Blenders can purée vegetables for soup, smash nuts for butter, emulsify dressings and sauces, cut ingredients for salsas, and, of course, make smoothies. They’re quite helpful, and for many people, they’re just as important as a stove or microwave. But there are plenty to select from, so in an attempt to narrow down the vast and confusing sector, I polled a group of chefs and home cooks to find out which ones they use in their own kitchens.
First and foremost: In the blender world, Vitamix is unrivaled. Many of the people I spoke with own different versions – it is, without a doubt, the most renowned brand overall, producing items that will last a lifetime. However, if you don’t use a blender on a daily basis, can’t afford to splurge on something so expensive, or live in a small space where huge appliances aren’t allowed, there are plenty of affordable options with glowing reviews to back them up.
What we’re on the lookout for
Capacity: For this category, I’ve included each blender’s maximum capacity. What size you need will be decided by how you intend to utilize it (different if you primarily intend to emulsify salad dressings versus blend smoothies for a few people at a time, for example).
Some of the blenders on this list are automatic, which means they have pre-programmed settings that you can just select and walk away from. Others are manual, requiring constant monitoring of the blending process.
Size: Because these machines can be bulky, you should think about where you’ll store it and how you’ll plug it in when choosing one. I’ve listed the exact measurements of each model here.
Vitamix, as I previously stated, provides a wide range of blender options. The Vitamix One, which costs $250, is a no-frills but nonetheless strong alternative if you don’t need or want a lot of settings, buttons, and attachments. This model is at the top of the scale. Despite its moniker, it is a favorite of both experts and home cooks. Yes, it’s pricey, but everyone who owns one says it’s well worth the money. It has five settings for smoothies, soups, frozen desserts, purées, and a self-cleaning option, as well as a self-cleaning option (you just drop a bit of soap in, whir the motor, and rinse). And, unlike the One, it can handle tougher materials like nuts and grains with ease (which means it can smash ice with ease). It also comes with a solid guarantee, as do all Vitamix blenders, according to Green Kitchen Stories co-founder David Frenkiel and recipe developer Sophia Roe. “They take care of it if any part of it wears out or stops working properly,” Frenkiel says. Finally, it has a lower profile than many other models, allowing it to fit beneath most standard kitchen cabinets.
“Most professional kitchens use this blender because it is industry-standard. “I used it every day for research and development when I was the head of product at Daily Harvest,” explains Jessica Young, a former fine-dining chef and current founder and CEO of Bubble. Moon Juice creator Amanda Chantal Bacon not only uses the Vitamix in her stores, but she also owns one at home. “I adore using it because it can whip air into ice cream, tonics, and even coconut milk,” she explains. “It offers the fluffiest feeling that no other blender can duplicate.” “It has a smoothie setting,” says Gaby Dalkin, a cookbook author and blogger at What’s Gaby Cooking. “You can throw all your ingredients in, turn it on, and walk away.” Molly Alliman, a nutritionist and fitness coach, uses hers “every single day” and says it “works for blending frozen fruits, heartier vegetables like kale, entire almonds, and anything else that might leave pieces in other blenders.”
Christine Sahadi, proprietor of Sahadi’s, a Middle Eastern grocery and restaurant in New York City, strongly recommends the Blendtec Classic. She told me about it a while back for this piece, mentioning in our interview that both Blendtec and Vitamix create high-quality blenders. “I just enjoy the Blendtec,” she explains. She’s had hers for over a decade and loves how well its super-strong blades emulsify sauces, dressings, and aioli — but most significantly, how well it makes hummus. They completely crush any loose chickpea skins, resulting in a completely smooth texture. “If you don’t have a decent blender,” she continues, “you’ll need to add a lot of ice water or cooking liquid to help smooth things out.” “The hummus will be too drippy by the time you arrive.”
This Vitamix Explorian Series E310 is a more economical Vitamix model. Ksenia Avdulova, founder of Breakfast Criminals, says it’s a sure bet, even with everyday use, if you don’t mind the preset settings on the 750 or the smaller container size of this one. “I like the sensation of using a physical switch than using a touchscreen,” she explains. Chef Seamus Mullen, who has been using Vitamix blenders for 25 years, is a fan as well, pointing out that even the smaller models have “a powerful motor.”
Several experts recommended the NutriBullet if you’re looking for something more cheap or that will take up less counter or cupboard space. There are two cup sizes included with the machine: 24 and 18 ounces. Of course, both work for single-serving smoothies (which you can detach from the bottom of the machine and carry with you), as well as dressings and smaller-volume sauces. “The Mightiest Little Blender,” as Bacon puts it, is a fan. “It’s inexpensive, so compact, and easy to clean — but it still has tremendous mixing power,” says Caitlin Sullivan, co-founder of Honey Hi in Los Angeles.
The Ninja, on the other hand, is extremely large — not to mention the most affordable full-size alternative on this list. With 1,000 watts of power and an extra-large 72-ounce plastic pitcher, it’s ideal for producing juice and smoothies, with blades that effortlessly break ice and liquefy frozen fruits and veggies. Alexis Swerdloff, a deputy editor in New York, owns one and adores it. “This monster has a lot of power,” she says. “It’s incredibly simple to use and clean.”
Since receiving the Beast Blender this spring, Strategist associate editor Louis Cheslaw has been consistently producing protein shakes. “It’s quiet enough that I feel comfortable using it at all hours of the day,” he says, comparing it to his previous Ninja blender. “Even then, it’s so powerful that I only use it for ten seconds at a time.” And, while less important, it feels great in your hands, from the majestic fluting on the portable, easily rinsable glass jars to the magnetic lock when you attach it to the engine.” (For the record, Halle Berry is a huge fan as well.)