If you want to get serious in the kitchen, one of our best blender picks should be considered a compulsory purchase.
Whether you want to make delicious smoothies, sauces, crush ice or finish off soup, getting the best blender gives the flexibility to do all of this.
There’s a huge range of blenders available, from the very cheap to eye-wateringly expensive, as each product is designed to do a slightly different job. In this guide, we’ll walk you through all of the options to help you make the right decision based on your budget and the type of food or drink that you want to make.
Here, we’re focusing on traditional blenders that come with a large jug: if you’re after a personal machine for making smoothies to take on the go, check out our guide to the best personal blenders instead.
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How do I choose a blender? Which is best for frozen drinks, or smoothies?
A blender is a great tool for cooking and making drinks, such as smoothies, keeping the pulp of fruit and vegetables as well as the juice.
The type of blender you buy really depends on how often you want to use it and what you mostly want to use it for. All blenders are capable of making smoothies, particularly blending softer fruits.
If you want to make frozen fruits or deserts, or deal with harder fruits or vegetables, then you may need a machine with a more powerful motor, so that it can crush ice into fine snow.
Look out for a blender that has automatic programmes for the kinds of drink or action that you want, as this takes the guesswork out of using a blender.
That said, manual controls are important if you want finer control over the results, say blending a soup that still has some chunks in it.
A pulse function is a great way to get fine control: the blender runs while you press the button but stops the second that you release it.
Move up the price scale and you’ll find that you get additional features. Some of the most powerful blenders, for example, can use friction to heat raw ingredients, delivering hot soup in just a few minutes.
Look out for the total capacity of the blender: go for a larger one if you’ve got a big family to feed. Accessories can also be important, either in the box or as additional extras: self-serve cups let you take a drink on the move, and grinding cups can be a handy way of dealing with herbs and spices in smaller volumes.
The best blender buys
Many blenders just come with a standard jug, with accessories costing extra. If you want to expand the repertoire of what you can do, then the Ninja Professional Plus Kitchen System with Auto-IQ makes sense.
As well as the 72oz jug, you get a 64oz food processor bowl (this has chopping and dough) and two 24oz blending cups for single-serve drinks to take away.
That’s a big arsenal at your disposal and makes this blender an all-round friend for your kitchen. Of course, the downside is that you have to find space to store all of the extra bits, so of which you may not even use.
There are five Auto-IQ programmes (smoothie, ice crush, extract, chop and dough), but which ones are available depends on the accessory attached: you can’t crush ice, for example, when the food processor is connected, but you can with the single-serve cup and the jug.
Outside of the Auto-IQ programmes, there are just Low, Medium, High and Pulse settings. With a powerful motor, the Ninja Professional can easily crush ice and blend smooth smoothies. It is quite loud, though.
Safety features are neat, and the accessories and lids have to be in place for the blender to operate. Every part is dishwasher safe, for easy cleaning.
Other blenders on this list may give better individual results, but if you need multiple tools at a great price, this is a great choice.
Available in a smart range of colors to match the company’s popular mixers, the KitchenAid K400 Variable Speed Blender makes a statement.
It comes with a large 56oz jar, made out of robust and extremely thick glass. It may be a touch on the heavy side, but gives you an impression of how long this blender will last.
A single dial on the front lets you choose from the five speed settings and pulse, plus the special modes: smoothie, ice crush, frozen drink and clean.
The weight of the jug means that there’s no need for a locking mechanism: drop the jug and integrated blades onto the base and you’re ready to go.
Nothing is a problem for this blender: ice is crushed into fine snow, hard fruits and vegetables are blended into smooth drinks, and you can whizz through dry ingredients thanks to the powerful 1200W motor.
The automated cleaning mode gets the jug ready for the dishwasher, and the base can be wiped clean.
If you need the absolute best, then this is the blender for you, but it’s expensive, especially given that you only get a jug and no other accessories (extras are available at a charge).
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There’s something charming about the Vitamix 5200. With its rugged and simple controls, it looks like the kind of blender that belongs in an industrial kitchen.
The quality and power would certainly back this up, making the 5200 a good investment for those that use a blender every day.
This machine has 10 speed settings in the Variable mode and a switch for High speed. There’s no pulse option on this model.
Still, the 10 variable speeds are generally enough for managing anything you do, moving between leaving chunky bits at low speed, and fully blended at the higher speeds.
With the High setting, you can even make hot soup, with the friction caused by the blades heating the food.
Thanks to the powerful 1380W motor, the Vitamix 5200 can handle anything you need, including dealing with hard fruits (pineapple, carrots, seeds) and even ice.
The jug has to be in place for the blender to operate, and the rubber-sealed lid keeps liquids from spilling out during use.
You can run the blender on high speed with a bit of water to clean it out, but you’ll need to finish the job with soapy water, as this blender is not dishwasher safe.
If you’re looking for a tough, simple blender, that you can use day after day, this is a great choice.
It might look like a blender with an oversized base and touchscreen, but the Thermomix TM6 is far more than this. As well as blending, it can grind, chop, whisk and even mix dough.
It can also heat, with options for searing, slow cooking and sous vide. Oh, and did we mentioned that you can mix frozen ingredients in the bowl? Or that you can steam or use it as a rice cooker?
The downside is that the machine is bulky and there are a lot of accessories to store.
As a blender, the TM6 is incredible. It will handle everything from hard ice down to frozen vegetables, powering through everything without thought. It can even take caster sugar and give you powdered sugar, which is super impressive.
However, the stainless steel jug means that you can’t see what’s going on, making manual adjustments a touch tricky.
With access to Theromix’s Cookidoo subscription platform, you can follow guided recipes to make thousand of impressive dishes. Or, you can go for manual mode and take the hassle out of making labour-intensive sauces, such as hollandaise.
The TM6 will only operate with the lid on, for safety. With a cleaning mode and dishwasher-friendly parts, it’s easy to clean up after use.
A touch overkill and expensive if you only want to make smoothies or blend the odd sauce, but the Thermomix TM6 is the single-best kitchen gadget for those that take their cooking really seriously.
Described as an industrial blender for home use, the Breville Super Q is a chunky and heavy beast. Having such a heavy base should mean that it’s more stable in use.
Despite the size, the blender is easy to assemble and comes with the main, large jug, plus a smaller 24oz personal cup. The front control panel is dominated by the programmes: pulse/ice crush, smoothie, green smoothie, frozen dessert and soup. The latter uses friction to heat ingredients.
There are 12 more manual speed settings, moving from stir, through mix, chop and blend to puree and mill. That makes this machine a touch more complicated to use, so you’ll need the well-written manual to help you find the best setting.
Programmes all work well, giving you ideal results with the push of one button, while the 12 speeds and powerful motor help you get your ideal own results with a bit of experimentation.
There’s a cleaning programme to get the jug and blades dishwasher ready.
If you want excellent results at the touch of a button then this is the blender for you, but it’s expensive and a more traditional blender with manual controls can be bought for less.
Following the same design style as its more expensive siblings, the KitchenAid 5-Speed Diamond Blender is a great budget choice for occasional use.
It might look like the top-of-the range models, but this model drops the glass jug for a cheaper, lighter plastic model. The base is still metal, though, and there’s a range of stylish colours to choose from.
There are five manual speeds, and the pulse button works with all of them, giving you fine control over the ingredients that you want to blend.
There’s only one dedicated programme for crushing ice. The Diamond Blender is a little slower at this than some other models but produces good results even if the ice isn’t quite a uniform at the end. Likewise, the slightly slower motor here produces good smoothies, but not quite as smooth as elsewhere.
Although there’s not a heat option, but you can add hot food into the blender for finishing off soups after the ingredients have been cooked.
Dishwasher and hand washing are supported, so this compact blender is easy to clean up after use.
For occasional use the KitchenAid 5-Speed Diamond Blender is well priced and simple to use, making it a great budget choice.
Keen cooks looking for a powerful blender to improve their recipes could do worse than turn to the Wolf Gourmet High-Performance Blender.
As you can tell from the plain stainless steel finish, this is a blender designed and built to look like the kind of tool that a professional would use.
This is largely held up by the controls. There’s a responsive dial that gives you fine (‘infinite’, says Wolf Gourmet) control over speeds, letting you adjust control on the fly.
And, the pulse control works at any manual speed setting, rather than giving you a simple one-speed-fits-all option.
The result is that you’ve got complete control over how the blender blends, although these controls are more likely to suit the high-end cook that needs this level of control.
There are programmes for smoothie, ice crush, puree and soup (this one uses friction to heat), so everyday tasks are taken care of.
Quality matches the price, with this blender able to turn ice into fine snow and blend even the hardest ingredients into an excellent smoothie. It’s nice to see an emulsion lid for slowly adding ingredients for delicate sauces, dressings and marinades.
At this price, the question is do you really need this level of manual control? Those into their cooking will say yes, but less frequent blender users may be better off looking elsewhere.
How much should I spend on a blender?
Budget really comes down to how much you’ll use the blender. If you’re only an occasional user, then a budget model ($100 to $150) makes sense. At this price, you’ll get decent controls but your may find that your results aren’t quite as smooth.
If you use a blender every day, then you need to move up the scale. Spend over $200 and you’re likely to get more accessories and programmes.
If you want the best results then you’re looking at spending $400 or more. At this price, you’ll get the fastest motors, more control and, often, a wider range of automatic programmes to make your job easier.
What's better Vitamix or Ninja?
Vitamix is well known for its high-end, powerful blenders. These machines are a great choice for those that blend daily and that want the absolute best results. Controls can be rather basic on some models, so these choices are ideal for experienced users.
Ninja products tend to be cheaper, and may not produce quite as smooth results. However, you’ll generally get more automatic programmes and value is usually very good, with many sets coming with a lot of accessories to expand what the blender is capable of.
Are glass blenders better than plastic?
Most blenders come with a hardened plastic jug, but you’ll find the odd model that has a glass one. Strictly speaking, glass is harder wearing and won’t scratch as easily as plastic. This can make a difference if you regularly crush ice, as the sharp edges can scratch cheaper plastics. Plastic can also get tainted by ingredients, staining.
The downside of glass is that it’s much heavier and if you drop it, you’re likely to end up cracking or breaking the jug.
Modern plastics are much better, particularly on the high-end machine, so you shouldn’t notice scratching. And, plastic is lighter and less likely to break if you drop it.