"They can save you a lot of time and knife work in the kitchen," says Adrienne Cheatham, chef at the Institute of Culinary Education. "I use mine for soups, sauces, pastry and more. It’s great for emulsifying vinaigrettes and making hollandaise sauce. I also use it to turn grains into flour, crush fresh black pepper, and make spice rubs from whole spices and seasonings. I even make ice cream using frozen fruit and sweetened condensed milk."
What a list! Is there anything a blender can't do? Former Top Chef contestant and chef Nyesha Arrington even uses hers to mix up homemade face masks using pantry items like oats and fresh produce.
But just because blenders are the superstar of kitchen tools, that doesn't mean you need to spend $400 or $500 on one of these mixing machines. If you're in the market for an affordable blender—or are now thinking of registering for one whether you're currently engaged or not—below is a list of machines that will do the job of pricier options, even if they can't similarly double as status symbols.
7 Best Budget-Friendly Blenders
This super-affordable, small-space-friendly blender comes recommended by Arrington. “The beauty in a smaller single-use piece is you don’t have to commit to a large blender that takes up a lot of space,” Arrington says. “I buy tools and products that make sense in my everyday life.”
Full-size Vitamix blenders are a splurge those of us who aren’t getting our college debt forgiven anytime soon can’t easily justify, but the brand’s immersion blender is a fraction of the cost and can perform many of the same tricks. “I’m a huge fan of this blender,” says award-winning New York City chef and restaurateur Seamus Mullen, author of Real Food Heals. “The Vitamix immersion blender is far more powerful than other hand blenders, and its variable speeds make it perfect for controlling emulsification.”
Nutribullet might be best known for its single-serve blender, but its relatively new full-size version is no slouch. It’s got a 64-ounce capacity and blends via a 1200-watt motor, which is just slightly less powerful than that of a Vitamix. It’s also got a vented lid cap for mixing hot foods. And while it’s great for smoothies, sauces, and soups, reviewers say it’s also handy for those who want to blend their own nut butters, hummus, guacamole, and more.
The New York Times recently called this blender “the best of a new breed of more budget-friendly high-powered blenders.” Reasons cited for the superlative include the blender’s 1400-watt motor, the relatively low volume (as in, noise) of its blending, its countertop-friendly size, and the 7-year warranty offered with its purchase. This is the type of workhorse blender that won’t break within its first year and will cover almost all use cases that surface in your average home kitchen.
While nearly $200 isn’t exactly cheap, what you invest in this blender monetarily you get back in time saved. It’s not a traditional blender, but rather something more akin to a Keurig or Nespresso machine. It comes with nutritionist-approved smoothie pods that you simply insert, add water, and blend. It doubles as a takeaway smoothie cup, too, so you can literally mix and sip while in transit. And while pods aren’t typically the most environmentally-friendly innovation, Vejo’s are biodegradable. Plus, the mixes themselves utilize ugly fruit, including skins and stems, to reduce food waste.
While this blender isn’t quite as powerful as the others on this list, it utilizes a Wave Action system that pulls food into the blades to optimize your blend. It’s versatile, too, with 12 different settings for everything from shakes to salsas. And at $40 for a 40-ounce blender pitcher and a 3-cup food processor (it comes with both attachments), it’s one heck of a deal—you may even be able to pass it off at your next wedding as something far more luxe than it is, thanks to this 2-in-1 sitch.
Mullen loves the convenience of this blender, especially for whipping up smoothies. “They can be blended directly in the carafe, and the carafe has a portable lid for easy on-the-go smoothies,” he says. “And when you’re done, the whole shebang goes right into the dishwasher.”
Mullen also loves making homemade aioli in this blender by mixing up a clove of garlic, an egg, extra-virgin olive oil, a squeeze of lemon, and some herbs, and/or making creamy vinaigrettes using a clove of garlic, white balsamic, a teaspoon of Dijon, some extra-virgin olive oil, salt, pepper and spice. “[To the latter], add in an anchovy and some parmesan and you have the base for a great Caesar salad in seconds,” he says.
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