What the Best Blenders Have

  • Easy cleanup: Some blenders require a whirl of soapy water in the pitcher immediately after using, while others can be loaded straight into the dishwasher.
  • Warranty: Because blenders take such a heavy beating, the standard one-year warranty is a must, but heavy-duty blenders carry much longer and more appealing warranties (seven years, for the Vitamix 5200).

Know Before You Go

How will you use the blender? If you're looking to blend basic smoothies and shakes, there's no need to invest in a heavy-duty blender. A basic blender, or a stick-shaped hand blender (covered in our separate report) can handle this task and cost you less than $100. However, experts say a good mid-priced blender (up to $200) with a 750-watt motor will prove more durable. You probably don't need to spend $400 or more on a heavy-duty blender with a 2-horsepower motor unless you want to blend really tough foods like whole fruits and vegetables.

Are you blending for a crowd -- or for one? Full-size blenders can hold anywhere from 5 to 9 cups. Single-serve blenders hold 2 cups or less, plenty if you want to blend one shake -- and you can drink straight from the blending jar, so there's less cleanup.

Do you need a quiet blender? If you're worried about waking your family or disturbing your workmates while blending, a shrieking appliance can be a problem. Based on expert tests and owner feedback, we rate the loudness (measured in decibels) of each blender reviewed.

How often will you use it? If you plan to blend the occasional milkshake or batch of soup, reviews say a good, inexpensive blender will suit you well. But if you're an avid cook or you blend multiple smoothies a day, you'll be better off with a sturdier, more powerful blender.

Where will you store it? The standard space between a kitchen countertop and the cabinets above is 18 inches. Most blenders are designed to be shorter than this, so they'll fit neatly on the back of the counter -- but a few are taller, notably the 20.5-inch Vitamix 5200. Consider the weight if you plan to store the blender in a cabinet; heavy blenders can be a chore to wrangle from an upper shelf.

Does your blender need to match your décor? If so, then color is a consideration for you; especially if you plan to store the blender on your countertop. Many blenders come in black or brushed-metal finish, while some manufacturers offer a rainbow of colors. .

Do you want the bonus features? Some extras add convenience and save time: a lid with a removable plug for adding ingredients while blending, and pre-programmed settings (such as "ice crush" or "smoothie") let you press one button and walk away -- the blender will run the cycle and stop itself.

Buying Tips & Strategies

Don't shop by brand alone. In our research, we discovered that some complete flops are produced by well-known brands. Pay close attention to model numbers and names.

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