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A blender is one of the most used small appliances in the kitchen. Mine is right there at the top after my Keurig (gotta have my daily 2 cups of coffee) and my crockpot.
Considering the popularity of smoothies and other healthy drinks nowadays, I’m sure this is the case for many of you. Let’s say that you don’t have one, or your old one just died. If you are in the market for a top a rated blender, you may be a bit flummoxed by the sheer number of options available today.
Here’s the deal:
They make personal, upright, and immersion options, and there’s a great deal of variation even among the same type. It can be hard to know what to look for when trying to make a purchase, so I’m here today to try to sort it all out for you.
First, I will go over the pros and cons of the different types of blenders, and then I’ll give you some options to compare to help you make the best choice for you.
Soaring in popularity right now are the personal-sized blenders, because it’s so easy to zap some fruit veggies into a healthy smoothie in the single-serving container that doubles as a travel cup.
Most brands come with multiple containers so you don’t have to worry about washing your to-go cup every day since you’ll have at least one more clean and ready for the next morning.
So, if a healthy morning smoothie (or maybe the guilty indulgence of an afternoon milkshake) is the one and only purpose you have, this type of machine is really perfect for you.
It seems that the king of the personal-size brands is the Magic Bullet. This machine is perfect for making smoothies in to-go cups, but it can also chop, mix, blend, whip, and grind small servings. You can get a 25-piece set, which includes 4 different travel mugs as well as a shaved ice attachment, for an affordable price. To me, this is a great buy.
Magic Bullet also makes the NutriBullet line which all have more powerful motors (600 or 900 watts) than the standard Magic Bullet. That makes this line perfect if you plan on grinding nuts or seeds a good bit, or if chia seeds are a big part of your smoothie routine.
Full-Size, Upright Blenders
If you love smoothies but will also be using a blender for a multitude of other purposes, you’ll need something bigger and more powerful.
A better option:
A conventional upright model is also great for smoothie-making, even better, really, than the personal-sized option because it will have more much more power. Many models now even come with an additional personal-size container as well. Upright machines aren’t just for making tasty drinks, either.
They can be used for pureeing baby food, soups, sauces, and a myriad of other types of food similarly to that of food processors (although food processors can also chop without pureeing). They can even be used to grind up dry ingredients.
With an upright model, things you may want to consider are if you prefer a glass or plastic pitcher (for plastic make sure to look for a BPA-free one), whether you prefer a round or square pitcher, if the height of the base with the pitcher attached will be an issue for you, if you prefer touch pad, dial, or push button controls, and definitely look for the length of the warranty.
Most brands will offer a 5-7 year warranty, but you will need to read each product description fully to make sure. Let me point out that, yes, there are plenty of options out there that are less expensive than any I mention here, but I did that for a reason.
When I buy a blender, I want one that will last, and all of these will work for years and years. If, for whatever reason, you run into any issues, all of these have fantastic warranties. Besides that, I am looking for a powerful motor that can handle the toughest of tasks with ease, and anything super inexpensive is not going to cut it.
If you know that you’ll be using your blender pretty much every day, I highly recommend going with one of the top of the line options.
One of the most well-reviewed blenders – the Vitamix 5200 series (available in five different colors) – is another great option if you are ready to spend a hefty chunk of change. These are at the higher end in terms of price, though you can pick up reconditioned models for less when they are available.
Among foodies and serious at-home cooks, the Vitamix is one of the most popular brands right now, and for good reason. This machine can puree, crush, and grind up pretty much anything you throw in there.
Vitamix 5200 Series Blender available on Amazon
With a motor that’s capable of functioning at a TRUE 2 peak horsepower, you will get one powerful machine that also is made with a high-efficiency cooling fan and a low-friction, ball-bearing motor that is built to last. All Vitamix models also come with a tamper tool to push down ingredients to help process thicker mixtures easily.
You can also purchase a separate dry grains container that comes with specially designed blades that are made to pull the dry ingredients down to process them as finely as possible (This is strictly optional, and the regular “wet” jar can process dry grains just fine, but the dry grains can cause pitting on the inside of the container down near the blades, which doesn’t look very nice and can cause odors to become trapped inside the plastic when you process wet ingredients in the same jar as dry ones).
Finally, the Vitamix 5200 comes with a 64-ounce, BPA-free pitcher, a recipe book, an instructional DVD, and a 7-year warranty. The only real downside to this product, unless you consider the price tag a downer, is that the base itself is really tall, and with the stock pitcher attached, it will not fit under the upper cabinets if you plan on storing it on the kitchen counter.
However, Vitamix also makes a variety of containers – both wet and dry – in 32 and 48 oz sizes which reduces overall height and allows you to fit your machine just about anywhere.
I own and use a Vitamix on a daily basis. I’ve NEVER been able to bog the motor down. I’m convince you could grind up a whole hog into sausage if you could fit one in there. I love the fact that it is made in the USA and the fact that the motor is sourced from Sweden rather than from the lowest bidder in China where reuse of electrical wire scavenged from old appliances is rampant.
I love the quality, attention to detail, and CARE that this device is designed around and manufactured with.
The best thing about this blender is:
The fact that clean up is a snap thanks to the sealed blade assemblies – simply add a little water into the container with a drop of dish soap and hit high and dump and rinse. As long as you don’t let the remains of a smoothie sit all day, this is the extent of any clean up (every once in a while some liquids may escape down the sides that you’ll have to hose off).
For my money, this is one of the best blenders you can purchase and would be a near lifetime (at least decades) buy. You can read various customer reviews and you will find many others in agreement.
The only other blender that I would consider for a long term investment would be the Blendtec as I’ve read excellent reviews about them as well. Sorry for the interruption – back to Foodal’s regularly scheduled program on the best blenders on the market with Ashley.
The other contender for most popular, top-rated blender is the Blendtec. The Blendtec Designer Series, which comes with the huge 90-ounce “WildSide” jar is comparable in price to the Vitamix 5200, but it has a powerful 3-peak horsepower motor, which is the most powerful motor you will find for a non-commercial machine.
It’s also a little more “techy” in that it has an illuminated digital control panel as opposed to the manual dial on the Vitamix machine. It has several pre-programmed blending modes, such as a smoothie setting, and once you press that option, it displays a countdown showing you how long you’ll have to wait until the smoothie is finished.
It also has an easy-touch control where you simply slide your finger across the panel to move through the speed settings manually.
The Blendtec is specially engineered to keep itself cool, but in the event that the machine does start to overheat, it is programmed to shut itself off until it cools down.
Additionally, Blendtec understands that certain ingredients blend better at slower speeds, so the machine is built to sense the ingredients, and then it monitors and adjusts its power to deliver just the right speed. These are two great features that the Vitamix just doesn’t have.
Like the Vitamix, though, it also comes with a recipe book and 7-year warranty AND IS MADE IN THE USA, however, the Blendtec should fit under most upper cabinets to sit easily on your kitchen counter. This device is also available in black as well as champagne.
Both the Vitamix and the Blendtec are serious investments that cost several hundred dollars. A better option if you’re looking for superb power but aren’t looking to part with that much money is a Ninja. The Ninja Ultima Plus is even more powerful than a Vitamix with 2.5 horsepower.
What’s neat about the Ninja products is that they have two sets of blades that rotate at different speeds to most effectively crush and puree. They have “high speed cyclonic technology” to best puree foods down to a smooth and creamy state as well as “total crushing technology” to quickly break down ice, whole fruits, and vegetables.
Finally, the Ninja has 10 speeds as well as a pulse option, and this model comes with a 72-ounce BPA-free plastic pitcher.
What really sets the Ninja Ultima apart, other than it costs half what a Vitamix or Blendtec does, is that it comes with three single serve to-go cups that can screw onto the base, turning the Ninja into a personal-size smoothie maker as well. To get a little more bang for your buck, you can spend just a little more for the Ninja Mega Kitchen System.
It still comes with the 72-ounce pitcher and to-go cups, but it includes an 8-cup food processor bowl as well that screws right onto the base. All in one box you get a full-size upright as well as a personal-size blender PLUS a food processor, so you pay one relatively reasonable price to get three machines.
That’s pretty awesome.
The standard Mega Kitchen System is that the motor is only a 2 horsepower (which is still significantly more powerful than most other machines). Read actual customer reviews at Amazon.
However, if you want a little more power, the Mega Kitchen System is also available with a 3 horsepower motor which should put it on par with Vitamix and Bendtec – at least on paper.
It too comes with its own food processor attachment making it extremely versatile.
Now, the next option I want to give you is not one that most would consider a top of the line but more of a middle of the road appliance, and that’s an Oster. I include it here because my mother-in-law has an Oster that she bought in the 80s that still works like a boss.
The 80s, guys! You can’t get more durable than that.
This is not the most powerful blender, but Oster has come a long way, and the Oster Versa 1400-Watt Professional Performance Blender is surprisingly similar to a Vitamix but with a price tag closer to that of a Ninja. It comes with the same kind of tamper to help process thick mixtures and the reviews all claim that it makes smoothies just as well.
The Versa is sleeker-looking than a Vitamix but in the stock model offering it too suffers from a very tall pitcher that’s unable to fit under most cabinets.
However, it is also available in a 64-ounce pitcher low profile version and can sit on your kitchen counter under standard dimensioned upper cabinets. The sleeker look of the Versa is more reminiscent of a Blendtec, and like a Blendtec it has three pre-programmed settings- smoothies, soups, and dips/spreads. But like a Vitamix it also has a variable speed dial as well.
In addition, the Versa comes with two cookbooks, Gourmet Cuisine and Fresh and Fit recipes, which includes nutrition and caloric information. The reviews for this blender are also very good.
Like both of its more expensive counterparts, Oster also offers a 7-year warranty on all Versa models – although I suspect warranty procedures with Blendtec and Vitamix may be quicker and simpler as they are both a much smaller companies.
Also, I suspect parts would be available after warranty with the other two companies. The Oster Brand is owned by Sunbeam who is in turned owned by Jarden, an appliance conglomerate.
The last option I want to give you is the KitchenAid 5-Speed that comes with a 56-ounce BPA-free pitcher. This is the least expensive machine that I’ve found that still does a pretty good job at getting ingredients really smooth. Even so, with the lower price tag you only get a 0.9 horsepower motor.
With that said, this KitchenAid has really good reviews, and it seems like everyone who has bought one after considering a Vitamix or Blendtec has been really happy with their purchase.
Similar to the Blendtec, it has what KitchenAid calls Intelli-Speed motor control which senses the contents and maintains optimal speed to power through all ingredients. It has a “crush ice” mode as well as a pulse mode and digital speed settings.
With a soft-start feature, the blades are able to first pull the ingredients down to puree or crush really well before it automatically increases in speed to the desired setting.
These two factors equal highly efficient blending, so it may be a great option for those of you looking for a well-reviewed and durable machine without breaking the bank. The most exciting thing? It’s available in 13 different color choices.
I’ve gone over both personal-size and upright options, but another type you may want to consider is an immersion blender. If you are really tight on space and just have no room on the counter, this is the perfect choice for you.
With an immersion machine, the motor is housed in the handle to which a wand with blades on the end is attached. You then place the wand, blades down, into whatever vessel you will be blending in.
This makes it ideal for pureeing soups and sauces in the same pot in which they are made, saving you the trouble of transferring those hot liquids into an upright machine.
By the same token, though, it is something of a hassle to make smoothies and other drinks in a big bowl that you can fit the wand into and then pour the drink into your cup or serving pitcher. Another drawback to this kind of liquidizer is that with the motor being housed in the handle, it is smaller and therefore much less powerful than a full-sized version.
One redeeming factor, though, is that many of these products also come with a small food-chopper bowl to which the handle can be attached, and it turns into a mini sous chef to prep your veggies and fruits with ease.
There are a few other decent options out there, but Cuisinart has cornered the market on this small appliance. With several different models available, these are the most well-reviewed of any immersion machines.
I have one myself, and I use it quite a bit for pureeing soups, and it’s handy for pureeing baked apples into applesauce as well. Mine came with a food chopper and a whisk attachment. I’ve never used the whisk attachment, but I would imagine it’s great for beating eggs or making whipped cream.
The best part is, Cuisinarts are very affordable (with some variations in price depending on power and available attachments and features), making them a great purchase if you do need to puree hot liquids frequently.
I prefer the Cuisinart CSB-79 Smart Stick 2-Speed 200-watt Immersion Hand Blender with Attachments pictured above as it comes with some great attachments and has every you need to get started.
Well, I think I’ve given you enough to mull over for one day. There are some really great blenders out there these days, and you really can’t go wrong with any of the choices I’ve given you. It really boils down to how you plan to use your new appliance and how much you are willing to spend. I hope this breakdown helps you out!
About Ashley Martell
Ashley has enjoyed creative writing since she was six years old, when she wrote her first short story. She majored in English literature at the University of Montevallo. After years of professional work, she is now a stay-at-home mom of three, who uses her craft to write about her life and adventures in and out of the kitchen.