Are you looking for the best blender for your kitchen? We’ve already collected a guide to the best blenders for 2018, but now we’d like to dive in a little deeper and compare these blenders based on their most important features, so let’s talk about what makes a blender great and see how our top picks really match up!
The most powerful and dependable blenders often come with the highest price tags, and it’s all a process of give and take that often gives chefs, cooks, and kitchen fans pause when picking the right blender. Our top Blendtec Designer 625 pick, for example, is around $400 – which is a lot to spend on a kitchen accessory! Our Vitamix pick is almost $480, which is a serious investment in blending which makes it hard to justify as a must-have purchase for everyone…although if you’re looking for the best blender for green smoothies, you may want to stay with the Blendtec line.
So, what are your options if your budget is a bit lower than these elite models and you need to make a few compromises? We suggest our #5 pick, the Ninja Ultima, which offers an amazing number of features for your dollar. At $250, it comes with plenty of power and operational capabilities, and can handle serious blender recipes. Also, you get plenty of additional accessories for food processing, making it the most economical of our picks. However, if you’d prefer to take it down another $50, the Oster Versa and Cleanblend (read our review here) are both very powerful models that can tackle the most challenging smoothies with ease – especially if you prefer simple, no-frills blenders that just get the job done without the added hassle of having to learn rocket science first.
Jars, pitchers, containers – no matter what manufacturers call them, they are one of the most important features for any blender. You can typically count on the average blender to pulse, shred, and liquefy, but if you’ve spent time around blenders you know that one with a good container is a lot harder to find. They slip, break, pop open, and generally lead to some of your worst kitchen moments (and swear words). Pick a blender with a sturdy container that includes safeguards and easy grips for better control. A tamper, which allows for greater control over blended ingredients, is also a plus. Note that blades are connected to containers, so switching containers may also allow you to switch the type of blades that you use at the same time.
Looking at our list, we were particularly impressed with the pitcher for our top pick, the Blendtec Designer 625, which includes the five-sided Wildside jar that makes it a lot easier for contents to settle in a blender – and pour out when you’re ready. You may not think much of a square-shaped pitcher, but they really do come with an advantage when you’re short on time. The Vitamix 7500 and Ninja Ultima also score points here: the Vitamix model has a very sturdy cap, hefty pitcher frame, and solid handle that make it easier to handle more recalcitrant ingredients, and the Ultima comes with a couple different container options so you can choose which works best.
Where a blender gets its power from is an interesting mix of the motor, blades, and overall construction. A powerful motor, for example, doesn’t always mean that a blender will be powerful when it comes to the actual chopping, but it can be a very good indicator. The efficiency of the motor – how easily it produces the necessary torque – is also an important factor. For example, any blender with a 3HP motor or above has some serious power behind it and can handle even tough, large-group recipes. But one of the models which impressed us the most with its power was the Vitamix 7500, which has a 2.2HP motor but combines it with excellent design that leads to a 270mph blade speed, enough to handle anything. The Blendtec Designer 625 is also noteworthy for its 1625-watt, 3HP motor that makes it easy to deal with the toughest foods.
In contrast with power is, of course, noise level. Powerful motors and tough foods tend to equal a lot of noise, which can quickly get annoying to family members or roommates if you’re not careful. There’s not much adjustment you can make for noise when picking a blender – it’s typically just the price that you’ll have to pay. If you are desperate for a quieter blender, look for one that includes a compact container with full lid and reliable lock system to reduce vibrations in the unit. Such as the Blendtec Pro 800 ($1099), which is often used in professional settings, but reduces the dB quite a bit.
Settings and Usability
A blender should be easy to use! After all, it blends, right? It may do it faster, slower, or at timed intervals depending on the unit – but it really only has one job. The question is, what kind of usability do you want? If “ease of use” makes you think of relatively few buttons and simple options, then you should take a look at the Cleanblend model, the Vitamix, or possibly the Ninja Ultima. These blenders use configurations that haven’t changed since blenders were first invented. There’s a switch for power, a switch for pulsing, and variable speed dial that allows you to control continuous operation more selectively. That’s it. If you’re an experienced cook who can move around the kitchen with a blindfold on, that may be exactly what you prefer: you already know when food is blended correctly just by the look and sound, and you don’t need any added distractions.
On the other hand, maybe you like a blender with a little more modern tech. Maybe you enjoy settings for particular recipes that you can fire on and forget, or perhaps you like experimenting with different types of operation to see if they improve the result. If that’s the case, then the Blendtec model or the Oster Versa may be better picks for your purposes. They include more advanced settings with options for different modes, timers, and specific choices for certain recipes like smoothies or soup. It’s great for those first experimenting with blenders, or people who just like more options in their lives.
The blade is one of the most important parts of the blender – particularly when it comes to wear, tear, and replacements. Blades should always be made out of stainless steel to resist any chance of corrosion, but the type of blades, the placement, and how the components fit together are all important. Safety is also important: you want your blades to slice and cream, but you probably don’t want to sacrifice any fingers when cleaning. This is one reason that we rated the Blendtec model so highly, since it comes with safe yet powerful blades, an ideal match. We also liked the Japanese-grade blade assembly on the Cleanblend model, and the three-blade system of the Ninja Ultima. And you can always enjoy the Oster Versa beating up a smartphone if you want.
We’re proud of our top picks in this category – all five of them have containers that are very easy to clean. In fact, one of the best methods involves a little dish soap and water, then a couple minutes of blending to get everything clean (some attention to the nooks and crannies may still be needed). However, we would like to call out two models specifically: first is the Blendtec Designer line, which skips those switches and knobs for a smooth panel of touch buttons. That makes the Designer really easy to clean compared to other blenders, especially when things get a little messy. The Oster Versa, while not quite as low-profile, also embraces a blade design that’s particularly easy to clean.
As we mentioned previously, the Ninja Ultima Kitchen System comes with a surprising set of accessories considering its price, making it an easy pick for this section. The Blendtec Designer serious also includes options for additional pitchers. Of course, if you buy a set with plenty of additional pieces, make sure you have a place to put them!
If price is no problem and you want the best blender features available, we suggest going with the Blendtec Designer model, either the 625 or Designer 725, which impressed us through every test. There just isn’t another blender on the market quite like it. If the extra power and advanced controls don’t do much for you though, you may be more interested in the Ninja Ultima or possible the Oster Versa. Worried about cost? The Cleanblend is a powerful, excellent model that you can find for lower prices than the competitors.