Settling on a competent kitchen blending machine isn't as easy a proposition as you might think. Most tend to be targeted at smoothie fanatics whose sole interest lies in whipping up tasty fruit beverages in a jiffy. Other gadgets offer greater power and food processor-style skills but with shockingly high sticker prices to match, often in excess of $300 or even $400.
Then there's the $40 Hamilton Beach MultiBlend Blender, which is remarkably capable despite its low price. Sure, the MultiBlend can't match the performance of high-octane mixing giants from the likes of Vitamix, Ninja, and Blendtec. Still, if affordable all-purpose blending is what you're after, then the Multiblend can get the job done, just not with any real speed or style.
Design and features
With its glossy black body, classic upright blender profile, and silver highlights, the Hamilton Beach MultiBlend certainly makes a positive first impression. After more than a mere cursory glance, however, you begin to see that this blender's premium look is mostly an illusion.
I'm not saying the device is shoddily made, far from it. The gadget feels sturdy enough to handle its blending tasks. Like its sibling kitchen appliance the Hamilton Beach Stay or Go, however, the MultiBlend's lightweight plastic parts lack the stability and luxury of metal and glass.
Another trait the MultiBlend shares with the Stay or Go is a small footprint. Compared with the monsters of the blending world, the Blendtec Wildside, Vitamix 7500, or Ninja Ultima, the MultiBlend seems cute and even harmless.
Those gargantuan machines offer huge batch blending jars ranging from 64 to a whopping 90 fluid ounces, while the minute MultiBlend's capacity tops out at 48 ounces. You'd be wise not to completely discount the MultiBlend's abilities based on physical stature alone.
With an acceptable 700 peak-watt electric motor, this blender does have a decent amount of oomph to slice, dice, and churn through staple food-mixing tasks. That said, just like its blender brethren, the Stay or Go, this product is underpowered especially when stacked up against the big boys.
I do like the MultiBlend's push-button control panel (placed on front) whose large rectangular keys offer much more tactile feedback than the flat, membrane-style controls you'll find on other blenders. Split out into five separate buttons, the keys will either kick the MultiBlend into modes for "Mix/Milkshake/Easyclean," "Puree/Smoothie/Icy drink," or pulse the motor to "Dice/Chop/Salsa" or "Grind/Crush ice."
A final "Off" button shuts down the engine regardless of what mode it's in. Frankly it's a heck of a lot more options than the Stay or Go which only sports a fat switch on its front face. Even the Ninja Nutri Ninja and Oster Beehive Blender have more basic controls, either push-down to blend or an old-school flip switch. My only real complaint here is that these keys feel a bit lightweight and tend to jiggle around in their housings.
In fact the entire contraption is on the light side in my view, tipping the scales at a hair over 4 pounds (64.6 ounces). Keep in mind this also includes the tall 48-ounce mixing jar, its bulbous plastic lid, and blender base. Still, the MultiBlend's lid has a wide opening up top for inserting the bundled mixing spoon. Additionally, the lid features a spout and hinged cap for pouring in liquids on the fly.
Another welcome design element is how the MultiBlend's mixing jar uses a minimum of parts plus comes apart easily for hassle-free cleaning. And even though it's a cinch to wash by hand the blender is dishwasher safe too, chances are most owners will simply toss it into the washer when it's time to tidy up.
I admit I'm disappointed that Hamilton Beach chose not to include a useful grinding jar with the MultiBlend, similar to the one the comes with the Stay or Go. The accessory let me chop a range of hard food items such as coffee and spices in seconds.
There's no getting around the fact that the Hamilton Beach MultiBlend is not a fearsome slicing and dicing machine. For that you're much better off springing for a much more powerful blending device from Ninja, Vitamix, or Blendtec. That said, akin to its small appliance relative the Stay or Go, the MultiBlend does have enough juice to handle standard blending duties and my tests bore out this fact.
Frankly I'm surprised by how many home blending machines can't quite wrap their blades around a mere 2 cups of supermarket bag ice. Thankfully though, where its less powerful little brother, the Stay or Go (650 peak-watts), stumbled at times, the MultiBlend fared better at chopping plain ice cubes. While it took a long series of motor pulses to get there (specifically 45), the gadget did manage to crush plain ice into a pleasingly fine frozen powder. That said, muscular devices such as the Nutri Ninja performed the same crushing with more skill (fewer than 10 pulses).
Oddly enough, the Hamilton Beach MultiBlend didn't shine as brightly on our smoothie-making trials as its smaller, less powerful sibling. While the Stay or Go easily pummeled frozen strawberries and orange juice into a silky-smooth mixture with a high consistency percentage of 97.64 (45 pulses), the MultiBlend produced a solution that was much chunkier. I measured the MultiBlend's smoothie mix to have a lower consistency percentage of 87.5 (meaning it was less smooth) after the same 45 pulses.