William Grover Barnard, the founder of Vita-Mix, released his company's first blender in 1937, but it wasn't until television came around that Vita-Mix was able to introduce blenders into the American vernacular. Buying 30 minutes of airtime on WEWS-TV in Cleveland, in 1949, Vita-Mix ran what the company says was the first-ever infomercial -- before long, blenders were flying off of the shelves, and Vita-Mix was rerunning the ad in markets across the country.
Today, the Vitamix craze continues, with a small army of brand loyalists who swear by the things, insisting that they're worth every penny. That's quite a claim, given that a model like the Vitamix 7500 will cost you exactly 52,900 pennies ($529). We've already looked at some impressive blenders from competitors like Ninja, Breville, and KitchenAid, all of which will cost you around $300 less than the Vitamix. And don't forget about the ultrapowerful
For some, I think it will be, but for most, it's probably an unnecessary splurge. The Vitamix 7500 is an undeniably powerful machine, capable of blending just about anything you throw in it. If you're a foodie who plans on making smoothies, soups, and salsas day in and day out, it's a blender you'll be thrilled to own. Below that, however, I think most consumers would be more than satisfied with a more affordable machine like the
If you're a blender fanatic who's dead set on buying a super-high-powered machine, you'll want to look at what Blendtec has to offer alongside Vitamix, as both performed well in our tests, with mostly aesthetic differences between the two brands (Blendtec offers a touch-screen interface while Vitamix offers a physical dial, for instance). If you choose Vitamix, you'll also want to be sure and consider its other models. The Vitamix 5200, for example, offers the same general level of performance as the 7500, but costs about $80 less.
Performance that pulls you in
Confession time: I'm really not much of a blender guy. We never had one in our kitchen when I was growing up, and to this day, I've never owned one. I don't drink smoothies very often, and I'm happy to chop up salsa by hand. A blender just isn't an appliance that I've ever imagined I would use all that much.
But that began to change as I was testing the Vitamix 7500 out. This is a powerful blender, with a 1,440-watt, 2.2-horsepower motor capable of spinning its laser-cut, stainless-steel blades at up to 37,000rpm. That kind of raw power has a very strange, very un-kitchen-like appeal. Turning it on is like turning the ignition to a luxurious muscle car -- dialing the speed up from 1 to 10 is like stepping on the gas. It just feels good having that much power at your disposal. You find yourself wanting to blend everything. If I owned a Vitamix, I think that I'd find reasons to use it whenever possible, and that isn't something I would say about most blenders, or even most appliances.
Fortunately, I'd have a difficult time running out of things to make. The Vitamix comes with an elegant hardbound book filled with hundreds of recipes ranging from blueberry margaritas to homemade salad dressing to vegetarian chili. But does the 7500 make all of these things as well as Vitamix claims, and does it do a better-enough job than other blenders to justify the price?
A question of value
The answer to this first question is pretty simple: yes. The Vitamix is a surprisingly versatile machine, capable of handling a wide variety of ingredients with little, if any difficulty. Wet or dry, large or small, nothing seems to trip the Vitamix up. We tested out delicate foods like pancake batter and homemade whipped cream, along with more rugged recipes like spinach pesto and additive-free almond butter. We even subjected it to an entire block of cheese (although it would probably be more fair to say that we subjected the block of cheese to the Vitamix). Never once did the 7500 produce an unsatisfying result.
That second question is a little more difficult. Just take a look at the results from our smoothie tests. Not surprisingly, the Vitamix sat at the top of the pack, tying for the best, most consistently blended smoothie. But none of the blenders we tested -- not even the $39
The same can be said of other recipes that don't require a monstrous amount of horsepower. As said before, the Vitamix aced our pancake batter and whipped-cream tests -- but so did less expensive models. For simple recipes like these that don't demand a great deal from the machine, the Vitamix 7500 is pure overkill, both in terms of power and price.
That said, I don't expect anyone who buys a Vitamix to use it simply to mix batter and whip up quick smoothies. You'll need to try out more demanding recipes before you really start to see what you're paying for. Our spinach pesto test is a great example. Other blenders, even the Ninja and Breville models, needed the full 15 pulses our recipe called for in order to produce pesto of an acceptable consistency, and some, like the
Our almond butter test was another area where we saw some separation between the different models we tested. The Vitamix did an excellent job of grinding almonds into almond flour, getting us there within a few quick pulses. Then, it was able to whip that flour into a creamy, spreadable almond butter within about 7 minutes. This put it well ahead of what the Cuisinart and Hamilton Beach models were capable of. However, the Breville blender yielded equally creamy, satisfying nut butter, albeit with a little more stirring needed than with the Vitamix. And the strongest performer here was actually the Ninja Ultima, which produced our favorite almond butter, and did it faster and easier than even the Vitamix or the Blendtec.
The takeaway here is that a high-end, $500+ blender like the Vitamix will give you a huge step up in performance and capability from what a bargain model like the Hamilton Beach will offer you. But the same can be said of midrange models like the Ninja and the Breville, and in some tests, they're even able to compete with the Vitamix fairly evenly. I still believe that the Vitamix is the more powerful, more versatile blender here, but I'm not convinced that it separates itself from these midrange models quite enough to justify the investment, at least not for anyone who doesn't foresee a great deal of heavy-duty blending in the culinary future.
Vitamix versus Blendtec
What about someone who definitely does foresee that kind of kitchen workload? Certainly, a high-power blender like a Vitamix or a Blendtec would make sense -- but which one?
I hate to disappoint anyone hoping for an epic face-off between these two blender behemoths, but there really isn't a definitive answer here. In almost all of our tests, the Vitamix and Blendtec put out results that were practically identical. The one exception would be the pesto tests -- both did an exceptional job with a full-size load, but when we tried cutting the recipe in half in order to see how the blenders handled smaller quantities, performance actually dropped a bit for the Blendtec. The Vitamix was affected as well, requiring more pulses to finish a half-size load than a full-size one, but the effect wasn't as noticeable.
Aside from this minor difference, there isn't much else separating these two in performance. The Blendtec has a slightly higher wattage -- 1,560 compared with 1,440 watts for the Vitamix. The Blendtec is also quite loud, while Vitamix seems to do a better job of managing noise. The Blendtec features touch-screen controls and dedicated presets. Personally, I prefer the physical dial of the Vitamix, although I wouldn't have minded the addition of a preset or two. I also find myself wishing that the Vitamix had some sort of timer -- preferably one that counted up as you used it. Blendtec's has this, as do many of the lower-priced competitors, but Vitamix seems to have opted for more of a minimalist approach, perhaps a tad too much so.
Finally, it's worth repeating that consumers should only turn to models as high-priced as the Vitamix and Blendtec blenders once they've ruled out the less expensive but nonetheless impressive competitors currently available. Consumers interested in raw power, in particular, should take a look at the Ninja Ultima. At less than half the cost, its 1,500 watts put it in the same league as the Blendtec and the Vitamix, and our testing confirms this. The Ninja is the bulkier blender, and perhaps a bit more high-maintenance, but in terms of performance, it merits serious consideration.
Usability and maintenance
Using a Vitamix blender is about as simple as it gets. Pour your ingredients into the jar, secure the lid, then flip the switch. Vitamix advises its users to start the blender at the lowest setting, then slowly dial up to the desired speed. If you need to pulse your ingredients, you'll just press down on the pulse switch as many times as needed, for whatever duration you like. I definitely prefer having this level of manual control over using something like the Cuisinart, which automatically pulses for preset durations, although some users might prefer automatic pulsing time durations, since they can give more standardized results.
The Vitamix 7500 comes with a 64-ounce jar made from BPA-free plastic. The jar and its lid are not dishwasher-safe (nor is the plastic tamper that comes with the blender), but both are simple enough to clean -- just fill halfway with warm water, add a few drops of dish soap, then run for 30-60 seconds, rinsing and air-drying afterwards.
The 7500 also comes with a seven-year warranty, and you have the option to extend that warranty to ten years for $75. For customer service, call Vitamix toll-free at 1-800-848-2649, or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Vitamix 7500 is everything you think it is. It's powerful. It's impressive. It's expensive. Devoted users who blend with it every day and tell you it's one of the best appliances they've ever owned aren't wrong, but neither are devoted Ninja users who tell you that you don't need to spend $500 in order to own a crazy-powerful blender.
Should you buy one? I think the prudent answer is probably no. You'd need to have a really, really good reason to justify choosing a Vitamix (or a Blendtec, for that matter) over a more affordable model like the
Unless you're a caterer, a frequent party-thrower, or a dedicated home chef, you probably don't need this blender. But I can't say that I blame you if you still want it. As splurges go, it's definitely a fairly mild one, and one I think you'd be happy with for years to come. And hey -- it's cheaper than that car...