Whether you're already a master at making everything from gazpacho to nice cream, or you're a bit inexperienced but really, really want to start becoming a smoothie person, the blender can be a key kitchen tool.
But knowing which one to buy can be tricky. Is a Vitamix really that much better than (much) cheaper Hamilton Beach? How much power do you need to make your own nut butter? And do blades really make a difference?
To put an end to your Googling and Amazon-review reading, we tested all the blenders (okay, as many as we could get our hands on) to decide once and for all which ones are the very best. Taken into account were how well they blended (obviously), noise level, specialty features, and how easy they were to put together, operate, and clean.
All the blenders were tested with the exact same ingredients to keep the playing field even: bananas (if a blender can't blend this fruit, it's pretty much doomed), peanut butter (a popular smoothie ingredient that some have trouble distributing evenly), apples (with a skin that requires a bit more muscle to break down), blackberries (anyone who has ever had a seed stuck in her teeth after enjoying a smoothie will appreciate this), water, and ice (the hardest ingredient to break down).
Here are the top five best blenders we tested—take note (or add it to your wish list)!
1. Breville BBL910XL The Boss Blender, $373
Breville's "Boss" blender steals the top spot for three main reasons: It's fast, powerful, and super high-tech. The Boss has settings to crush ice, blend for frozen dessert, make soup, and, of course, whip up smoothies. (Two smoothie settings, to be exact—one is specifically for veggie-packed green smoothies.)
The blender can sense when something needs a good pulsing, and there's a handy timer so you can see how many seconds you have left until your homemade creation is done. Not that you'll be waiting long—this blender got the job done in under a minute, the fastest of all that were tested. Another cool feature: the set-and-forget timer, so you can wake up to a perfectly blended beverage.
The hype is real—the Vitamix really is the gold standard when it comes to blenders. While it lost a couple points to the Breville blender because it didn't feel quite as secure—the base shook a bit when it was at work—all 10 settings were impressively powerful; the lowest setting was enough to break down the ice and apples in our test smoothie. It was also the quietest one of all—a major plus, if you're an early a.m. drinker and you've got roommates.
3. Juiceman 3-in-1 Total Juicer, $138
The first thought upon opening and assembling this three-in-one deal is, Whoa, this is intense. Because it's a blender, juice extractor, and citrus juicer, there are a lot of different parts and settings. For the sake of this test, we used it as a blender—and once it was put to work, it was quite impressive. It has a medium noise level (seriously, the first person who can invent a silent blender should get some sort of prize) and got the job done in about two minutes.
4. Smeg, $250
Not surprisingly, Smeg definitely takes home the prize for most Instagrammable kitchen gadget. But despite the style, there's nothing retro about the way this model works. While the first two of the four settings weren't powerful enough to break down the apples and ice, the higher settings worked well and were the best at evenly distributing the peanut butter—something a handful of blenders we tested couldn't quite handle. One con: The cord is very short, which doesn't give much flexibility if your outlet options are limited
Of the blenders we tested, this one has hands-down the biggest bang for your buck. What it lacks in fancy features, it's compact—great if your kitchen isn't exactly spacious—and was actually one of the fastest blenders tested. It also broke down the tricky ingredients like the ice and apples better than its direct competitors by NutriBullet and Cuisinart. It lost points for being the absolute loudest blender tested—this one definitely is not easy on the ears first thing in the morning—but for a budget blender, it's a win.
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