Best Blender for Smoothies and Drinks
It’s hard to choose a blender these days. The range of blenders on the market is huge, and the difference in price seems even bigger. There are often conflicting opinions from people with the same blender. One person says it blends really well and the next person says it leaves chunks in my smoothie. One reason for this is that different people are using their blenders for different things and so their opinion of how well the blender works depends on what they are using it for. It’s no use relying on reviews that tell you “…this is a great blender”, you need to drill down and look at what the blender is great for.
This is where we come in. We have looked at a range of blenders and come up with a comprehensive list of ones that are good for smoothie making no matter what your budget. The type of blender that you need for smoothies and drinks depends on how often you make them, how much work you want to save yourself chopping ingredients and cleaning the blender, and the consistency of the smoothie.
What’s the difference between a smoothie maker and a blender?
Some blenders are marketed as smoothie makers, or smoothie machines, with the main difference being that smoothie makers usually have a dispensing tap or valve. This valve is usually marketed as making it less messy to pour the smoothie into the glass, but they take longer to dispense the drink – rather than just pouring it from the pitcher, and the main problem is that it just adds another part that you need to clean. If you are making thick smoothies, some of the smoothie mixture will stick to the sides of the tap. So you are probably better going for a blender without a tap.
Is it true that the more I pay the better the quality?
Higher priced models of blenders are generally easy to clean. You don’t have to take the blade assembly apart to clean them which saves you a lot of time. They are more powerful and have better designed blade systems so you don’t have to chop everything up before you put it in the blender. And because they are more powerful you can achieve a much smoother smoothie, as they tend to pulverise the ingredients quite well. Also the more powerful models will allow you to make things other than smoothies such as nut butters, soups etc. They usually have a better warranty as well. It just depends on what you want the blender for.
If you are new to making smoothies then you might be best buying one of the cheaper ones recommended below just to see how often you will actually use it. I’m sure you are brimming with enthusiasm to start making some of these extremely healthy concoctions, but the truth is that kitchen appliances are often used a lot when first purchased but then sit in the cupboard once the initial enthusiasm has worn off.
The comparison table below lets you check out a whole range of features of 17 blenders ranging from very cheap up to the high priced most powerful blenders. These features to consider are discussed in more detail below the table, followed by our recommendations for each price range.
|Blender||Price||Controls||Speeds||Colors||pitcher volume||Watts/ HP||Warranty||Pitcher||Rating|
|KitchenAid KSB560ER 5-Speed Blender with Polycarbonate Jar, Empire Red||85.99||touch||5||21||56 oz||.9HP||1 yr||Polycarb||3.8|
|Magic Bullet NutriBullet 12-Piece Hi-Speed Blender/Mixer System||89.99||n/a||one - pulse||Gray||24 oz||600||1yr||BPA free||4.1|
|Hamilton Beach 58148A Power Elite Multi-Function Blender||30.24||4 buttons||12||Black||40 oz||700||3 yr||Glass||4|
|Oster BCCG08-RFP-NP9 8-Speed Blender with Food Processor Attachment||55.64||4 buttons||8||Red||48 oz||450||1yr||Glass||4.3|
|Ninja Master Prep Professional (QB1004)||59.99||1 button||one - pulse||Black||48 oz||450||1yr||BPA free||4.4|
|Dash Chef Series Premium Digital Blender||141||digital||6 preset||4||64 oz||1400 2.25 hp||lifetime on motor||BPA free||4.7|
|KitchenAid 5-Speed Blender Diamond Vortex Blending System.||159||touch||5||17||60 oz||0.9 HP||1yr||BPA free||4.4|
|Vitamix 1782 TurboBlend, 2-Speed||378||buttons||2||black||64 oz||2hp||5yr||BPA free||4.6|
|Waring Commercial MX1200XTX Xtreme Hi-Power Variable-Speed||318||dial||variable||black||64 oz||1500 w/ 3.5 hp||3yr||BPA free||4.7|
|Oster VERSA 1400-watt Professional Performance Blender with Tall Jar, BLSTVB-000-000||249||dial||variable||black||64 oz||1400||7yr||BPA free||4.7|
|VITAMIX 5200 Series Countertop Blender||432||dial||variable||4||64 oz||2 hp||7yr||BPA free||4.7|
|Vitamix 1709 CIA Professional Series||498||dial||variable||5||64 oz||2hp||7yr||BPA free||4.7|
|Vitamix Professional Series 750||648||dial||variable||brushed stainless||64 oz||2.2 hp||7yr||BPA free||4.6|
|Blendtec Designer Series Blender, WildSide Jar - Black||449||touch||multiple/preset||4||88 oz||1560/3Hp||7yr||BPA free||4.8|
|Blendtec TB-621-20 Total Blender||434||touch||multiple/preset||black, white, red||64 oz||1560/3Hp||7yr||BPA free||4.3|
|Breville BBL605BSXL Hemisphere Control Blender||199||buttons||5||3||48 oz||750||1 yr||BPA free||4.2|
|3HP Commercial Blender: CleanBlend||199||dial||variable||black||64 oz||3 Hp||2yr||BPA free||4.9|
Features to consider
One of the first questions people ask when considering a blender is “should I buy the most powerful blender I can afford?” The answer to this is not simple and there are a few things you need to consider. Most blenders range from 400 to 1500 watts. Whilst most manufacturers will claim that the higher watts translates to a more powerful blender, consumer Reports have found in their testing of over 60 models that this is not necessarily the case. A well designed blender of lower wattage may blend better and more powerfully than a poor quality higher wattage blender. The design of the blades, and the shape of the pitcher will also determine how smooth the blender will blend as well as whether you have to keep stopping it and mixing the ingredients. Some manufacturers also express the power as horsepower. This is essentially how much power they put out, and the best ones will have at least 2 horsepower.
If you are going to store your blender on your countertop you might want to consider a model that comes in a range of colors so that it matches your kitchen. However if you intend to store it under the countertop then this may not be an important feature for you. One thing you do need to consider though is the size of the blender if you have limited storage/counter space. The more powerful blenders generally have quite a large base because they have more powerful motors. The height of the blender might also be an issue if you want to store it under your countertop without taking the pitcher off the base. However some of the more poweful blenders are smaller in height such as the Blendtec recommended below.
Dial, touchpad or buttons? The touchpad is easier to clean, and a dial is handy because you can gradually increase the speed of the blender. The more expensive blenders usually have a dial or touchpad to give you greater flexibility. I like this feature if I am blending nuts in my smoothie as it allows me better control of how smooth I want the texture. There are some smoothies I make that I like having a bit of a grainy texture to, whereas others I like to have very smooth. The cheaper blenders may only have a couple of speeds, or just a pulse action.
The wider the mouth the easier to clean. Some people prefer glass as it doesn’t tend to scratch and is considered more hygienic, although glass is heavier and this may be a disadvantage. Easy to see markings might be important for you as well. Another issue with plastic pitchers is whether they are BPA free. BPA plastic has been linked with a number of health issues so this feature might be important to you as well. Glass vs plastic really is a personal choice, although you will notice that the higher end blenders tend to use BPA free plastic. The pitcher also needs to pour easily and have a tight fitting lid. It also helps if the lid has a smaller opening to add ingredients as you are blending. Some blenders have multiple pitcher sizes available. It’s best to get as large a pitcher as possible as this gives you more versatility. You can always blend a smaller amount in a larger pitcher.
The shape of the pitcher also determines how well the blender chops smoothies. The better ones have a flatter base and blades. If the base is quite pointy then you might end up with the blades spinning and the ingredients up the side of the pitcher.
Good blenders create a vortex that sucks the food down and around the blades. The wider the pitcher the better this vortex works as the food literally falls down to the blades. If the pitcher is too narrow then it traps food an you need to stop and give it a stir. Of course some, like the Vitamix, come with a tamper that can be used while the blender is in use and this helps to make sure all the ingredients reach the spinning blades.
Some blenders have blades that are attached to the pitcher, others screw in place and are sealed with a rubber o-ring. Removable blades make for easier but more fiddly and time consuming cleaning. The higher end blenders tend to have a self-cleaning function where you add warm water and some dishwashing liquid and blend on the cleaning function or at high speed. These also tend to only come apart with the use of a wrench or special tool.
The bigger the blades and the closer they pass to the edge of the pitcher the better the performance as they are designed to catch the food so that it can’t pass by without being chopped.
How fast the blade spins is also an important factor. The speed of the blade rotation in some of the blenders is so high at high speeds that it can create friction and heat. However the higher end blenders are usually so powerful that you start blending everything at lower speeds and work your way up very quickly to the higher speed to get a really fine mix, so temperature is generally not an issue.
Replacement parts and Warranty
Warranties and availability of parts varies quite a bit at all price levels so this is something that you might also want to take into consideration. Warranties range from 1 year on the cheaper models up to a 7 year warranty on the Vitamix, Blendtec and the higher end Oster blenders, with a range of warranties in between.
Recommended Blenders Under $100
At around $55 this Oster Blender represents very good value for money and it looks great on the countertop. It comes with a good size 6 cup dishwasher safe glass pitcher, and the motor is powerful enough for drinks and smoothies, including crushing ice. The blade assembly is the well-known Oster All Metal drive. It also has 8 speeds which gives you a lot of control, unlike other blenders in this price range. The bonus with this blender is it also comes with a small BPA free food processor attachment.
If you are keen on making milkshakes using icecream you can also purchase a milkshake blade for about $12.99. This has 4 blades and really blends the icecream evenly, whereas the blender blade will froth the liquid too much. Even with adding this to the price it’s still a very good value for money blender.
The blade assembly comes apart for cleaning. This is probably one of the differences between the lower priced blenders and the high priced ones like vitamix that have a self cleaning option.
On the downside some people find this blender a bit noisy. Also if you want to make more than smoothies and drinks, such as nut butters or dips, or you want a really smooth texture with your smoothie then you might be better off going with a more expensive and more powerful unit.
This is a pulsing blender with a 450 watt motor or power pod. It was rated in the top 2 blenders in the latest Consumer Reports review of blenders. Its ability to blend, given the price, is really very good. It is also really good for crushing ice. This ninja comes with 3 different container sizes; the largest being a 6 cup BPA free pitcher for smoothies and frozen drinks, a 5 cup multi- purpose processing bowl and a 2 cup chopper. The difference with this blender is that the power pod attaches to the top of each container. You simply move the power pod from container to container depending on what you want to blend. Each container has a lid that seals so you can store food in the container.
It’s very easy to clean as the blades and pitcher are separate for easy washing or they can be put in the dishwasher.
This blender will not blend to a really smooth consistency like its more expensive rivals, and it won’t heat and make soup like a vitamix. But if all you want to do is to make drinks and smoothies and crush ice this is a great option. Another negative is that you have to remove the motor and the lid before you can add any other ingredients to your smoothie such as ice.
The ninja takes up a lot of room with three different containers, so if you don’t think you will use all of them then you might be better with just a blender.
Recommended Blenders $100 – $200
This Dash blender is highly recommended as it represents excellent value for money. It has a powerful 1400 watt/2.25 horsepower motor that comes with a lifetime warranty. The well-designed 6 blade system spins at 35000 RPM resulting in really well blended smoothies and drinks. It has six preset functions and it automatically turns off when the food is ready. However if you prefer you can use the manual option to blend to your needs. Cleaning it is a breeze – you can just fill it with water and add a few drops of dishwashing liquid and hit the self- clean preset.
One negative is that it is quite a big blender – which you’d expect given it’s power, so storage might be an issue. The Dash is also quite tall at 22” so it might not fit under your countertop, but it looks so good you might want to keep it on display! Keep this in mind when deciding on the color – it comes in Red, black, lime or white. Alternatively you can store the base and pitcher separately. Just something to bear in mind if you don’t have a lot of room.
Also the lid can be a bit difficult to remove, but at least this means it stays on tight while blending.
When you pay a bit more, you tend to get more power and more versatility. But do you have to pay top dollar to get a high end performance? Not necessarily. This Oster blender is surprisingly one of the best blenders for the money. It has a powerful 1400watt motor and a 6 pronged stainless steel blade that spins at high speed to give you smooth smoothies as well as soups, dips and spreads. So if you’re looking for something a little more versatile to do more than blending smoothies, or if you really want a smooth smoothie this could be the blender for you. It can heat soup if you blend it for a few minutes due to the friction of the blades. The top has vents that let the steam from hot foods out while it blends without the food going everywhere. However if you think it is going to make the soup for you then you will be disappointed. You still have to chop the veggies etc or cook the soup and then puree it.
It has 3 programmed settings as well as a pulse function and like most of the high end blenders it comes with a variable speed dial so you can adjust the speed as required.
The pitcher is a generous 8 cups and is BPA free although not recommended for the dishwasher. However it is relatively easy to clean if you fill with water and add some dishwashing liquid and blend on high for a couple of minutes. It also comes with a 7 year warranty.
This is a very powerful blender for the price. It has a 3 horsepower, 1800 watt motor that is thermally protected which means it will turn itself off if it overheats. However it’s probably hard to overheat it as it will easily power its way through fruits, vegetables, grains and ice. The 5 blade system has 4 stainless steel blades on top and a 5th blade facing down to the bottom of the pitcher to make sure everything is blended. According to Cleanblend the blade was designed and made in Japan by artisan cutlery experts. Although you might think this design would make the blender hard to clean this is not the case. As with other powerful blenders you can simply add some warm soapy water and run it on high to get it clean.
It’s simple to operate as it has a variable speed dial and a pulsing option and it also comes with a food tamper to give more processing power.
The pitcher is a generous 8 cup BPA free plastic pitcher that CleanBlend claim is virtually unbreakable. One thing you might want to consider before buying this blender though is the size of it. It is quite a large blender – the base is about 8.5” x 8” and about 8” tall. The pitcher is 13’ tall with its lid on. And given its power you can imagine that it is reasonably loud.
This is a highly recommended blender for the price and it comes with a 2 year warranty.
Recommended Blenders Over $200
Vitamix is the Rolls Royce of blenders. There is no doubt that the price puts some people off, but if you are serious about blending and you do a lot of it with a wide range of foods, then this is the machine to own and it will be worth the price you pay. It is just so versatile – it blends, chops and mixes just about anything. It will produce super smooth smoothies. It has a powerful 2 horsepower 1380 watt motor. The blending power is not just driven by the motor power though. It is the design of the blender that makes this a truly powerful blender. Vitamix teamed with EastmanChemical Co to produce a copolyester BPA free pitcher that takes a generous 8.5 cups.
The blade assembly is attached to the pitcher, but could be removed if needed using a specially designed tool available from Vitamix. However this presents no problems for cleaning. Vitamixes are famously self- cleaning – simply add some soap and half fill with warm water and blend on high for 30 to 60 seconds. What could be easier?
The lid fits securely and comes in two parts with an inner ‘plug’ that you can remove to add more ingredients as you are blending. This ‘plug’ when turned upside down doubles as a 2 ounce measure which is handy.
The controls consist of a variable speed dial and a high/variable speed button. You start on variable with the dial turned down and increase the dial speed until you can then switch over to high. It is important to follow this process as the blender uses the lower speeds to get through chunks and then really purees the mixture once it is on high. The blender comes with an excellent recipe book that clearly sets out the order to add things in to achieve maximum performance.
The blender comes with a a tamper that you can use whilst the blender is in operation. Many people report that they rarely use this though – it just depends on what you are blending. You are more likely to need it with nut butters and dips, whereas smoothies have enough liquid in them to blend well.
Storage of this machine may be an issue though. It is 20.5” tall and the base is about 7.5” wide x 9.5” deep. The other possible negative is the noise level. However you have to expect this if you are using such a powerful machine.
Finally some people report that the blender occasionally cuts out if overloaded. This is a safety feature that will extend the life of the motor and is a feature on most top end blenders.
This Blendtec is a great blender for smoothies. It has a powerful 1560 watt 3 hp motor and the cold forged stainless steel blades are wing tipped . Along with the design of the jar and blade system this results in super smooth very quickly blended smoothies without having to ‘tamp’ the ingredients. However if you are wanting to blend other things , like peanut butter for example, then you may need to stop the blender and stir the ingredients a bit.
One of the advantages of the Blendtec is the height of the blender. Whilst the base is 7” x 8”, it is only 15.5” high making storage under the countertop a lot easier. The jar on this blender is a whopping 88 ounces and has 5 sides which helps to blend the smoothies really smooth without needing to tamp the ingredients. Blendtec blenders have square sided jars which ensures that the ingredients don’t swirl around, they hit the sides of the jar and fall down to the blades. The wild side jar has added a small 5th side for even more powerful blending.
It has a touch screen interface that have preset blend cycles and a digital display that tells you how long until your blend is done. It also keeps track of your usage. It also has a touch control slider that allows you to determine the exact speed you want. For smoothies it has an automatic smoothie button that crushes ice on low speed and then blends the drink on high speed. The blender also monitors and adjusts the power depending on what you are blending – some foods are better blended at a lower speed and this blender has the smart technology to adjust. The other great thing about the touch controls is that the pad is easy to clean – no getting mess stuck in buttons or dials.
In 2011 Blendtec increased their warranty on all their home use blenders to 7 years. This covers the motor as well as the jar, unless the jar is purchased separately in which case the warranty on the jar is 3 years. However the warranty is only valid for purchases from authorized representatives such as Amazon.
Blendtec have put a lot of thought into the engineering of this product and have created a powerful, effective and attractive blender.