During my senior year of college, I went on a health kick and decided I needed a blender. After a good deal of research looking for the best blender available, I settled on the Vitamix 5200. If you’ve never heard of Vitamix, they’re like the Global of the blender world: they make popular, utilitarian, quality products. At $449, their entry-level 5200 was expensive, but I’d seen that baby in action at Whole Foods demonstration, and I was hooked. You can use it to make ice cream, for goodness sake. Ice cream. From a blender. Because I was vocal about my intentions, my grandmother promised to buy me one for graduation.
It never happened. Unsure of my post grad-intentions (though sure that I didn’t want to drag a blender along during my travels), I requested that she table the purchase. By the time I settled in Manhattan, I felt bad about asking again. I’ve got a job now, I thought to myself. I’ll buy the blender myself, and be done with it.
But lo and behold, that afternoon, my father offered to buy me the blender. To ensure that he bought the right one, I found a brochure and circled the 5200, several times, in black ink. A week later, a blender-sized package arrived at my apartment. Giggling like a villain in Dexter, I cut through the tape with a boxcutter — and found myself staring at a Ninja NJ600 Professional Blender.
“What’s going on?” I asked my dad.
“The online reviews said this was equivalent to the Vitamix”, he said. “Return it if you want.”
When my mom heard about the mix-up, she vowed to send me the right product. When the box arrived, I cut into it with hopeful optimism, only to see a Hamilton Beach 10-Speed Wave Action, along with a note: “sorry honey,” it said. “This was all they had at the store.”
Although still Vitamix-less, my travails blessed me with a healthy amount of blender knowledge. Learn from my despair. If you’re going to buy a blender — whether at the entry-level, mid-range, or high-end price levels — make sure it runs multiple speeds and has at least 1000 watts of power. A solid warranty also helps. If you need a more concrete starting point, we’ve picked out our favorite three options below.
Ninja XL NJ600 Master Prep Professional Blender
Best Entry-Level Blender: With its imposing three-blade design, the NJ600 looks more like it belongs in the League of Shadows’ Bhutanese training facility than in the kitchen; however, many budget-conscious smoothie-makers swear by the blender, which contains a powerful 1000-watt motor as well as three different speeds and a pulse setting. Although it gets the job done, the construction doesn’t feel as sturdy as that of mid-range and high-end blenders, and the results may not be as smooth.
Best Mid-Range Blender: The unanimous choice at the Woodstock Fruit Festival, the Vitamix 5200 is the industry standard for quality — one online user claims to have used the same machine for 15 years. We can’t imagine using any one appliance for that long, but we have to give Vitamix credit for their seven-year warranty (though hopefully, by 2020, our iPhones will be capable of blending). Its stainless steel hammermill and cutting blades can blend at an impressive range of speeds: from 11 to 240 miles per hour.
Blendtec Total Blender Classic Combo
Best High-Level: Makers of the popular “Will It Blend?” YouTube series, in which the awesomely insane Tom Dickson uses a Blendtec to destroy everything from Silly Putty to an iPad, Blendtec makes powerful blenders for both commercial and home use. Like the Vitamix, the Blendtec Total Blender Classic Combo is backed by a seven-year warranty, but unlike other blenders on the market, it features an LCD screen that displays the current blend cycle, among other information. It also allows you to run “blender cycles”: simply load the ingredients, press the button, and the blender will stop when your smoothie (or soup, or ice cream, or flour) is done. This package contains two — count ’em — two glass carafes.