Summer is the blender's busy season. But the 9 standouts in our Select Ratings (available to subscribers) will deliver year-round results, puréeing soups, making fruit smoothies, and even grating cheese, in addition to making the obligatory frozen cocktails. Don't be wowed by claims of high wattage or lots of speeds. Neither has translated to better performance in our tests.
The top-rated 1 Vita-Mix earned an Excellent Rating in all of our performance tests, crushing ice cubes, blending smoothies, and puréeing vegetables with equal power and precision. 3 Breville, 4 L'Equip, 6 Viking, and 7 KitchenAid were fine at making icy drinks and smoothies and puréeing, and the L'Equip was the quietest of the bunch. 2 Oster, a CR Best Buy at $40, offers the best value overall, especially if icy drinks and cheese-grating aren't in your repertoire.
8 West Bend and 9 KitchenAid excelled at grating and puréeing, and 8 is also a juicer, but they were judged mediocre at making icy concoctions by our sensory panel.
No other bargain blenders made our cut, least of all the Hamilton Beach Thermal Cooler 50711. The manufacturer claims that its $40 machine keeps blended contents cool, a nice idea except that it had among the lowest scores at crushing ice and making frozen drinks. It was also one of nine models that failed our durability test, an important criterion if you want your next blender to serve you all year and for many more to come.
If you imagine yourself lounging with an icy drink in your hand, the Fiji Margaritaville Frozen Concoction Maker DM2000 is aimed at you. It did crank out some very good virgin piña coladas, and the large ice reservoir filled multiple pitchers. But the bulky $350 blender would take up a lot of space in your cabana. And at 19 pounds empty, it’s a bear to move around—even without rum.