A high-quality blender is an indispensable tool in any modern kitchen. From smoothies to soups, a good blender can make food prep easy and enjoyable. With so many models on the market ranging widely in price and features, it can be tricky to determine which blender is really the best for your needs. This comprehensive guide will walk you through what to look for when shopping for a blender, from blade power to container size and other key factors. Follow these tips to find the perfect blender for your kitchen and budget.
- 1 Introduction
- 2 Blender Power
- 3 Blade Quality
- 4 Speed Settings
- 5 Blender Container
- 6 Ease of Use and Cleaning
- 7 Noise Level
- 8 Additional Features
- 9 Blender Types
- 10 Top Blender Brands
- 11 Blender Buying Guide By Price
- 12 Key Considerations When Buying a Blender
- 13 Blender Uses
- 14 Blender Care Tips
- 15 Ready to Choose Your Blender?
- 16 FAQs About Buying a Blender
- 16.1 Q: What types of blenders are there?
- 16.2 Q: Should I get a glass or plastic pitcher?
- 16.3 Q: Are more blender speeds better?
- 16.4 Q: Which is louder, a food processor or blender?
- 16.5 Q: Can you crush ice in a cheap blender?
- 16.6 Q: How long should a good blender last?
- 16.7 Q: Can you grind grains in a blender?
- 16.8 Q: Is it okay to blend hot liquids?
- 16.9 Q: Should I get a blender with presets or manual speeds?
- 16.10 Q: How can I quiet a loud blender?
- 17 Conclusion
Having the right blender can be a game-changer in the kitchen. No longer will you have to suffer through chunky smoothies or laboriously puree soups by hand. With a powerful blender, you’ll breeze through food prep tasks like crushing ice, making nut butter, and blending creamy soups. Blenders have come a long way from the old-fashioned drink mixers of the past. Now, high-speed blenders can finely grind seeds and pulverize tough greens and frozen ingredients in seconds.
But with so many models and features available, how do you decide what blender is best for your needs? By factoring in blade power, capacity, speed settings, ease of use, noise level, and other key criteria, you can zero in on the perfect machine. Whether you’re a smoothie enthusiast, budding chef, or love whipping up big batches for the whole family, there is a great blender out there to match your purposes and budget.
This comprehensive guide will walk you through the features to look for when comparing blenders. You’ll learn blender lingo, understand key differences between types of blenders, and get tips for maximizing your machine. Let’s dive in to find the best blender for you!
One of the most important factors when selecting a blender is its power, which is measured in watts or horsepower. More powerful motors spin blades faster to pulverize and puree ingredients more efficiently. Most standard blenders range from 300 to 1500 watts, while high-performance blenders are typically 1500 watts or higher.
According to industry experts, aim for a minimum of 500 watts for reliable performance. 1000+ watts is ideal for tough ingredients like ice, frozen produce, nuts, and seeds. Higher-wattage blenders will give you silky smoothies, crushed ice drinks, and perfectly pureed soups in a matter of seconds. Leading brands like Vitamix and Blendtec are known for their powerful motors of 1500-1700+ watts.
For moderate usage, a blender in the 500-700 watt range should meet basic needs. Look for at least 1000 watts if you plan to blend daily or tackle harder ingredients regularly. The motor power is directly tied to the blender’s ability to pulverize, so don’t underestimate the importance of wattage.
The blades are the business end of the blender, directly chopping and mixing your ingredients. Quality blade design is essential for efficient blending performance. Look for aircraft-grade stainless steel blades that will retain their sharp edges. Blades should be able to pulverize ice, frozen produce, nuts, and fibrous materials with ease.
Sturdy blades won’t bend, warp, or dull easily. Blenders usually have between 3-6 blades arranged in various patterns. Different brands engineer specialized blade designs they claim improve blending action. For example, Vitamix’s aircraft-grade metal blades have patented curved shapes and cutting planes to handle hot soups or thick batters.
Some blenders also boast “extractor” blades that are precisely designed to pull produce against the container walls to thoroughly pulverize it. Test blenders with ice crushing and green smoothies to see how well the blades perform. Superior blade strength and engineering translate to smooth textures without annoying chunks or unblended bits.
Variable speed settings give you greater control when blending different consistencies or batches. Look for a blender with at least 3 speeds, ranging from a low mix setting to high pulverize. This allows you to stir chunky salsas on low, puree soups on medium, and crush ice into snow on high.
Pre-programmed settings take the guesswork out of preparing smoothies, juices, nut butters, batters, and more. Blenders like Vitamix offer settings for hot soups, frozen desserts, nut butters, and other specific functions that automatically adjust blending times and speeds. This makes it easy to achieve perfect results with the touch of a button. Models with both variable manual speeds and specialized presets offer the greatest flexibility and ease of use for novice and pro users alike.
Blenders come equipped with either glass or BPA-free plastic containers to hold your ingredients while blending. What size and material container suits your needs?
Capacity: Standard blender pitchers range from 40 to 64 ounces. Larger families may prefer pitchers of 72 ounces or more. Just keep in mind a larger container means more to clean.
Shape: Pitchers are typically cylindrical for even blending, while some are square for efficient storage. Curved bases encourage ingredients to circulate into the blades.
Material: Cheaper blenders have plastic containers. But for hot blending, consider a container made of insulated and durable copolyester or Tritan plastic. Glass pitchers found in some high-end models withstand heat yet may be heavier.
Look for clearly marked measurements on the container and lid spout for easily pouring servings. A tamper for stirring thick mixtures during blending is also useful.
Ease of Use and Cleaning
Your blender should be straightforward to operate and clean to encourage regular use. Look for the following convenient features:
- Intuitive controls/interfaces like dials or one-touch buttons
- Dishwasher-safe and detachable blade assemblies
- Non-slip bases to keep the blender steady
- Lightweight containers for comfortable lifting and pouring
- Self-cleaning modes on some high-end blenders
Rubberized grips, spout caps, and locking lids make the blending process neater. See-through lids and fill lines allow you to monitor blending levels. Avoid blenders with small openings or odd angles that hinder cleaning. Streamlined designs with removable parts offer the simplest maintenance.
Blenders can make quite a ruckus, especially powerful models. Check decibel ratings if lower noise is a priority. High-speed blenders with heavy motors register around 95 dB on average. However, some companies like Blendtec and Vitamix offer super-quiet blenders rated at 80-85 dB for a less jarring experience. Sound shield enclosures around the base can further dampen noise.
Consider your household schedule and noise tolerance. If you’ll use your blender early mornings or late nights, quiet operation may be worth investing in. But don’t sacrifice too much blending power solely for lower volume. Just be sure to position the blender away from bedrooms to minimize disturbances.
Other convenient but non-essential features include:
- Pre-programmed cycles: For one-touch smoothies, juices, sauces, etc.
- Timer: Allows you to set blending times, especially useful for recipes.
- Pulse mode: Gives you greater manual control.
- Self-cleaning: Automatically cleans with a special cleanser and water.
- Travel lids: Turns your blender container into a portable to-go cup.
- Recipe books: Provide inspiration and directions for your blender.
Consider what would be useful based on your blending needs and cooking style. More settings and accessories may warrant a higher price. Prioritize power and performance first, then extras.
There are a few main categories of blenders to be aware of:
Countertop blenders – The most common type, these are versatile and convenient for daily use. Models range from budget to high-powered.
Immersion blenders – Compact handheld stick blenders good for pureeing soups or making quick sauces.
Personal blenders – Individual-sized blenders for smoothies, juices, and dips on the go. Typically plastic and lower powered.
High-performance blenders – Heavy-duty machines designed for frequent use, commercial quality. Can puree virtually any ingredient.
Blender/food processors – Combines the chopping power of a food processor with blender settings. Convenient 2-in-1 but typically bulkier.
Decide if you need a simple immersion personal blender or a serious powerhouse countertop blender. Those who cook large batches or daily smoothies benefit most from high-performance blenders.
Top Blender Brands
When investing in an expensive appliance, sticking with well-known brands is wise. Reputable companies like Vitamix, Blendtec, Ninja, Oster, and KitchenAid dominate the blender industry. Factors like motor power, specialized engineering, and durability set professional brands apart. Customer service and warranties also provide peace of mind for years of reliable use.
Here are some of the top players with models in every budget range:
- Vitamix: Perhaps the gold standard of blenders, widely used professionally. Known for excellence in craftsmanship, power, and performance. Great for hardcore health enthusiasts or amateur chefs.
- Blendtec: Excellent for commercial-grade power and specialization in blends and juices. More affordable than a Vitamix with similar capabilities.
- Ninja: A wider range from low-cost to professional grade blenders packed with features. Often used by coffee shops and smoothie bars thanks to its power and versatility.
- Oster: Known for affordable blenders with multiple speeds and settings. Great for budget buyers who still want quality construction.
- KitchenAid: The iconic kitchen appliance brand also makes great mid-range blenders. Combines performance, attractive design, and trusted quality.
Within each brand lineup, you’ll find an array of options at higher and lower specs and price points. Weigh your priorities and needs against reputable company offerings to narrow down your search.
Blender Buying Guide By Price
- Hamilton Beach Power Elite ($25-$35) – A no-frills basic blender good for shakes and simple purees. The 700-watt motor tackles ice but may struggle with tough ingredients.
- KitchenAid 5-Speed Blender ($80-$100) – A mid-range KitchenAid with 56-ounce BPA-free pitcher and pre-programmed settings ideal for new cooks or small families.
- Ninja Professional Blender ($100-$130) – A 72-ounce pitcher, 1100 watts of power, and durability make this a leading budget-friendly choice for larger families and demanding recipes.
- Vitamix Explorian E310 ($350-$400) – Vitamix’s most affordable high-performance offering, equipped with aircraft-grade blades, a 64-ounce container, and intuitive controls. An exceptional machine backed by their stellar reputation.
- Blendtec Designer 675 ($400-$450) – With a 3.5 peak horsepower motor and sturdy BPA-free Wildside+ jar, this commercial-grade blender excels at whole food juices and custom blends. Great for health-focused users.
- Breville Super Q Blender ($500-$550) – This ultra-quiet blender touts a Hemisphere bowl for better blending flow and control. With 1,800 watts of power, it finely crushes ice and frozen produce in seconds.
- Vitamix A3500 ($650-$700) – The pinnacle of Vitamix engineering, with a built-in digital timer, five presets, and aircraft-grade stainless steel blades that pulverize ingredients for baby food-smooth textures. Worth the splurge for devotees.
- Blendtec Professional 800 ($600-$700) – Top-tier 3.8 peak horsepower motor with advanced speed controls. The Wildside+ jar and steel-forged blades excel at blending ice and frozen ingredients. Ideal for high-volume use.
- Cleanblend Commercial Blender ($400-$500) – A powerful 1800+ watt blender with 8 attachments for crushing, blending, chopping, and more. An affordable alternative to Vitamix and Blendtec for heavy prep work.
Key Considerations When Buying a Blender
- Blade Power: Aim for at least 500 watts, and 1000+ watts for tough ingredients
- Multiple Speeds: Look for low, medium, and high settings plus a pulse function.
- Pitcher Size: 32-64 oz capacity suits most needs. Larger for batch cooking.
- Material: Glass or BPA-free plastic. Stainless steel blades should be laser-cut.
- Ease of Use: Intuitive controls, dishwasher-safe parts, and one-touch programs.
- Noise Level: Powerful motors register 95dB. Quieter models around 80dB.
- Brand Reputation: Well-known brands ensure quality materials, engineering, and durability.
- Budget: Determine how much power and features you need at what price point. High-end blenders offer exceptional performance for a premium.
Don’t relegate your blender just to the occasional smoothie. Take advantage of its versatility to streamline meal prep and expand your kitchen skills.
- Smoothies: Blend fruits, greens, milks, yogurt, seeds like a pro for smooth, nutritious drinks.
- Pureed soups: Get silky, lump-free soups and gazpachos from fresh or cooked ingredients.
- Chopped veggies: Use the pulse setting to get even pieces for salsas, slaws, and more.
- Nut butters: Process nuts into healthy, homemade almond, cashew, or peanut butter.
- Baby food: Steam and puree fruits, veggies, and grains into healthy homemade baby food.
- Batters: Whip up pancake, muffin, waffle, and cake batters evenly mixed and aerated.
- Nut milks: Grind soaked nuts/seeds into delicious non-dairy milks.
- Sauces: Puree flavorful sauces like hummus, pesto, chimichurri to drizzle over dishes.
- Dressings: emulsify oil, vinegar, herbs for fool-proof salad dressing.
- Pulverized spices: Turn whole spices like cumin and fennel seeds into powdered form.
- Whipped cream: Blend cold heavy cream into airy whipped cream for desserts.
- Frozen drinks: Get restaurant-quality margaritas, daiquiris, and piña coladas.
Blender Care Tips
To keep your blender running at optimal performance:
- Clean thoroughly after each use – don’t allow residue to dry on blade assembly or container. Wash detachable parts in warm soapy water.
- Run self-cleaning cycles monthly if your blender has this setting to maintain hygiene.
- Inspect blade assembly and replace dull blades to protect your motor. Many blenders have replaceable blades.
- Don’t overload the container – leave space for ingredients to move and blend smoothly.
- Use tamper to press ingredients into blades if needed to process thick mixtures.
- Alternate wet and dry ingredients and start on lower speeds to ease motor burden.
- Let hot ingredients cool slightly before blending to prevent cracking glass or warping plastic.
- Tighten lid securely and hold lid down when starting blender to prevent lid from popping up.
With minimal care, your quality blender should give you many years of reliable performance and help streamline food prep.
Ready to Choose Your Blender?
The right blender makes easy work of food prep tasks from smoothie-making to batch cooking. With so many models boasting unique features and claims about power and performance, it can be tricky to filter through the noise. By learning about critical criteria like motor wattage, blade design, speed options, and ease of use, you can make an informed decision.
Consider your blending needs and frequency of use. Casual users can get by with an affordable model around 500 watts while frequent smoothie-makers should go for 1100+ watts of power. Look to trusted brand names known for engineering and durability. Vitamix, Blendtec and Ninja remain at the top for performance and quality. Budget at least $100 for decent mid-range models and $300+ for professional-grade machines that will last for years.
Spend time doing test runs in stores and reading customer reviews if possible. A bit of upfront research goes a long way to ending up with the right blender for your kitchen and cooking style. Don’t wait to ditch mushy smoothies and discover the convenience of meal prepping with your new favorite blender soon!
FAQs About Buying a Blender
Q: What types of blenders are there?
A: The main types are countertop blenders, immersion or hand blenders, personal blenders, and high-performance blenders. Countertop blenders are the most common and versatile for daily use.
Q: Should I get a glass or plastic pitcher?
A: Plastic pitchers are more common and often shatter-proof. But glass allows you to see contents and can handle hot liquids. Some are made of special hardened plastic that also withstands heat if this is a priority.
Q: Are more blender speeds better?
A: Multiple speeds (at least 3) provide more control over your blend consistency and texture. Low for mixing, medium for chopping, high for liquifying.
Q: Which is louder, a food processor or blender?
A: Blenders generally make more noise as high-speed motors are needed to finely grind ingredients. Expect around 95 decibels for standard models. Quieter models rated 80 decibels are available.
Q: Can you crush ice in a cheap blender?
A: It depends on the wattage. For frequent ice crushing, invest in a machine with 1000+ watts of power and stainless steel blades which can handle it. 500-watts may occasionally crush ice but not efficiently.
Q: How long should a good blender last?
A: Quality blenders can last 5-10 years with proper maintenance. Commercial blenders average 5 years of heavy use. Budget blenders may last only 2-3 years with regular usage. High-end brands like Vitamix offer warranties of 5-7 years or even 10 years, backing their exceptional durability.
Q: Can you grind grains in a blender?
A: High-powered blenders can handle dry grains like oats and rice on mill or grind settings. Most standard blenders cannot grind dry grains unless using a small amount with liquid.
Q: Is it okay to blend hot liquids?
A: Potentially, if you use a specialized container designed for hot blending. Otherwise boiling liquids can crack glass or warp plastic. Allow very hot liquids to cool for 5+ minutes before blending.
Q: Should I get a blender with presets or manual speeds?
A: Presets provide one-touch convenience for beginners. But manual speeds give more advanced control. Models with both presets and variable speeds offer the greatest flexibility for all users.
Q: How can I quiet a loud blender?
A: Use a sound enclosure if your blender didn’t come with one. Add sound-dampening pads under the base. Position the blender away from walls and off hard surfaces. Drop a kitchen towel over the lid while blending.
With an endless array of blenders on the market, deciding on the right machine for your needs can get overwhelming. Keep these essential criteria in mind as you shop: wattage for power, blade quality, ease of use, noise level, speed settings, and size. Consider if you want presets for one-touch blending. Plan to spend $100+ for decent performance, and $300+ for commercial-grade power. Leading brands like Vitamix and Blendtec deliver exceptional results, innovation, and durability to justify their price tags. Set yourself up with the best blender for your budget and usage to make food prep fast and enjoyable.