How to Use a Kitchen Blender - Common Uses and Tips

Common uses for a blender and general-use tips

Oster Versa Counter Blender
Oster Versa counter blender. Oster

A counter blender is a kitchen appliance that for some, is a time saver because it can easily blend and more quickly purée foods, compared to hand blending. While the versatility of your blender model depends on its design and type, power, features and accessories, at the very least, it's ideal for smoothies, mixing cake or pancake batter, salad dressings, making salsa and blending baby food and much more.

Some consider their blender a food prep essential, while others use this appliance merely for blending smoothies. Blenders come in a variety of capacities and with the right accessories, can also cross the line into the food processing or chopping arena. That's where your product manual is key to understanding what your counter is designed for and what you can do with it.

In the absence of product information that confirms a blender can crush ice or has extended food processing functions, you should assume that your blender can only blend, purée, stir or mix liquids, thin batters, dressings and soft foods. 'Soft' meaning cooked foods or softer raw fruits and vegetables including onions, tomatoes, peppers, mushrooms and the like.

Blenders that can crush ice are designed with a combination of sufficient power and a specially designed stainless blade. While there are many models on the market with ice-crushing capabilities, some do not have this feature. If it does, you should see it listed in the product description.

Models that have extended processing functions are generally high-powered and come with chopping accessories. These are usually in the higher price range. Here's a few general blender use tips to help you get the most out of your counter blender.

  • Pulse is often sufficient and more appropriate for many blending tasks.
  • Avoid extended operation - running it longer than needed. Not all blenders are equipped with overload protection.
  • Never operate the blender without the jar being securely placed on the unit.
  • Regardless of how snug the lid is, you should hold it down while the blender is operating.
  • Never operate the blender without the lid. Even the smallest amount of food can create quite a mess if the lid is not secured.
  • To make cleaning easier between blending batches, put a small amount of warm water and dish detergent in the jar, and pulse to pre-clean immediately after using it. Rinse thoroughly.
  • When all blending tasks are finished, disassemble the jar and blade assembly to clean it carefully.
  • Always leave room for expansion. At least one third capacity and more for very thin liquids.
  • Place liquid ingredients in the jar first, followed by the rest of the ingredients.
  • Cut vegetables and food items in smaller portions to enable foods to circulate around the blade.
  • Blend hot liquids carefully, starting on lowest speed and only if your model is designed for this. Leave lid cap off for steam to escape and fill the jar only half full, allowing more room for expansion. You may need to use a hot pad while holding down the lid during operation.
  • Allow blender to come to a full stop before changing speed settings.
  • Never immerse the main/base blender unit in water. Wipe the exterior and any spills in the base with a damp cloth after unplugging the appliance.

What Not to Do With a Blender (these usually do not work):

  • Mash potatoes
  • Whip egg whites
  • Whip heavy cream
  • Extract juice from fruits and vegetables (unless it has an extraction setting)
  • Grind raw meats
  • Knead or process dough (use a food processor or mixer instead)
  • Blend hard vegetables

Best Uses for Standard Jar Blenders:

  • Pureeing soft or cooked foods
  • Creaming soup
  • Smoothing gravy
  • Blending eggs to scramble or make an omelette
  • Making egg nog
  • Blending cream pie fillings and custards
  • Blending frozen concentrated juices or other beverages
  • Blending pancake or waffle batter
  • Blending non-ice smoothies and beverages; ice cream shakes
  • Blending instant puddings
  • Making salad dressings, salsas, dips, mayonnaise
  • Making bread, cracker or cookie crumbs
  • Crushing ice and blending frozen beverages (if so designed)

Always consult your product manual if uncertain what your particular blender can and cannot do, as capabilities vary per model. Follow recommended care instructions for your blender. If you need a little inspiration, buy one or two recipe books to get the most out of your blender.