Want a piña colada? Looking to add a bit of a chill to your next smoothie or protein shake? Want to keep your drinks nice and cool during the summer months, or make a shaved ice drink?
Not every home blender is up to the task. Crushing ice well requires a heavy-duty blender. It’s the most difficult task the average consumer will typically expect from a device built for home use.
With that in mind, there are a few things you need to look for in an ice-crushing blender:
A powerful motor: If your blender doesn’t have a motor with at least 500 watts of power, it isn’t made to crush ice at all. If you’re expecting shaved ice or fine-grained smoothies, you typically need to look at blenders with roughly 1000 watts of power or more.
High-quality blades: Wattage isn’t everything: some high wattage motors are surprisingly bad at crushing ice. Stainless steel, curved blades are a must. Anything else and you risk damaging your blender.
A heavy-duty pitcher: Avoid lightweight plastic. The ice will make the pitcher fragile, and extended use may cause it to shatter. Glass, heavy polycarbonate/copolyester, or metal are what you want to go for.
Separate compartments for ice and drink mix: Not a must, but useful if you want to blend cocktails.
At this point, you’re likely thinking that you’ll need to drop a mint in order to purchase anything halfway decent. Thankfully, that isn’t actually the case. Ice-crushing blenders are available at virtually every price point, as you’ll see below.
(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.)
Low-Cost: Oster BRLY07-B
Although the BRLY07-B’s motor runs at only 600 watts, it’s every bit as capable of crushing ice as the other blenders on this list. It only takes a few seconds to turn ice to powder, and makes piña coladas as smooth as they are delicious. The biggest problem with the BRLY07-B is noise – it’s as loud as a blender twice its size, so make sure you don’t mix yourself any drinks late at night, or you might just wake up the neighborhood. This line also has some quality control issues: if you get a good one it’s a five star blender, especially for the price, but a dud is a possibility.
$54.00 (as of 1/20/2016)
Easy to use and clean
Dual pitcher reservoirs make it ideal for frozen cocktails
Incredibly powerful for the price and wattage
Blade reversal cannot be done manually, only as part of pre-programmed cycles
Quality control issues play a part in the low price
Mid-Range: KRUPS KB790
This blender’s 60-ounce glass jar is thermal-shock, shatter, and scratch resistant, and its 6 stainless steel blades are detachable for easy cleaning and storage. Paired with its 1000 watt motor, these blades make short work of even the hardest materials; its unique Ice Crush function grinds ice to powder almost instantly. It features seven programmable blend settings and five different speed settings. While this blender has the power, the design’s fluid dynamics don’t always create the most efficient vortex, so make good use of a tamper to get the best results.
Retails at $250 (as of 1/20/2016)
Quiet for its size
Wide range of programmable settings allow for fine-tuned control of blending
Occasionally has troubles blending vegetables/fiber due to inefficient vortex
Complex assembly process
Some components prone to rust if not properly maintained
High-End: Vitamix 5200
The Vitamix 5200 may well be one of the best blenders on the market – and it carries a price tag to match, retailing at $499 (as of 1/20/2016). As they always say, you get what you pay for. In addition to crushing ice, the 5200 is capable of handling just about any blending task you throw at it, and its 1500 watt (2-horsepower) motor runs its blades at more than 240 mph.
It isn’t just powerful, either – it’s also a joy to use, with a soft handle and a well-made control panel with variable speeds. If you’ve got the money, we can’t recommend this one highly enough.
Of course, every blender has it’s issues. The most notable deterrent is, of course, the high price tag. As you should expect from a 2-horsepower motor, it’s loud. Some have also noted quality control issues with the blades, which may become blunted at some point along the supply chain. Make sure you check the blades when you receive your blender, since this is every bit as important as motor power.
Retails at $550
Cooling fan allows it to operate for extended periods of time
Easy to clean
Versatile and extremely powerful
Durable and built to withstand use multiple times a day
Pitcher has a tendency to turn cloudy if not properly maintained
Occasional quality control issues with blade sharpness