Originally hailing from Troy, Ohio, Ry Crist is a writer, a text-based adventure connoisseur, a lover of terrible movies and an enthusiastic yet mediocre cook. A CNET editor since 2013, Ry's beats include smart home tech, lighting, appliances, broadband and home networking.
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10 years product testing experience with the CNET Home team
Blenders are fun, but buying the wrong one is anything but. With countless models available at a wide range of prices, it can be hard to tell the upgrades from the downgrades. Are more watts always better? How much does the shape of the jar matter? Could a top-of-the-line blender be the smartest upgrade you'll ever make? The dumbest?
If your head spins just thinking about it, don't worry -- our handy blender roundup will help you find the perfect machine for your needs, whether you're looking to spend $50 or $500.
Will it blend? If you're using a Blendtec Designer Series WildSide Blender, the odds are in your favor. With 1,560 watts, more than any other blender we tested, this powerful little appliance is capable of blending everything from smoothies to cheese to Apple products, and its unique touch-screen controls make it look like something straight out of "Star Trek." It's hard not to like this blender, but at a retail price of $454.95, it might be hard to afford it. Still, for blending large quantities of, well...whatever the heck you want, the Blendtec's about as good as it gets.
There are a lot of blenders living in that middle ground of too cheap and too expensive -- if you're looking to hit that sweet spot with an upgrade, it can be hard to tell where to turn. Might we suggest the Breville Hemisphere Control Blender? At $200, it yielded some of the most impressive results in our tests, even managing to keep up with the top-of-the-line Vitamix and Blendtec blenders in certain situations. Another plus: it was one of the quietest blenders we tested.
The Cuisinart PowerEdge 1000 Watt Blender is the most powerful blender that Cuisinart offers (and at $199, its most expensive, too). Entering our tests, we certainly had high hopes for it, but unfortunately it found itself edged out by the equally priced Breville and Ninja blenders at almost every turn. We preferred the $50 cheaper KitchenAid 5-Speed Diamond Blender over it, too, and aren't even sure that the Cuisinart makes more purchasing sense than an over-achieving budget-blender like one of the $39 Hamilton Beach models that we tested.
Over and over again, Hamilton Beach proved itself as a surprisingly effective budget brand in our testing. Its models can't keep up in food processor multitasking with blenders that cost hundreds, but for simple needs, Hamilton Beach has you covered, and at a fraction of the cost. That said, this $40 Hamilton Beach MultiBlend model might be our least favorite of the three we tested, as it wasn't as sturdy or as capable as the Smoothie Smart, or as feature rich as the Stay or Go. With 700 watts and a 48-ounce jar, it'll do the job, but consider one of the other Hamilton Beach models if you have the option.
This was the model that first made us change our perception of budget blending. For normal use -- smoothies, milkshakes, salsas, what have you -- you could do a lot worse than the $40 Hamilton Beach Smoothie Smart Blender. With a 48-ounce jar and better-than-you'd-expect performance, just call it the little blender that could. We didn't think we'd be able to get pesto out of it, for instance, but lo and behold, we got pesto. The same can be said of almond flour, whipped cream, and more -- with 700 watts, it's got just enough juice to surprise you. It won't knock your socks off, but it'll get the job done, and at a price like that, you really can't ask for much more.
Another competent $40 model, the Hamilton Beach Stay or Go Blender includes two 16-ounce travel ready jars along with a 32-ounce container and a grinding cup. The 650-watt motor's marginal dip from the 700-watt Smoothie Smart Blender made crushing ice more difficult. Getting pesto also took a lot of intervention. Still, because the grinding cup can work through coffee beans and whole peppercorns, and because it's still more than capable of making great smoothies, the Stay or Go is worth your consideration. Compare it to the Smoothie Smart, and it comes down to extra accessories vs a little extra power. Both models do quite well for the price.
At a price of $150, the KitchenAid 5-Speed Diamond Blender gave a shining performance for a very affordable price. With a classic, almost retro, look and more color options than a box of crayons, the Diamond might be the perfect blender for the style-oriented kitchen, but most importantly the thing blends like a champ. In our torture tests, it flat-out demolished a block of cheese, beating out the competition and leaving our jaws on the floor. Seriously, watch Katie's video and try not to be impressed when the cheese hits the fan.
If you want a powerful machine, but you aren't looking to spend upward of $500, then the Ninja Ultima might be the blender for you. At $260, it's far more affordable than the Vitamix 7500 or the Blendtec Designer Series WildSide Blender, yet it can compete at their level, boasting 1,500 watts of power. We were impressed with its performance, especially when it came time to grind almonds into almond butter -- the Ninja did it faster and better than any other blender. This Ninja also comes with two single-serving jar attachments, perfect for blending your morning smoothie straight into a sealable to-go glass. How clever is that?
Ninja also has an option if you want a powerful machine, and aren't looking to spend more than $100. The $90 Nutri Ninja is a single-serve focused blender designed to compete with the NutriBullet, and it packs powerful blades and a 900-watt motor into a compact frame. Both jar attachments come with to-go lids so you can easily take them on the run. If you want to make great smoothies quickly with some portable convenience, look no further. This thing can pulverize fruit and veggies into creamy drinks in seconds, but it can't quite multitask as a food processor like its more powerful cousin.
Unlike the old fashioned Osterizer, this 21st century version of the Oster Beehive doesn't qualify as a classic. A $60 budget model with only 600 watts at its disposal, the more modernized design stops it from even keeping up with the $40 Hamilton Beach models we tested. The squared jar means you'll need to give it time and assistance for it to get through even basic tasks, as food will get stuck frequently and be unable to reach the blades. Given that Hamilton Beach offers better alternatives for less, and the Nutri Ninja gives you a much more capable machine for only a little more, chances are this Oster Beehive is not the budget blender you're looking for.
The Beehive was clearly the dud of the budget blender category. Thankfully, the $150 Oster Versa keeps up a little better with midrange machines. Both the KitchenAid 5-Speed Diamond Blender and the Breville Hemisphere Control Blender are easier to use and sturdier, but the Versa performs well enough and comes with enough accessories to be worthy of your consideration. With a food processor attachment, a grinder blade, and travel cups as well as 1100 watts of power, the Versa has what it takes to be an all-in-one machine and complete just about any task you throw at it. It just makes doing any of those tasks a pain, as fitting the many flimsy pieces together is counterintuitive.
The Vitamix 7500 is one of the newest offerings from one of the oldest and most respected blender manufacturers out there. With a 2.2 horsepower motor capable of spinning laser-cut, stainless-steel blades at up to 37,000rpm, the Vitamix is easily one of the most powerful and capable blenders you can buy, and with its seven-year full warranty, it's one you'll be able to depend on for a long time. But that level of quality won't come cheap -- at an MSRP of $529, the Vitamix 7500 was the most expensive blender that we tested.
Not only does Vitamix offer the most expensive standard blender of our group, it also offers the priciest single-serve focused machine. At $409, the Vitamix S30 gives you the option of blending in a 40 ounce main jar or a 20 ounce travel cup. It shows the other contenders how to make a streamlined machine still look intimidating, as its heavy black exterior packs in much more weight and sturdiness than the similar Hamilton Beach Stay or Go and even the Nutri Ninja. That said, those are both a fraction of the cost, and since this Vitamix has only 840 watts at its disposal, it has a hard time justifying the premium with its performance.