Welcome to Pick My Blender! I’m Jane and I’ll be your host. In my house, the blender is king. On any given week we’re making smoothies and milkshakes, baby food, soups and dips — you name it!
Through the years we’ve had our fair share of kitchen catastrophes. We’ve experienced everything from burnt up motors to broken glass containers to woefully underpowered appliances that couldn’t even mush a banana.
We started this site for other people like us. People looking for that new cornerstone of their kitchen who want to avoid all of the hype, confusion and complexity involved in buying a blender online.
I encourage you to read through this site and educate yourself. If you’re in a pinch and need something quick, a list of our 5 favorite quick choices are below. Bon appetit!
Table of Contents
- Quick Picks – Our Top 5 Blenders
- What kind of stuff can I make with a blender?
- How a Blender Works
- Difference Between a Blender and a Juicer
- Difference Between a Blender and a Food Processor
- Bottom Line
Quick Picks – Our Top 5 Blenders
Oster Counterforms 7-Speed Performance Blender
- Price: $
- Warranty: 10 years (3 year sastifaction guarantee)
- 1,000 watts (600 blending), 7 speeds, 6 cup glass jar.
Magic Bullet NutriBullet
- Price: $$
- Warranty: 1 year (extended available)
- 600 watts, 3 cups, multiple blades included. Plastic jar doubles as cup.
Vitamix 5200 Series Blender
- Price: $$$
- Warranty: 7 years
- 1380 watts, 64 oz BPA free jar, adjustable speed. Our top pick!
Ninja Professional Blender (BL660)
- Price: $$
- Warranty: 1 year
- 1100 watts, multiple jars, unique stacked blade design.
KitchenAid 5-Speed Diamond Blender
- Price: $$
- Warranty: 1 year
- 550 watts, 60oz bpa free jar, 5 speeds with easy mode selection.
What kind of stuff can I make with a blender?
Smoothies and Shakes
Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade, you surely know about the various health benefits of smoothies. Green smoothies, red smoothies, breakfast-lunch-and-dinner smoothies.
Muffins, pancakes and bread, oh my! We’re all about eating healthy in our household, but sometimes you just have to thumb your nose at the latest low carb approaches and whip up a quick pan of muffins. And those banana nut pancakes… and the peanut butter banana bread. Ok, ok, so it might get a little out of control sometimes.
Brownies are always popular in our house. Around the holidays we make various cranberry sauces and pies, all of which are greatly assisted with our Vitamix.
We take great pride in making our meals from scratch. The rule of thumb is anything bought in a store can probably be made more deliciously at home. At least that’s our thought process!
Salsa anyone? Dips are incredibly easy to make at home. Recipes range from roast tomato hummus to pineapple salsa. In fact, I think I’ve saved enough money by making these at home to pay for several blenders many times over!
We make a lot of indian foods: tikka masala, paneer, chutney and so on. If you’ve never tried to make indian food, you probably don’t realize how much work goes into it. Sauces, spices, purees… it can get a little overwhelming. A great blender can make all of the difference. A lot of people just settle for the store bought ingredients and mix them together. Call us crazy, but we actually enjoy cooking at home!
Other popular soups in our household are a variety of bisques (harvest squash, yum!) and tomato soup. Both are made easily and quickly in nearly any good blender.
Believe it or not, some of my favorite salad dressings have been made entirely on accident by throwing oil and random herbs and spices into my blender and experimenting. In fact, I’ve got a full notebook of recipes and suggestions for future batches. It’s so much fun, I highly recommend this often overlooked use 🙂
And finally, we can’t forget frozen ahem, grown up drinks. Virgin Strawberry Daiquiris were a staple of my childhood memories on the back porch hanging around the pool. Do you like Pina Coladas? Me too. Frozen margaritas work well and are super easy to boot.
How a Blender Works
At it’s most basic level, a blender is simply a set of rotating blades and a container. You put stuff in, it cuts and chops and you pour it out.
With the massive selection of products available on the market, it’s pretty helpful to understand a bit about their construction in order to make an educated decision. Let’s dive into a high level overview of the parts of a blender.
It all starts with the blades. Manufacturers have innovated continuously over the past hundred or so years to improve blade designs. If you’ve ever compared blenders at the store you’ll see a variety of blade shapes and sizes meant to optimize certain types of blending.
Some are specifically designed to maximize the vortex functionality of the jar. When we talk about the vortex, we’re talking about the machines ability to create a downward force to pull solid matter into the cutting location.
Others are designed with burs and angles for crushing ice or frozen fruit.
Most aren’t specifically in one camp or the other – a multi purpose, multi use blender is perfect for most people. These feature a best of both worlds type design and are developed for their versatility.
Sometimes the blades are removable (like the Ninja line, which often features stackable blades), sometimes they are part of the jar (Vitamix does this) and sometimes they are part of the base housing (like the various Bullet blenders).
As you can probably imagine, this is the part of the blender that you put your food into and pour out of.
Jars vary in construction from hard plastics and composite materials to glass and even the occasional metal. Here are a handful of features for your consideration:
- Attached Blades – This is nice for minimizing cleanup time. My Vitamix has this and I simply remove the jar and spray it out in the sink and it’s good to go for my next meal.
- Glass vs Plastic Construction – Both of these have potential benefits and drawbacks. Glass is more likely to break, but also easier to clean and doesn’t stain (tomato sauce is the worst!). Plastic is lighter, cheaper to replace, but also tends to get cloudy or scratched over sustained periods of use.
- Size – If you’re like most of us, you’ll need to make various amounts of food at different times. Making soup for the family? That’s a big jar requirement. Medium sized jars lend themselves well to dips and baked goods, and small ones for the one off morning smoothie. Many manufacturers sell replacement jars in various sizes, so they’re easy to pick up and build out your collection. If I had to make a recommendation here, get something in the middle (most likely you’ll receive it with your initial purchase). For those times that you need to make more, you can simply do another batch.
- Portability – Do you like the idea of taking your jar with you on the run to drink your morning shake with? Or do you plan to pour into a Nalgene or similar for on the go? A lot of the bullet systems out there have a removable, portable jar. It’s as simple as blend, unscrew and take with you.
How powerful do you need your blender to be? Power is generally measured in watts. Most general household models range from 500-750 watts (for reference, 1 horsepower is equal to 746 watts). Top of the line models can easily exceed 800-1100 watts and the lower end of the market routines clocks in at 350w or so.
Unfortunately, it’s not always as simple as choosing the model with the highest wattage. Most manufacturers list the wattage that the motor consumes, not the power that the motor generates, or performs at. A 1,000 watt model might only have 600 watts of power output, for example. Look for ‘output’ or ‘blade’ wattage, if it’s available.
Speed and Settings
Many professional chefs and baristas are happy with simple 3 speed configurations: low, medium and high. I prefer this setup too, but it does take some experience to be able to tell when your recipe is fully finished and the right consistency.
For the more hands off approach, some manufacturers go as far as to make specific modes: things like puree, pulse, smoothie, liquify and so on. It’s important to remember that these relate to the speed and output power of the blade, not any other crazy feature or magic.
Difference Between a Blender and a Juicer
This is a pretty common question with a simple answer: juicers give you the juice, blenders give you the whole thing.
Key Difference #1: The Finished Product
Let’s say you toss an apple into a juicer. You’d get back a glass of apple juice, freshly extracted from the ‘meat’ of the fruit. Pretty self explanatory.
Take the same apple and throw it into a blender and everything gets crushed, pureed, or pulverized together. All of those great nutrients and fibers left in the skin and flesh of the fruit are included for your drinking pleasure.
Key Difference #2: Electricity
While the market is full of various types of appliances, many juicers do not require electricity to run. Essentially, all you need is a little pressure (by way of elbow grease) and a way to get the juice into a cup. Think about the last time you were at a restuarant and ordered water with a lemon. You take the lemon and squeeze it into your glass. It’s the same concept.
It would take a lot of energy (and muscle) to puree some vegetables though. In fact, that’s a major source of feature differentiation for the blender market – how many watts the base station uses to power the blades. Higher wattage generally translates into more ice crushing, smooth smoothie making ability.
Key Difference #3: Food Types
Juicers are pretty limited. They produce juice. That’s about it 🙂
Blenders on the other hand, produce a large variety of different food types. Everything from pancakes and baked goods to green power food smoothies and hummus. If you’re looking for a versatile general purpose kitchen appliance, this is it.
Difference Between a Blender and a Food Processor
This is another common question I get from friends and family. This one is a bit more subtle, but still readily apparent once you start using them side by side.
Most food processors are strictly for solid foods. Not to say that you can’t make a good drink with a food processor, but you’ll have a much harder time. Ice, for example, is best left to blenders. I’ve never seen a food processor that boasted ice crushing abilities. Need multiple speeds? You’re out of luck. Virtually every food processor I’ve ever seen only had one speed, and it’s usually a lot slower than your average blender speed.
I’m consistently surprised by how many of my friends own blenders and only use them for frozen drinks. They’re so much more versatile and useful than most people ever expect. I can’t think of another piece of my kitchen that I use nearly as often, except maybe the sink.
Another thing I’m surprised at is how many people own a cheap, often replaced model. In truth, it’s probably our fault. So many people only get the ‘last minute Christmas Gift’ department store variety. With a little bit of knowhow and continued care, you can choose a blender that will provide years of delicious meals and fun. That’s the idea behind PickMyBlender.com anyway. Hope you find it helpful!