Analyzing blender reviews
Considered a kitchen essential by experts, a blender is the most efficient way to blend a smoothie or milkshake. Unlike a flat-bottomed food processor, a blender's tall, tapered jar is perfectly designed for liquids. And if you plan to crush ice for frozen drinks (like margaritas and daiquiris), you need to invest in a good countertop blender.
How much will it cost? That depends on what you want to blend. If you need something to whip up your morning smoothie, we found a single-serve blender for $16 that churns out nicely creamy drinks -- and you can drink right from the blender cup, so there's less cleanup. For $70, you can get a deluxe single-serve blender that includes various-sized cups and a mini-chopper attachment.
At the other end of the price spectrum, are the $450 restaurant-quality blenders that pound anything to a pulp -- from ice cubes to stringy kale. Because that's overkill for most people, we also discovered a $200 model that blends almost as well. Every blender under $200 that blends well in expert tests suffers from real-life durability problems. We were able to find one $65 countertop blender that most owners are happy with.
Hand blenders -- also known as immersion or stick blenders -- are space-saving gadgets almost as effective as big countertop blenders for some tasks, although they're not as powerful (most can't crush ice). Food processors can also handle some blender jobs, like puréeing soups. See our separate reports on Hand Blenders and Food Processors.
We analyzed blender reviews from nearly two-dozen sources to find the toughest, most effective blenders. Experts at ConsumerReports.org and Cook's Illustrated magazine thoroughly test blenders, powering through everything from ice cubes to fibrous frozen pineapple to find the sturdiest blenders with the smoothest results. We also consulted comparison-test results from Good Housekeeping, The Wall Street Journal, Real Simple, Men's Journal and Popular Mechanics. To verify real-life durability, we consulted hundreds of owner reviews.