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If you have your heart set on owning a blender and have money to burn then there are plenty of high-priced choices from the likes of Vitamix, Blendtec, and Oster. Budget appliance maker Hamilton Beach, however, suggests that members of the smoothie set should save their cash and buy its $40 Stay or Go Blender. For much less than the competition, this compact machine competently whips up fresh, fruity beverages. It also offers a range of accessories for taking your blends on the run and even grinding coffee beans and other solid items. But as the old adage goes, you get what you pay for. Underpowered and with short blades, not to mention cheap all-plastic construction, this mixer is far from a premium performer.
Judging from its small stature and modest appearance, you might be tempted to dismiss the Hamilton Beach Stay or Go Blender's abilities. I know I did, at least at first. With its all-plastic build materials and slight 2-pound, 11-ounce weight, this home appliance certainly won't stop you in your tracks with its looks. That said, this mixing machine can tackle quite a lot despite its compact size.
Bundled with the Stay or Go is a handy array of hardware that when combined offers plenty of food prep flexibility. Besides the standard 32-ounce blending jar you'll also find two 16-ounce travel jars designed to both mix ingredients in and carry blended contents out the door with you. Their plastic drinking lids sport wide, mouth-shaped openings that are perfect for guzzling down thick liquids. Just remember that there's no way to completely close the jars, so don't flip them over.
Interestingly, Hamilton Beach threw in another accessory, a short 8-ounce vessel it calls a grinding cup. Meant specifically for pulverizing solids such as coffee beans, hard cheeses, and cookies and crackers, it's clear this blender is geared up to do double duty as a standalone electric grinder.
As far as controls go the Hamilton Beach Stay or Go keeps things simple, almost to a fault. Unlike competing (though admittedly more expensive) blenders such as the KitchenAid 5-Speed and Hamilton Beach's very own Smoothie Smart Blender , the Stay or Go lacks multiple revolutions-per-minute (rpm) modes or any fancy presets for creating smoothies or crushed ice. Instead this appliance is a one-speed, two-button pony.
On the front sits a wide rocker key, really more of a fat switch, one end labelled "Pulse/Off" and the other "On". As you'd expect tapping "Pulse/Off" will tell the blender's starlike blade assembly to spin up, then rotate to a stop. You can also deliver sustained pulses by holding this key down for as long as you'd like. Similarly, hitting the "On" switch engages the motor indefinitely while tapping "Pulse/Off" puts the brakes on the blades.
I like how the Stay or Go comes apart easily for hassle-free cleaning, which makes it a breeze to wash by hand. Of course since the blender is dishwasher-safe, I bet most people will just toss the gadget into their trusty mechanized kitchen helper.
Even with Hamilton Beach doing its best to brag up the Stay or Go's blending chops, it was immediately clear to me that this mix maker is underpowered. Sure, the company claims the appliance has a motor that delivers 650 watts of peak power. Without more specific details to frame this spec such as rpm, I can't say how that translates to blending power.
In any case, the Stay or Go's motor can't match the sheer food-shredding might of pricier products like the $260 Ninja Ultima (1,500 watts, 3,700 to 24,000rpm) or $529 Vitamix 7500 (1,400 watts, 37,000rpm). Also frustrating is the blender's small blade assembly, which uses short, stubby cutting edges. It simply doesn't have the reach or slicing ability of larger appliances. That said, for a mere $40, the Stay or Go does get the basics done without breaking the budget.
As far as I'm concerned, crushing ice into a suitable state for frozen drinks is an absolute staple capability for any blender. I'm sad to report, however, that the Hamilton Beach Stay or Go delivered subpar results on this crucial test. No doubt because it's saddled with a comparatively weak motor, two cups of bag ice stopped the appliance dead in its tracks. While I definitely saw ice powder in the bottom portion of the blender's 32-ounce jar, the top of the container remained chunky after 15 or even 30 blending pulses.
It was only after I added about half a cup of water to the hopper along with the ice cubes did I see any real blending action. Then it took 30 pulses to churn my ice mixture into a recognizable slurry fit for frozen beverages. And the end product was nowhere near what I would call smooth or uniform. By comparison, the more expensive $100 Nutri Ninja (also designed for single-serve blender duty) took fewer than 10 pulses to pound ice and water to its will.
Whipping up smoothies is the Hamilton Beach Stay or Go's raison d'etre, and thankfully you can depend on the blender to perform. Using our traditional recipe of frozen strawberries and chilled orange juice, the appliance took a total of 45 pulses of the motor to achieve a pleasing liquid consistency. I measured that the blender turned in a high smoothie consistency percentage of 97.64. Keep in mind that other, higher-octane machines such as the Nutri Ninja creamed smoothies properly in much less time (10 to 15 pulses).
I also had a pleasant experience using one of the travel jars to create a custom smoothie for myself. The blender made short work of my mixture of sliced bananas, yogurt, frozen strawberries, and agave syrup; a delicious drink made in 45 pulses.
Let's just say that liquidating heavy-duty vegetable matter isn't this blender's bag, and it shows. During our standard pesto-making trial, the Stay or Go needed a lot of help to transform spinach, walnuts, garlic, grated cheese and olive oil into a true pasta sauce. Specifically I mean that after 15 pulses of the Stay or Go's motor, I didn't observe much blending activity occurring.
There was a small positive change after 30 pulses of the blender's blade assembly, with regions of material on the bottom of the cup (closest to blades) transforming into liquid. To fully process my pesto test items I first had to mix everything inside the blending chamber with a spatula. Additionally I needed to leave the blender running in its "on" position for about 2 to 3 minutes. I also learned that roughly chopping the spinach first helped, as did mixing the ingredients by hand before blending.
If all you seek from the Stay or Go Blender is dry almond flour, not spreadable wet almond butter, then this blender won't disappoint. 30 pulses were enough to power through most of the raw almonds in the device's 32-ounce blending jar, with a full 45 pulses completely pulverizing my 2-cup sample of nuts. No amount of time grinding though could release the almond's essential oils and coax the mixture into becoming creamy almond butter.
To be fair, the device's manual clearly advises using its grinding cup for shredding dry items, including nuts. As a matter of fact, as long as you don't exceed the recommended amount of half a cup, the gadget can grind whole coffee beans as well. I decided to take things a little further and tossed half a cup of black peppercorns into the grinding cup. I was able to chop the hard spice into fresh pepper powder ready for seasoning in under 30 blender pulses.
Using a blender to create a hefty serving of whipped cream may not be an obvious thought. Even so, many blenders can adeptly handle this task. True to form, the Stay or Go managed to mint a fresh batch of the delicious dessert topping, though it took its sweet time doing it. After a full 60 pulses, compared with 15 to 20 for the more muscular Nutri Ninja, I had a lovely bowl of satisfyingly fluffy whipped cream on my hands.
A serious torture test is to give blenders a go at spinning up pancake batter. Using a simple supermarket mix added to water, the idea here isn't really to create edible flapjacks. Instead this trial serves to highlight just how good a given appliance is at combining wet and dry ingredients, plus uncovering any cleaning challenges the device might present.
Like the majority of past blenders we've put through the wringer, the Stay or Go left some dry patches of flour around its blade hardware. That said, I found the mixture easy to rinse away from the appliance's cups, blades, and other plastic parts by hand.
No doubt the most challenging torture test I subjected the Hamilton Beach Stay or Go to was the cheese trial. I dropped an 8-ounce block of supermarket cheddar into the blender's 32-ounce jar. As I expected, the gummy, sticky cheese completely stymied the Stay or Go's short blades and weak motor. The device only managed to cut through the bottom edge of the cheddar, leaving most of the block of orange cheese intact.
It's a fair assumption that many people in the market for a blender really just need a personal smoothie maker. For them, spending upward of $200 on a powerful electric mixer that also functions as a respectable food processor would be overkill. That's where the Hamilton Beach Stay or Go Blender comes in. For a low $40, the affordable appliance can handle basic smoothie prep, and it comes with handy travel jars for slurping on the run.
Just don't expect high-speed blending or swift veggie and fruit juicing from the Stay or Go. For that you'd be much better off buying the pricier Ninja Nutri Ninja ($100). Look to the KitchenAid 5-Speed ($150) for a more affordable yet powerful blending option. Of course serious juicers will find the Vitamix 7500 ($529) the ultimate performer. Just be ready to pay for it.