What's the best blender? Depends what you blend.

Consumer Reports' experts match the blender to your lifestyle

Published: October 10, 2014 08:00 AM

Shopping for a blender is enough to make your head spin, given the number of models out there and the often outrageous claims from manufacturers. Do you really need 100 speeds? Is a contoured bowl that much easier to clean? And so what if a blender can pulverize an iPhone 6, as one manufacturer's offbeat "Will It Blend?" online campaign promises?

Blendtec Designer 725

Other online review sites hardly simplify matters. Case in point: Good Housekeeping gives the Oster Beehive Osterizer Classic Blender an “A + Rating,” while CNet calls it "the worst performer of the blenders we've tested." The fact of the matter—based on Consumer Reports' rigorous testing of nearly 70 blenders—is that there's no single best model on the market, because needs differ widely from one consumer to the next. With that in mind, our experts created the following blender profiles, with specific model recommendations from our current Ratings, to help guide you to the best blender for you.

Perfect for smoothie lovers
Whether it's the classic strawberry-banana combo or a spinach-and-kale-packed energy booster, smoothies are still the most common blender fare. The best models deliver a smooth, consistent texture regardless of the ingredients. Chunks of ice or large bits of fruit will jam up your straw and make for a generally less palatable drink. Our icy drinks test is the best measure of smoothie performance. 
Models to consider. The Vitamix 5200, $450, nabbed the highest score in this test, and it also makes an excellent soup puree, which is similar to a lot of softer smoothies. Another high-end blender, the $650 Blendtec Designer 725, performed nearly as well, and we found its preprogrammed selections quite intuitive.

Vitamix S30

Best personal blender
This newer category of blender features devices with smaller blending containers that double as a travel mug. Look for solid construction and a sealed, leak-proof lid. Note that personal blenders aren’t designed for heavy-duty blending. The Back to Basics Blender Express BPE3BR, failed our durability test and while the NutriBullet NutriBullet Pro 900 Series, landed on our "Don't Buy: Safety Risk" list after a blade broke during the same test. 
Models to consider. The $90 Ninja Nutri Ninja Pro makes a very good smoothie and stood up to our tough durability test. We also like aspects of the $400 Vitamix S30, which includes a 20-ounce travel cup and a larger 40-ounce blending container.

Just right for juice enthusiasts
Power is key if you plan to use your blender to turn whole fruits and vegetables into nutritious, fiber-packed health drinks. Manufacturers often tout wattage as a measure of power, but it’s not the most reliable indicator, based on our tests. A blender that aces our tough ice crush test should deliver superb whole-fruit juicing.
Models to consider. The $650 Vitamix Professional Series 750 was a cut above the competition in this test, and its tamper is helpful for mixing thicker concoctions. Plus it comes with a generous 7-year warranty. Another powerful blender from our tests is the $450 Blendtec Designer Series Wildside.    

Tops for versatilility 
Some top-performing blenders can make a lot more than smoothies and shakes. Hot soups, salsas, salad dressings, mayonnaise, frozen desserts, nut butters, almond milk, and the list goes on. For experienced cooks, that can be a huge help during meal prep. But to deliver true versatility, a blender needs to perform capably at a various speeds—from the lowest setting, for emulsified dressings and mayo, to the highest, for hot soups and pulverized grains.
Models to consider. The Vitamix 5200 does everything well, not just smoothies You're paying a premium, but this is a durable machine that's backed by a 7-year warranty. And in terms of brand cachet, Vitamix is still the gold standard. The Blendtec Designer 725 also scored points for versatility in our tests.

Ninja Master Prep Professional QB1004

Budget buys
Today blenders can routinely cost $500 and up, and you'll find some four-figure models, like the Blendtec Stealth Blender, which sells for a cool $1,500 and features a 360° sealed sound enclosure. But top dollar doesn't guarantee top performance. In fact, some of the best blenders from our tests are among the cheapest. 
Models to consider. The $60 Ninja Master Prep Professional QB1004 performed capably in most of our blending tasks. One caveat: a number of user reviews from our subscribers cited complaints for this model that included premature breakages, so the tradeoff could be long-term durability. Another option is the $70 Cuisinart SmartPower CPB-300, which delivered very good results overall.               

Smartest storage 
If your kitchen is short on cabinet storage, you'll probably need to leave the blender out on the countertop. Being able to slide it under an upper cabinet will expand your countertop workspace. Look for blenders that are shorter than 18 inches—the typical distance between counters and upper cabinets. 
Models to consider. The Vitamix 5200 is available with a compact container that stands 17.4 inches tall when placed on the base. If you want to spend less, consider the $100 Waring Pro PBB225, which stands 15 inches tall and performed very well overall, especially when it comes to smoothies and purees.  

Convenience champs 
Blenders are getting smarter and sleeker, with pre-programmed settings, auto-clean functions, and LCD displays. But when it comes to true convenience, a few basic features matter most. These include clear markings for measuring ingredients, easy-wipe touchpad controls, and a lightweight container with pouring spout. A removable blade can also make for easier cleanup.
Models to consider. The $100 Ninja Professional NJ600 offers the best combination of these features, making it the top option if convenience is your top concern. The $200 Breville Hemisphere 800BLXL also scored highly for convenience.    

—Daniel DiClerico (@dandiclerico on Twitter)

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