Buying a blender shouldn’t be a life-altering experience (although there *are* some pretty nice blenders out there!) and it shouldn’t take up an entire weekend. So here’s a few tips to consider when looking for a new blender:
1. Countertop or Immersion?
Countertop blenders are made for your countertop, with a large jar attached to a stand that contains the blender controls. They’re ideal for food and smoothies and even crushing ice.
Immersion blenders, or stick blenders, are small handheld blenders with a rotating blade at the end of a long stick. They’re made to blend ingredients in glasses or bowls and work great if you need to puree a soup or a sauce, or froth up a milkshake.
The two have some overlap in terms of the jobs they can do, but they vary widely in appearance and size. Things to consider: Do you need a blender that can hold food for a family of four? Do you need the extra power of a countertop blender? Do you have countertop room for another appliance?
2. What is the wattage/horsepower of the motor?
Blenders may advertise two different types of horsepower. The first is peak or maximum horsepower, which is the horsepower that occurs when you turn the blender on, *not* the actual horsepower it runs at. The second is rated horsepower, which is the steady horsepower the motor can maintain. Be careful about any blenders tricking you by advertising peak horsepower to seem super powerful compared to competitors advertising the actual rated horsepower.
However, the better way to compare blender motors is to look directly at the wattage, as that will always show exactly how powerful the motor is. For anyone wondering, one electrical horsepower equals 746 watts.
3. What controls are available to control your blending? (high/low vs 1-10 speed options)
Blenders vary in controls in a few ways. Blenders will naturally vary in the number of blending options they have – some may come with only 3 speeds, while others will have options for puree, blend, smoothie, crushed ice, etc. How many options you need depends on your plans for said blender.
Furthermore, some have manual controls where you press or hold down the buttons to select a speed. Want to change speeds? You’ll need to hit another button. Alternative to manual, there are microprocessor blenders that have programmed blend cycles – here you can press a button, and then walk away, completing other kitchen tasks, while your blender goes through a variety of spins and speeds to blend your ingredients.
4. What material is the jar made of?
People don’t often consider the differences between the material of the blender jar. The most common three options are:
Glass – solid choice, easy to clean, but heavy – if you drop a glass blender jar, it certainly won’t be usable afterwards!
Polycarbonate (plastic) – plastic varies widely in quality, but can absorb the odors and stains of blended ingredients with multiple uses; it’s much lighter than a glass jar though, and may be able to survive a few knocks and drops; if you’re concerned with BPA in your plastics, you can either buy a BPA-free plastic (many companies are switching to this now, as consumer concern for BPA has risen) or simply choose a glass or stainless steel option.
Stainless Steel – easy to clean, and lighter than it’s glass counterpart; the biggest detraction from this material is that you can’t see inside while blending, forcing you to repeatedly turn off the blender and check if you need to blend anymore.
5. What is your budget?
Yeah, I know, simple question, but it often gets overlooked. Determining how much you’re willing to spend can easily narrow down your options a ton. However, oftentimes, you might have to take a look at the features you really want and then see what price point you’re looking at. If you really have to have that 64oz. stainless steel model, expect to pay more!
6. How often will you use it? (heavy duty if used frequently)
It’s often true that with more expensive models comes better quality. So consider how often you’ll be using your blender – once or twice a year when friends visit? once a month to blend up a special recipe? Daily smoothies for breakfast?
America’s Test Kitchen found out first hand to avoid cheap blenders – in 2009 after extensive testing, they concluded their reviews and recommended a relatively cheap KitchenAid blender as their top choice. A few months later, however, the KitchenAid model began to fall apart after only a scant few months and they embarrassingly had to warn readers that the durability of the KitchenAid was subpar at best. So if you do opt for a cheaper model, be warned that you might only get a few good months of use out of it.
7. How many people do you need to serve?
If you’re opting for a countertop blender, don’t forget to check the size of the blending container. If you only need to make individual smoothies for yourself, this may not be a concern, but if you’re cooking for a family or for a husband or wife, you want to make sure if can fit enough ingredients in the jar! Jar sizes can vary from a very small self-serve 8oz size, to over 64oz so you can blend up multiple servings at once.