How do you choose the best blender for your family?
A family home without a blender is really missing out, a single person without a blender is being robbed of the easiest and most convenient meals of them all – smoothies! Everybody likes smoothies and they’re not the only use for a blender – milk shakes, baby food, vegetable puree, pie fillings, pastries, etc. can all be made in one.
This is the complete Kitchen Authority guide to blenders. Our aim is to tell you everything you need (or want) to know about blenders and smoothies.
We start with a history of smoothies which neatly flows into the history of blenders (the two are completely intertwined).
Then we join some celebrity chefs who love blenders and smoothies. We share some awesome recipe ideas for classic smoothies and new and interesting recipes.
Then it’s time to examine how you choose smoothie ingredients for the perfect smoothie and how to choose the perfect blender for your needs.
Then we offer some recommendations as to the best blenders of 2019 and show you some other awesome blenders too.
Finally, we know that you want your kitchen equipment to last – so we’ll teach you how to care for your blender as well!
- A Brief History of Smoothies
- The Origins Of The Blender
- Celebrity Chefs That Love Smoothie Recipes
- Mario Batali’s – Orange Julius
- Paula Deen’s – Good Morning Green Smoothie Recipe
- Rachael Ray – Frothy-Chilly Fruit Smoothies
- Choosing The Best Smoothie For You
- Classic Smoothies
- The Mixed Fruit Smoothie
- The Banana Smoothie
- The Blueberry Smoothie
- The Keto Berry Smoothie – A Diet Wonder
- The Rich Dark Chocolate Smoothie – Say Goodbye To That Diet
- The Peanut Butter Oatmeal Smoothie – Breakfast In A Glass
- How To Choose The Right Blender
- Our Five Favorite Blenders In 2019
- The Oster Pro 1200 Blender: A High-Performance Blender At A Value Price
- The Black + Decker Counter Top Blender: A Family Countertop Workhorse
- The Ninja Master Prep Chopper And Blender: A Specialty Blender At A Sensible Price
- The TTLife Macaron USB Rechargeable And Portable Blender: The Best Blender For Smoothies On The Go
- The Travel Juice Cup Portable Blender: The Best Blender For Baby Food On The Go
- Honorable Mentions: Other Great Blenders
- The Dash Arctic Chill Blender: A Cool Compact Personal Blender
- The Oster Blender: A Sporty Personal Blender
- The Amazon Basics Blender: Solid But Not The Best Low Cost Option
- The Proctor Silex 2-Speed Blender: Not Bad At All
- The Black and Decker Crushmaster: A Beast Of A Blender For The Price
- The Cosori 800 Watts Blender: A Serious Smoothie Making Machine
- The Soraken Portable Blender: A Neat Solution For Use On The Go
- The Hamilton Beach Smoothie Blender: Another Solid Performer From Hamilton Beach
- The VAVA Hand Blender: A Great Small Space Solution
- The Xproject Hand Blender: Stylish & Versatile
- How To Care For Your Blender
- Summary and Final Thoughts
We know, this is a long article. If you really don’t have the time or don’t want to read it all the way through – this is what you really need to know.
The best blender of them all is The Oster Pro 1200 Blender a high performance blender at countertop blender prices.
If you need something smaller and cheaper, we recommend that you give the TTLife Macaron USB Personal Blender a try.
But seriously, we tested a lot of blenders to help you make the right choice for you and your family – give the rest of this guide a read and you’re much more likely to get the right product for your needs.
A Brief History of Smoothies
Blenders, of course, are flexible enough to create a lot of different food stuffs but the smoothie is, without doubt, archetypically associated with the blender.
You can make baby food, for example, without a blender but you can’t make a smoothie without one.
So, it is smoothies that we turn to throughout this guide to blenders even though we know that you can do more with a blender.
The word “smoothie” appears to have been in use throughout the 20th century but it didn’t refer to a drink until the 1930s or, perhaps, even 1940. The original smoothie would have been fruit, fruit juice and ice there would have been no other added ingredients at the time they were first enjoyed.
In the 1960s and 1970s the smoothie became popularized by the health food movement and while it’s fair to say that not all smoothies are healthy – many are and it was Steve Kuhnau who is responsible for the public’s association between smoothies and health food.
He opened his first Smoothie King in Louisiana back in 1973 and he appears to be one of the first people to add yogurt, vitamins and even powdered protein to his creations. In the run up to the year 2000 – Smoothie Kings would spread like a virus throughout America and turn the “smoothie” into a staple part of our diet.
It was in the 2000’s that pre-bottled smoothies began to appear on supermarket shelves and today the smoothie scene is still vibrant with a million recipes (or so it seems) to choose from.
- The word smoothie didn’t originally refer to a drink – the term was first used for a drink somewhere between 1930 and 1940
- Steve Kuhnau who founded Smoothie King in 1973 made the smoothie popular nationally
The Origins Of The Blender
Before the blender was possible, it was essential to invent the small electric motor. This was a significant engineering challenge that had frustrated many great minds until 1910 when the “fractional horsepower motor” finally made a huge number of small applications, including the blender, possible.
The first blender, contrary to popular belief was not the “Waring blender” but rather the contraption invented by Stephen Poplawski in Wisconsin back in 1922. It would be another decade before he received a patent on his device in 1932 for machines that reduce fruits and vegetables to a liquid.
However, the “Waring blender” which was patented in 1933 did popularize the blender and it was invented by Fred Osius but is named after Fred Waring who funded Osius’s research. Sadly, for Osius – his design wasn’t very good and Waring eventually paid to have it redesigned before its commercial launch in 1937.
While smoothies are America’s favorite use of the blender today – there’s another very important discovery of the 20th century that required blenders to be realized; the polio vaccine. Dr. Jonas Salk had to specially adapt the blender to provide the denatured polio virus that is present in this life saving vaccine.
Today, there are endless varieties of blender and you can spend up to $1,000 on a blender if you want to. We don’t think that’s necessary, mind you, unless you’re going to make 3 smoothies for every member of your family every day – you can spend a lot less money and get yourself an amazing blender that will last you for a long time.
- The first blender was invented in 1922 by Stephen Poplawski
- The Waring Blender was the first popular blender
- The polio vaccine was made possible by the invention of the blender!
Celebrity Chefs That Love Smoothie Recipes
The smoothie is simply never going to go out of fashion with top chefs. It’s too versatile. The term “smoothie” can be applied to nearly any drink made in a blender that isn’t a cocktail. It’s too broad a category for anybody to turn their nose up at it.
So, don’t worry about breaking out your blender when you have guests round; there’s absolutely nothing wrong with creating a refreshing smoothie – it makes you a refined host and you’re in great company.
Mario Batali’s – Orange Julius
Mario Francesco Batali is one of America’s top 10 chefs today. He owns restaurants all over the world and he is a world-renowned specialist in Italian cookery though, he’s also pretty nimble when it comes to adapting food to local ingredients. His dress code (which includes orange crocs) may be a touch garish but his food is world class.
He recommends that you whip up his Orange Julius which is a gorgeous and simple sweet orange smoothie that’s so easy to drink that you’re never going to have any left over. Your family will love it.
You can find Mario Batali’s Orange Julius Smoothie Recipe here – just make sure you have your blender ready for it!
Paula Deen’s – Good Morning Green Smoothie Recipe
Paula is also in the list of the 10 greatest chefs in America and you’ve almost certainly seen her on TV as she’s done a lot of work on screen. She’s also written over a dozen cookbooks!
Her main restaurant, The Lady and Sons, is a big hit and won a “Global Meal of the Year” title soon after it opened. Paula may be one of the most versatile and interesting women in the world as well as one of our greatest chefs.
Her Good Morning Green Smoothie Recipe, which you can find here, is tasty and healthy and doesn’t contain a single vegetable. So, give it a whirl – your kids will love it!
Rachael Ray – Frothy-Chilly Fruit Smoothies
Rachael Ray’s our hero at Kitchen Authority; America’s most down-to-earth chef with no classical training. Nonetheless, everything she makes is amazing! You absolutely know you can make her smoothie recipes at home as long as you have a blender!
Check out Rachael Ray’s Frothy-Chilly Fruit Smoothies which bring plenty of banana to the table and they look amazing too.
Choosing The Best Smoothie For You
With the amount of variation possible in smoothie recipes; there is no single “best” smoothie around. We all have different tastes and different nutritional requirements to satisfy and the best smoothie for breakfast today may not be the best smoothie when lunch time rolls around.
So, the way to approach choosing the best smoothie is to think about what goes into the smoothie and then make your selection based on what you want right now. Then throw your smoothie ingredients in your blender and sit back and enjoy the taste sensation!
You Begin With A Base
It is impossible to get a smoothie that can be drunk through a straw (or even gulped from a glass) without having some sort of liquid for the base. Your blender will work better if it has some liquid in there too.
The traditionalist swears by water as a base and there’s no argument that water is good for hydration, has no calories and can taste great but you can push the boat out a little or a lot further if you prefer.
Milk, juice and coconut water are popular choices but so are almond milk, soy milk, cashew milk, etc. too particularly if you don’t deal well with dairy or lactose. One minor note here – if you must use juice, use 100% juice not some sugar laden substitute. Keep it healthy if you can!
Do You Need Protein?
Protein is a bit of a wonder food. Firstly, it’s the building blocks of our muscles and you cannot build muscle without protein. Secondly, it makes you feel full – so a meal that is heavy in protein won’t leave you snacking between meals. Finally, if you eat protein in the right quantities, it can make it much easier to lose or maintain weight.
You don’t need to put protein in a smoothie, but many do. The top choice for protein is whey powder (but don’t use it if you’re lactose intolerant – it’s made from milk). There are protein powders made from brown rice, peas and hemp too. So, whatever your dietary requirements, you should be covered.
Then The Fun Stuff
Fruits and vegetables are the classic smoothie ingredients and while you can find a bunch of dessert smoothies (with toffee, chocolate, vanilla, etc. as their main ingredients) the healthy smoothie is the best smoothie for day to day consumption. Either pick fruits and veggies that you love or experiment to find the perfect combination – it’s up to you.
Cool choices include:
- Blueberries – for antioxidants
- Coconut – for healthy fats
- Kale – for iron, calcium and vitamins
- Banana – for potassium and added sweetness
- Peach – for beta carotene and a ton of vitamins
- Dragon fruit – for vitamin C and antioxidants
But really, the sky’s the limit. Go with the things that make your taste buds sing. There’s no need for your smoothies to be boring because they’re good for you. Everyone has a favorite, they just need to find it.
- Choosing the
right smoothie for you consists of:
- Finding the right base – water, dairy (milk or yogurt), fruit juice or non-dairy milk
- Deciding on the protein you need – whey or something more exotic
- Throwing in the fruit and veg for the vitamins, antioxidants and minerals
- Putting them all together in your favorite blender
Purists will insist that the “classic smoothie” is only fruit, fruit juice and water with a bit of ice thrown in. We’d argue that there’s a bit more scope to it than that, but we begin with a smoothie that no purist is going to argue with:
The Mixed Fruit Smoothie
This recipe is the absolute epitome of classic smoothies. You need a cup of pineapple juice, a large banana (cut it up a bit so it fits in the blender), a cup of frozen strawberries and a cup of frozen blueberries. That’s it. Put the lot into a blender, blend until smooth. Split between 2 glasses and serve. Easy, simple and delightful.
The Banana Smoothie
Take a ripe banana, half an orange and some yogurt and add a couple of ice cubes to give it some crunch. Fire up your blender and boom! A delicious smoothie that kids love made in seconds and it looks great too. If you’ve ever been to South East Asia; you’ll know that this smoothie has some powerful global reach too.
The Blueberry Smoothie
For me, the blueberry smoothie is the absolute classic smoothie. It’s everything American about smoothies and I love it. You need, at a minimum, frozen blueberries, banana, Greek Yogurt and apple juice (and some ice too if you like) and a blender. Combine them in the way you like best and throw that blender into gear. This is the smoothie of everyone’s dreams.
- The classic
smoothies from a Kitchen Authority perspective are:
- The mixed fruit smoothie: pineapple, banana, strawberry and blueberry
- The banana smoothie: Bananas, orange, and yogurt
- The blueberry smoothie: blueberries, banana, Greek yogurt and Apple Juice
Walk On The Wild Side: Not So Classic Smoothie Recipes
In today’s world “wild” doesn’t have to mean decadent. In fact, our first recipe “on the wild side” is surprisingly healthy.
The Keto Berry Smoothie – A Diet Wonder
Grab 2 cups of frozen strawberries, 2 more of raspberries, 2 more of blackberries, 2 cups of coconut milk, 1 cup of baby spinach and ½ a cup of freshly squeeze orange juice. Put everything in the blender and zap until the mixture is smooth. Split between two glasses and serve. Feel free to garnish with a few pieces of fruit. Low carb goodness has never tasted so good!
The Rich Dark Chocolate Smoothie – Say Goodbye To That Diet
Just because they can be healthy, it doesn’t mean smoothies have to be healthy. For this recipe you need 3 dates (pitted and softened in hot water before bleding), a cup of chocolate almond milk, a cup of ice, a tablespoon of cocoa powder (unsweetened), 1 small container of vanilla soy yogurt (under 6 oz.) and ½ a frozen banana. You can add a shot of espresso too if you’re feeling particularly adventurous. It’s awesome!
The Peanut Butter Oatmeal Smoothie – Breakfast In A Glass
My kids love this smoothie and it’s so easy to make. You need: a half cup of soy milk, 2 tablespoons of peanut butter, a 1 whole banana and ¼ cup of oats per serving. Then all you need is a blender. Don’t be afraid to make more than you need and refrigerate as this stuff will last about a week.
- Three wild side
smoothies to try are the:
- The keto berry smoothie – 3 berries, coconut milk, spinach and orange juice
- The rich dark chocolate smoothie – dates, chocolate almond milk, ice, cocoa powder, vanilla soy yogurt and banana
- The peanut butter oatmeal smoothie – soy milk, peanut butter, banana and oats
How To Choose The Right Blender
Blenders are a pretty straightforward addition to the kitchen but there’s still an amazing variety of products to choose from and it can feel pretty daunting when you’re stood in a store or wading through Amazon and wondering how each of those 500 blenders is different from another.
The good news is that you can cut the options down dramatically by thinking about what you need from your blender before you begin buying one. So, this is what you ought to think about before you start looking:
The four big factors in blender choice are:
- Size. Stop sniggering at the back ladies. Size matters for blenders. The jars vary from small (3 cups or so) right through to huge (14 cups). But that’s not the only thing that matters when it comes to size; where are you going to keep your blender and use it? Measure that space and make sure your blender is going to fit.
- Speed and power. The double entendres just won’t stop… umm… coming, today. In our experience a 500 watt blender is about right for a family workhorse blender, but a lot of manufacturers don’t list the wattage – so go for anything that can crush ice. Speed controls are nice but as long as it has at least 3 and a pulse button – it will do.
- Additional attachments and functionality. Some blenders can be used to grind coffee, chop vegetables and even offer personal jars that act as cups. Why not get a little extra output for your investment?
- Price. Vitamix makes amazing blenders but does anyone really need to spend $600 on a blender? We don’t think so. Unless you want to make smoothies 3 times a day every day, you don’t need to spend a fortune on a blender. Our 5 best are all under $100!
There are also 4 main types of blender to consider (though we think that you’re probably only going to consider 1 of them when buying your first blender):
- Hand/Immersion blenders – given the fall in cost of countertop blenders the hand or immersion blender feels like a luxury buy despite its low cost. They’re great in a very small kitchen but they’re noisy and can’t handle blending very many things.
- The countertop blender – this is the go to blender of most families. The only reason not to buy this one is you have no space at all. Then go for a personal blender or a hand blender but really, if you want to make the most out of your investment, a countertop blender is all.
- Personal bullet blenders – if you want to make smoothies in the office or on the go, this is the way forward. I love my personal blender and you can get some really cool options now like USB charging which allows you to blend even on a camping trip, miles from a power source!
- High performance blenders – this is your Vitamix style category of blender. They’re big and bulky and expensive. They also do a lot of work and produce really high quality finished products. Only those with large kitchens and deep pockets are going to find them to be the most attractive option for their blender.
- Choose blenders for size, speed, power, attachments and functionality and price.
- Then pick between hand/immersion blenders, countertop blenders, personal bullet blenders and if you have the pennies – high performance blenders.
Our Five Favorite Blenders In 2019
We put dozens of blenders to the test in 2018 and we don’t think there are that many poor products on the market. But there are definitely some that really stand out head and shoulders above the others. So, without further ado we present our five favorite blenders in 2019. We may update this list next year once we’ve tested a few more!
The Oster Pro 1200 Blender: A High-Performance Blender At A Value Price
This is our favorite blender of them all. It’s big. Really big. 6-cups. It has 1,200 watts of power which means it can handle any job. It comes with a 10-year warranty in the box. It also has a food processing bowl and that means you get more functionality out of the Oster Pro than any other blender in our tests.
It’s also built like a tank. You’re not going to be replacing this blender in a year or two. And the best part of them all? The price. It’s so cheap for what it is that we thought it might be a pricing error but it’s not!
The Black + Decker Counter Top Blender: A Family Countertop Workhorse
Black + Decker is a brand that you know you can trust. They’ve been around forever and they build super solid devices. This counter top blender is no exception and while it’s not “the biggest on the market”, it’s certainly family sized.
It packs 700 watts of punch. You can clean it in the dishwasher. We really liked it. The only minor negative is the price. It’s not the cheapest blender we tested but… you do get what you pay for.
The Ninja Master Prep Chopper And Blender: A Specialty Blender At A Sensible Price
Ninja is a huge name in blenders, so, there’s no doubt that you’re buying a quality product. This one weighs in at 48 ounces which is a good size for a family. There’s also a chopping function (and 16 ounce chopping bowl) which is why this blender features in our list – specialty blenders are often expensive and this one isn’t.
It’s 400 watt motor may fall below our recommended 500 watts but this blender never struggled in our tests. We also found that it was much better built than the majority of blenders on the market today.
The TTLife Macaron USB Rechargeable And Portable Blender: The Best Blender For Smoothies On The Go
We feel it’s a bit ridiculous that you can buy a blender which you can charge with your PC but despite that, we can’t dispute how handy that feature has been when we’ve needed to charge our TTLife blender on the go.
This is a good personal blender which has no problem tackling any job. It’s perfect for camping trips, use in the office, on the road, etc. and we love the way it looks and the quality of the finished product.
The Travel Juice Cup Portable Blender: The Best Blender For Baby Food On The Go
The thing we like most about this blender is the measuring scale on the jug. Many portable blenders don’t have a clear set of markings and while we don’t mind for creations for our own consumption – we like to get our baby food exactly right. So, that’s why we love the Travel Juice Cup Portable Blender.
We find it charges well and holds its charge. It smashes ice to pieces without breaking a sweat and it’s really substantial in the hand too.
Our top five blenders (in no particular order) are:
- The Oster Pro 1200 Blender
- The Black + Decker Counter Top Blender
- The Ninja Master Prep Chopper And Blender
- The TTLife Macaron USB Rechargeable And Portable Blender
- The Travel Juice Cup Portable Blender
Honorable Mentions: Other Great Blenders
There are so many blenders that we could list great blenders all day long but these are our “honorable mentions”. Blenders that do brilliantly but weren’t quite cut out for our Top 5. You may find them perfect for your needs.
The Dash Arctic Chill Blender: A Cool Compact Personal Blender
This is an interesting personal blender and we absolutely loved the chill cup that keeps your smoothie cold all day long. It didn’t quite have the functionality of our top 5 choice but it’s really good all the same.
The Oster Blender: A Sporty Personal Blender
This super sporty little number also comes at a great price. It’s not quite as solid as the category winner but we’re pretty sure that anyone looking for a value personal blender won’t be disappointed with it.
The Amazon Basics Blender: Solid But Not The Best Low Cost Option
We are huge fans of the Amazon Basics range at Kitchen Authority and this blender was very solid indeed but honestly, we think you can do better for the price. Knock $10 off and this would be a winner.
The Proctor Silex 2-Speed Blender: Not Bad At All
Yeah, it’s only got 2 speeds but somehow; it’s still enough. This is a really low priced blender and for the money, you’ve got to make sacrifices somewhere. We still liked it though and it’s good for your wallet.
The Black and Decker Crushmaster: A Beast Of A Blender For The Price
Black and Decker make products that are going to last. This blender smashes and tears its way through anything in front of it Highly recommended and you won’t need a replacement any time soon.
The Cosori 800 Watts Blender: A Serious Smoothie Making Machine
This is on the borderline between countertop and high-performance blender but at this price – it’s an absolute steal. It wasn’t quite as full-featured as our overall winner but it’s seriously good all the same.
The Soraken Portable Blender: A Neat Solution For Use On The Go
The Soraken is sweet and cheerful and it makes a pretty good smoothie anywhere you want. There are personal blenders with better features but few with a better price tag. Check it out.
The Hamilton Beach Smoothie Blender: Another Solid Performer From Hamilton Beach
Hamilton Beach is probably our favorite low cost manufacturer of kitchen goods at the moment and this blender is no exception. It’s a bargain priced device but with no corners cut in manufacturing.
The VAVA Hand Blender: A Great Small Space Solution
Our first hand blender is quite brilliant. If we were going to buy a hand blender for a tiny kitchen – the VAVA would be our choice pretty much every time. We know you’ll love it.
The Xproject Hand Blender: Stylish & Versatile
The Xproject hand blender didn’t perform quite as well as the VAVA but there wasn’t much in it – it also looks awesome and that can be a big deal if you’re going to leave your blender out on display.
How To Care For Your Blender
Good news! Cleaning a blender is not a difficult task. There is no excuse for not cleaning your blender every single time that you use it. AS with all kitchen gadgets, there are two important reasons for cleaning your blender:
- It’s hygienic. Contrary to popular belief the majority of food poisoning outbreaks don’t originate with fish or meat, they originate with vegetable and fruit products and this is often because people don’t appreciate that they can carry the bacteria that cause food poisoning. So, cleaning your blender is good for your health.
- It helps keep your blender in tip-top shape. You don’t want to spend more money on a new blender before you have to. Good cleaning and maintenance extend the life of equipment and as a bonus it keeps it looking good too.
All you really need to keep a blender clean is some ordinary mild dish washing soap and a sponge or a dish rag. If you want to get it extra clean – some baking soda can help too.
Then it’s a matter of following these instructions:
- Unplug the blender and take it to pieces. That means take the jar off of the assembly. Take the lid off the jar. Unscrew any base parts (but be very careful of the blade – don’t cut yourself) and remove both the gasket seal and the blade too.
- Tackle washing the jar first. Warm soapy water and a dish rag is all you need. Rinse off the excess soap. Leave it to dry. Alternatively, most jars are dishwasher proof – so skip the hard work and pop it in the dishwasher to clean.
- Hand wash all the small bits. The blade, seal, etc. should all be washed by hand. Then leave everything to air dry.
- If you need to clean the base – don’t submerge it in water. Wipe it down and every now and again wipe the cord too and make sure it’s not damaged.
If your blender gets bits of food stuck on it and they won’t come off easily. Get that baking soda. Mix it 1-to-1 with water and fill the jar and run the blender. Then disassemble the blender and clean as normal.
Some bonus tips for keeping your blender in tip-top condition:
- Some blender lids are made up of a couple of pieces. If that’s the case with your lid – always make sure you separate the pieces when you wash them. This makes it harder for any food to get left behind in the cracks.
- We recommend hand washing the jar. Yeah, I know we said you could throw it in the dishwasher but this will scratch up the jar. It’s best to hand wash if you want things to stay looking pristine.
- If you blend foods with strong odors – then you can get rid of the odor with a 1-to-1 baking soda solution. Fill the jar with it. Run the blender. Then leave it for about 10 minutes before you empty the jar and wash it.
- Looking after a blender is good for it and for your health
- It’s easy to clean a blender – unplug, disassemble and wash with soapy water
- Baking soda helps you tackle stuck on food and strong odors
Summary and Final Thoughts
We said that we would bring you everything that you need to know about blenders, and we hope that we’ve delivered on that promise.
We showed you:
- The history of the smoothie
- The completely linked history of the blender
- Celebrity chefs who love blenders and smoothies
- Recipes for classic smoothies
- Recipes for wild and exciting smoothies
- A guide to choosing your smoothie ingredients
- A guide to picking the right blender for your home
- Our recommendations as to the top 5 blenders of 2019 none of which will break the bank
- 10 more incredibly good blenders in case you didn’t want one of our Top 5
- Full care instructions for your blender
That’s pretty good, right? If you think of anything we’ve missed; we’d love to hear from you and if we agree, we might include your ideas in next year’s guide!
So, send us a message or leave a comment to let us know if you have something to say.
Other than that, we’d like to wish you and, ideally, your new blender some awesome smoothie times together.
Smoothies are a real American treat and they taste great, they can be incredibly healthy and there are so many options for smoothies that you’ll never grow bored of them. #yummy