Kristen Hicks on January 22, 2016 2 Comments Table of Contents Types of Blenders Factors to Consider When Shopping Popular Brands of Blenders From soups to shakes to smoothies, a good blender opens up a lot of possibilities for any home chef. The number of things you can make with a blender (that you can’t make without one) makes having one a necessity for most kitchens. Knowing you need a blender for your kitchen is one thing. Figuring out which one is best for your needs is another thing entirely. The number of blenders on the market is large and you’ll find a lot of variety among your options. Someone planning to use their blender almost exclusively for morning smoothies won’t need the same functionality as someone aiming to put theirs to hardier tasks, like making almond butter or crushed ice. To help you navigate the wide world of available blenders, our buyer’s guide will show you how to define what you need and figure out how to identify the best blender to satisfy your preferences. Types of Blenders There are four main types of blenders you’ll encounter in your search, each uniquely suited for certain purposes. 1. Conventional Blender For some consumers, a conventional blender will work just fine. These typically fall in the $30-$150 range and offer a few settings for different uses. This type of blender is typically made of cheaper materials and can be found pretty much anywhere you can buy small kitchen appliances. Conventional blenders won’t offer the durability that higher-end models do and they won’t take on some of the more heavy-duty tasks some consumers will like their blenders to perform, but for making the occasional soups, salsas, or smoothies, they’ll usually get the job done nicely. Keep in mind, if you go with a cheap conventional blender, trying to use it for thicker concoctions, like nut butter or trying to blend larger pieces of produce without cutting them down, is likely to wear it out quickly, or break it right off the bat. Simply put, this type of blender is made for easy and light tasks. If you try to use this cheap blender like a professional chef would, then it’s not likely that it will last long. A conventional blender can manage a lot of different tasks, especially at for the lower price-point, but if your needs go beyond what it can manage then this is probably not the best blender for you. It’s better to splurge on a more powerful model rather than over-work your blender and have to buy a new one within a few months. 2. High-Performance / Professional Blender Designed for professional chefs and kitchen enthusiasts, this category of blenders costs a lot more than the more affordable blenders you find at your local grocery store. But, with this higher costs comes a performance that is a cut above what other types of blenders can offer. Professional blenders typically cost several hundred dollars, starting at around $200 and occasionally reaching prices as high as $1,000 (although blenders at that price point are outliers). High-performance blenders are designed to take on heavier duty tasks like making peanut butter or blending produce even when you’re starting with larger pieces. They also provide smoother results. Many people vastly prefer the texture of soups and smoothies that they get from a professional blender. Professional blenders work at a higher level of voltage, providing more power than other types. They’re also more likely to come with a warranty, which lets you know you can count on them for several years at least. If it’s worth it to you to pay extra for greater durability, improved textures and consistency, and more heavy-duty uses, then a high-performance professional blender is for you. 3. Single-Serve / Personal Blender Smoothies have become an increasingly popular part of many people’s breakfast routines and post-workout regimens. Making your own smoothies at home can save you big versus purchasing them at the gym or smoothie shops. Recognizing the growing number of customers who want to make healthy smoothies every day (or most days) at home, single-serve blenders have become a big category in the blender market. While conventional and high-performance blenders usually have pretty large containers, big enough to make a good batch of soup or salsa, that’s overkill for someone who just wants to make one smoothie. Personal blenders come with smaller containers that are perfectly sized for making one drink at a time. Personal blenders typically come with a number of containers, so you don’t have to wash out a container in between every use. They sometimes even come with lids for the containers, so you can take your smoothie on the go. Some models even let you screw on a mason jar for quick blending and easy consuming. Since they’re designed with this very specific use in mind, they won’t serve you well if you also need your blender to make soups or sauces, or if you’re making anything for a group of people. But if your only real need for a blender is to make your smoothie on a daily basis, then this is likely the best blender for you. 4. Immersion Blender Immersion blenders, sometimes referred to as stick blenders, work differently than the other blenders on our list. They don’t have their own container like the others. Instead, these work by lowering them into the container your food’s already in. Once you’ve lowered the rotating head into your container, you turn it on and the contents start to blend. This means fewer dishes for you to clean up and a kitchen appliance that takes up far less storage space than your other options. Unfortunately, this also means you have a blender that doesn’t have a lid so you may make a mess when you turn it on. Another disadvantage is that this type of blender is unable to accomplish many of the common tasks that other types can easily accomplish. Immersion blenders are priced comparably to conventional blenders. Their primary use is pureed soups and they won’t be as helpful for most other blending needs you may have. Their power is limited, which means they’re often treated as an extra blender to purchase for when you want the more convenient option, rather than serving as a kitchen’s only blender. While it has its own advantages, immersion blenders are not the best blender for most scenarios. 8 Factors to Consider When Buying a Blender When you start browsing your blender options, you’ll find a wide variety in available features and designs. To hone in on which factors you should prioritize in your own search, it helps to have some idea of what your different options are. Here are some of the main things to consider when determining which blender is the best for you. 1. Power The biggest difference between high-performance blenders and conventional ones is the amount of power they pack. Conventional blenders will often offer wattage of around 300 to 500, while high-performance blenders can get up to 1,000 watts and above. Immersion blenders trail behind the pack, sometimes offering as few as 100 watts, but most customers will want an immersion blender that offers more than that if you want to get some real use out of it. While a higher wattage won’t always result in an improved consistency and texture on its own — you need a good blade and the right design for that too — it certainly plays a role. 2. Settings Almost all countertop blenders offer different settings. They can be as simple as there being three different speeds or provide an array of settings for different uses like crushing ice, pureeing soup, or juicing. A machine that offers preset functions that match the primary uses you plan to put it to will be more user friendly than one that makes you figure it out as you go. Having a wide range of settings isn’t necessary, but it can add a lot of convenience. 3. Cost If you’re interested in a blender for occasional use, but don’t have a lot to spend, you still have a lot of options within the categories of conventional, immersion and personal blenders. It’s perfectly possible to find a $40 blender that will satisfy some basic needs. If your blender will be getting frequent use, you aim to use it for more challenging dishes, or you’re particular about the consistency of your soups and smoothies, spending the extra to invest in a high-quality, powerful blender will likely be worth it. In addition to providing better results and opening up a wider range of uses, professional blenders are made from more durable materials and usually last much longer. Spending extra upfront can save you from having to spend more on a new blender in a year or two. A good blender can also pay off in savings over time. If you’ve been in the habit of purchasing a smoothie every day after your workout, a single use blender will pay for itself in no time. If you start making more of the soups and sauces at home that you’re accustomed to buying out at restaurants, you’ll be spending a fraction of the cost. 4. Size You have two main considerations when it comes to size — where will it fit, and how much will it hold? Most kitchen counters are already crowded with various kitchen appliances, dishes, and condiments. Before you buy a blender, you’ll need to decide if there’s room for it to stay on the kitchen counter and, if not, if you have room for it in a cabinet or other storage space. You may be able to make room by moving some other items around, but you don’t want to find yourself stuck with a larger blender than you can find the space for. The second consideration is the reason behind single serve blenders coming onto the market to begin with. If the container for your blender is larger than you need, then it’s taking up extra space, requires more cleaning effort, is bulkier to work with to no real effect, and is likely creating more food waste. On the other hand, if it’s too small, you’ll have to blend items in batches, which will take longer and cause a lot of frustration. One of the biggest benefits of an immersion blender is that it does away with some of these concerns. It’s easy to throw into a drawer and doesn’t have a container to clean (since you’ll just keep using whatever container you already had your ingredients in), but the trade-off in size and convenience comes in how powerful it is and how many uses you can put it to. 5. Types of Use So many of the factors you need to consider in your search come back to this. What will you be using your blender for? If it will be used primarily for one specific task, like your daily smoothie or pureeing soups, then you have an easy answer to which type to go with. If you expect to use it for a wide range of things, then you’ll want to both consider the power levels that your uses will require and look at the available preset settings of the different blenders you consider. If you’ll be using your blender every day, you may benefit from spending more for a blender that will last longer. If you likely won’t pull it out from under the counter more often than once every few weeks, then a more affordable blender may last you a while. Think through what you’ll be using your blender for most often, what new recipes you might want to try with it, and how frequently you expect to use it. The answers to those questions will go a long way toward pointing you in the right direction. 6. Ease of Cleaning The more pieces your blender comes in, the more time you’ll spend cleaning it. If you buy a blender with a large container, it may not fit in the dishwasher and you’ll need to count on washing it by hand after each use. The containers used in single-serve blenders are usually dishwasher safe and can just be thrown in alongside other cups in your dishwasher, and immersion blenders are one of the easiest to clean. Conventional and high-performance blenders are where you’ll get into facing a bit more of a job for cleaning. Usually, they won’t take up too much of your time, but if the idea of having to clean your blender by hand after every use is something that will keep you from using it often, then make sure to look for a blender with a dishwasher-safe container that will fit in the washer you have at home. 7. Durability A blender that lasts you years will save money on future replacements. To find a blender likely to have a long life, consider purchasing one with a warranty — many high-performance blenders will offer warranties for several years, or even lifetime warranties for parts in some cases. You should also research the brand reputation of the blender you go with to make sure they’re known for building blenders that last. A look at user reviews will often give you an idea of what to expect from your blender. 8. Aesthetic For some customers, the look of a blender may seem unimportant. For many though, if you aim to keep it on your counter at all times in plain sight, you want something that looks nice. A lot of blenders are designed with aesthetics at least somewhat in mind (even if it’s not treated as the most important consideration). Many models come in different colors, so you can pick your favorite or match your blender to your other kitchen appliances. 7 Popular Brands to Consider When you go with a trusted brand, you’re more likely to end up with a product you can count on. A few main brands dominate the blender market, so we gave a look to the customer reviews of blenders sold by each to get a picture of their reputations amongst consumers. 1. Breville Breville makes a number of blenders. Most of them fall in the high-performance category, but they do offer conventional and immersion blenders as well. The reviews of their blenders are mixed, but many more of them are positive than negative. Many reviewers find that their blenders work well, are quiet, and are a good value for the money. Others complain that they break too easily and don’t last long enough for the cost. The main takeaway we can offer from the reviews is that Breville’s models tend to do well for a while, but won’t necessarily tough it out for the long haul. 2. Cuisinart Cuisinart sells a range of conventional, high-powered, and single serve blenders. Generally speaking, they’re a well-trusted brand in all types of kitchenware, but their blenders don’t fare quite as well in customer reviews as the brand’s overall reputation would suggest. They do have their share of happy customers who say the blenders do everything they want them to well. A number of other reviewers find them too loud, not powerful enough, and complain about them breaking too quickly. 3. Dash Dash offers a chef series of high-performance blenders that come in a number of different color options. Their reviews are positive almost across the board. Reviewers love the look of their blenders and are thrilled with the level of power they offer for the cost. Many reviewers even compare their Dash blender favorably to other more expensive brands they’ve tried. They have a reputation for being reliable, powerful, and a great value for the cost. 4. Hamilton Beach Hamilton Beach has a reputation for providing budget kitchen appliances that work well for the price, but often don’t provide the performance level of higher-end products. Their blenders are no exception. Many reviewers said their blender looks great and they love the price, but some started to have problems within a few weeks or months of use. For basic uses, their blenders will often do the trick. For more heavy-duty needs or frequent use, they’re likely to disappoint. 5. Ninja Ninja is a popular name in the blender space and sells a range of conventional, high-performance, and single serve blenders. A lot of their blenders get positively solid reviews. The positive reviews tend toward the superlative – many reviewers are quick to use the word “love” to describe their feelings toward their Ninja. A few of their models receive more mixed reviews though, including complaints that they’re not powerful enough and can’t get smoothies and soups to a smooth enough consistency. On the whole, their blenders seem to be pretty reliable, but check the reviews to make sure you go with one of the models customers love. 6. Vitamix Vitamix specializes in making blenders, so perhaps it’s no surprise that their blenders perform well in reviews. They’re on the higher end pricewise, so expect to spend some money if you opt for a Vitamix blender, but customers consistently feel they get their money’s worth. Their blenders are powerful and can handle a wide range of heavy duty blending tasks with little issue. 7. Waring Waring makes conventional blenders that earn mixed reviews from customers. A lot of reviewers love their Waring blender, saying its powerful, works great, and lasts a long time. Others find they break easily or don’t deliver on all the functions they promise. On the whole, their reviews are more positive than negative and many of the satisfied customers are very happy with their blender. Since there are a good number of negative reviews on their products as well, it’s likely smart to check out the reviews before buying to see if the complaints tend to come from people using their Waring for the same purposes you intend to use yours for. Conclusion You’ve got a lot of choices when it comes to blenders. Which one will work best for you has a lot to do with what you intend to use it for and how often you’ll be using it. Many customers that splurge on higher end models are pleased they did and feel strongly that the extra cost is worth it, but many who don’t use their blenders as frequently or only put them to simple tasks are just as happy with the more affordable brands. If you know what you need and expect from your blender going into the search, you should be able to find a model that satisfies.