Best Blenders for Your Buck

We unpacked what you get at various prices so you can decide what's worth it

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technician testing blender Photo: Brian Finke

The first blenders hit kitchen counters in the 1920s—for whipping up malted milks—and gave busy home cooks a handy option to prep food and snacks. Well before microwave ovens and air fryers came along, blenders changed the game.

Nearly a century later, they’re still a kitchen staple (never mind at restaurants, bars, and Starbucks). And their versatility has advanced significantly, far beyond the classic milkshake. Today, they’re essentially kitchen power tools.

Certain newer models boast a wattage equivalent to 2 to 3 hp—as much power as a 50-cubic-centimeter engine on a moped—which means they can pulverize ice, fruit, vegetables, and most other foods in less than a minute. Some can also perform culinary feats that the average blender can’t, such as grinding nuts into nut butters and heating up ingredients as they’re being transformed into soup.

Blenders from Vitamix, which are considered “pro-style” or “high performance,” have dominated our ratings since we began testing the brand in 2006, earning a score of Excellent in many of the metrics we test and currently occupying the top five slots in our full-size blender ratings. They’re built to last, too; Vitamix models often outlive their 5- to 10-year warranties.

More on Blenders

In fact, Vitamix is one of only two blender brands that garner Excellent ratings for both predicted reliability and owner satisfaction in CR’s member survey. (Wolf is the other.) That may be partly because its blenders use high-quality materials—the blades are made of hardened stainless steel and the jars are Eastman Tritan copolyester—to withstand lots of torque.

But that kind of power, design, and functionality, while impressive, comes at a premium price. The Vitamix home-use models we rate range from $250 to $600. Plus, they’re overkill if you mainly want to blend the occasional smoothie after a workout or serve up a batch of homemade frozen drinks to friends.

“Currently, all full-sized blenders go through the same tests in our lab regardless of wattage,” says Jason Holmes, who oversees CR’s small-appliance testing. But as blenders continue to evolve, more high-powered models are entering the market, performing well in our tests and subsequently burying conventional, budget-friendly blenders farther down in our ratings.

“Those middle-of-the-pack blenders might be ideal for someone with more modest needs,” Holmes says. In other words, a blender that costs less than $100 and does well in our tests could be a perfectly solid choice for the average home user.

But if you plan to use your blender regularly for things that go beyond the basics and you can afford it, then by all means, buy our chart-topper. You’ll have the creamiest smoothies, silkiest soups, most finely milled whole grains, and glossiest nut butters, and your crushed ice will look like freshly fallen snow.

Be aware, however, that some pricey upgrades—such as wireless connectivity, finishes like stainless steel and shiny enamels, programmed presets, and touch-screen interfaces—have nothing to do with performance per se. A few stripped-down models, like the CR-recommended Instant Ace, $155, even outperform many high-end blenders in our tests.

To help you to explore beyond the top of our blender ratings and track down the right blender for your culinary lifestyle, we’ve compiled a general explanation of what you get (and what you don’t get) within four distinct price tiers, and suggest a model from our ratings. This price guide and accompanying quiz will steer you toward your perfect blender based on your expectations and budget.

Read on to find the very best blender for your buck, and then take our eight-question quiz, Which Blender Is Best for You? You can also filter our blender ratings chart by price in each category. Be sure also to consult our blender buying guide as you shop.

Which Blender Is Best for You?

Take our quiz to determine the best blender for your needs.

$35 to $70 Blenders

Budget blenders generally have glass jars with removable blades and smaller 5- to 6-cup capacities. Wattage is on the lower end, from 450 to 700. These models can handle lower-intensity blending tasks, such as making fresh fruit smoothies and shakes. But save the more strenuous tasks, such as grinding nut butters, for higher-wattage models.

$75 to $175 Blenders

If you see a model in this price range with less than 700 watts, you may be better off opting for a less expensive one. More wattage helps, and it’s a good indicator of the machine’s strength, but only up to a certain point before the excessive heat it generates hinders performance. What’s more important than a powerful motor is an efficient one that’s combined with a well-designed blade and jar.

Because of the increase in torque and speed, shatterproof plastic will replace glass jars. Typically, blenders with 1,000 or more watts can handle larger-capacity jars and complete tasks faster. You may also be paying more for premium finishes and accessories, such as personal-sized cups for to-go smoothies.

$200 to $400 Blenders

In what are considered “high performance” models, you’ll find improved motors with wattages equivalent to 2 hp or higher (1 hp is 746 watts). They also have the speed and torque to handle nut butters, whole-fruit juicing, and other heavy-duty blending tasks. Also expect thicker plastic jars (Eastman Tritan copolyester ones are the most durable and are BPA-free), sturdier blades (often permanently attached to the jar), and metal drive sockets for added durability.

Those factors also mean that a replacement jar can cost more than $100. Most blenders will come with a tamper to help push thick ingredients down into the blade, but because of the large and wide containers, you may need to buy additional blender cups for smaller jobs.

$425 to $650 Blenders

These top-tier picks might not outperform models in the $200 to $400 range, but they boast features such as microprocessor-controlled presets that take the guesswork out of blending, plus LCD touch screens, vacuum attachments, wireless connectivity, and more.

BW Headshot of Consumer Reports author Keith Flamer

Keith Flamer

As a kid in Delaware, I lived a few blocks from Bob Marley, who once said, "It is better to live on the house top than to live in a house full of confusion." At CR, I'm psyched to help readers navigate this cluttered, hyper-commercialized world we live in. I've covered luxury real estate, interior design, and culture—reporting on everything from smart home technology to racial hypocrisy at Thomas Jefferson's Monticello estate. Since the pandemic started, I cherish simplicity, covering accessible topics like decorating, cooking, and cleaning. Give me a smoothie blender over a mansion any day. Blenders are slightly easier to clean.