Can You Crush Ice With An Immersion Blender?

An immersion blender is an invaluable tool when pureeing soups, emulsifying salad dressings, or making homemade mayonnaise. Also called stick or hand blenders, these handheld tools with sharp metal blades can blend foods more neatly and conveniently, compared to setting up a larger blender, but you may wonder if they can do everything a stand-up blender does. For instance, can an immersion blender crush ice for drinks and more?

As with many of life's greatest questions, the answer is, "It depends." If you want a pile of crushed ice for serving oysters on the half shell, most immersion blenders are simply not up to the task. These tools just do not have enough power to blitz a big pile of ice effectively or efficiently. You run the risk of irreparably damaging the blade or pushing the motor past its limits. You are better off wrapping the ice in a dish towel and banging it on the kitchen counter, or just take down your regular blender or food processor from the shelf.

That being said, there are immersion blenders with more power that can handle smaller amounts of ice. However, even if you have a very high-quality, powerful hand blender, don't just start whipping it around in a bowl of ice. You need to introduce some sort of liquid or beverage to help the blender along. Powerful immersion blenders can definitely pulverize ice, under the right circumstances, but it is still far from the best tool for plain crushed ice.

What kind of immersion blender can crush ice?

If you crush ice very frequently and are set on the idea of a handheld solution, look for immersion blenders that specifically say in their manuals that they can break down ice, or consult videos and websites that do detailed product testing and reviews. How well immersion blenders can crush ice (when combined with some liquid) is a question that can be answered in reviews, along with how the blender emulsifies, purees, smashes, or whips.

Immersion blenders with wide blade guards — meaning the blade has ample space around it underneath the protective cover — work the best for breaking down ice. Larger air vents in the tools also help. These two factors contribute to how powerful of a blending vortex the blender can create. Just make sure to follow the manufacturer's directions about how long you can continuously run the motor before it needs a rest.

To hold the ice, it is important to use either the container provided by the manufacturer, or a container that will not shatter, like a plastic deli container or sturdy glass jar. If you don't have a lot of liquid (such as extra water) in the mix, keep in mind that the blender may send ice shards flying at the edge of the vessel, and you need to make sure that said vessel can handle that impact, for your safety and the blender's.

Drinks you can make with an immersion blender

Whether you're using your stick blender to blend ice into smoothies, cocktails, frappes, or milkshakes, make sure you use a ratio of at least one part water or other liquid to two parts ice. The same ratio is true if, say, you want to use your immersion blender to blend frozen fruits or vegetables.

For a fruit smoothie, start by putting fresh or frozen fruits cut into one-inch pieces in your container. Top with milk, juice, or water, and any creamy elements, like yogurt or nut butter. Give it a blend by submerging the blender, turning it on, and moving it in an up-and-down mashing motion. Flip your blender off, add the ice, and then blend again. It will be much easier to break down the ice this way.

Use the same method to make a blended cocktail. Blend frozen raspberries, vodka, simple syrup, and lemon juice for a refreshing hard lemonade, or try frozen mangos, tequila, simple syrup, and lime juice for a frozen margarita. The addition of xanthan gum is the secret ingredient to better frozen cocktails, so consider adding some. It will make the mixture easier to blend evenly, giving your blender some help. Give the mix an initial blitz, and add ice for the second round of blending. Lastly, you can make your blender's job a little easier by allowing frozen ingredients to soften a bit before blending.