What’s the Best Blender for 2020? We Tested 15 to Find Out
Perhaps you aspire to fill your diet with nutrient-packed smoothies, homemade almond milk, or tropical…
Perhaps you aspire to fill your diet with nutrient-packed smoothies, homemade almond milk, or tropical cocktails. If so, finding the best blender—a piece of equipment strong enough to obliterate most ingredients and even pulverize ice—is crucial. That’s why we did the heavy lifting for you (seriously, blenders are heavy) and tested 15 different models to find the best on the market today. Keep reading for the best blenders of 2020; for the specifics of how we tested and what to look for in a blender, scroll to the bottom of the page.
The Overall Best Blender for Smoothies (and Beyond!): Vitamix 5200
The Vitamix 5200 is by far the best blender for smoothies…and anything else you can think of. In our tests, it produced one of the silkiest smoothies, velvety and creamy, not gloopy or overblended. Not only did it crush ice to perfection, but it did so relatively quietly, which was a bit of a surprise. It’s also very easy to set up and the base is heavy but not unbearable. The Vitamix 5200 features simple controls with an on/off switch, a high/variable switch, and a dial for varying the power level yourself—no extra buttons or specialized settings, which we didn’t miss. This is just a straightforward, extremely efficient, high-performance blender packing a ton of power.
The only downside to buying a Vitamix blender is the price. It is expensive! But the brand offers a seven-year warranty, so if you plan to use it regularly, we think the cost is worth it. (Also, you can often find secondhand and refurbished versions through resellers for a discount.)
The Runner-Up Best Blender: Cuisinart Hurricane Pro
In our 2018, 2019, and 2020 testings, this high-performance Cuisinart blender was one of the best all-around. The smoothie it blended was smooth and velvety with plenty of air incorporated throughout and zero bitterness. The Hurricane Pro also crushed ice effectively into small pellets. However, it has a humongous base and would have to live on the counter permanently, or require a bit of manual labor to bring out of storage.
The Cuisinart is a little confusing to figure out in the beginning, but the specificity offered in its settings is helpful. There are different buttons for making fruit and green smoothies as well as options for crushing ice, making soup, and cleaning the machine. The memory function allows you to adjust any of the preset times—for instance, we felt that the green smoothie function yielded an overblended product, so we shortened the program’s time to our liking and saved it as a new setting. The blender also has an adjustable power knob that you can turn as you blend. It also has an overarching on/off switch in the back (like the Vitamix E310, which we also tested—scroll down for more info), which means you won’t accidentally power it up before you’re ready. Even though it’s heavy and large and has a slight learning curve, it passed our smoothie and ice tests with flying colors.
The Best Blender for Small Spaces: Breville Fresh & Furious
One of the newest Breville blenders on the scene, the Fresh & Furious has a more streamlined design than the other blenders we tested, so it’s a good choice if you have a small kitchen but are looking for a powerful blender. The smoothie wasn’t as creamy as the Vitamix’s, but overall the machine performed extremely well—and was one of our lightest contenders.
Easy to set up right out of the box, this blender has nine task controls and a handy timer that counts up on speed settings and down for preprogrammed settings. It has the intuitive design typical of Breville products, and there were no stray bits of food left unblended. The blender was also quick to clean and has a nice shape that lends itself well to pouring.
The Best Blender for a Budget: KitchenAid
5-Speed Classic Blender
While almost every blender we tested was of the high-performance variety (including the ones above), we kept seeing extremely positive reviews for this conventional KitchenAid model. And in fact, this one pulsed and crushed better than its high-performance counterpart from KitchenAid, which we also tested (scroll down for details). Plus, not having a huge base to deal with was a relief.
With five speeds, a pulse button, and an ice button, everything about this blender is no-frills. It crushed ice perfectly for a cocktail, and though it took some extra time to work its way through the frozen banana and kale, it yielded a fine smoothie. It was also a cinch to clean. After testing a ton of high-performance blenders, we quite frankly found it laughable how much better this smaller appliance handled many of the same tasks.
At less than $150, this is a great option for easy tasks like daily breakfast smoothies and batch cocktails. If you want to handle heavier tasks, like making nut butters and turning rough kale fine, go for one of the blenders above.
How We Tested
First, we put ice in each blender and crushed until it had a consistency feasible enough for a blended cocktail. Then we made a green smoothie in each blender. We deliberately chose a recipe that would put each blender through the ringer, which included two cups of kale (stems and all, just to make things even more difficult), a handful of almonds, a few dates, and a frozen banana. We blended each smoothie for 1.5–2 minutes, or used the specified “smoothie” or “green smoothie” setting on the blender if it had one. We were looking for a smooth, uniform texture without stringy pieces of kale, chunks of date, or mealiness from the almonds.
A Note About High-Performance Blenders
The three blenders we listed as our top choices are considered “high-performance” blenders and are more expensive than many of the conventional models. The Vitamix—released in its earliest iteration in 1969—was the first high-performance blender to come to market. It was initially used in professional kitchens, but as its popularity has increased other brands have released their own versions. These blenders are more expensive than the typical model, but are built to take on tasks like crushing nuts, handling tough leafy greens, and crushing ice, which regular blenders aren’t as well-equipped for—especially if you want them to last.
Factors We Evaluated
1. Does the blender crush ice evenly and finely?
This is pretty straightforward: We were looking for a blender that crushed ice into tiny, uniform shavings.
2. Is the smoothie, well, smooth?
We wanted to find the best blender for smoothies. We were looking for a blender that could make a creamy smoothie without chunks of various ingredients. The texture shouldn’t be grainy from the almonds or fibrous from the kale. We noticed that some smoothies had a gloopy, thick texture and weren’t cold by the time we drank them—a symptom of overblending, so we kept an eye out for that when it was linked to a preset time.
3. How easy is the blender to use? Does it have any special features?
Blenders don’t require much set up. Still, we looked for an easy-to-use, no-fuss model. We liked when blenders had specific settings, say for making a green smoothie or crushing ice, and we considered how well those programs worked.
4. How bulky is it?
It’s almost alarming how large and bulky most blenders are! Many of them have large bases that are heavy to lift. High-performance blenders require a decent-size motor, so we weren’t overly concerned with them being too heavy, but we did consider size and bulk in our test.
5. Is it easy to clean?
We looked for a blender whose design made it easy to clean. We also considered whether or not the blender had a self-cleaning function.
Other Blenders We Tested
Hamilton Beach blenders: We tested both a regular Hamilton Beach blender ($30) and a high-performance one ($180). The regular Hamilton Beach was lightweight and flimsy, and the smoothie it made was full of chunks of almond and fibers of kale, even after an extra minute of blending. The high-performance one produced even grains of ice and a smooth-textured smoothie. However, we found the smoothie to be thick and slightly warm, suggesting that the motor was overworked.
The Blendtec: This is another high-performance blender that costs $600. We liked its sleek design, however, the smoothie it produced was on the thicker, fibrous side and its fancy bells and whistles—a light-up touchscreen with lots of set up required—felt unnecessary. It was a little too fussy for what we wanted in an everyday appliance.
The Ninja ($133). This high-performance blender didn’t perform well in our test. The ice preset function left us with water at the bottom and uneven chunks throughout, and the smoothie was thick and gloopy.
The Oster Versa ($135) did not perform well in our ice test but did make decent smoothies. Since its price is relatively low, it would be fine as a regular everyday blender if you’re not looking for something high-powered.
Wolf ($400), Again, this failed the ice test but did make decent smoothies. It’s not worth the high price when you could get the best blender, a Vitamix, for around the same cost.
The Instant Pot Ace: We also tried out the Instant Pot Ace blender, which at $99, is the most affordable high-performance blender we’ve come across. The blender has eight programs—four cold (smoothies, ice cream, crushed ice, and nut/oat milk) and four hot (purée, soy milk, rice milk, and soup)—plus a self-cleaning function, but what ultimately turned us off was the heft of the glass pitcher—it was just too challenging to lift and pour from.
The Vitamix Explorian 310: A more affordable Vitamix option, this is an incredible machine and performed almost in the same capacity as the 5200, but we found it to be a bit louder. We also liked the size and shape of the 5200 a little more: The 310 holds less and is squatter in shape. If you’re in the market for a Vitamix but don’t want to spend more than $350, this is for you.
The Breville Super Q: The mightiest of the Breville blenders but also the most cumbersome. The jug was wide and heavy, it was very loud, and there were just too many settings. We had to run the smoothie program twice to fully incorporate almonds into our drink. It did crush ice at lightning speed, but for $500 we expect perfect results every time. In 2020, we tested the add-on Vac Q tool from Breville that sucks all the air out of your Super Q blender before mixing; it’s a cool idea, but it took a long time and made it impossible to stop the machine occasionally to scrape down the sides with a spatula or adjust the ingredients at the bottom.
The Breville Boss: This blender is easy to use and effective, but at $400 we found that it didn’t outpace the others we tested, in particular the less expensive Fresh & Furious model from the same brand.
The KitchenAid Heavy Duty Blender: A high-performance model from the same company as out budget category winner, but not worth the steep ($500) price tag. In almost every category, the conventional five-speed KitchenAid outperformed this one.
The Cleanblend Blender: A highly rated high-performance blender, the Cleanblend is mid-tier in both price ($179) and function. It’s simple and straightforward in design but yielded a gritty smoothie.
For a large-and-in-charge high-performance blender, we recommend the Vitamix 5200. If you plan on handling heavy-duty tasks like making nut butter, crushing ice, and grinding grains on a regular basis, the price and size of this blender will pay off. Buy the Cuisinart Hurricane Pro if you don’t mind the heavy base and want to spend a little less. The Breville Fresh & Furious has a smart and compact design that makes it a great option for small kitchens. Finally, the KitchenAid 5-Speed is a good choice if you want the best blender for less than $150.