11 Things You Should Never Put in Your Blender
Your blender may be a multi-talented appliance, but even it has limits.
Being that your blender has been there for you through every smoothie, sauce, hummus and margarita craving you've had over the years, it's easy to assume this uber-versatile kitchen appliance is practically invincible.
Sure, expanding on how you make use of your blender can lead to some pretty delicious dishes (and, ahem, cocktails), but it's also important to take note of what blenders aren't built for—otherwise, you run the risk of messing up your food, and also the blender itself. (Think: dull blades, exploding lids and busted containers.)
To get the most out of your blender and keep it in tip-top shape, here are 11 things you should avoid blending at all costs.
1. Extra-Hot Liquids
Putting hot liquids in a blender is a huge no-no. "Hot liquids give off steam, and that steam quickly creates pressure in a blender," says Oregon-based registered dietitian Elle Penner. "Because of this, the blending process can cause the liquid to explode and potentially burn anyone nearby."
When pureeing hot liquids, using an immersion blender is your safest bet. A close second would be to wait at least 10 minutes for the liquids to cool before blending, removing the circular part of the lid to allow the steam to escape—just make sure to cover the opening with a dish towel before you turn the blender on.
Thick and starchy foods, such as potatoes, don't typically fare well in a blender. "The blades and speed will overwork the potatoes and cause them to release too much starch," says Abbie Gellman, a NYC-based registered dietitian and author of The Mediterranean Dash Diet. The result? Potatoes that aren't so much "mashed" as they are "wallpaper paste." Best to stick with your ricer or masher for that highly sought-after fluffiness.
3. Dried Fruit
When you're making a smoothie or marinade, dried fruit can be a delish add-in—but because of its leathery exterior and sticky insides, it can get stuck to the blades and render them useless, says Gellman. If adding dried fruit to your blender is a must, either mince it by hand or soak it in warm water to soften it up before blending (and never by itself).
4. Super-Frozen Foods
"Blending large or extremely hard frozen foods, like fruit or almond butter, can break the blender container, sending shards of plastic or glass and food splatters everywhere," says Penner. "I know this because it happened to me!"
But even if your blender stays intact, you'll probably still end up with random chunks in your smoothie, as opposed to thoroughly blended. Instead, allow the foods to thaw for 10-15 minutes before popping them in your blender, and use foods that are cut into smaller pieces for the best results.
5. Ice Cubes
Ice cubes may be too difficult to break down for a standard blender, and similar to blending frozen foods that are rock solid, you might end up with uneven chunks. There's also the risk of dulling the blades or breaking them (or, worse, breaking your pitcher).
"Make sure to read the instruction manual to see what's recommended for your blender, even if there's a button that says 'chop' or 'crush,'" says Jodi Greebel, a New York-based registered dietitian who specializes in feeding families. (And when in doubt, you can throw your blender a bone by using ice that's already crushed.)
6. Whole Spices
"Between the way the blades are made and the shape of the container, a blender just isn't cut out for crushing spices," says Greebel. "If you really want to make your own [spice blend], use a spice grinder, but this is one kitchen task where I say it's worth the money to buy spices that are already ground up."
7. Coffee Beans
Technically, you can grind coffee beans in a blender (by pulsing them in small amounts to keep the beans closer to the blade, suggests Penner), but they'll fare much better in a coffee grinder. Besides the fact that blending coffee beans will probably lead to out-of-whack granules and mess with the flavor of the coffee, "using a typical blender could wear down the sharpness of the blades over time," says Gellman.
Bones should never be put into a blender. "Larger ones (like chicken, beef or pork) will dull or break the blade, and possibly even the container itself," says Penner. "Smaller bones, like those found in fish, won't do as much harm, but can cause the blender to jam." If you do blend fish, Penner recommends removing the larger bones and making sure there's plenty of liquid to keep things moving.
9. Raw High-Fiber Foods
Vegetables, such as celery and broccoli, tend to get stringy in a blender if they're raw, so best to cook them before tossing them in. Beans should always be cooked before blending too—otherwise, they'll dull the blade.
Another high-fiber food that doesn't do well in the blender is cauliflower. "Cauliflower rice is best made in a food processor," says Greebel. "The way a blender chops makes it mushy rather than the desired consistency of cauliflower rice."
10. Whole Nuts
Although nuts aren't as tough on blenders compared to other foods, they can still dull the blender blade. "Soften nuts by soaking them prior to pureeing at home," says Penner. "For fresh nut butter, stick to the industrial machines available at grocery stores."
11. Strong-Smelling Food
Strong-smelling or spicy foods, like garlic, ginger and chili peppers, can leave lingering odor and spice behind, which can then transfer to whatever you happen to blend next. "Cooking these foods before blending will lessen the punch left behind, as will blending them in small amounts along with other foods—not by themselves," says Penner.