Blenders can purée vegetables into soup, crush nuts into butter, whir dressings and sauces into silky emulsifications, chop ingredients into salsas, and, of course, make smoothies. They’re truly so useful, as much of a staple for many people as a stove or microwave. But there are also a lot to choose from, and in an attempt to narrow down the wide and overwhelming field, I asked a bunch of pros and avid cooks about the ones they rely on in their own kitchens.To help settle the score, we put popular blenders to the test, whipping up smoothies, soups and nut butter and pulverizing ice to find the models that produced the creamiest, silkiest textures and had the best functionality, durability and more.
Breville BBL920BSS Super Q Countertop Blender Breville Store
Vitamix Venturist V1200, Professional-Grade, 64 oz. Amazon Renewed Store
Vitamix E310 Explorian Blender, Professional-Grade Vitamix Store
Mueller Austria Ultra-Stick 500 Watt 9-Speed Immersion Mueller Austria Store
As with most small kitchen appliances, all blenders are not created equal. In fact, for a tool made primarily to blend, puree, stir and mix, consumers face a huge variety when considering their options. From personal-sized models meant to whip up single servings or small batches, to basic inexpensive to moderately priced versions that can handle more volume, to high-performance, commercial-grade machines that may hit you with serious sticker shock but also take blending to a whole new level, picking the right machine can be a bit of a, well, whirl.
So, which model is best? If you drink smoothies daily, are into juicing, like to whip up your own nut butters and flours, regularly eat soups, love a super-emulsified salad dressing or just spend a lot of time cooking at home in general, a high-performance blender may be worth the higher price tag.
The biggest thing that sets these models apart from the rest of the crowd is their motor size. High-performance models clock in at a powerful 1,400-plus watts, while budget blenders are typically in the 500-watt range. Higher-powered motors mean you get the right vortex needed for creamier blends, especially when blending fibrous fruits and vegetables, herbs, nuts and thick smoothies and drinks. A good rule of thumb: Go with the highest number of watts your budget allows.
As for the blade, look for one made of stainless steel for sharpness and durability. Vitamix, for example, uses aircraft-grade stainless steel blades to keep blending results consistent and dullness at bay.
Next up: the container jars. Plastic is standard for most blenders, and the most expensive models are made using BPA-free Tritan plastic, a superdurable, shatterproof and lightweight material that comes with a long lifespan. Glass, of course, is less likely to stain or absorb food odors, but can break and doesn’t play well with high-speed blades and wattage. Many of these containers have a capacity of 64 ounces or more, meaning you can blend up several servings at a time (great for entertaining), and some come with smaller-sized accessories, such as a smoothie-to-go cup that often can be used as an attachment.
If you’re the type of home cook who likes to set it and forget it, a blender with preprogrammed settings may be right for you. Many blenders feature one-touch buttons for smoothies, soups, crushing ice, clean cycles, dips and spreads, and more. Variable speeds — allowing you to manually set your blend from low to high — are standard, as is a pulse button that lets you start and stop as needed. Some higher-end versions also come with timers, helping to take some of the guesswork out.
Soup lovers, in particular, will be drawn to the high-end versions for their game-changing “hot soup” ability: Simply add your ingredients, set the timer or select the preset soup button, and after about six minutes of blending, your soup is cooked, steaming hot and ready to eat right out of the pitcher. But remember: Just because it has a preset doesn’t mean one press of a button will result in a perfect blend.
Attachments are also fairly common. If you don’t plan to use your blender very often, you probably don’t need the add-ons. But if you like to take your morning smoothie with you on the go and have the storage space, smaller cups or attachments are convenient.
Our favorite accessory, however, is the tamper, a plastic tool made to insert through the blender’s lid to help break up air bubbles or other jams while the machine is still running, and sized so that it won’t hit the blades, which could lead to damage. If you don’t have a vortex while blending your thick smoothie, instead of stopping the machine, taking off the lid, using a spoon or adding more liquid to get things moving again, simply tamp the ingredients down into the blades and you’ll likely be right back in business.
Finally, a note on cleaning. After years of using blenders that needed to be taken apart and hand-washed or placed in the dishwasher, where they take up so much room, we have finally discovered that cleaning a blender could not be easier. Just fill the container halfway with warm water, add a couple drops of dish soap and give it a blend. Rinse it out — if you were blending something with oil, you’ll still need to wipe it out a bit — and you’re set.
We ran each blender through the same four tests to see how well they performed when making a green smoothie, making vegetable soup, turning peanuts into peanut butter and crushing ice. If included, we used the applicable preset program on the model (for example, smoothie, soup or ice). We used the exact same ingredients for each blender tested. The models we tested covered a large price range: from $39.99 to a truly splurge-worthy $629.99.
We also evaluated:
- Functionality: We compared how well each blender tackled the four food tests (Were the smoothies creamy? How smooth was the soup? Was it able to handle grinding nuts into butter? Was the ice a snow-like consistency or chunky?). We also considered noise levels (spoiler: they’re all loud) and how easy they were to clean.
- Build: We ranked the blenders on their ease of use, including whether controls were clearly labeled, the number of settings included, how easily the blender fit into the base and how secure the lid was, overall quality of materials and counter appeal, including size and overall aesthetics.
- Durability: Considerations included each blender’s ability to withstand everyday use, including susceptibility for the jar to stain or crack and nicks on the blades, its ability to hold up to frequent washing cycles, and motor power, especially when run for longer periods of time.
- Warranty: We took into account how long warranty plans were for each model, with more points scored for longer, extended plans.