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Best Value: Ninja Professional Blender
Crushes ice quickly
Easy to use and clean
The Ninja Professional Blender has a unique six-blade system designed to improve its chopping, blending, and mixing power. Reviewers say it can crush ice and puree fruits and vegetables in no time. It also has a 72-ounce container for high-capacity jobs, three blending speeds, and a pulse button. The blade assembly comes out in one piece, which means the blender jar itself is blade-free and easy to clean—just be cautious when cleaning the blades because they're obviously very sharp.
"I love my Ninja brand blender so much, it's earned a permanent place on my counter, right next to the toaster and the coffee maker. That's saying a lot for a small New York City apartment!" — Taysha Murtaugh, Associate Editorial Director, Commerce, The Spruce Eats
Best High-Powered: Vitamix Professional Series 750 Blender
Remarkable pre-programmed settings
Doesn't include smaller containers
Container gets cloudy
There’s not much the Vitamix Professional Series 750 can't do. With manual controls for ten different speeds, a pulse button, and five programmed settings for self-cleaning, smoothies, hot soups, frozen desserts, and purees, this machine not only outpowers most of the competition, but you can also use it as a food processor in most cases. The blender also includes a tamper and has a cleaning mode that thoroughly cleans the container with just water and a small amount of soap. A Vitamix blender is definitely an investment, but reviewers say this model is totally worth it for its versatility and power.
"I was surprised to see emulsions like Hollandaise turn out smooth and creamy." — Renu Dhar, Product Tester
Best Personal Blender: NutriBullet ZNBF30500Z Blender Combo
Powerful and quick
Simple, lightweight design
Easy to use and clean
The NutriBullet (and its sister brand, Magic Bullet) should be your top choice if you make a lot of single-serving drinks, have a small household, or want to preserve your limited counter space. In addition to the base, extractor blade, and tamper, this combo includes a 24-ounce handled cup, a 32-ounce cup, and a 64-ounce pitcher (plus the accompanying lids, of course). Besides making drinks, it can also be used with heated foods such as soups and sauces. Customers warn that this blender is extremely loud. However, most agree that its quality and performance are worth the noise.
Best for Smoothies: Cuisinart SmartPower Compact Portable Blending/Chopping System
Easy to use and clean
Sleek, compact design
Shakes when used on high power
This affordable and versatile personal blender, which also works well as a chopper, boasts a powerful 350-watt motor, a variety of controls that include pulsing, low-speed blending, and high-speed blending, and an electronic touchpad with LED indicator lights.
This set has two blades—one for blending and one for chopping—and 15 attachments, including a 32-ounce blender jar, an 8-ounce chopping cup, and a set of four 16-ounce BPA-free travel cups with drinking lids—perfect for multiple people in your household to enjoy smoothies on the go. The two blades also make this blender ideal for smoothies, in our tester's opinion: "I made banana, apple, and kale smoothies in my blender every day for a week, first using the chopping blade to cut through the ice, and then switching to the blending blade to blend the drink," she says. Plus, you can choose to blend your smoothies directly in the travel cups.
"Everything about the Cuisinart is intuitive, from the blade assemblies to the touch-button controls to the lids." — Tierney McAfee, Product Tester
Best Multi-Tasker: Oster Pro 1200 Blender with Glass Jar plus Smoothie Cup & Food Processor Attachment
Glass blender jar
Difficult to clean
Plastic base and food processor feel cheap
The Oster Pro Blender features a 5-cup food processor attachment with a slicing disk and chopping blade, a 24-ounce to-go cup for drinks or smaller volume mixes, and a 6-cup, glass blender jar. This blender hits all the right marks with its large capacity, multiple functions, and space-saving design. It has three programmed settings for smoothies, chopped foods (like salsas), and milkshakes, along with three speeds—slow, medium, and high speeds—and a pulse function. Customers say the blender offers a lot of power for the price. Unfortunately, the food processor attachment isn't as efficient as a standalone processor. However, because both appliances use the same base, the attachment is a helpful option for kitchens where space is at a premium.
Best Immersion Blender: Cuisinart CSB-75BC Smart Stick Two-Speed Hand Blender
Easy to clean
Great for soups and sauces
Two blending speeds
Difficult to operate
When you want to completely eliminate having a device that sits on your counter, buy a stick or immersion blender. Immersion blenders excel at blending hot foods while still on the stove, like pureed soups and sauces. They can also help you whip up mayonnaise in a jar or make a single-serving smoothie in a cup. Luckily, the Cuisinart Smart Stick excels at all of it. Even better, you can stash it in a drawer until the next time you need it. It comes in brushed chrome and a number of other colors and has two blending speeds. For easy cleaning, the blending shaft is removable and dishwasher safe, and the included 2-cup blending beaker is also dishwasher safe. Customers' one main complaint is that the safety button at the top of the blender requires two hands to use and takes a lot of getting used to.
Best Design: Salton Harley Pasternak Power Blender
Powerful and efficient
Includes to-go bottle
Good for soups, sauces, and smoothies
Seeds and certain fruits cause clogs
If you’re looking for a high-powered blender that can tackle everything from soups to shakes but don’t want to pay a premium price, take a look at this one from Salton. With its 2-horsepower, 30,000 rpm motor and 2-liter jar, you can make soup for the family or slushie cocktails for a crowd. The cloverleaf-shaped jar is designed to feed liquid into the four sawtooth and four ultra-sharp Japanese steel blades for efficient blending. A tamper is included for pushing ingredients down, although a few reviewers warn that seeds do sometimes cause clogs. It comes in several colors to match your décor. Just be sure it can fit underneath your kitchen cabinets—customers warn that it's taller than a lot of the competition.
Best Portable: PopBabies Portable Blender
Easy and quick blending
Good battery life and easy to recharge
Have to cut fruit into small pieces
If you want to make smoothies at your desk, blend baby food while traveling, or fuel up on protein shakes during your next camping trip, then this rechargeable blender from PopBabies is a solid choice. It looks like a travel bottle, and you can drink directly from the blending jar to cut down on dishes—plus, it's dishwasher safe. Its 16-ounce capacity is suited to the portable design, and it can be fully charged with the included USB cable in about three hours. As a bonus, the blender comes with a funnel and a miniature ice tray that makes cubes small enough for the blender to handle. That also hints at the main downside of the device: Because it’s so small, this blender isn’t as powerful as a full-sized model. Some reviewers complain that it struggles to blend large chunks of fruit or ice.
The Vitamix Professional Series 750 Blender is our top pick for top high-powered blender because of its power, durability, and versatility (view it at Amazon). However, if you're looking to save a little money, the budget-friendly Oster Classic Series Accurate Blend is a decent, inexpensive option—and it comes with a convenient to-go cup (view it at Amazon).
What to Look for When Buying a Blender
Blenders got their start in the 1920s in soda fountains and made their way into home kitchens in the 1930s, which allowed home cooks to make their favorite malts and milkshakes at home. Today, blenders still fill that role, whether those drinks are sweet indulgences or fiber-rich smoothies. However, blenders have become much more useful as people have discovered that the power of a spinning blade can be used for making dressings, sauces, crepe batter, and much more. Many blenders are also powerful enough to grind nuts, grains, coffee, and spices. High-speed blenders have even more functions, including the ability to heat soups and make custards. Some can knead dough, too.
Blenders typically have a relatively heavy base unit with a motor that powers a blade at the bottom of the blender jar. There are many different designs of blender jars and blades. Some jars have a non-removable bottom with a permanent blade, some have a removable blade with a non-removable bottom, and some have a bottom and blade assembly that detaches from the jar. No matter what the configuration is, the motor spins the blade inside the jar, which chops, blends, or purees the food.
Stick blenders (also called immersion or hand blenders) take a completely different approach since the small blade is at the bottom of a long shaft that includes the motor. These can be used in just about any container, including jars, mixing bowls, and cooking pots.
While they’re all considered blenders, you’ll find a wide variety of machine configurations, including compact stick blenders, personal blenders that excel at making smoothies, countertop devices, hybrid machines that are designed for cooking tasks, and super powerful machines that can turn grains into dust and ice into snow.
There is a wide price range for blenders available today—from under $25 to nearly $1,000 for more professional models—that it’s wise to carefully consider what you’ll use your blender for and buy one that fits both your needs and your budget. Buying a pricer machine just for milkshakes is a waste, but burning out the motors on a series of cheap blenders can be just as expensive in the long run.
While glass blender jars look heavy and durable, they can break if dropped, and a tiny chip on the base can result in liquid leaking out of the jar as you blend. A high-quality plastic blender jar may not look as attractive as a clear, shiny glass model, but plastic jars are actually very durable. While they’re not indestructible and can crack or break if abused, they can survive everyday bumps and drops much better than glass. They’re also lighter, so you may be less likely to drop them due to the weight.
When it comes to durability, consider the motor. Stronger motors will last longer, particularly if you’re often using the blender for stressful tasks, or for blending for a long time. Some blenders can't be used for more than a minute or two without the motor overheating, while others can be used for five minutes or longer with no problems.
Any blender you buy can mix a milkshake, but if you want to power through nuts to make your own nut butter or blend fibrous foods to make smoothies, you’ll need a blender that can chop and slice through those materials without stalling. Power is different from speed since a quick-spinning blender blade can still stall when it hits a tough carrot or large chunk of ice.
The speed that the blades spin affects how fast your food will be blended, and it also affects the texture you’ll get in the final product. A fast blender will turn your ice into perfect fluffy snow, while a slower blender will leave you with tiny chunks and shards that aren’t as pleasant in your frozen cocktail. Your purees will be smoother with a faster blender, and your soups will be creamy. A fast, powerful blender can turn grains into a smooth flour.
Super powerful blenders have blades that spin so fast that the friction heats the ingredients, and can even bring foods to a boil. Because of this ability, you can actually cook some foods in the blender, like simple puddings or soups. This function may be useful for some cooks, but it’s certainly not a necessity if you're mostly interested in smoothies and frozen margaritas. While it can be impressive to see wisps of steam coming out from the vent on your blender’s lid, it may not be worth paying the extra price unless this is a function you’ll actually use.
If you’ll be using your blender for making smoothies for the family, extra to-go blender cups might be necessary accessories. Extra blender jars in different sizes could also be handy for some cooks. Some blenders have these accessories available, while other blenders come with just the basic jar. It may also be a good idea to see if replacement jars, lids, gaskets, and other necessary parts are available for purchase as replacements—if you know that your blender will see hard use in the kitchen.
How much space you are willing to devote to a blender may depend on how often you use it. If you make smoothies every day, it might make sense to carve out space for it on the counter, so it’s easily accessible. If you only use it occasionally, you’ll want a blender that's light enough to move easily and compact enough to store. For small kitchens, a stick blender that goes in a drawer might be the best choice. While extra blender jars, to-go cups, and other accessories might be nice to have, they’ll also take up extra space when they’re not in use.
Types of Blenders
Personal blenders are designed for making single-serving drinks in a to-go cup. Once you make your smoothie, you can remove the blade from the cup, attach a sipping lid, and take your drink on the run without spilling it. When you’re blending one drink at a time, you can customize the mix for each person in the family, adding berries to one and kale to another. Some models include larger blender jars for bigger servings, while others are designed for making only one serving at a time.
Standard countertop blenders can mix milkshakes, make mayonnaise, or blend purees. The more powerful versions can crush ice with varying degrees of success. These larger models allow you to blend a whole pitcher of smoothies at one time, but you’ll need to pour the drink into your own cup if you want to take it on the go. These middle-of-the-road blenders are the ones you’ll see in most kitchens since there are so many different models at different price points.
High-speed blenders can perform kitchen magic by heating liquids through friction caused by the super fast blades spinning through the food. They can also easily emulsify sauces, grind grains into powdery flour, and make super-smooth purees and sauces. Some can knead dough or perform other special functions too. These high-speed machines come at a high price, so they’re certainly not for everyone, but cooks who own them sing their praises.
Stick or Immersion Blenders
Stick blenders are made up of a blade at the end of a long shaft that houses the motor. These blenders can work in just about any container they fit into, and are perfect for blending soups and sauces right in the pot. Many cooks love them for their ability to make a small amount of mayonnaise in a jar. Their small size means they’re easy to store, and most even fit in a drawer. Some come with accessories, like a whisk, extra blades, or chopping jars that could be beneficial.
Hybrid and Specialty Blenders
A few manufacturers have created hybrid blenders that have a single base that can power either a blender jar or a food processor bowl. These can be handy for people who don’t have space for both appliances and don’t need all of the functions of a full-size food processor. Some blenders are specifically designed for making blended drinks, with blender jars that include a spigot for dispensing them.
One of the early names in blenders, Oster coined the name “Osterizer” for its line of home blenders. They still make a retro-looking blender with a beehive base, but they have expanded their product line to include a wide variety of blender styles. Their blenders tend to be low- to mid-priced so they’re very affordable even though they're well built.
Hamilton Beach is another familiar name in blenders that mostly makes low- to mid-priced blenders, with a few nudging into the mid-to-high range with their professional-style blenders. These are sturdy and are generally highly rated by users.
The Ninja company is known for innovation, especially with their blenders. They make many popular personal and countertop models. Ninja blenders have a unique stacked blade system that consists of blades placed at different heights within the jar. Ninja calls this system "Total Crushing Technology" and claims that it can pulverize ice into snow.
Blendtec and Vitamix
These two companies fill the niche at the top of the price and power pyramid, with blenders that can do everything from crush ice to cook foods. Which brand is best depends on personal opinion, and both companies continue to introduce new models with new features. On the low end, you’ll find a few models under $300, while the high end is easily twice or three times as much. While the price seems high, these are blenders that will last for a long time, and they will do much more than just blend smoothies.
The NutriBullet and Magic Bullet brands are owned by the same company, and you’ll find some blenders that sport both names. They specialize in affordable personal blenders that are great for blending drinks to take on the go. The Baby Bullet is a similar blender from the same company that is targeted toward parents who want to blend their own baby food.
While Salton is not a brand you’d think of when it comes to high-end appliances, they’ve entered the high-speed blender market with the Harley Pasternak blender. This powerful blender can do almost everything that the expensive high-speed blenders can do at a more affordable price. While these blenders may not be totally equivalent to those high-end brands, they perform well and are built sturdily.
Like many appliances, cleaning can be an unpleasant task, and when you’re cleaning your blender, the super-sharp blades need to be handled with care. While a few blender jars may be dishwasher safe, most recommend hand washing.
Blenders with removable bottoms give you easier access to the underside of the blade as well as all the corners of the jar. Unfortunately, many of these include a gasket that can be lost, and the bottoms need to be secured properly or the jar can leak during blending.
The Ninja blenders that have a removable blade give you easy access to the bottom of the blender jar for thorough cleaning. The removable shaft with multiple blades is easy to clean since you can see the top and bottom of all of the blades, but it must be handled very carefully during cleaning since the blades are extremely sharp.
High-speed blenders that have permanent bases and blades seem like they could be difficult to clean by hand, but, fortunately, they don’t require an intricate hand washing process. One cleaning trick you can try is to blend together a drop of soap with water. The lid and rim of the blender jar may still need to be wiped clean, but otherwise, it just needs a rinse. If the blender has a cleaning program, it'll heat the water to clean the interior of the jar even more.
No matter which blender you own, cleaning is easiest if you rinse the blender jar after use to prevent food from drying and sticking. You can even add some soap and water to the jar and give it a spin before you wash. This will loosen the food and make hand washing easier.
How do you clean a blender?
While you should always check your owner’s manual for specific instructions, it’s important that you regularly clean the jar, base, gasket, and blade of your blender. Certain models do have dishwasher-safe jars or self-cleaning modes, but you’ll need to wash everything by hand if yours doesn't. Start by taking everything apart. Use warm soapy water for the jar, gasket seal, cutting blade, and jar base or locking ring and rinse and dry thoroughly. For stuck-on food or a stubborn smell, blend a 1:1 ratio of baking soda and water before washing the other components. Clean the motor base with warm water (after unplugging it, of course) and wipe down the cord periodically, but never submerge the motor base in water.
Should I get a blender or a food processor?
Blenders are typically designed for mixing liquids and soft foods together (think smoothies), although higher-end models are powerful enough to crush ice, grind up nuts, and puree tough ingredients. Food processors usually have a circular blade cutter that can chop, slice, grate, emulsify (think pesto), and shred. Many blenders are designed with a feeding tube that allows you to add ingredients throughout the process. Some blenders actually come with food processor attachments, but they're usually not as efficient as the appliance on its own. Decide what to buy based on what your needs in the kitchen are versus the specific gadget’s functions and purpose. Most households that cook a lot like to have two separate units or one comprehensive blender that is generally on the higher price range.
Do blender blades need to be replaced?
In general, your blender blades should last you the lifetime of the machine with proper washing and care. Unlike knives, you shouldn’t have to worry about sharpening them, either. However, if the blade gets damaged, some companies—Cuisinart, for example—do sell replacement blades, but they can be pricey.
Why Trust The Spruce Eats?
Donna Currie is a cookbook author who reviews products and writes roundups for The Spruce Eats. She's constantly testing out different kitchen gadgets and dishing out her honest opinions about design, performance, and ease of cleaning.
Taysha Murtaugh, who edited this piece and others for The Spruce Eats, loves her Ninja brand blender and uses it regularly for smoothies and soups.