This middle of the road blender doesn't do anything magical to help you get healthy.
I have trouble trusting products with marketing campaigns that are aggressive and largely unrelated to what the product actually does. NutriBullet is one such product. It's a blender, yet the advertisements and hype would have you believe it's the single most important component to turning your health around. They've cleverly focused on a single health benefit that any average blender can offer -- breaking down seeds and stems from nutritious foods to more effectively mix the pulp into your smoothie -- and hyped it to the extent that, in my opinion, purchasing one is akin to being scammed by a telemarketer.
The NutriBullet 900 series held its own against the comparable Nutri Ninja , even besting it in a few stress test categories. It also comes with more accessories, though at its $130 price point, you're paying an extra $40 above the Nutri Ninja that offers the same 900 watts of power. The NutriBullet proves the best multitasker among the single-serving-focused blenders we've tested, but only just so. It's also worth noting that Consumer Reports found that the blades of the 900 series break when put under stress. We couldn't replicate that result on our test unit, but even aside from that potential safety concern, I'd still recommend the Nutri Ninja or the $40 Hamilton Beach Stay or Go blenders for their superior value and comparable results.
The original $90 NutriBullet came with 12 pieces and a 600-watt motor. We tested the upgraded version, the $130 NutriBullet Pro 900 Series with 15 pieces. Both models are widely available here in the States. Shop for either on NutriBullet's website, or Target, Walmart, Amazon, Bed Bath & Beyond, and other major retailers of small appliances. The original NutriBullet is also available in the UK for £100, and the upgraded model for £150 from Amazon.co.uk. While not currently available in Australia, the upgraded model is available for preorder from some online retailers for about AU$280.
The 15 pieces you get with the 900 series include a 32-ounce cup, two 24-ounce cups, and an 18-ounce cup, as well as two blade attachments and various lids for taking your smoothie on the road. You lose the large cup and one of the medium cups with the original NutriBullet, in addition to a slight variance in lid selection.
The mouths of all of the jars have the same circumference, so you can screw any lid onto any jar. They fit well, as do the blades. It took me less than five minutes to get the NutriBullet up and running. Similar to the Nutri Ninja, the blades serve as a lid to the containers. Screw them to the top once you put in your ingredients, flip the whole thing over, and put it on the base. Then, you can push down to pulse or push down and turn it clockwise to lock it in the "on" position.
I liked the ability to leave the NutriBullet blending continuously. It's one small advantage it has over the Nutri Ninja, which you have to hold down for as long as you want it to run. The other advantage is the larger jar. Thirty-two ounces allowed more cycling of tightly packed ingredients than the largest 24-ounce container of the Nutri Ninja. The extra lids and pieces were nice, too, but they come with the trade-off of taking up that much more storage space.
Other than those small differences, the designs of the NutriBullet and Nutri Ninja are extremely similar. Both make cleaning simple, and both suffer from a few quirks because of the unique focus on blending in travel-ready containers. When working with thick ingredients, you won't be able to scrape the sides to help get everything mixed together without flipping it over to unscrew the lid, then reassembling everything once you're ready to blend again.
The NutriBullet also lacks speed choices. Without any buttons, your options are limited to on or off. This keeps everything looking sleek and simple, but slower speeds help bigger machines grab ingredients on the first pass. Both the NutriBullet and the Nutri Ninja had trouble with pesto because of this missing feature. When preparing foods, you'll also want to put the biggest pieces on top. It's counterintuitive, but because you're flipping the container 180 degrees between prepping to blending, the bulk will hit the blades first once you've upended it into position.
Outside of the physical pieces, the NutriBullet packs in plenty of colorful pamphlets extolling the virtues of healthy eating and convincing you that your new purchase will change your life for the better. The hardcover booklet even carries the title "Life-Changing Recipes." The separate instruction manual goes on for pages about the blight of heart disease in America before emphasizing how much extra work we give our stomachs when we fail to chew properly.
In tiny print following all of this comes the message that you need to consult your physician for any actual healthcare info. The instructions on how to use the machine are kept to a minimum before it dives right back into proper recipes to craft one of the maker's "NutriBlasts." This is a smoothie made up of greens and berries that you can craft with a variety of options from the helpful chart that's included. It's the cornerstone of the included diet plan and the drink given to the smiling participants of the NutriBullet infomercial. I made a NutriBlast for myself with ingredients we had around the office. The results, in terms of taste, were not what I would call successful.
The much touted "Nutrient Extraction Process" boils down to its ability to break down seeds and stems and mix them into your drink so you don't miss out on the extra nutrients offered by the pulp of your ingredients. It's a fair claim that the pulp contains lots of healthy ingredients, but most modern blenders are quite good at pulverizing it. The NutriBullet hasn't found some special or secret process.
Thus, the blender itself suffers from a few issues in design, but nothing that adds up to more than an annoyance. Its features leave it short of qualifying as an all-purpose machine, but they give you lots of options for easy blending on the run. However, the aggressive bombardment of promises and scare tactics from the ads doesn't stop once you own the NutriBullet. The recipes found in the booklets will prove helpful for some, and the NutriBullet can indeed help you lose weight and get healthy, but only as a part of the standard diet and exercise.
Fortunately, the turnaround time from making a smoothie to cleaning up to being ready to make your next drink is as quick as it gets. You can clean most pieces other than the blades and base in the dishwasher. Alternatively, you can fill up the jar with warm water and a little soap and turn on the blender. The fact that you can't wash the blades in the dishwasher relates to the fact that you can't use this blender on hot liquids. Either might cause its plastic base to melt, pointing to slightly less sturdy materials than some more expensive machines.
The instruction manual also advises against running the blender for more than a minute at a time. Packing that much power into such a small frame apparently comes at the cost of heat buildup. We didn't notice any problems during testing, and we did push the NutriBullet past the recommended limits from time to time, but only just so. Again, this points to the manufacturer's concern that the product might not hold up under stress, and limits its potential to multitask with peace of mind.
You might also run into an oddity when you try to pulse tough ingredients. The blades will tend to tug the jar clockwise as they work. So when you're pushing down for a quick spin, the container might pull to the on position on its own, and you'll end up with an extremely long pulse by the time you discover the issue and turn it off again. For me, that was another minor annoyance, but it will prove relevant if you like to pulse precisely.
Otherwise, for basic blending and cleaning, the NutriBullet keeps it simple in a good way. With two blades and a bunch of jars and lids, you can even make multiple drinks between cleaning sessions.
When testing for long-term durability, Consumer Reports found that the blades of the NutriBullet Pro 900 Series tended to break under extended high-pressure use. They ran 45 tests in which they blend seven large cubes of ice to simulate long-term wear and tear. The blades broke or splintered on two separate models.
We put our NutriBullet model through the same gamut of ice blending, and it held up. We even did this after our usual round of basic blending tests and stress tests, and saw no signs of distress. That doesn't mean Consumer Reports is wrong, only that we couldn't replicate their finding on this particular unit. NutriBullet and Consumer Reports have gone back and forth about the issue in public statements. We would simply advise anyone to be wary if you use this blender for stressful tasks over an extended period.
Fortunately for the NutriBullet, it handles the bread-and-butter of single-serving blenders -- smoothies -- with ease. On all three tests, it gave me a perfectly creamy drink within 15 to 30 seconds. We made a simple strawberry-and-OJ mix for the sake of the tests, and I did notice some seeds at the bottom of my glass when I finished drinking the results.
The Nutri Ninja gave me slightly fewer seeds and completed the tests within 10 to 15 seconds. The Hamilton Beach Stay or Go smoothies weren't as smooth and took longer to make. The consistency differences between the three are small enough to be barely perceptible, but the Nutri Ninja ends up with a slight edge.
In addition to making smoothies, we test our blenders' ability to mix wet and dry ingredients by making pancake batter. That also shows us how well it keeps ingredients flowing, and if it tends to get things clumped. We also make whipped cream and shave ice.
The NutriBullet was certainly powerful enough for all of these tests. With both pancake batter and whipped cream, I would have liked to scrape the sides while the blender was in position. Small clumps would spray up during the pancake batter test. For whipped cream, pouring in cream and vanilla, then flipping it to blend left a lot stuck to the top. Again, this is more of a usability issue with the single-serve-specific design, and the same one the Nutri Ninja suffers from, but these were the tests that demonstrated the problem.
Other than that, the pancake batter clumped minimally, little enough that I'd call the test a success. The whipped cream finished after 30 pulses and held its shape nicely. The results from crushing ice were less consistent. Sometimes, the NutriBullet would work through everything on its own within 15 pulses. Other times, it would leave chunks at the top that were unable to work their way to the blades. We used two cups of ice for this test. When we tried a single cup, it crushed everything quickly.
To push the capabilities of our blenders, we try making a spinach pesto, and also processing almonds into almond flour and then into almond butter with no additives. Finally, we drop in an entire 8-ounce block of cheddar and see what happens.
The NutriBullet impressed me on the almond test. This is the one area where it clearly outperformed the Nutri Ninja. It turned two cups of whole almonds into almond flour within 15 pulses. More significantly, it made that almond flour into almond butter within 9 minutes of runtime. 10 minutes is our benchmark, even for full-size machines, and it beat that.
To be clear, the actual time it took was much longer than 9 minutes. I had to take frequent breaks to stop the motor from overheating and to stir the ingredients, and the loud buildup of noise from the motor as I pushed through the test made me a bit wary. That said, this is meant to be an extreme challenge, and it did get the job done. The Nutri Ninja did make almond flour, but it couldn't get to almond butter. The full-size Ninja Ultima and other high-end machines can do the job with less help, but even getting to almond butter is a definite victory for a single-serve blender like the NutriBullet.
The results from the pesto and cheese tests weren't bad, but were less impressive. When I packed the spinach into the cup first, followed by the smaller ingredients, it couldn't get the job done. Flipping the cup from preparing to blending meant the spinach stayed stuck on top. I ran into the same issue with the Nutri Ninja. Once I reversed the ingredients, it made creamy pesto after 30 seconds.
The NutriBullet pulverized the bottom half of the cheese block without issue, but it couldn't reach the rest despite many interventions on my part. The NutriBullet makes the most of its 900 watts of power. Thus, it could handle the cheese it could reach, and that's why it was able to make almond butter. But even the increased capacity of its largest container isn't big enough to qualify it as a good multitasker, and because the Nutri Ninja completes basic use tasks a little faster and a little better, the NutriBullet itself gets stuck in the middle of the competition.
According to our tests, the NutriBullet proved itself a solid and powerful single-serving blender. The ads kept making me think of a traveling doctor hawking a patented tonic, but the machine itself performed well. It'll make smoothies for you quickly and easily, and even complete the occasional extracurricular task. It won't give you peace of mind with those tasks, though. You'll need to give it breaks frequently and mix up the ingredients. It also can't work with hot liquids.
On the basics, it lands on a level with the Nutri Ninja , if not slightly below, and the Nutri Ninja costs $40 less. Even the Hamilton Beach Stay or Go keeps up with it well on smoothies, offers the same convenience, and is $90 less. Though our tests didn't encounter a defect like Consumer Reports' did, and despite the fact that it proved a pretty capable machine underneath the cloying marketing material, the NutriBullet still lands in a tough spot for us to recommend based on its value.