB-77 an average of 4.5 stars (out of 5). Only one reviewer gives it a low rating (the blender broke after six months), but a few note minor criticisms -- there's only one speed, for example, and some parts are not dishwasher-safe.
Review: Cuisinart SmartStick CSB-77 Handheld Blender, Contributors to Epinions.com, As of Sept. 2012