There's a large middle ground between cheaply made budget blenders and all-powerful, all-expensive, heavy-duty ones, and this is where you'll find the Cuisinart PowerEdge 1000 Watt Blender. Priced at $199, it aims for the sweet spot: its high wattage and sturdy, die-cast construction qualify it as a worthy upgrade from basic countertop models, but its price leaves it affordable enough to make sense for the frugal shopper.
Cuisinart isn't alone in this approach. Shop around, and you'll find the $199
To put it bluntly, it doesn't. The PowerEdge was matched or outperformed in almost every way by the other models in its price range, as well as the less expensive KitchenAid model and, at times, even the bargain-priced
Designed to impress
The PowerEdge is a well-built blender that looks good, too, and coming from Cuisinart, that isn't terribly surprising. We were similarly impressed with the designs and builds of the
The appeal starts with the die-cast metal that constitutes the base of the machine. It's sleek, sturdy, and appropriately heavy. Just touching the thing gives you the sense that it's more powerful than the average blender, and with 1,000 watts under the hood, this is certainly true. Looking over the base, you'll find the blender's easy-to-use controls, and a blue, backlit LCD screen that counts up as you run a cycle. As for the jar, it's a sizable 64 oz. and made out of thick, BPA-free plastic. I definitely prefer the feel of glass, but lightweight plastic makes sense on a jar that's over 40 ounces, and as plastic jars go, the Cuisinart's feels sturdy and durable.
All of that said, the strength of Cuisinart's design isn't enough to give it an actual edge over the entirety of the competition, especially when you put it up against perhaps its most obvious competitor: the lookalike Breville Hemisphere Control Blender. That die-cast base on the Cuisinart is great, but the Breville has one, too, along with an even better looking LCD counter. The Cuisinart's controls are a cinch, but so are the Breville's -- plus you get a few additional preset options. At just under fifteen inches tall and just over eight inches wide, the Cuisinart takes up a lot less space than a beastly blender like the Ninja, but the Breville's footprint is smaller still.
Taking an even closer look at the two blenders, you'll find the Cuisinart falling even further behind. The Breville nails the subtler, finer touches of modern design, most notably with a smooth, rounded-bottom jar that gives the ingredients nowhere to go but down. The Cuisinart's jar, on the other hand, bulges in and out, which I guess is supposed to make the thing easier to grip (in case, for some strange reason, the handle isn't enough for you). In actuality, all these bulges accomplish is to create four little plateaus inside of the jar where food can occasionally get stuck and miss the blades entirely. Even down to little details like the ringed "Assist Lid" and its matching "Assist Plug," the Breville just feels like the smarter design. If the two blenders are wearing the same costume to the party, the Breville's the one wearing it better.
In terms of design, the Cuisinart really only has two distinct advantages over the Breville: its 64-ounce jar is bigger than the Breville's 48 ounces, and its 1,000 watts surpass the Breville's 750. I expected that this second point would give Cuisinart the edge in our performance tests, but as you'll see, numbers can be deceiving.
No edge with basic blending
The mainstay of the blender is the smoothie. Thankfully, the Cuisinart passed this test when we broke out the orange juice and frozen strawberries to whip up a simple smoothie -- but so did all of the blenders that we tested. Each and every smoothie from each and every blender met our standards, and this didn't come as much of a shock -- like I said, making a smoothie is one of the first things a blender is supposed to be good at.
Once you start splitting hairs, though, you can start to see some slight separation among the models that we tested. Unsurprisingly, the "worst" result came from our cheapest model, the Hamilton Beach Smoothie Smart Blender. The Cuisinart was second worst, barely one half of a percentage point better than the Hamilton Beach and a point and half below the top-scoring models: the
Hair-splitting aside, the Cuisinart is perfectly capable of whipping up very decent smoothies time in and time out. Like many of the blenders we tested, it even has a dedicated smoothie preset -- just toss your ingredients into the jar, press the button, and wait thirty seconds. For those of you who like your smoothies first thing in the morning, when you're still half asleep, this kind of idiot-proof design is particularly helpful.
Still, it's worth noting that the much more affordable Hamilton Beach model also makes perfectly fine smoothies, and also boasts a dedicated, one-touch smoothie preset. For consumers looking for something more upscale, the KitchenAid Diamond Blender makes satisfying smoothies as well, though it does lack a preset. Either way, if all you're interested in is your daily smoothie fix, you'd likely be getting more bang for your buck than you would with the Cuisinart.
To test the low settings of each blender, we moved on to our whipped-cream test. With a recipe consisting of heavy cream, powdered sugar, and vanilla extract, we wanted to see how well the blenders fluffed our concoction to life. The Cuisinart did fine here, as did all of the blenders with the exception of the Hamilton Beach, which produced whipped cream that wasn't quite firm enough for our liking, even after we had pulsed the recipe a couple of extra times.
Another low-speed test we ran involved pancake batter. Using store-bought instant pancake mix and the corresponding amount of water, we wanted to see how uniformly each blender would produce batter in a given time. The Cuisinart struggled here, leaving globs of unmixed powder clinging to those little plateaus I mentioned earlier. As a result, the batter we were able to pour out was disappointingly thin, good enough for crepes, maybe, but not pancakes.
Low-speed tests are all well and good, but this is a 1,000-watt, 1.3-horsepower blender we're talking about -- it was time to crank things up a bit and see what the PowerEdge was capable of.
More watts, more problems
The first of our more rigorous tests was to see how well the blenders were able to make homemade spinach pesto. With a variety of ingredients of different sizes and densities, we wanted to push the blenders a little bit, and see which ones were able to handle our leafy greens with ease.
The recipe called for us to pulse our blenders 15 times. The Vitamix set the standard here, producing a chunky, well-blended pesto within five pulses (15 pulses turned out to be overkill, giving us something more like a pesto smoothie). The Cuisinart, on the other hand, was barely able to handle the load. After 15 pulses, it had blended the bottom 10 percent or so of the spinach -- everything above that point hardly moved at all.
I didn't want to leave my blender hanging, so I pulled the lid off and started digging around with a spatula, doing my best to mix things up and get more of the ingredients in a position to make contact with the blades. This definitely helped, with the contents of the jar finally starting to look less like a salad and more like pesto, but even after another 10 pulses, I still had large, leafy chunks and uncrumbled nuts. As pesto goes, it was edible, but it wasn't good. So I kept at it, giving it another good stir and a few more pulses, then repeating. Finally, after a total of 35 pulses or so, I had a decent-looking batch of spinach pesto -- although it was still a bit chunkier than I would have liked.
The bright side here is that you definitely can make complicated, multi-ingredient recipes like pesto in the Cuisinart -- but compare the results with those of the equally priced Breville and Ninja models. Both yielded uniform pesto in those first 15 pulses with no additional stirring required, exactly according to the recipe. Those are just patently better results than what the Cuisinart produced.
Next up was our two-part almond test. First, we wanted to see how well each blender ground almonds into almond flour. From there, would any of the blenders be able to grind the almond flour into almond butter? With the right machine, our recipe said it would take about 10 minutes.
Predictably, the top-end Blendtec and Vitamix models had no problem with either part of the test, producing fine, consistent almond flour, then grinding it into almond butter well within that 10-minute benchmark. The Ninja Ultima, however, was the real standout here, pulverizing those almonds into smooth, spreadable butter within 6 minutes. The Breville and KitchenAid blenders successfully made almond butter as well, although they both required us to stop and stir a little more often.
This brings us to the Cuisinart, which got off to a bad start and never recovered. After the initial blend cycle, there were almond chunks and even whole almonds still present within the powdery almond flour (again, those four plateaus proved problematic). I gave the half-blended mixture a good stir by hand, hoping to fix the problem, but still, the Cuisinart seemed overwhelmed and unable to cycle the nuts from top to bottom. Like with the pesto test, only the bottom 10 percent seemed to get much attention, but unlike the pesto test, no amount of stirring seemed to help the situation.
I pressed on with the test, hoping to at least get some chunky almond butter out of it, but at the end of 10 minutes, there was none to be found. Instead, the dusty, crumbly almond mixture had seized up, with just enough of the almonds' oil released to make things mush together, but not enough to get me anywhere near almond butter. The only other blender that failed to spin the almonds into butter was the Hamilton Beach -- although it did a better job than the Cuisinart of producing fine, consistent almond flour.
In fairness, the Cuisinart manual recommends blending no more than a half cup of nuts at a time for the best results, and our recipe called for two cups of almonds. Still, it was a key disappointment that the Cuisinart couldn't rise to the challenge in the way that the Breville, the Ninja, and the KitchenAid models did.
Usability and maintenance
Using the Cuisinart PowerEdge 1000 Watt Blender is simple enough, with touch-button controls and presets designed to make blending as easy as possible for the user. The count-up timer is nice as well -- make a recipe often enough, and you'll quickly know precisely how long it takes to get it just the way you like it.
When it comes time to clean the Cuisinart, you'll want to unscrew the bottom of the jar to remove the blades. Unscrewing by hand is nearly impossible, but if you simply twist the jar while it's still nestled into the base, the blades should unscrew fairly easily. From there, the blades and the jar are dishwasher safe, as is the jar's lid. Just make sure you keep both the blades and the lid on the upper rack.
You'll want to be sure and read through the blender's instructions before using it, as safety should always be a concern with devices designed to whirl sharp blades at hundreds of miles per hour. You'll also find lots of helpful hints for more efficient blending, as well as info on the Cuisinart's limited three-year warranty. Service info and troubleshooting tips are available online at Cuisinart's customer care Web site -- you can also call Cuisinart toll-free seven days a week at 1-800-726-0190.
Cuisinart is a well-respected name in the world of kitchen appliances, and despite disappointing us in our test kitchen, the PowerEdge 1000 Watt Blender does nothing to besmirch that. Overall, it's an average blender with an above-average build. Put the Cuisinart name on it, and I can definitely see why someone would pay $199 for it. Depending on how they used it, I could even imagine that person feeling totally satisfied with their purchase.
None of that changes the fact that the PowerEdge simply isn't the best blender at its price point. In fact, it failed to outperform the equally priced