Blender Buying Guide

Want a quick and easy way to whip up smoothies and soups, and maybe even make your own nut butter? A great blender is the answer. You can get a plastic personal blender for as little as $30 or splurge more than $500 for a multifunction, premium glass blender with Bluetooth and food processor options.

Higher price typically means better functionality, versatility, and performance. Still, results are, well, mixed. Some blender blades broke under our rigorous durability tests using only ice. But that doesn't necessarily mean they'd break blending a real-world piña colada. This buying guide will steer you toward the best blender for your needs and budget.

How We Test Blenders

CR tests blenders on how well they make icy drinks, crush ice, and purée, as well as on convenience, durability, and noise.

In our lab, we make batches of nonalcoholic piña coladas and use a series of sieves (with increasingly smaller mesh sizes) to evaluate smoothness and thickness. "When a blender earns an Excellent in our icy-drinks tests, the drinks have a smooth, consistent texture," says Larry Ciufo, a CR test engineer who runs our blender lab.

For our ice-crushing tests, we use another set of sieves to separate the big chips from the finer bits. A blender that garners an Excellent rating in our ice-crushing test serves up ice that looks uniformly like snow. A Very Good rating tells you the ice is more like a snow cone. (The lower the score, the bigger—and more irregular—the ice chips.)

In our purée test, we blend veggies and other ingredients in boiling water, operating on the manufacturer’s recommended speed (or high) for 15 seconds—three times per model.

The convenience score is measured by how easy it is to use a blender's controls, clean its base, and remove and replace the blade, among other factors. Our durability test involves crushing seven ice cubes (four for personal blenders) without liquid for 1 minute on the highest setting. To gauge noise level, CR blends 1 cup of water and takes an average decibel reading over 30 seconds.

To see how well the full-sized, personal-sized, and immersion blenders perform in our tests, see our blender ratings.

Compare Types

If you’re looking to whip up just the occasional milkshake or morning smoothie, you’ll want a different model from one you’d use if you’re into daily whole-fruit juicing with a taste for homemade almond butter. Here are the four main types, from the most-to-least versatile.

A high-performance blender.

"Premium" or "High-Performance"

"Premium" and "high-performance" are terms that manufacturers use. The price tips you off, and these blenders are usually meant to do more than conventional blenders, such as making nut butters or serving up hot soup. 

Priced from $300 to $1,000.

Blender Ratings
A conventional blender.

Conventional

These less expensive models are best for lower-intensity blending tasks, such as milkshakes and fresh fruit smoothies. Forget the hot soup or whole-fruit juicing, and you might have to settle for chunkier frozen cocktails.

Priced from $40 to $150.

Blender Ratings
A personal blender.

Personal

This is a relatively new blender category aimed at people who like to take their power shakes and yogurt-based smoothies on the go; mixing containers double as a travel jar. They are not intended for hard-core blending.

Priced from $20 to $100.


Personal Blenders Ratings
An immersion blender.

Immersion

Submerge this cylindrical device with exposed blades directly into the food or drink you’re preparing—say, simmering vegetables in a pot. It’s more of a complement to your countertop blender than a replacement.

Priced from $30 to $240.


Full-Sized Blenders Ratings

Video Buying Guide

For more, watch our video below.

Don't Forget About Storage

Some blenders are easier to store than others, which could be a real concern if you have a small kitchen. With their super-compact design, immersion blenders tuck easily into a drawer—though, again, they can’t take the place of a countertop blender. Personal blenders are also fairly compact.

If you’re going for a full-sized unit and plan to keep it out on the countertop, a model that is less than 17 inches tall should save space on the countertop by fitting under the kitchen cabinet when not in use. The height between countertops and the bottom of cabinets is typically 20 to 22 inches, so you want to have enough space to take the top off a blender or insert and remove the jar (though it’s a good idea to take a measurement because some cabinets are lower).

Pay attention to the number of attachments and accessories that come with the blender. Some hybrid models feature multiple mixing containers, which might improve their versatility, but they’ll also take up storage space in your cabinets.

Measure your counter height before buying a new blender to make sure it fits.
Illustration: Chris Philpot

Consider the Features

Below are features to consider. Surprisingly, paying more for a blender doesn’t necessarily get you more features. For more details, check our blender ratings and click on the features & specs tab.

Layer Up!

Get a perfect smoothie every time by layering ingredients in this order. If you're using a personal blender cup, reverse the order since you'll be inverting the container onto the motor base. For more on why placing ingredients in the order below is key to a great smoothie every time, see "How to Load Your Blender For the Smoothest Smoothies."

How to load your blender for the smoothest smoothies.
Illustration: Rodrigo Damati

Blender Brands

Black+Decker is a well-known American brand that offers a wide range of models that are available through online retailers as well as Best Buy, Target, Walmart, and other big-box retailers. Prices range from $30 to $80. Shop Black+Decker blenders on Amazon.
Blendtec is a premium brand whose high-performance blenders are available at specialty retailers and some big-box stores, as well as online at Amazon. Most models range from $400 to $700. Shop Blendtec blenders on Amazon.
Breville is an Australian manufacturer whose upscale countertop and immersion blenders are sold primarily at specialty retailers and some big-box stores, as well as online. Prices range from $200 to $400. Shop Breville blenders on Amazon.
Another widely sold American brand, Cuisinart produces countertop and immersion blenders, which are widely available in department, specialty, and appliance stores, and through online retailers. Prices range from $50 to $150. Shop Cuisinart blenders on Amazon.
Hamilton Beach is a market-leading manufacturer of products, including countertop, personal, and immersion blenders, widely available through department stores, appliance stores, and big-box retailers. Prices range from $20 to $100. Shop Hamilton Beach blenders on Amazon.
Owned by Whirlpool, KitchenAid is a premium U.S. brand known for its colorful designs. Blenders are sold through department stores, specialty stores, appliance stores, online retailers, and big-box retailers. Prices range from $60 to $270. Shop KitchenAid blenders on Amazon.
Ninja is an infomercial favorite known for its multifunctional countertop and personal blenders, sold online and at some big-box stores. Prices range from $60 to $100. Shop Ninja blenders on Amazon.
NutriBullet is a popular brand of compact personal blenders for making smoothies, protein shakes, veggie drinks, and dips. Personal, full size and specialty type models range in price from $30 to $180. The brand also manufactures full-sized hybrid models with versatile attachments, large pitchers, and serving cups. It’s sold at mass retailers (Walmart, Target, Bed, Bath & Beyond), warehouse clubs (BJ, Sams Club, Costco) and department stores (Macys, Kohls, JC Penney) as well as other online retailers.
Another market-share leader, Oster offers mostly budget products sold through department stores, online retailers, Walmart, Target, appliance retailers, and many more outlets. Prices range from $20 to $100. Shop Oster blenders on Amazon.
Vitamix is a major name in high-performance blenders. Its products are primarily sold online and through specialty retailers. Prices range from $400 to $650. Shop Vitamix blenders on Amazon.
The brand behind the first American blender, Waring models are available at department stores and specialty stores. Prices range from $60 to $400. Shop Waring blenders on Amazon.
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