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 and Answers
- 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.
- 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.
- 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”
- 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.
- 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.
- What is the best way to clean a blender?
Answer: The best way to make cleaning your blender as easy as possible is to do it immediately after use. That way nothing dries out or hardens, making it tougher to clean. To do this, just partially fill it with warm water, add a little detergent, and run it on high for 30 seconds or so. That should remove all the residue from the jug. If the jug is still dirty, leave it to soak for a few minutes and then use a dish brush.
Some blenders come with dishwasher-safe jugs but, in my experience, I’ve never needed to work that hard to clean my blender. Just partially filling it with water and a little detergent is usually all you need to keep your blender clean.
For more information about blenders, please check out my article How to choose the best blender for you.
- Can I use a stick blender to make smoothies?
Answer: You certainly can! If you want to drink your smoothie from the container in which you made it, this is a good option. It’s great if you just want to make a small serving. Be careful that you don’t overfill your cup, otherwise you can end up spraying liquid everywhere. Use a tall glass or cup so you can fully immerse the blades of the blender in the liquid.
For more information about stick blenders, please check out my article Why I love my immersion blender
- Why do you need a powerful blender to make green smoothies?
Answer: A powerful blender makes creating delicious, healthy green smoothies much easier. Why? Because green smoothies contain a lot of raw vegetables and, fruit and they can be tough things to liquidize unless you have a powerful blender.
I’ve tried making green smoothies using a less-powerful blender, and ended up chewing it more than drinking it! It was very lumpy and stringy, and not smooth at all.
I prefer to use a high power, professional type blender for making perfect smoothies, something I have written about in my article Why I bought a professional blender.
- Which is better, a plastic or glass pitcher?
Answer: In my opinion, both plastic and glass pitchers work fine. Plastic pitchers tend to be lighter and cheaper, but some people worry that plastics can be unhealthy. If this worries you, choose a pitcher that is certified BPA-free.
In contrast, there is no BPA issue with glass pitchers, but they are considerably heavier, can be more expensive, and may shatter when dropped, but most are made from toughened safety glass.
I like the look and feel of glass pitchers more than plastic, but that is entirely a personal choice – it’s not that one is better than the other. I suggest you try them both, see which one you like the most, and make your choice from there.
For more details on How to choose the best blender, check out his article.
- Do you know what blender they use at Starbucks to make their extra smooth smoothies?
Answer: When I first started researching blenders, I was amazed to discover that I could buy the very same blender as they use in Starbucks. I’ve always liked Starbucks smoothies because they taste great and are always super-smooth.
The blender they use in Starbucks is made by Vitamix and that’s the blender I have at the moment. For more information about this and other great blenders, please check out my articles The best blender for you and Why I bought a professional blender.
- Are blenders good for making soups?
Answer: While you can use a blender to make soup, you have to be very careful. Once you have made the soup, you need to carefully pour very hot liquid into your blender. Then, when you fire up your blender to liquidize your soup, you have to be careful that none of the scolding liquid splashes over you. So, you CAN make soup in a blender, but it’s not really recommended.
Instead, I suggest you use an immersion blender which means you can liquidize your soup right in the saucepan in which it was made. This reduces the risk or spills, splashes and burns.
For more on immersion blenders, please read my article Best immersion blenders.
- Do you have recipes for smoothies?
Answer: The best way to get the most out of your blender and enjoy more smoothies is to try lots of different recipes. Otherwise, it’s all too easy to just make the same old smoothie over and over again. This will soon get boring, and you’ll stop enjoying your smoothies – even if they are super healthy.
To help you avoid this problem, I have published lots and lots of smoothie recipes. You’ll find breakfast recipes, lunch recipes, and dinner recipes, fruit smoothie recipes, green smoothie recipes, as well as yogurt recipes, protein shake recipes, weight loss smoothies, and lots more besides. The next time you need a new smoothie recipe, make sure you check out that page!