The Best Blenders

The best blender can handle the toughest ingredients without stuttering — giving us fine-textured smoothies without a trace of grit or clump of fruit. We took 10 highly rated blenders and tested them against fibrous kale, dense ice, and tiny oats and almonds to determine their strength and efficiency. In the end, we found three blenders great for churning out smoothies.

The 3 Best Blenders


Best Smoothie Maker
Cuisinart CBT-2000 3.5 Peak Hurricane Pro Blender
Cuisinart
This blender’s pre-programmed settings make it great for beginners, but its dial offers fine-tuning for blending pros.
Pros
Finely textured smoothies
Pre-programmed buttons
Cons
Louder than other blenders
TIghtly fitting lid

Why we chose it

Finely textured smoothies

The Cuisinart gave us better results than we expected from even our local smoothie shops, completely chopping kale into microscopic bits. It also crushed ice and successfully powdered almonds and oats — outperforming even the formidable Vitamix in the blueberry almond oatmeal challenge. We particularly liked the Cuisinart’s churning power. Unlike many blenders, there were no hiding spots for powder to get stuck in, so our smoothies got their full protein-punch without any surprise pockets of dust.

Pre-programmed buttons

The Cuisinart is the only one of our top picks to offer pre-programmed buttons as well as a dial for fine-tuning. When we made our smoothies, we changed the settings fairly frequently — starting low to churn softer ingredients, ramping up to crush ice, and dropping to medium to ensure that all ingredients were meeting the blades. The Cuisinart’s Smoothie, Ice Crush, and Soup options vary the power settings automatically, so you can walk away and come back to the perfect mix. We liked how the smoothie setting alternated between high power or low power, indicating that the Cuisinart is programmed to blend smoothies with different ingredients.

Cuisinart Controls for Blender

The Cuisinart’s dial blends in to its design and lets you customize your power settings.

Points to consider

Louder than other blenders

While it wasn’t the loudest blender we tested (that prize went to the Blendtec), we weren’t overly fond of the Cuisinart’s slightly shrill tone. It’s not a dealbreaker by any means, but it may be annoying to hear every morning.

Tightly fitting lid

While we appreciated that the lid on the Cuisinart is ultra-secure — it definitely won’t be wiggling loose when the blender is in action — it does require a little extra force to pry off.


Best Budget Blender
Cleanblend 3HP 1800-Watt Commercial Blender
Cleanblend
With an intuitive power setting that automatically increases as needed, this model gave us better quality smoothies than blenders twice its price.
Pros
Inexpensive
Clear settings
Motor sensors
Useful tamp
Cons
Not as smoothly blended

Why we chose it

Inexpensive

At $179, the Cleanblend is not the cheapest “budget” pick, but it was the cheapest full-sized blender that actually worked. It outperformed less expensive options, like the Hamilton and the Ninja, but also more expensive models, like the Breville ($200) and the Blendtec ($420). It also came very close in performance to our top pick, the Cuisinart. If you don’t mind the lack of pre-programmed buttons and slightly grittier smoothies, the Cleanblend is a fine option.

Clear settings

The Cleanblend ditches pre-programmed buttons in favor of a dial, on/off switch, and a pulse mode. Changing the speed setting is as easy as turning the dial higher or lower. It was a nice relief from the Hamilton Beach, where we wondered which specific setting — puree, whip, grate, or crush — was actually intended for smoothie.

Motor sensors

The Cleanblend also has an ace up its sleeve: If it encounters a particularly tough object, like a slab of frozen banana slices, the motor ramps up the speed on its own. We were a little intimidated the first time it happened — it’s the only blender that seemed to have an opinion on how to blend our smoothie — but we liked the results.

Useful tamp

We also liked the Cleanblend’s tamp, which allowed us to push down chunks of frozen banana into the blades. Only the Cleanblend and the Vitamix came with a tamp. If your blender isn’t making a strong enough vortex to pull food down into the blades and you don’t want to add more liquid to help create that churning effect, a tamp will make sure that all parts of your thick smoothie are equally blended.

Cleanblend for Blender

Points to consider

Not as smoothly blended

While the Cleanblend also performed exceptionally well on our oat and nut versatility test, it struggled with chopping, giving us a pineapple kiwi smoothie interspersed with slight strands of gritty kale. It wasn’t a dealbreaker, especially given its price, but the end result wasn’t quite as smooth as that from the Cuisinart.


Best Personal Blender
NutriBullet 12-Piece High-Speed Blender Mixer System Gray
NutriBullet
This pint-sized blender has all the power of a full-sized machine, without taking up too much space on your kitchen counter.
Pros
Well-blended smoothies
Simple design
Cons
Bulky as a travel mug
Limited volume

Why we chose it

Well-blended smoothies

The NutriBullet gave us the best smoothie of the personal-sized blenders we tested, and it was in the top three for best smoothie overall (only the Cuisinart and the Vitamix gave us finer smoothies). It created a very fine powder of almonds and oats, making for an excellent blueberry almond oatmeal smoothie, and although a leaf got trapped in the locking mechanism, the rest of the pineapple kiwi kale smoothie was perfectly silky.

Simple design

We liked the NutriBullet’s simple design: Lock in the blending canister and the blades turn on. Turn it slightly counterclockwise and they turn off. Even though it didn’t give the option of going to a higher speed, it didn’t ever need to. It handled kale, ice, and frozen fruit without getting stuck.

Points to consider

Bulky as a travel mug

We can appreciate the simplicity of having your blender pitcher be your to-go cup, but the NutriBullet is somewhat bulky as a travel bottle and ill-fitting for a car cup holder (too big with the handle but too small without). The shape somewhat defeats the purpose, and you’re likely better pouring your smoothie into a separate travel mug.

Blender Sizes for Blender

Limited volume

Even with its largest canister attached, the NutriBullet’s volume is limited. Its maximum volume limit is 20 ounces, which is about a third of most blenders'. The larger Cuisinart CBT-2000 and Cleanblend 3HP 1800-Watt Commercial Blender can both hold 64 ounces. This makes the NutriBullet great for single smoothies, and its small jar is easier to fit in a cupboard, but it’s not going to be your go-to tool for the family.

Guide to Blenders

How to get the most out of your blender

Focus on blade design

After testing, we went back to figure out what separated the best from the rest. All of our top performing blenders had two things in common: They had blades aimed horizontally and blades angled upward. The blades pointing upward form and shape the vortex, which pulls down the mixture sitting on top. This determines how effective the blender is at churning ingredients. The blades aimed horizontally cut through the mixture swirling around them. Having both sets of blades allowed these blenders to produce a finer texture.

Blade Comparison for Blender

The Cuisinart (left) had horizontal and vertical blades that came within a centimeter of the edge of the bowl. The Oster (center) didn’t have a horizontal blade and couldn’t chop ingredients thoroughly. The Hamilton Beach’s blades (right) were too short to work effectively.

It’s also important to look at how close the blades get to the inside edge of the pitcher. The blades of the best-performing blenders were all less than a centimeter away from the edge. The short gap meant that the blades could reach more of the ingredients and cut through larger amounts of smoothie at a time than those with large gaps. The Hamilton Beach had the worst gap between blades and bowl, with at least an inch of free space. This meant it and other wider-gaped machines (we’re looking at you, Breville) literally couldn't reach the desired smoothness.

Layer your ingredients

Placing ingredients in the right order will improve the performance of your blender. Liquids and powders go on the bottom, then fresh fruit and vegetables. Put the frozen fruit and ice on top, or add it later, so your blender has a chance form a whirlpool before hitting the hardest ingredients.

Personal blenders flip upside-down to attach to the blade unit, so you’ll want to add layers in reverse order. Hard or frozen ingredients first, followed by fresh items, liquids, and powders.

Use your blender for soups

By creating that swirling vortex, blenders are able to puree soups better than food processors, pulling the last roughly chopped ingredients through the liquid to be pureed. Blenders work especially well with creamier soups like tomato soup, split pea soup, or a bisque.

Blender FAQ

Does blender wattage matter?

The strength of a blender’s motor does have an impact on whether it will be able to chop through hard ingredients, but it’s not a perfect measurement for finding the best blender. As we discovered with food processors, wattage is a good guide for whether a blender will actually blend, but there are good blenders with lower wattages, and there are bad blenders with high wattages.

Most of our top picks have higher wattages, like the Cuisinart, which is rated for 1,500 watts, and the Cleanblend, 1,800 watts. While we weren’t impressed by the Ninja (1,000 watts) or the Breville (750 watts), the Nutribullet performed well enough to compete with the full-size machines, despite only being rated at 600 watts.

Should I use a blender or a juicer?

Use a juicer if you have trouble digesting fiber. Blending a smoothie uses every part of the fruit you add in, including the fiber, making it a healthier option for most people. Avoid juicers for bananas, avocado, pineapple, protein powder, and yogurt. Either add these ingredients to your juice or reach for your blender. These ingredients don’t have a high enough water content compared to their pulp. They may not break your juicer, but most of the fruit will be thrown away with the rest of the pulp.

Should I use a blender or a food processor?

Food processors use centrifugal force to mix through ingredients — food that has just been chopped by its blade gets flung to the outside edge of the pitcher. As more food is added, this creates a churning process different from blending that helps ingredients get chopped more evenly. Use a food processor for tasks like chopping vegetables and shredding cheese, but go with a blender for smoothies or soups that need to have the same texture throughout. A food processor will eventually chop everything into tiny pieces, but expect to leave it running for five to 10 minutes to get that texture. A blender will be able to do the same job in under a minute.

The Best Blenders: Summed Up

Cuisinart CBT-2000 3.5 Peak Hurricane Pro Blender
Cleanblend 3HP 1800-Watt Commercial Blender
NutriBullet 12-Piece High-Speed Blender
The best
Smoothie maker
Budget Blender
Personal blender
Price
$291.99
$178.79
$59.99
Wattage
1,500
1,600
800
Tamp
Blades
6
8
6
Pitcher capacity
64 oz.
64 oz.
24 oz.

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