- This built-in twisting tamper prevents you from having to stop and loosen ingredients manually
- Powerful, yet small enough to store in a cupboard
- Includes two single-serve blending cups
- Higher potential for breakage due to the extra plastic parts
- The base rocks a bit when blending at full speed
- $140 still feels like a lot to pay for a small blender
With all that a good blender can do, smoothies are still the No. 1 job I ask of my machine. If you're looking to update your blender or downsize to a small-yet-still-powerful model, Ninja just released theand it might be the best smoothie blender ever made.
When making smoothies, dips and other recipes with thick ingredients, even my favorite blenders like the beautiful (and pricey), run into the same problem. Toss chunky ice, dry powders and frozen fruit into the canister and your blends will inevitably get stuck, requiring a stop-n-shake or the use of a spatula or tamper to loosen what's inside. Ninja's new high-speed blender features a built-in twisting tamper that all but solves this clumping problem.
I test-drove Ninja's mighty new blender for a month, churning out shakes, smoothies, dips and sauces. It was just about the most seamless blender experience I've had. Here's what I learned.
Note that a larger 72-ounce version of the Ninja Twisti (product number SS351) is available for $200. CNET has yet to review this model.
What's this twisting tamper all about?
Most high-end blenders include a separate tamper tool intended to unclump ingredients inside the blender jar. To use them, you generally have to stop the blend and remove the lid or open the pour spout to agitate your concoction. The Twisti has two small tampers built into the lid that can be manually spun while the blender is running, saving you from having to stop and mix things up. It's a small time-saver, but for a habitual smoothie, sauce or dip maker, it's one you'll appreciate.
How well does it work?
I found the twisting tamper did exactly what it was designed to do for every blending job I asked of the Twisti. From blending chunky smoothie ingredients to making thicker dips and sauces, the twisting tamper allowed me to complete every preparation without stopping and removing the lid. It also allows you to blend with less liquid overall, since the tampers will keep heavy and dry mixtures moving until they are fully blended.
The only ingredients it can't always reincorporate midblend are sticky nut butters and dense syrups or honey that may stick to the sides of the canister.
The Ninja Twisti is small but powerful
Despite a 1,600-watt motor, the Twisti is small compared to most other blenders sporting similar power. The base measures 6 by 6 inches, and the entire unit is just 14 inches tall with the 34-ounce canister and lid in place. Because of the unusual power-to-size ratio, it tends to rock a bit when blending. To remedy this, the Twisti is retrofitted with two suction cups and rubber traction on the bottom to keep it in place on the counter.
Other features of the Ninja Twisti
In addition to the smoothie setting, which runs in long pulses, another tactic for keeping ingredients from clumping, the Twisti has settings intended to extract (juice), one for frozen drinks, another for spreads and a fifth for bowls. They all seem to do roughly the same thing -- blend, stop and blend again -- but for different lengths of time intended to deliver optimal results for each type of recipe. There's a small drizzle cap with a rubber stopper built into the lid for adding ingredients without removing it completely.
In addition to the 34-ounce blending cup, the Twisti includes one 18-ounce single-serve cup and one 24-ounce single-serve cup, both with spout lids.
Overall blending ability
Despite the propensity for smoothies to stick during blending, they don't generally require much power to blend smoothly -- but other jobs do. The Twisti has 1,600 watts of oomph, which is up there with bigger, premium blenders we've tested, so I expected it to perform comparably.
At CNET, we have standard tests we run for any blender we evaluate, so I ran them on the Twisti. The small but mighty blender did exceptionally well, crushing ice cubes into smithereens. It also made quick work of turning almonds into almond flour and delivered smooth and clump-free pancake batter (in part thanks to the twisting tamper).
Potentially greater likelihood of blender breakage
There is one potential red flag for this blender worth considering, especially for a heavy user. The built-in twisting tampers are made from plastic, and, while they feel fairly sturdy, it's one more piece that could potentially break with rigorous use. That said, if one of the two twisting tampers were to snap off, it wouldn't render the blender unusable since you would still have one tamper to help loosen ingredients. And if both were to break off, you'd still likely have a functioning blender, just without the advantage of the twisting tamper.
In general, the Twisti feels well-built, although premium blenders from brands including, and feel sturdier and use noticeably higher grades of plastic and rubber for the base, canister and lid. That said, most of those models will run you at least $250.
Other smoothie blender options to consider
Ninja makes a few other blenders with one spinning blade that runs up the center of the canister, like itsand the . Those also help keep blender contents moving but not as well as the double-bladed twisting tamper. Personal blenders including Ninja's own and will get the job done for basic smoothies, dips and sauces, but they are limited in both power and capacity. The blender is still my favorite premium small blender with above-average performance, a sharp look and an unusually sturdy build for a blender of its size.