Simple ingredients become something altogether new when combined. Carrots and curry become a warm soup. Ice and fruit become a cocktail concoction. That’s why blenders are rarely on the chopping block when home cooks purge their appliances. Choosing a blender in the first place, however, isn’t easy, especially when there are so many high-end commercial options on the market. If you are an everyday smoothie kind of person or an avid cook of soups, sauces and more, then Daniel Gritzer, managing culinary director of Serious Eats , says a $300-plus investment might be worth it. “There’s an extreme difference between the highest-end blender and any old blender,” he explains. If you’re blending only occasionally, however, there are less-expensive options that can get the job done. Gritzer and four other experts recommend their favorite blender for mixing and mingling your way to something delicious.
For Serious Eats, Gritzer pushed blenders to their limit to determine which would withstand use and abuse. Although several blenders in the $200-plus category survived, he also found there were some budget winners, including the KitchenAid 5-Speed Diamond Blender ($99.99, target.com). If you’re going to use blenders to grind flour, make peanut butter and heat pureed soups through pure friction every day, he would recommend investing in a top-tier model, but for normal kitchen use, he was impressed with this blender’s performance.
When she just needs to whip together a sauce, Michelle Tam turns to her immersion blender, the Braun MultiQuick 5 Hand Blender ($84.95, crateandbarrel.com). It can take on a smoothie in the beaker, smooth out a soup or crunch out beet hummus. “I use it every morning to make my morning cold matcha latte,” says Tam, cookbook author and food blogger at Nom Nom Paleo.
Entrepreneur Jerry Nevins has used blenders for research and development for years, first for his Snow & Co. frozen cocktail lounge in Kansas City, Mo., then for his book, “Sloshies: 102 Boozy Cocktails Straight From the Freezer,” and now for his new venture, Snow Pops, a line of adult ice pops. He likes the Blendtec 575 not only because it’s powerful but also because it has a clean cycle ($379.99, bedbathandbeyond.com). “I like the no-muss, no-fuss kind of thing,” he says.
“My NutriBullet blender sits on my counter and gets used every day,” says Gregg Rozeboom, the founder and president of Fruitive, a plant-based organic restaurant in Virginia and the District. “My wife, teenagers and I each take turns filling it with homemade almond milk, a fresh banana and some frozen berries,” he says. The NutriBullet eight-piece set comes with a blender cup that Rozeboom likes to take with him on the road ($73.99, walmart.com).
In their juice and smoothie bar, Native Co. in San Francisco, co-owners Nicole Fish and Caitlin Meade use Vitamix’s the Quiet One to make smoothies, hummus, soups and even almond milk for their homemade chia pudding. Although the soundproofing case is nice, the $1,299.95 price tag is a bit much for home use, so Fish recommends the same company’s Vita-Prep, which she has in her own kitchen ($475.95, vitamix.com).