KitchenAid Pro Line Series Blender review: KitchenAid's pro blender is powerful but fussy
If all you want from a blender is food-mincing muscle and premium build quality, then KitchenAid's $630 Pro Series (£489 in the UK, roughly AU$848 in Australia) should certainly be on your short list. Equipped with a monster-size 3.5 peak horsepower motor set inside a massive die-cast metal base, this machine has blending power and then some. Unfortunately it also has a sky-high price tag to match.
Sheer brawn and good looks aren't everything, either. The best kitchen blenders are also easy to operate and keep clean. While the KitchenAid Pro Line gets some of this combination right, sadly you can't rely entirely on its few automatic blending functions. For the smoothest blends possible, you must actively employ the Pro Line's tamper as well. To enjoy a less-manual experience you're better off buying a more-capable Vitamix 7500 blender or an advanced Blendtec Designer Series machine. Both ask you to do less work and are mighty blenders, too.
Design and features
KitchenAid definitely wasn't kidding around when it designed the Pro Line Series Blender. The base of the appliance is molded from a gigantic block of die-cast metal, which tips the scales at a substantial 15 pounds, 14 ounces. Thankfully the blender's engineers cut handle holes on each side of the base, otherwise picking this beast up would be a tall order.
KitchenAid's use of die-cast metal extends to the blender's controls. On the front of the Pro Line are a pair of switches for "Start/Stop" and "Pulse H/L" that flip both up and down. The latter activates the machine's pulse mode, toggling between either high or low blade speeds. The third and final control is a big metal dial that selects three blending presets (soup, smoothies and juice) along with manual speeds that range from 1 all the way up to a maximum of 11. (Spinal Tap fans, take note.)
A square silicone pad sits on top of the base and helps to secure the blender jar within its mounting. The 87-ounce "thermal control" jar is big, too, and sports double plastic walls for insulation. The last piece of the puzzle is what KitchenAid calls the "Flex Edge Tamper," a chunky rectangular stick encased in a rubbery silicone skin.
Performance and usability
The KitchenAid Pro Line Series blender relies on a powerful electric motor with a rated output of 3.5 peak horsepower. Even so, my experience testing the appliance was disappointing. I imagined that the blender's steel blades would pulverize all food items I threw at it, and with minimum effort from yours truly. In reality though, the Pro Line often needed the aid of its tamper to push material trapped at the top of its jar down toward the whirring blades below.
Competing blenders handled our tests with much less difficulty and better results. Specifically, the Blendtec Designer Series Wildside and Vitamix 7500 blenders both plowed through our test ingredients in less time and with little or no tamping necessary.
Spinning at top speed, the Pro Line's engine is quite loud as well. It emits a high-pitched whine that I found painful and distracting. The heavy die-cast metal base serves as an excellent anchor, however, and holds the entire blender apparatus rock-steady, even when running at full tilt.
Using its smoothie setting, it took about 45 seconds for the KitchenAid Pro Line Series to turn 2 cups (16 ounces) of refrigerator ice crescents into small ice pellets. At the end of the cycle, however, a few large chunks of ice remained. Running the machine at high speed for an additional 15 to 20 seconds while pushing with the tamper successfully pulverized the remaining ice fragments.
To create smoothies, I first used the Pro Line's dedicated preset mode. It ran for 44 seconds when blending a mix of frozen strawberries and orange juice. As with ice though, the blender's blades didn't grab hold of every piece of solid fruit. Again, I had to employ the tamper and run the machine manually for an extra 10 to 15 seconds. After that, though the contents of the blender jar were smooth and uniformly textured.
The Pro Line took 24 pulses on low power to create whipped cream, which is a lot more than the benchmark 10 to 15 pulses we like to see. When I tried the same test using the blender's high-speed pulse, after about 10 to 12 pulses the contents of the jar became too hot for proper emulsion. In fact, pulsing the Pro Line further caused the cream inside its jar to actually break and curdle -- yuck.
There are two remaining trials that we subject blenders to. One is to turn raw almonds in a smooth nut butter. After 30 high-speed pulses, all the nuts within the Pro Line's jar were pulverized into a flour with a sandy texture. The machine took an extra 8-and-a-half minutes of manual blending (with hand mixing and tamping throughout), to transform that mixture into a true almond butter.
That's a lot longer than competing machines. For instance, the Vitamix 7500 needed only a few quick pulses to create almond flour. From there, it turned the dry mixture into creamy nut butter in a shorter 7 minutes with hardly any manual stirring required.
Surprisingly, the Pro Line successfully obliterated a block of cheddar cheese in just eight pulses on the blender's high setting. Shredded cheese bits were uniform in size as well, and there was no clumping or residual material caught around the appliance's blades.
Many blenders lack the chops to pass this test at all, typically leaving most of the cheese block unscathed. The Pro Line actually minced our block of cheddar into a mixture of edible bits, perfect for whipping up a quick plate of nachos, in fact.
If there's one big positive about using the KitchenAid Pro Line Series blender, it's that the machine is comparatively easy to clean. The blender jar is large and wide, with corners that are easy to reach in case ingredients stick along its edges.
There are few parts to snap together and keep track of, too. I also appreciate the appliance's Clean mode, which runs automatically (once you supply some water and a drop of dish soap) at the touch of a button.
Ultimately, while the $630 KitchenAid Pro Line Series blender is handsomely appointed, solidly built and equipped with a powerful motor, using the machine requires some manual effort. If it wasn't for its steep price this annoyance might be forgivable. When you're spending this much money on a blender, usability inconveniences are tough to ignore.
Unless you're particularly in love with this KitchenAid's premium styling, I recommend purchasing the $529 Vitamix 7500 or $454 Blendtec Designer Series Wildside instead. Both blenders perform better, require less hand-holding, and cost less to boot.