Who this is for
Blenders are perfect for pures and smoothies. Our guide's pick, runner-up, and upgrade choice are all high-performance blenders. That means they offer more power and process much smoother textures than low-end blenders—which in comparison give you thick or rough-textured results.
If you're not sure whether to get a blender, a food processor, or a mixer, we've created a guide to walk you through the tasks each appliance is good at, what they're not great at, and what you should definitely avoid.
How we tested
From left: Vitamix 5200, Oster Versa with short jar, Cleanblend.
In each blender, we made a green smoothie packed with frozen berries, kale, and ice. We made mayonnaise to test how each model did with emulsification, and we tried bean dip to see how well they made small batches of pure. We also attempted to process peanuts into peanut butter. To test the safety of the jars, we processed hot whole canned tomatoes and their juice to emulate making a hot soup. With our finalists, we made rounds of pia coladas to determine how well they blended ice into slush.
We also processed water for two minutes in each blender to see if any of the jars produced the dreaded black flecks that have fired up the blend-o-sphere the past few years. Additionally, we noted how easy or difficult each machine was to clean, how noisy they were, whether any of them produced a burning smell while running the motors, whether the jars were difficult to attach to the bases, and how easy the interfaces were to use.
We found the Versa's large variable-speed dial and three preset speeds more versatile and intuitive to use than the controls on other models.
We don't think you can beat the value of the Oster Versa 1400-watt Professional Performance Blender with Short Jar. It performs as well as blenders twice the price, making silky smoothies, pures, and blended cocktails. It has one of the best combinations of variable and preset speeds we've found, and its controls are more intuitive to use than those on other models we've tried. The Versa has a broader range of speeds, and the motor runs more quietly than equally priced blenders do. It comes with features usually available only in more expensive machines, such as a tamper and overheating protection. And at 17 inches tall to the top of the jar, it will fit under most cabinets, unlike many high-performance blenders.
In our smoothie test, the Cleanblend was one of the only blenders to process berry seeds. Overall, it makes smoother textures than the Oster Versa.
If the Versa sells out, we suggest going for the Cleanblend 3HP 1800-Watt, which makes creamier smoothies and pia coladas than our main pick. But we find its jar flimsy and its overall design clunkier compared with that of the Versa, with confusing controls and no presets.
For avid cooks
In last year's test, the Vitamix 5200 effortlessly blended ultra-smooth peanut butter. Both Oster Versas we tested made chunkier butters and struggled more in processing them.
The Vitamix 5200 Series Blender was our top pick last year, and this time it was again the only model in our tests that could make creamy peanut butter and pure soup without spewing molten liquid up the sides of the jar. It also has the best range of speeds. For the price, we think getting the 5200 is worthwhile only if you plan to blend a couple of times or more a week.
Some Amazon reviewers say their KitchenAid 5-Speed Blender leaked from where the blade is bolted into the bottom of the blending jar.
If you rarely use a blender but want one for the occasional sauce or smoothie, the KitchenAid 5-Speed Blender produces much thicker, more rustic textures than any of our other picks, and its motor doesn't offer nearly as much power. But it's a good, all-purpose machine that's small enough to fit on the counter under most kitchen cabinets.
If you're a regular smoothie maker and you like using a blender for soups, sauces, and mixed drinks, we think you can't beat the value of the Oster Versa 1400-watt Professional Performance Blender with Short Jar. Although you can find better high-powered blenders, we think this model does everything most people need at a much better price.
This guide may have been updated by The Sweethome. To see the current recommendation, please go here.