A good blender is an invaluable kitchen tool, allowing you to make lump-free smoothies, silky soups, fluffy hummus, salsa and even muffins. There are many types of blenders, including standard blenders, powerful high-speed blenders like the Vitamix, compact ones designed to make single-serve smoothies, and immersion blenders that allow you to puree soups and other foods right in their cooking vessel.
No matter what type of blender you buy, EatingWell test kitchen manager Breana Killeen says to look for one that has a strong motor that can handle crushing ice, as well as multiple functions for low to high speed. Also seek out one that blends evenly (so there aren’t big chunks left), with a leakproof lid and a blender jar that can go in the dishwasher (i.e., it isn’t too tall).
Another consideration when buying a new blender is whether to go for a standard blender or a high-speed blender (aka a high-power blender). “If you don’t use a blender that often—let’s say once or twice a month—then a regular blender is your best bet,” says Killeen. “Look for one that still has a good bit of power, isn’t too loud and can still blend up a smoothie without chunks.”
If you use your blender more often or task it with pureeing lots of tough vegetables or aromatics like ginger, you might want to invest in a high-speed blender like a Vitamix. When choosing a high-speed blender, Killeen says to look for a long warranty, variable settings and a motor powerful enough to make the smoothest sauces and smoothies possible. “I also think if it’s something you use often and it’s going to be on your counter, it needs to look good,” she adds.
The best standard blender the test kitchen has used is KitchenAid’s Classic 5-Speed Blender. After five years of heavy test kitchen use, the blender still crushes ice and purees as well as it did when it arrived in the kitchen. Plus, it comes in an assortment of colors to fit the design of your kitchen.
There’s a reason Vitamix is synonymous with high-speed blenders, and their blenders are longtime favorites among the members of the test kitchen. “I’ve been using the Vitamix 5200 for 10 years but I recently swapped for the A2500 because it fits under my counter,” says Killeen. “The 5200 blender jar is too tall to store under my cabinet, so I kept the base on the counter and the blender jar in the cabinet. With the A2500, I can keep the whole thing on the counter, which is helpful since I use it at least 3 times a week. The A2500 also has a 10-year warranty, a built-in timer (I love this feature since I have to time everything for recipe testing), and it’s so powerful that everything comes out silky smooth. It also looks really, really good, which is important!”
EatingWell.com executive editor Penelope Wall also loves her Vitamix blender. “I use it for making smoothies and frozen drinks and love how it blends things up so smoothly,” she says. “I also love how easy it is to clean because you don't have to wash a bunch of different parts.”
If you are looking for a more economical option than a Vitamix, EatingWell.com senior SEO writer Rachel Roszmann swears by the KitchenAid K400, which is a champ at making hummus, crushing ice and more.
If you are looking for a space-saving device, check out Ninja’s combo kitchen system, which has different blenders and food processors that all fit on the same base. EatingWell.com digital editor Jaime Milan swears by hers for making smoothies, pesto, soup—and especially frozen margaritas. And, at under $200, it’s reasonably priced.
Even if you own a regular blender, you might consider buying an immersion blender, which allows you to blend right in a cooking vessel. Immersion blenders are particularly useful for blending hot foods like soup—it’s much easier to puree a soup by sticking a stick blender in it than by transferring the soup to a regular blender. “I love my Cuisinart immersion blender,” says Wall. “I can't live without it when I want to puree hot soups in the pot or if I have something small in a measuring cup that I want to blend without pulling out my Vitamix.”
If you love smoothies (and like to mix in tough ingredients like nuts or spinach), consider a small but mighty NutriBullet. “I love my NutriBullet,” says EatingWell.com digital producer Beth Stewart. “It's extremely powerful and super easy to keep clean. It's so easy that I don't mind getting it out very frequently, which means that I drink a lot more healthy smoothies than I ever had before I got one.”
Looking for an economical family blender or one to give somebody setting up their first home? EatingWell.com social media editor Sophie Johnson loves her Ninja blender. “I bought it when I moved into my first college apartment more than four years ago,” she says. “I lived with seven girls, and I think we all used that thing at least once a day for two years. It can blend ANYTHING. I usually just use it for smoothies, but I've pureed soups in there too. It gets everything nice and creamy and it's easy to clean and figure out how to use.” The only cons, she says, are that it’s quite loud and needs a good amount of liquid to get going. “But you can put giant ice cubes and whole frozen bananas in there and it eats them right up.”