No kitchen is really complete with a good blender. Whether you want to get your daily recommended dose of fruit with a smoothie, enjoy a post-workout protein shake or kick back with a daiquiri or frozen margarita, you need a reliable way to liquidate your chosen ingredients.
But not all blenders are made the same. Michael Murdy, the founder of the online foodie resource Robust Kitchen, says that the best blenders are designed to get the most nutrition out of fruits and vegetables. Unfortunately, factors such as speed, heat and blade strength can sometimes lead to blenders working against their purpose and needlessly burning up vitamins and minerals.
"After much deliberation, I’m convinced the most important variable to preserving nutrients with a blender is having the largest span of blade speed increments. The vast majority of blenders these days have one speed, high," he says. "While these models blend quickly, they also create a lot of heat, and heat is a nutrient’s worst enemy. Having a blender with variable speeds means you can choose the lowest blade speed (and therefore the lowest heat excretion) for each particular blend. This helps to ensure the lowest possible nutrient loss."
So, the next time you make a banana smoothie, keep in mind that faster and harder isn't always better. Taking your time can lead to a more delicious and healthy drink or meal replacement.
Also, in order to keep your blender working for years, be careful about what kinds of ingredients you're blending. Among the items to avoid putting in a blender, because they could damage the unit or at least cause a real mess, are: dough, dehydrated foods such as sun-dried tomatoes, spoons and utensils (duh), broccoli, frozen food or whole ice cubes (if they're too big or if you're not sure your unit is strong enough), and anything hot (unless the blender is specifically designed for it).
We asked some experts for recommendations about the best blenders to buy, and here are their top choices.
1. Best overall: Vitamix E310 Explorian Blender, Professional-Grade, 48 oz.
Some people take their blenders very seriously, and they're willing to spend top dollar to ensure they're getting great flavor and nutrients. Bree Sheree, a certified holistic nutritionist who runs the vegan recipe and lifestyle website Bree's Vegan Life from Surrey, Canada, is just such a person.
"As a healthy vegan recipe developer, I make a lot of smoothies and smoothie bowls. The best blender I have used to make smoothie bowls in particular is a Vitamix," she says. "The reason a Vitamix is great for smoothie bowls is because they are powerful enough to blend frozen fruit with very little liquid. It also comes with a tamper to keep things moving if your ingredients get stuck."
The Vitamix E310 is a professional-grade blender with a 48-ounce container. It features 10 variable speeds and laser-cut stainless steel blades, and it self-cleaning — just add warm water and a drop of dish soap, and turn it on for 60 seconds.
"Using other blenders, you may be unable to make a thick smoothie bowl because you have to keep adding more milk or water to get things moving," Sheree adds. "Then you end up with a thin consistency that needs to be drunk instead of eaten with a spoon. Before getting my Vitamix it was impossible for me to make a scoopable smoothie bowl!"
2. Editor's pick: Ninja Mega Kitchen System BL770 Blender/Food Processor
How ambitious are you in the kitchen? If you are so into cooking that you like to, say, make dough or even peanut butter from scratch, then Glen Wilde, the New Zealand-based CEO & founder of the online wellness resource Diet to Success, says that the Ninja Kitchen System is your new best friend.
"The Ninja comes with a standard blender container, a processor bowl, and a cup you can take juices and smoothies to-go," he says. "You can make drinkable juices, creamy smoothies, peanut butter, pizza dough, and cookie dough and chop, puree and blend. The versatility and accuracy of this blender are great for the price."
Considering all you get with this system, and the fact that it generally only costs a total of about $100, it's quite a terrific value. For that price, you get a 72-ounce total crushing pitcher, an 8-cup food processor bowl that's can make up to 2 pounds of dough in 30 seconds, and a pair of 16-ounce to-go cups that are perfect for making individual concoctions.
3. Editor's pick runner-up: NutriBullet Rx N17-1001 Blender
If you aren't really prone to healthy eating, one of the benefits of a smoothie is that you can get all the servings of veggies and fruits that you should be getting in a way that's palatable. NutriBullet specializes in making it easier for you to drink your greens, as well as for you to make a shake that you can enjoy later at the office, according to Amanda A. Kostro Miller, a Chicago-based RD, LDN, who serves on the advisory board for Fitter Living.
"NutriBullet has a wide array of products, and it appeals to a few different price points. In my home, I have the NutriBullet Rx, which can make both cold and hot blended concoctions. Blenders like a NutriBullet can help you eat healthier in several ways," she says. Among other things, the device "allows you to ‘hide’ healthy foods in the blender that you would perhaps otherwise not want to eat (i.e. spinach, supplements, legumes) and creates portable blends so you can have a meal/snack on the go."
4. Best for single-serve smoothies: Oster BLSTPB-WPK My Blend Blender with Travel Sport Bottle
The Oster My Blend Blender is smaller than most blenders, which is part of the selling point, especially if you want a smoothie while driving your car. Sergio Pedemonte, a Toronto-based personal trainer and the CEO of the in-house personal training resource Your House Fitness, calls this Oster blender "my favorite for making on-the-go smoothies and protein shakes pretty much daily. I love Oster's size. It's considered a compact blender with a conjoined 20-ounce cup you blend your drink straight into then just grab and take with you.”
He adds that "the size of the cup itself fits easily in most car cup holders, which is a problem with tons of other portable blenders. Plus, the plastic used to make the cup and lid are BPA-free and dishwasher safe, which is another must for me. For the compact size of the blender, it does a great job of smoothly blending ingredients, including chunkier frozen fruits or even added shake ingredients like chia seeds and nut butters."
While small and perhaps of limited use, this Oster blender only costs $30 to $35 and does its main job very well. Be aware, though, that the power cord is only 16" long, which could be an inconvenience depending on your kitchen. It comes in multiple translucent colors, including pink, blue and orange.
5. Best for versatility: Instant Pot Instant Ace Plus 10-in-1 Smoothie and Soup Blender
Another tasty way to get your nutrient fix while eating lightly is good old-fashion soup. The nice thing about the Instant Ace Plus is it can make both the cold stuff and the hot stuff, according to Amber Adams, a Kansas City, Missouri-based food blogger and founder of KitchensReady.com, "a website dedicated to helping others choose healthier habits in the kitchen."
"I love that the Instant Ace also has a heating mechanism that allows you to blend and heat homemade soups. There aren't many blenders that offer functions other than just blending so this is a nice perk. One-use kitchen products can be such a money pit, so this is a nice blender option that you don't see often," she says. "This is a heavy-duty blender that can pulverize ice and hard nuts with ease and will last many years. If you're going to invest in a glass pitcher blender, I can't recommend the Instant Ace enough."
You shouldn't be surprised that the Instant Ace — from the same brand that brings you multi-functional devices like the Instant Pot and the Instant Vortex air fryer — features great versatility and very easy usage. The Instant Ace comes with a range of one-button settings for different tasks like "Smoothie," "Soup," "Soy Milk," "Pulse' and "Crushed Ice," as well as simply "Keep Warm" and "Clean."