We’ll Help You Find One That’s Right For You
Everyone needs a blender.
Buying one though? It can be a headache. If you aren’t careful, you’ll end up with an overpriced blender with tons of features you’ll never use, or a cheap blender that works so badly it makes your head spin.
So before you buy a blender, you need to answer a few questions for yourself.
- What will you be using your blender for? If you’re just making fruit smoothies or protein shakes, you don’t really need a blender made for crushing ice. Likewise, a countertop blender doesn’t work very well for hot foods.
- What style of blender do you prefer? Would you rather have a countertop rig, or a hand blender?
- What features matter to you? Do you want to heat food while you blend? Do you care about size or speed? Does the jar size matter?
- What’s your price point? Blenders can go for upwards of $500 – know how much you’re willing to spend before you start searching.
Of course, even if you know what you want in a blender, that doesn’t guarantee you’ll buy the right one. You have a ton of elements to consider – motor wattage, materials, panel design, jar shape, and a whole lot more.
Whether you’re a fitness nut, hummus junkie, or professional chef, there’s a blender out there that’s perfect for you. Let’s find it.
(Note: While we’ve done our research and have carefully chosen the products mentioned below, this buying guide includes affiliate links from which we earn a commission if you buy a product from Amazon.)
Blend It Your Way: The Four Different Blender Types
Similar in size and shape to egg beaters, you use immersion blenders to mix baking materials like flour and eggs. They’re also great for soup, hot food, and small quantities of fruits or vegetables.
Immersion blenders start at $15-$30.
- Easy to use and clean
- Lightweight, easy to store
- Allow you to mix directly in a pan or bowl
- Not suited for large quantities of food
- Cannot blend hard materials or ice
The Conair Cuisinart Smart Stick. This is the number one selling hand blender at Amazon because of a solid blend of quality and affordability. (As of 1/18/2016, it’s priced at $30.95). The 2-speed 200 watt motor has enough power for most uses and doesn’t get too loud. Some consider the short cord a benefit since it makes cleanup easy, others feel the cord should be longer because they might need an extension. The most common complaint is with the 1-year warranty, which doesn’t cover shipping costs.
An alternative, the KitchenAid KHB2352CU 3-Speed Hand Blender, is also reasonably priced ($49.82 with 4 attachments as of 1/18/2016), and has a slightly stronger motor (216 watts) with 3 speed settings. Two attachable cups are good for blending nuts and watery drinks, and it comes with a whisk for cream or eggs. Most also feel the return policy is fair. On the down side, some expect a blender that can handle smoothies because of the attachable cup, but it’s really not made for this. Some also have issues with the blender attachment coming off because it seems to be attached when it actually isn’t, so make sure you hear the attachment click when you twist it on before using.
With a pitcher sized between 8 and 20 ounces, personal blenders are perfect for making breakfast smoothies or shakes. Some personal blenders, such as the Magic Bullet, are designed so that the pitcher can be used as a cup.
Personal blenders start at $20-$30
- Easily stored
- Portable pitchers for efficiency when blending breakfast mixes
- Easy to use
- Not intended for larger blending jobs
- Can be surprisingly loud, given their small size
- May be difficult to clean
The Magic Bullet 1701 ships with a smorgasbord of components, including 2 blades, 2 cups, 2 sealed lids, 2 vented lids, and a recipe book. Other than brand recognition, the main thing it has going for it is price ($55.86 as of 1/18/2016). The attachable cups, simple design, and easy clean-up are the biggest selling points, although those are of course universal for this type of blender. It also works very quickly, and is intended for short use. (On the flip side, running the motor for too long can cause it to burn out.)
Don’t expect actual magic from the little device, though. Keep in mind the Magic Bullet’s 250 watt motor won’t always crush all your ice: many recommend using frozen fruit instead. While it works well as a coffee grinder, it needs at least some fluid added for most other uses. Keep in mind that the ring seal only goes in one way. Placed the other way, it doesn’t work effectively.
A more expensive alternative, the Nutri Ninja, has a much more powerful motor (1000 watts), but also costs quite a bit more ($107.94 as of 1/18/2016). The motor can handle just about everything you would expect from this kind of device, certainly ice. It can break down strawberry seeds, etc., but you need to run it for a minute or more to get there, and you shouldn’t expect them to be completely pulverized. A lifetime warranty and 60 day return policy mean complaints aren’t too common, but some customers do have leaking issues, and the product occasionally breaks under the strength of its own motor.
Regular run-of-the-mill blenders, countertop models have a pitcher sized between 48 and 72 ounces. They’re versatile, multipurpose devices, useful for everything from crushing to grinding to mixing. Some countertop blenders may feature dual pitcher reservoirs for crushing ice or juicing components for smoothies.
Countertop blenders start at $40-$60
- Can be used for multiple types of blending jobs (crushing ice, making milkshakes, chopping vegetables, mixing salsas, etc.)
- Useful for larger blending jobs
- Requires considerable countertop and storage space
- Harder to clean than handhelds and personals
- Higher-end models are quite expensive
Oster Pro 1200 Blender Plus Smoothie Cup. As of 1/18/2016, this costs just $66.87, and at 1200 watts, you can expect it to outperform any of the handhelds and personals we’ve mentioned earlier in power. It certainly passes the ice crushing test. An attachable personal smoothie cup means it can double as a personal blender, and the blades detach from the container for relatively easy cleaning. The base is still comparatively large, making it harder to store than a personal or handheld, but it is small for a countertop blender. The glass container is classy and sturdy but heavy. The motor is very powerful but loud, and you need to hold the blender to make sure it doesn’t vibrate across your counter.
The Ninja Mega Kitchen System is likely the closest you’ll get to a professional-grade blender without actually purchasing one. Its 1500 watt motor is capable of crushing ice, frozen fruit, and seeds with ease, and it ships with a number of different attachments that equip it with the capacity for everything from kneading dough to chopping up solid food. It’s an incredibly sturdy appliance, and attachments like smoothie cups are a great addition to any kitchen.
The biggest problem with the Mega Kitchen System is that it takes up a ton of space with all of the attachments – if you’ve got a small kitchen, you might not have room for it. Also, as you should expect, the motor is very loud. The feeding tube on its processor attachment may also be disappointing if you’ve used a dedicated food processor before. It costs $229 on Amazon (as of 1/18/2016).
If you’re eyeing a commercial blender, you’ve got money to burn. These high-performance devices are decked out with powerful motors, high-quality blades, and (usually) massive pitchers.
Commercial blenders start at $100-$300
- Extremely versatile
- Powerful motor/blades
- Large size makes storage difficult
- Some models are complicated to use
Waring (MX1000XTX) 64 oz Commercial Blender – Xtreme Hi-Power Series. The 3.5 horsepower (2600 watt) motor spins the blades at 20,000 RPM, turns ice to powder in a matter of seconds, and breaks down berry seeds as well as a blender can. (Breaking them down any further would require a grinder of some kind). There are very few things you can’t blend in a matter of seconds. As a commercial blender, it’s designed to make over 100 smoothies a day. The only major downside is the price ($299.06 as of 1/18/2016). It’s also not designed for consumers, so some might consider it unattractive, and it is certainly very, very loud. As a commercial blender, it lacks specialized attachments, and isn’t designed for easy cleanup.
The Components Of A Great Blender
You’ve figured out what type of blender you want, but you’re not done yet. Next, you need to think about blender specifications. Consider the following:
Blender containers are generally made of either glass or high-grade polycarbonate (plastic), though some commercial blenders may feature metal pitchers. Some newer models also utilize pitchers made of copolyester, a material similar to polycarbonate but free of the chemical BPA. Plastic is usually the least expensive option, while metal is the most expensive.
We talk more about the different types of pitchers here.
There are four types of control panels, and which one you use is entirely up to you:
Note that touchpad panels are easiest to clean, while button panels are the most difficult, with a tendency to become grungy after extended use. Dial controls and switch controls fall somewhere in the middle.
Believe it or not, much of the buzz about motor horsepower/blender wattage is marketing fluff. While you’ll obviously see a difference comparing 200 and 2000 watt blenders, there’s usually little noticeable difference between, for example, a 2000 watt blender and an 1800 watt one. How well the motor puts that power to use, as well as the blade and container design, are also important factors.
Depending on what type of blender you’ve purchased, you may have access to only a single speed setting, or upwards of sixteen, complete with a selection of presets (ie. smoothie, soup, milkshake). Variable-speed blenders also come in two breeds:
- A microprocessor-controlled motor
- A manually-controlled motor
The former is generally the best choice, as it allows more fine-tuned control over the blending process.
Pay careful attention to the manufacturer’s warranty when you purchase a blender – it indicates how long the blender is expected to last. Generally, high-end devices are covered for 6 years or more, while low-end blenders rarely have warranties that last longer than a year.
Take stock of what your kitchen looks like before you buy a blender. Some models may require more storage space and countertop space than you’d expect, particularly those with multiple pitchers. Consider too what you’ll be using the blender for – you won’t need a 60 ounce pitcher if you’re just making yourself some smoothies for breakfast.
Brand does matter – to an extent. In most cases, it’s better to purchase from a known brand rather than springing for a no-name model (but not always). If your blender is made by any of the companies below, it’s a good sign of quality:
- Black & Decker
- Hamilton Beach
Of course, it’s always better to base your decision more on reviews than brand name alone.
Additional features such as an ice reservoir, juicing components, a heating element, or multiple pitchers can be strong selling points – though be certain you’ll actually use those extra bells and whistles.
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