Any blender on the market can mix fruits for smoothies, blend vegetables for soups, make puree, green smoothies, ice creams or salsas. The difference from one blender to another is the results you get.
Durability, ease of cleaning, versatility and blend quality all depend on the blender you choose to buy.
Top rated blenders, like Vitamix and Blendtec, produce restaurant-quality results. That’s why they are considered the top brands on the market and are used by companies like Starbucks and Jamba Juice.
I use a Vitamix 1709, available on amazon.com, and I’m very happy I took the step to spending more money and getting a professional blender. But why would you spend $484 on a top blender? My answer here.
But, if you don’t want to spend so many dollars on your blender, there are some decent mid-range blenders available for under $200 that will get you started.
Best Blender for Smoothies
With its beautiful design, the Oster Versa comes with a 1400 watt motor and an incredible 7-Year Warranty. The blade and container can’t be removed which is good for avoiding leaks and misalignment issues caused by improperly assembled.
To clean it, you simply partially fill it with hot water and soap and let it run for 1 min on high speed.
It includes a thermal sensor and an overload sensor to avoid overheating and burning the motor out and a variable speed dial to achieve the exact texture you desire.
When compared to Ninja Blender BL660, it has more power, and smoothies get a better texture. By the time I bought Ninja I didn’t know about Oster. One time, I went to a friend’s house and we had a “smoothie challenge” and I must say that Oster produced better textured smoothies. That’s why this model is my recommendation for the best smoothie blender under $200. Available at Amazon.com.
2 – Ninja Professional Blender (BL740)
I’ve been using this blender for the past 14 months but it recently burnt out and I switched to my Vitamix.
With 1100 watts of power, this blender does great pureed veggies and good smoothies. Don’t expect Starbucks or Jamba Juice quality but, for the price, it delivers a very smooth texture.
It’s easy and quick to clean too. You just have to put in some water and dish detergent and turn it on.
It has 3 speeds to blend to your desired texture and includes a BPA-free plastic jar, which is recommended instead of glass due to the high speed.
With an amazing 4.5 stars from 1309 Amazon customer reviews, this is the best smoothie blender under $150. Available at Amazon.com.
Highly portable, this is the smallest of my top 3 mid-range recommended blenders under $200. It weighs only 3.6 lbs. and is very easy to store. The Magic Bullet has a 600-watt motor with 1 speed. It includes 3 cups in different sizes. You can make juices and smoothies but it’s not recommended to crush ice. Some customers reported that some parts broke after heavy use, but they also praised the fast replacement service provided by the manufacturer.
It’s not a top rated blender but, it is the number 1 best-seller on Amazon in countertop blenders and scores 4.5 out of 5 stars from 5,324 customer reviews. Under $100 blender, this is the best model that you’ll find. Available on Amazon.com
Recommended Features for Blender for smoothies
When I bought my first blender for smoothies, I did a lot of research to identify what were the most important features a blender must have to make good smoothies. As you have seen in other guides I’ve posted (like “How to Choose Meal Replacement Shakes for Weight loss”) I like to do a list of recommended features to help me narrow down all the available options to then be able to choose the best products that suit my needs.
At that time I didn’t consider spending a few hundred dollars on a professional blender, mostly because I thought “who spends more than $200 on a blender?” Well, I’ve changed my mind and here is my answer to that question.
As I started with a smoothie blender under $200, I assume other people are looking to do the same. I found my old features list and recently did a lot of research to create an updated list of the recommended features you need in your blender to make smoothies.
- High Speed Motor – A fast motor allows you to use frozen fruit instead of fresh ingredients (Why frozen fruit?) and there is no need to pre-cut ingredients. High speed motors can pulverize seeds which improves texture and taste. They can also crush ice to make fresh smoothies. I recommend a minimum of 350 watts, but preferably more. Cheap motors can burn out with heavy daily use while powerful, high quality engines allow you to run your blender several times per day without burning out.
- Metal Base – Plastic bases are usually associated with poor motors and offer less speed and stability. Metal and solid bases will give your blender the stability it needs for making your smoothies.
- Speed Settings – 3 different speeds are recommended to get the texture you desire. A pulse setting is not a “must have” feature but some people use it to chop up the ingredients initially.
- Pitcher Size and Material – The recommended minimum size for your pitcher is 40 oz. (5 cups) and bigger containers are the most comfortable option as that way, you’ll never find that your pitcher is too small. The Oster Versa 1400-watt low profile jar has a 64 oz. capacity, Ninja Professional Blender (BL660) has a 72 oz. jar and Magic Bullet Nutri Bullet, the most portable model, has 2 jars: one being 32 oz. and the smaller is about 18 oz. The recommended material is plastic rather than glass. Plastic doesn’t break so easily, is better for high speed rotation and it’s lighter too.
- Easy and Quick to Clean – Avoid blenders you have to disassemble to clean; it will take more time and you’ll lose the motivation to make your daily smoothies. Ideally, your blender should be cleanable by just adding hot water and dish washer soap to the container and letting it roll for a minute.
- Long-term Warranty – The longer the warranty the better. Whether you plan on using your blender once or several times a day, you don’t want to be worried that you’ll burn out the motor with heavy usage. A long-term warranty will have your covered and will motivate you use your blender more times and for different tasks. Oster Versa 1400-watt is more expensive but offers an amazing 7 year full-warranty. The other 2 options (Ninja Blender BL660 and Magic Bullet Nutri Bullet) are cheaper but only have 1 year warranties.
Questions & Answers
1.What’s the biggest difference between a cheap blender and more expensive blender ?
This is a good question and a bit like asking the difference between a Rolls Royce and a Ford! They are both cars and both will get you from A to B but your journey will be much nicer in the Rolls…
Professional blenders have bigger motors, are heavier, will last longer, and have better warranties than cheap blenders. They are usually more versatile and the extra power means you can crush ice and pulverize seeds easily. Cheap blenders are less capable and may not last as long.
That being said, if you don’t want to spend a lot of money on a blender you don’t have to but I think you’ll enjoy making smoothies, soups, purees, sorbets etc. a whole lot more if you try a professional blender. I’ve tried both and that is my honest opinion.
2. Can I put hot soup in my blender ?
Yes, you can, but make sure you don’t over fill it. The last thing you want to is hot soup flying all around your kitchen! If you have made a lot of soup, I suggest blending it in smaller batches to avoid accidents. Only fill your blender half way. Alternatively, use a stick-type blender in the pan.
3. Do you ever make protein shakes in your blender ?
Protein is really important – especially after exercise – so I do indeed make protein shakes with my blender. Not only are they quick and easy to make, they taste awesome. Just grab some nice-tasting protein powder, some soft fruit, and maybe some milk or yogurt (I like Greek, natural yogurt) and blend for a muscle-building meal in a glass. You can find out more about at “Choosing the best protein powder for you” here and at “Beginners Guide to Protein Powder”
4. Do blenders use a lot of power ?
Blenders, even the most powerful ones, use very little electrical power. I run my blender several times a day and I can honestly say my electricity bill has not increased at all. It’s good to think about saving energy – it saves you money after all – but a blender will not have any noticeable impact on your electricity bill. In fact, compared to making a meal with an oven or electric cooker, it’s probably more efficient as your blender will only run for a minute or two.
5.What features do you look for in a blender ?
I wrote about this very subject in an article posted a while back – “How to Choose the Best Blender for you”
But, to save you reading all that – here are my seven must-have features for a good blender.
Solid base – a nice solid base means your blender will stay put and not wobble or move when you are using it.
Different speed settings –variable speeds mean you have more control over the final texture of whatever you are blending.
High speed – you’ll need plenty of speed and power to crush ice, smash nuts and seeds and make sorbets so look for high speed capabilities.
Versatile – a good blender should be able to make more than just smoothies. A cheap blender might be able to mix a few soft ingredients but it takes a better blender to make things like nut butters and sorbets.
Warranty – a long warranty is a good indicator of how long your blender will last. Most blenders come with 1-year warranty but top-quality blenders offer a much longer warranties e.g. three or even seven years. Longer warranties are best.
Easy and quick cleaning – the harder your blender is to clean, the less often you are going to use it. Seek out models that are easy to clean. The quickest and easy way is putting hot water and dishwasher soap to the container and letting it run for a 1 minute.
Capacity – the bigger the pitcher, the more versatile your blender will be but the less portable it will be too. If you anticipate making smoothies for friends and family, a big pitcher is best but if you travel a lot and want to take your blender with you, a more compact model may be better.