Why Use a Blender?
The top performers in our review are the Dash Chef Series Premium Digital Blender, the Gold Award winner; the Vitamix CIA 1363, the Silver Award winner; and the Vitamix 5200 Standard, the Bronze Award winner. Here's more on choosing a system to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of 10 blenders.
Why Use a Premium Blender?
The blender first appeared in the 1920s and has been making its way to more and more kitchen countertops ever since. This small appliance is able to do a range of tasks by coaxing solids toward a set of spinning blades at the bottom of a sturdy container, helping home cooks and the pros alike make blended drinks, soups, smoothies, salsa and many other dishes.
The right blender can help you bypass a lot of chopping to make a quick salsa or skip a delicate and sometimes long stovetop procedure to arrive at warm homemade soup. You could carefully try to soften and thicken at just the right moments to make the creamy soups you remember Grandma making, or you could throw cold ingredients into a good blender and have them emulsified and heated in one step. Quality blenders can also grind wheat and flaxseed, knead dough, and make ice cream. The countertop blenders we reviewed can make a decent juice, though it will contain a lot of pulp, and that is not for everyone. A traditional juicer may be more what you are looking for and there are lots of good options.
Frozen drinks are another common use of high-quality blenders. There are enough smoothie recipes to last you a lifetime by now on the internet. The count goes much closer to two lifetimes when you factor in variations on recipes for margaritas, pina coladas, daiquiris and any number of blended drinks. If you've ever tried to make any of them with a cheap blender, you know how irritating it can be. Large chunks of ice get mixed in with the portions that were perfectly shredded, or the blender gets stuck completely and you never get past the initial pulse. The best blenders on the market do not even hesitate on ice. The Ninja Professional was one excellent example of a champion on ice. It shredded ice perfectly and quickly, doing a better job than more expensive competitors.
We kept our focus somewhat narrow for our blender comparison, focusing on higher-quality countertop units from a range of manufacturers. Immersion blenders have their place, though, and that place is at the top of many wish lists. One reason is that the immersion blender erases limits on quantity. You do not have to rotate blender pitchers full of mashed potatoes or soup or anything else to arrive at a large final bowl for a family dinner. You can blend it all at the same time in the blender's large stovetop pot or anywhere else that is convenient. Immersion blenders can also help with smoothies, salad dressings, whipped cream and pesto. They are not powerful enough to really compete with or replace a countertop blender, though, so we did not include them in our comparison. Our reviews and articles about blending discuss the strengths and weaknesses of the best top ranked blenders.
Blenders: How We Tested, What We Found
Our blender reviews focused on finding an appliance that was powerful, first and foremost. A number of design elements go into making a blender that can handle hard ingredients, reducing them to whatever you want, whether that is nut butter, oat flour or baby food. We prefer the units that can multitask and perform well in a range of situations, helping you puree, blend, whip or chop. The top blenders have strong enough motors to make a hearty soup and heat it up, but they have less intense settings for easier tasks like salsa.
We valued the blenders that are easy to set up and use. Things like flat-panel controls impact whether it takes a reasonable amount of time to keep things clean or whether you have to get out a toothpick to go around the buttons when things get messy.
Blenders have to make some noise as they crush ingredients, but we like the ones that are designed with some consideration for preservation of your hearing. We measured each for its sound levels and gave credit to the ones that produce less noise. We considered design factors like height, too. If you plan to keep your blender in easy reach, it is nice if it can fit under upper cabinets at least. The taller units are nice in terms of capacity, but they can be awkward for storage.
Blenders: Our Verdict & Recommendations
Individual needs vary slightly, but most people want a blender that is strong, versatile and easy to maintain. With those qualities in mind, we were impressed with several blenders, especially the Dash Chef Series Premium Digital Blender and the Vitamix models we tested. Each of these powerful blenders represents a good value for their respective prices.
Both Vitamix units were impressive, and the manufacturer's excellent reputation is well deserved, but the Dash outshone even them, especially considering its comparatively low price point. This is the type of blender that could even improve your overall health if you let it. If you are making meals at home with fresh ingredients, you will not be surrounded with takeout containers as often. A blender of this caliber makes it so easy to prepare soup and other healthy dishes. Everything we made in it came out smooth. The investment is significant, but the reputation for longevity and the impressive blending power justify the price for most budgets.
No unit did soup as nicely as the Vitamix units, though. It came out piping hot and creamy every time, from both the CIA 1363 and the 5200 Standard. Both units are excellent at all blending tasks but especially soups.
You really do get more for your money when it comes to blenders. The investment goes into food-crushing motors that power through anything. Even if a blender does not end up revolutionizing your life the way most manufacturers claim, it will definitely make your life easier – when you are making soup, salsa, mashed potatoes or really anything else.