The Best Blender

If you’re looking for a blender that will weather years of wear and tear and can finely process nearly any ingredient you throw into it, you want the Vitamix 5200. At around $450, it’s an investment, but our testing shows that it blows the competition out of the water. We built on the research in our previous blender guide, adding 14 hours of research, 12 hours of testing nine blenders, interviews with experts, and hundreds of user reviews. The Vitamix 5200 was the only model we tested that could handle everything from emulsifying mayonnaise to processing silky-smooth purées and nut butters—two things most of the competition could not handle. As Vitamix’s most basic and popular model, it  has a great long-term track record and also happens to be the least expensive model the company makes.

Last Updated: May 30, 2014
After a substantial update, this guide now includes an explanation for why we didn't test any Blendtecs this year; additional context for what makes a good blender; a new step-up pick (Vitamix 300); and a complete breakdown of each model Vitamix makes.
Expand Previous Updates
April 22, 2014: Unfortunately, our previous pick got recalled due to a faulty blade, but our new pick, the Vitamix 5200, is extremely powerful, user-friendly, and time-tested. You can even mill your own grains with it! We also have a pick for those of you who don't want to shell out upwards of $500 on a blender you might not use everyday.
October 7, 2013: A problem with the blade that ships with the Vitamix Pro 300 has led to a product recall in the U.S. and Canada. If you already purchased this product, you can get a free replacement blade from Vitamix. If you haven't bought one yet, Vitamix says the new Pro 300 blenders are shipping with better blades that don't break. Since it sounds like Vitamix has cleared this problem up, we're still going to recommend the Pro 300 for now. Separately, we have also removed our budget pick, the KitchenAid, due to quality concerns and are working on choosing a new recommendation in that category.
October 3, 2013: We've noted some complaints of quality issues with the KitchenAid, so we're setting this guide to wait status while we investigate another pick for the budget category.

But we understand that, for many people, $450 may seem like an obscene amount to spend on a blender. If you just want to make the occasional smoothie, puree, or batch of margaritas—and you don’t mind chunkier consistencies—you’ll probably be more than happy with the KitchenAid 5-Speed Blender ($100), a good, all-purpose machine that’s small enough to fit on the counter or under most kitchen cabinets.

Or, if you don’t need the versatility of a Vitamix but do want to make silky green smoothies, we also like the Oster Versa 1400-watt Professional Performance Blender with Short Jar  ($209) as a good alternative to our main pick. It has a powerful motor on par with the Vitamix, but we found it struggles to make emulsifications (especially mayonnaise).

Since our first blender review in 2012, new editorial reviews and blenders have come out.  Our previous pick, the Vitamix Pro 300, was also recalled due to a faulty blade (which the company says it has since fixed). As such, we decided it was time to revisit this guide.

How we picked

We started by looking at our original review, by The Sweethome’s Seamus Bellamy, in which we’d tested three top-rated blenders: the Vitamix Pro 300, Blendtec’s Total Blender, and the Breville Hemisphere. There was a lively discussion in the comments section of our review, from which we pinpointed models that our readers were particularly curious about. We reread every editorial blender review cited in that article as well as several additional sources, including a new review by Consumer Reports (subscription required).

For professional advice, we turned to two blender experts: Julie Morris, author of Superfood Smoothies and the executive chef at Navitas Naturals, and Tess Masters, author of The Blender Girl cookbook and The Blender Girl blog. Combined, these women have tested nearly every blender on the market.  (Full disclosure: Masters does have a working relationship with Vitamix—they’re paying for her upcoming book tour—but they do not pay her as an official spokesperson and she says Vitamix was her favorite before she was involved with the company.) Additionally, we combed through Amazon user reviews to get an idea of how different models held up over time.

We found that a great blender, at any price point, should be able to smoothly process tough things like fibrous kale, frozen berries, and ice without burning out the motor. It should also be durable and easy to clean, and the jar shouldn’t leak. What separates high- and low-end blenders is that the former are more powerful and process much smoother textures, and they’ll generally last a lot longer than the lower-end, less powerful ones.

Higher-end blenders—often called high-performance blenders—will also tackle things that you’d never want to try in a cheap blender, such as making peanut butter or milling grains. As Julie Morris told us: “Lower-end models market themselves to be able to do all the things that a higher-end one can, but they rarely can…or at least not for very long before breaking. High-end blenders are more of a machine than an appliance…a workhorse (and actually measured in horsepower).”

Judging from user reviews, the holy grail for many home cooks seems to be a $50 or $100 blender that performs like a $500 Vitamix or Blendtec. That isn’t realistic.
That said, there’s nothing wrong with a cheap blender as long as you understand its limitations. Problem is, many people don’t seem to understand (or want to recognize) the distinction. Judging from user reviews, the holy grail for many home cooks seems to be a $50 or $100 blender that performs like a $500 Vitamix or Blendtec. That isn’t realistic.

As Lisa McManus, a senior editor at America’s Test Kitchen, told Seamus Bellamy in our 2012 review, “Blenders have a really hard job to do in that little space. The motor is only so big. The blades have to be able to move the food through the jar and create a vortex, so that the food is sucked down through the blades and back up again. There’s a lot going on in a blender. It’s kind of a challenge, engineering-wise. If you make it do something difficult every day, a lot of them burn out.  If it’s being put in the dishwasher every day, the jars can crack, things loosen up, they leak. It’s a lot of stress to put on a little machine. They’re either not durable enough or they can’t handle it in the first place.”

How we tested

We chose nine top-rated models—three high-performance blenders, five regular blenders, and one personal blender—and ran each through a range of common blending tasks.

In our first round of testing we called in eight blenders, pictured. After this, we called in the KitchenAid 5-Speed (not pictured) for additional testing.

In our first round of testing we called in eight blenders, pictured. After this, we called in the KitchenAid 5-Speed (not pictured) for additional testing.

In each blender, we made a green smoothie packed with frozen berries, kale, spinach, and celery, then ran each of these mixtures through a fine-mesh sieve to see how much fiber remained. The best blenders left just a thin scrim of seeds and pulp in the strainer, while the worst performers left chunks of unprocessed kale stems and even whole frozen berries.

We attempted to make mayonnaise in all of the blenders to see how well they would make an emulsification. Most of the blenders did a fine job emulsifying at a medium speed, but a few models failed to make mayonnaise at any setting.

We also used each blender to crush ice and lemonade to see if we could get a good blended margarita consistency. The winners created a fine slush, while the losers produced either grainy, hail-like pebbles or, worse, left big chunks of ice.

Most of the blenders we tested did a good job at crushing ice, as shown here in the Breville Hemisphere. The real test is if they can handle an entire night of blending margaritas without burning out.

Most of the blenders we tested did a good job of crushing ice, as shown here in the Breville Hemisphere. The real test is if they can handle an entire night of blending margaritas without burning out.

To see how well the high-performance blenders handled heavy tasks, we processed raw peanuts to see how well they made creamy peanut butter. Starting on low and then moving to a medium speed, each of the blenders did eventually make butter. We then compared the butters side by side to see if there were noticeable chunks left over.

In the regular blenders we made berry smoothies, packed with frozen raspberries, strawberries, and blueberries, and judged the mouthfeel of each to see how well the blenders had processed skins and seeds. As the last test we made a white bean dip with raw kale mixed in to see if the regular machines could smoothly blend the ingredients without having to stop and tamp down the mixtures too often.

We noted how easy or difficult each machine was to clean, how noisy they were, if any of them produced a burning smell while running the motors, if the jars were difficult to attach to the bases, and how easy the interfaces were to use.

In our first round of testing, we were pleasantly surprised by all of the high-performance blenders, but less so by the regular blenders. We weren’t sure we liked any of them enough to recommend. They either didn’t perform blending tasks well, had some dealbreaker about the hardware, or we didn’t think they were worth the price tag. In the end, we called in an additional model that we’d originally discounted—the KitchenAid 5-Speed—which we found did everything we needed it to at a very reasonable price.

Our pick

The Vitamix 5200 was the only blender that excelled in every test, including milling grains, on top of having the most reliable track record and the most intuitive interface.
*At the time of publishing, the price was $440.
The Vitamix 5200 ($450) was by far the best blender we tested, able to effortlessly tackle a range of tasks. It processed the smoothest mixtures, had the best interface, had the nicest tamper and the best-quality hardware, and has the best track record for durability. We also think this is the machine you want if you plan to mill your own grains (useful if you’re gluten-free and want to make your own flour).

This blender was the best at pulverizing seeds, fibrous raw veggies, and nuts. If you’re in the market for a high-performance blender, you’re likely looking to make silky-smooth smoothies and purees and maybe even things like nut butters and nut milks. The Vitamix 5200 was the only blender we tested that could do all of that. While both Oster Versas we tested could make silky smoothies, they struggled making creamy peanut butter (and forget emulsifying mayonnaise!). The smoothies from the regular blenders had a chunky mouthfeel in comparison to the one from the Vitamix. We found that the Vitamix had the most efficient vortex and processed ingredients faster than all of the other blenders.

After a minute of processing, the Vitamix 5200 effortlessly blended ultra-smooth peanut butter. The Oster Versas both made chunkier butters and struggled more in processing them.

After a minute of processing, the Vitamix 5200 effortlessly blended ultra-smooth peanut butter. The Oster Versas both made chunkier butters and struggled more in processing them.

We like the Vitamix 5200’s simple, manual controls, which give more flexibility in blending and will wear better over time. Unlike many of the other blenders we looked at, the Vitamix has no preset speeds for smoothies, crushing ice, or other tasks. Tess Masters of The Blender Girl told us that she’s found that push-button controls tend to wear out after years of heavy use.  “The Vitamix has exposed, raised dials and that old-fashioned style will last for years and years,” she said.

Although we don’t mind the preset speeds on some of the other blenders, we think the simple manual controls on the Vitamix 5200 will wear better over time.

Although we don’t mind the preset speeds on some of the other blenders, we think the simple manual controls on the Vitamix 5200 will wear better over time.

The Vitamix has a variable speed setting, which allows you to adjust the power with a dial so you can start blending slowly, then increase the speed. You should generally always start out on this variable setting, and if you need more power after increasing the dial to its limit, you can toggle the switch to the high setting for maximum blending. Although the high speed is often used for getting smoothies and purees really creamy, the blender can actually warm ingredients if run at this setting for several minutes. In the included recipe book for the Vitamix, there’s an entire section of recipes you heat in the blender, including soups and fondues.

The Vitamix’s tamper is round and seamless, so food doesn’t get stuck in any ridges or angles. The Oster Versas were the only other machines we tested that had tampers, and we didn’t love that theirs are cross-shaped. Tess Masters also told us one of the reasons she doesn’t like Blendtec machines is that they don’t come with tampers. “Vitamix is set apart for me because of the tamper,” she said. “I actually think it’s the genius of the machine, and it’s why other companies are coming out with tampers. It allows you to use the tamper to burst air pockets.”

The tamper for the Vitamix 5200, at back, has a round, seamless design that we like better than the cross-hatched one from the Oster Versa, front.

The tamper for the Vitamix 5200, at back, has a round, seamless design that we like better than the cross-hatched one from the Oster Versa, front.

The Vitamix jar was one of the easiest to fit on the motor base. It doesn’t click in, but simply rests on top. We like how easy it is to put on and take off. The Versas also have a similar design, but the Vitamix just fits more effortlessly. It’s a small detail, but noticeably nicer than clicking the jar onto the base as you need to do with some of the less expensive models. We also like that the Vitamix lid is made of soft, easy-to-grip rubber, with clips that keep the lid securely fastened to the jar.

The Vitamix 5200’s soft rubber lid was easy to use and clean. We like that it clamps down onto the blender jar.

The Vitamix 5200’s soft rubber lid was easy to use and clean. We like that it clamps down onto the blender jar.

The Vitamix was also the only machine we tested in which you can mill grains. This is a handy feature if you’re gluten-free or want to start using fresh, whole grains in baked goods. For this, you’ll need to purchase the 32-ounce dry grains container ($144), which has blades specifically designed to process grains into flour.

If you’ve been shopping for a Vitamix, you may know that there are many different models available, including “classic” blenders with tall jars, like the 5200, and models with shorter jars that Vitamix calls their “next generation” line (this was the line recalled last year because of the faulty blades). The specs on many of the blenders look identical and choosing between them can get confusing. Tess Masters also told us that many retailers like to have their own special retail number. Masters receives hundreds of emails from readers asking which blender to buy, and she always recommends the Vitamix 5200. “I think it’s still the best machine they make,” she told us.  It says a lot that both Masters and Julie Morris have used the Vitamix 5200 in their own kitchens for years.

If $450 is too rich for you, you may still be interested in a refurbished Vitamix. The company sells their certified reconditioned series on their site. For $329 you can purchase a reconditioned 5200 from the company with a five-year warranty (or upgrade to a seven-year warranty for an extra $75).

If you’re interested in blender-specific recipes, the Vitamix comes with a nice cookbook that includes things you’d expect—such as cocktails, dips, soups, and sauces—and more unusual offerings like bread and sorbet recipes. There’s also a nice section in the back of the book on techniques for chopping, grating, and shredding ingredients in the blender jar.

If you’re really concerned about chemicals leaching, you may want to go with a blender with a glass jar.
The Vitamix comes with a seven-year warranty that covers all parts and labor, including two-way shipping. The blending jar is made of BPA-free Tritan plastic (see the “What makes a good blender” section, below). Since the stuff you’re blending will only be in contact with the blender jar for short periods of time, we aren’t really concerned with possible adverse health effects, but if you’re still worried about the plastic, you can look into an option with a glass jar.

Who else likes it?

The Vitamix 5200 was the favorite of most of the editorials we read.

It was at the top of the most recent review by Consumer Reports, who gave it a rating of 91 points and said, “Besides acing our frozen drinks, puree, and ice crush tests, it’s one of the few models that makes hot soup and blitzes whole fruits and vegetables into smooth, creamy juice. While you’re paying a premium, there are even pricier blenders on the market, from Vitamix itself as well as other manufacturers.”

In its January 2014 Review, America’s Test Kitchen chose the 5200, yet again, as their top-rated machine: “Years of hard-core test kitchen use have not compromised this blender’s superior performance. Its hummus and milkshakes weren’t as silky-smooth as others, but its 1,380-watt motor propelled it through most tasks with ease.”

Good Housekeeping give the Vitamix 5200 an A rating, saying it was, “Exceptional at grinding coffee beans, and making margaritas and smoothies” and “Jar is easy to place on base and is designed for lefties and righties.” Reviewers did find that this machine ran a little on the loud side.

Real Simple chose the Vitamix 5200 as the “best superpower” blender of 52 blenders they tested, saying, “This ultra-versatile splurge can blend sauces or turn kale and (whole!) apples into juice with hardly a smidgen of pulp. Plus, with no base to unscrew, cleanup is a snap.”

Flaws but not dealbreakers

We don’t have any complaints about the way the Vitamix 5200 operates. It is a bit tall (20 ½ inches), which could be an issue if you want to keep your blender on the counter under your cabinets.

The 5200 is also a bit louder than some of the newer Vitamix models. For example, the Vitamix Pro 300 is supposed to be about 40 percent quieter than the 5200. We don’t mind the noise level of the 5200, and it was actually much quieter than some of the less expensive blenders we tested.

And, of course, there is the cost. If you just plain don’t want to spend that much, we have another recommendation for you…

The (cheaper) runner-up

Also Great
The Oster Versa can't compare to the Vitamix 5200 on more refined jobs like emulsifications, but it can make silky smoothies like a champ for around $220 less than our main pick.
Although we think the Vitamix 5200 is a much better blender (and worth the extra money), we were pleasantly surprised by the Oster Versa 1400-watt Professional Performance Blender with Short Jar ($209). The Versa was the only other blender we tested that could make silky smoothies on par with the Vitamix, even of fibrous vegetables and berries. If all you want to do is make Jamba Juice-style smoothies, you’ll probably be very happy with the Versa.

Green smoothie pulp from the Versa, left, and from the Vitamix, right.

Green smoothie pulp from the Versa, left, and from the Vitamix, right.

The Versa has a powerful 1400-watt motor, as well as a seven-year warranty, which tells us Oster is willing to stand behind this machine. Among the competition, only Vitamix and Blendtec have warranties that long. When we called Oster’s customer service, we found them easy to reach, pleasant, and able to answer our questions.

Where the Versa stumbled was in making emulsifications. We tried blending mayonnaise four times but the Versa couldn’t handle this relatively simple task. Even most of the cheap blenders we tested could make mayo, but the Versa just splattered the ingredients against the inside of the jar without ever thickening them up, no matter how slowly we poured the oil. We looked to the included recipe book to see if there was a trick, but it didn’t include a mayo or vinaigrette recipe. We’re not sure why this happened, but suspect is has something to do with the jar’s shape and air incorporation from the blades.

It was a little rougher blending peanuts in the Versa than in the Vitamix, and the resulting butter was also chunkier. If you want to make super creamy nut butters, you may not be totally satisfied.

 The blending jar, lid, and controls on the Versa also feel cheaper compared to the Vitamix. But given that this machine is almost $300 less, we’re comfortable with the lower-quality hardware. As with the Vitamix, the Versa’s jar is made of BPA-free Tritan plastic.

The Versa comes with a dial for variable speed control, a pulse button, and three preset buttons for smoothies, soups, and dips.

The Versa comes with a dial for variable speed control, a pulse button, and three preset buttons for smoothies, soups, and dips.

The Versa also comes with two cookbooks that are about on par with the one included with the Vitamix. The first is larger and hardbound, and it’s organized by dips and spreads, soups and sauces, main and side dishes, soups and drinks, and desserts and sweets. The second is more health-oriented, with a variety of smoothie and soup recipes including nutritional information.

Although we didn’t find it in any editorial reviews, the Oster Versa 1400-Watt Professional Performance Blender with Short Jar  gets consistently great Amazon user reviews (4.6 of 58 reviews). This model hasn’t been out long, so we’re holding onto it for long-term testing and will update this guide over the coming months.

A Step Up

Also Great
*At the time of publishing, the price was $529.
The shorter jar on this Vitamix, just 17.4 inches tall, makes it a bit easier to store in a cupboard than our main pick.
For a high-performance blender, we think the Vitamix 5200 provides the best combination of performance and value. But it’s also really tall—20.5 inches with the jar in place—which can make it tricky storing it on a counter under low cupboards. If you want the performance of a Vitamix but prefer a shorter version, we’d go with our prior pick, the Vitamix Pro 300 ($528), which comes in at only 17.4 inches.

“For me, the blender is the one appliance in my kitchen that never leaves the counter, and I work in a surprisingly little kitchen,”Julie Morris told us. “I think leaving it out is also motivation to use it.” Tess Masters reiterated the convenience of keeping a blender on the counter. (It should be noted that both Morris and Masters use the 5200 in their kitchens.)

Beyond the shorter jar, the Vitamix Pro 300 also has a slightly different motor. Where the 5200’s motor is 2 horsepower, the Pro 300’s is 2.2 horsepower and supposed to be quieter, due to what Vitamix calls “vibration dampening and enhanced airflow management.” The manual controls look very similar between the 5200 and Pro 300 (although the latter has a pulse instead of variable speed setting and a slightly larger dial). When we tested the Pro 300 for our 2012 review, we found that it easily outperformed the Blendtec Total Blender and Breville Hemisphere.

You won’t go wrong buying either the 5200 or Pro 300—they’re both great blenders—but we think that $78 extra is a lot to pay for the Pro 300’s marginally stronger (albeit quieter) motor and shorter jar. After all, we found the 5200 more than powerful enough to blend everything we threw in it, and there are other tricks for easy storage. For example, Tess Masters keeps her blender’s motor base on the counter and stores the jar in a cupboard.

If you do decide to purchase the Pro 300—or any of the models from Vitamix’s G line (with the squat 64-ounce jars)—make sure you buy one that was manufactured after July 2013. Models made before that date were recalled in 2013 because blades in the jars kept breaking. Blade date codes are laser etched onto the blades (the Consumer Product Safety Commission has more details). Consumer Reports recommended the Vitamix Pro 300, giving it 81 of 100 points, and it receives 4.8 stars of 114 Amazon user reviews.

If you just want a basic blender

Also Great
*At the time of publishing, the price was $100.
While the KitchenAid 5-Speed isn't as powerful as the Oster Versa, it can churn out a great emulsification and decently silky smoothies.
We don’t think you can beat the Vitamix 5200 for its performance and durability, but we also know that not everyone needs a high-performance blender. If you’re just planning to use a blender a couple times a week, or you want a starter machine for making smoothies and purees, we like the KitchenAid 5-Speed Blender  ($100). In our tests it blended everything on par with or better than the other regular blenders—even one twice the price.

In our smoothie tests, the KitchenAid easily blended frozen berries and kale. It left a much more pulpy texture to the smoothies than the Vitamix or Versas (you could noticeably feel the texture of the unprocessed berry seeds, for example), but was about on par with the Breville Hemisphere (which costs $100 more).

Pulp strained from a kale-and-berry smoothie made in the KitchenAid 5-Speed.

Pulp strained from a kale-and-berry smoothie made in the KitchenAid 5-Speed.

The vortex on the KitchenAid is really impressive. In our white bean test, the blades easily pulled beans and kale down into the blades, blending everything into a smooth puree without stopping the motor to tamp down any ingredients.

It took longer to make mayonnaise in this blender than in the Vitamix, but ultimately it produced a fluffy emulsion. Because of this, we think the KitchenAid 5-Speed is more versatile than the Oster Versa, if not as powerful.

The KitchenAid also took a little longer crushing ice, but not so long that it resulted in excess meltwater. The shavings were fluffy and cocktail-worthy.

To be clear, this is no Vitamix, but for a fifth of the price it does a good enough job. The other blenders we tested in this price range were either cheap-feeling, very loud, or produced a gross burnt motor smell while running. We didn’t love the hard plastic lid on this blender, and the way the jar clips onto the base took some getting used to, but beyond that we have no complaints.

The KitchenAid 5-Speed’s simple interface includes five speed buttons, as well as a pulse and ice button.

The KitchenAid 5-Speed’s simple interface includes five speed buttons, as well as a pulse and ice button.

This blender does not come with a recipe book. Like the Vitamix and Versa, the KitchenAid jar is also made of BPA-free Tritan plastic.

If you use it heavily, the KitchenAid may not last you many years, like the Vitamix, but we think it’s the best in its price range.
The KitchenAid 5-Speed does have a spotty past in editorial reviews. In 2009, America’s Test Kitchen chose this blender as their budget pick, but they withdrew their recommendation after readers and editors who bought this blender found their machines leaked or the jar cracked after less than a year.

Some Amazon reviewers say their KitchenAid 5-Speed Blender leaked from where the blade is bolted into the bottom of the blending jar.

Some Amazon reviewers say their KitchenAid 5-Speed Blender leaked from where the blade is bolted into the bottom of the blending jar.

Some Amazon reviewers say their KitchenAid 5-Speed Blender leaked from where the blade is bolted into the bottom of the blending jar.

That said, nearly all of the regular blenders we looked at received user reviews complaining about broken and leaking jars and motors quickly burning out. Proportionally, the KitchenAid user reviews aren’t any worse than the other blenders we tested. On Amazon, 69 percent of the KitchenAid’s reviews gave it four or five stars (with an overall 3.8 stars of 1,067 reviews). A lot of the negative comments go something like  “great blender until it dies.” If you use it heavily, the KitchenAid may not last you many years, like the Vitamix, but we think it’s the best in its price range.

The Sweethome’s Lesley Stockton has also used this blender for years (six in the test kitchens at Martha Stewart and for a year in her own kitchen) and highly recommends it. Tess Masters also recommends the KitchenAid 5-Speed, and Real Simple rated this as the best overall blender of 52 models they tested, saying, “This model boasts a robust but quiet motor, and its compact size (16 inches tall) makes it a cinch to store.”

The KitchenAid 5-Speed comes with a one-year limited warranty.

Competition

The Breville Hemisphere ($200) was The Sweethome’s prior budget pick, and we still like this machine. It has a really nice control panel, with buttons that light up, an LCD timer, and five speed buttons. The vortex was very efficient and it passed all of our blending tests. At this price point, though, we think the Oster Versa gives you more bang for your buck. Although the hardware on the Breville is nicer than on the KitchenAid 5-Speed, we thought the two machines blended about on par. The Breville Hemisphere is recommended by America’s Test Kitchen and Consumer Reports, and received 4.2 stars of 484 Amazon user reviews.

The Oster Beehive Blender ($70) did a pretty good job at making green and berry smoothies. It left a good amount of pulp behind, but was about on par with the Ninja Master Prep. We kept having to open the lid to tamp down ingredients for our bean spread and ice tests. Overall, if you have less than $100 to spend on a blender, we think this would make a good choice. This machine is super loud (and at a really annoying frequency). We do like that it has a glass blending jar and looks very retro. The Oster Beehive was recommended by Tess Masters, Good Housekeeping gave it an A+, and it received 3.8 stars of 552 Amazon user reviews.

The Oster Versa 1400-watt Professional Performance Blender with Tall Jar ($250) performed about on par with the Versa with the shorter jar. The motors look identical. We preferred the feel of the shorter jar to this model’s tall jar. We also don’t like the hard plastic lid on this version, which is more difficult to remove. This Versa did make mayo, although we had to pour the oil very slowly and we found the emulsification broke easily. This Versa has 4.7 stars of 87 Amazon user reviews.

In its most recent review, Consumer Reports rated the Ninja Master Prep Professional ($65) just as highly as the Vitamix 5200 (giving each 91 points). For the price, it’s a pretty good machine, but we don’t think it compares to the Vitamix. The Master Prep did a surprisingly good job at smoothies, bean spread, and blending margaritas, but the design fails at making mayonnaise. The motor is top-mounted, so you can’t actually drizzle anything into the jar. The Master Prep comes with three blending jars in various sizes. We felt like there were too many parts and they would just end up cluttering our cupboards. Overall, the machine feels really cheap. The Master Prep received 4.4 stars of 466 Amazon user reviews.

The Ninja Professional Blender ($100) did not blend as well as the Ninja Master Prep or the Oster Beehive. For green smoothies, it left a weird confetti-like texture to the greens. Every time we ran it, there was a strong burning-motor smell. The jar is hard to get on the base and the lid is finicky to clamp on. The mayo it made was super loose, which means more air was getting whipped into it . The base is big and clunky as well as cheap-feeling. We really didn’t like this one. The Ninja Professional was also recommended by Consumer Reports.

The Magic Bullet ($60) was the only personal blender we tested. It didn’t blend the kale in our green smoothie (there were big chunks of stem left over), and it left chunks of frozen raspberries and strawberries in our fruit smoothie. It did not emulsify mayo or blend the ice in our margaritas. It was a struggle to blend our bean dip (we had to shake the bullet to get things to process). This is probably an okay machine if you just want to make really simple smoothies with the convenience of taking the blending jar with you in your car, but it doesn’t really compare to an upright blender. It received 3.7 stars of 1,004 Amazon user reviews.

Other blenders we looked at but dismissed for testing

Blendtec’s Total Blender – We tested this blender (Blendtec’s most popular model) in our review from 2012, but found that it didn’t compare to the Vitamix we tested. The lid felt flimsy and its panel controls seemed cheap.  We opted not to test it again.

Blendtec Designer Series Wildside – This gets good editorial reviews, but not higher than the Vitamix 5200.

Hamilton Beach Smoothie Smart Blender – Doesn’t look like it will blend ice, and didn’t receive higher user reviews than those we tested.

Vitamix 6000 – Didn’t get high enough reviews to seriously consider for this review.

Ninja Ultima - Although CNET highly recommends this blender, it doesn’t have as good a warranty as the Vitamix or Versa.

Hamilton Beach Commercial Tempest HBH650 – Didn’t get high enough reviews to seriously consider for this review.

Oster 6706 6-Cup Plastic Jar 10-Speed Blender – Received too many user complaints to seriously consider for this review.

Vitamix Pro 750 – Does not get better editorial  or user reviews than the Vitamix 5200 and is almost $200 more expensive.

Vitamix Pro 300 – We tested this in our last review and like it, but the Vitamix 5200 is almost $70 less and gets higher editorial and user reviews.

Waring Pro MX1000R – Didn’t get high enough reviews to seriously consider for this review.

L’Equip RPM Professional – Didn’t get high enough reviews to seriously consider for this review.

Braun PowerMax – Got great reviews, but Braun no longer makes kitchen appliances for the U.S. market.

Why no Blendtec blenders?

You may wonder why we didn’t include any Blendtec blenders in our testing. After all, besides Vitamix, Blendtec is one of the best known brands in the high-performance blender category. We did actually test a Blendtec, the Total Blender, in our first review, but we didn’t like it better than the Vitamix Pro 300 or Breville Hemisphere blenders we tried. We found that we had less control with the Blendtec’s preset buttons than with the Vitamix’s manual controls; it was easier to get the consistency we wanted with the Vitamix. We also found that the Blendtec’s components—the blending jar and lid—didn’t feel as nice as on the Vitamix, and we prefer that the Vitamix comes with a handy tamper to burst air pockets.

We did find good reviews for Blendtec blenders from CNET and Good Housekeeping, but by and large a range of Vitamix blenders beat out Blendtec ones in other reviews. Consumer Reports rated five Vitamix models above the two Blendtecs they tested and America’s Test Kitchen steadfastly prefers the Vitamix 5200. In fact, the Vitamix 5200 was so widely praised in reviews and by our experts, Tess Masters and Julie Morris, that we felt there was little question that most people would probably prefer the Vitamix.

We understand that many people do like the presets on Blendtec blenders and that these blenders do process ingredients really well. But based on the overwhelming metadata we found supporting the Vitamix 5200, we felt we didn’t need to retest a Blendtec for this review.

The Vitamix breakdown

In researching this guide, we realized there’s a lot of confusion about the different Vitamix models. This isn’t surprising, given that the company currently sells 22 full-size models on their site, and many of them have identical specs. Basically, Vitamix sells two different lines of blenders—their C and G lines—with slightly different motors and jars. (Vitamix also sells their “S series,” which comprises one personal blender.)

The C line blenders are all a variation on the Vitamix 5200. These have 2 horsepower motors and most of them come with a tall, 64-ounce jar (although a handful come with smaller wet or dry blending jars). Some of the models come in a wider variety of colors, and a few have preset speeds, but many of them are essentially the 5200 with a different name (because retailers like to have their own version or model number).

The G line blenders, such as the Pro 300, have 2.2 horsepower motors that are supposed to be slightly quieter, and they come with shorter 64-ounce jars. We haven’t been able to independently verify just how much quieter the G line blenders are, but Vitamix told us: “The G Series machines have the latest sound dampening technology.  For example, the Professional Series 750, our latest G Series machine, includes vibration dampening and enhanced airflow management, similar to Vitamix commercial blenders, which dramatically reduces the noise by half.”  The Blender Dude has compared them and says, “”Company statements of noise reduction from those in the former category have ranged from 40% to 50%, although in actuality the differences in my experience appear to be less significant.” Currently, Vitamix sells four blenders under their G line; three of them have manual controls, while one has presets.

We still think the Vitamix 5200 is the best value, has the longest track record, and is more than powerful enough for any blending task. But if you want to keep your blender tucked under a cupboard, one of the models with a shorter jar may suit you better. (Or you can always do like Tess Masters and keep the base on your counter and the jar inside a cupboard.)

Here’s a breakdown of the different models within each line. As you’ll see, some models with identical features are sold at different prices (the 5200, for example, goes for between $450 and $529 on the Vitamix website). Unless otherwise noted all of these come with a variable speed dial, pulse feature, and tamper.

C Line:

5200 Standard ($450) – No presets, 64-ounce tall jar.

Professional Series 200 ($480) – No presets, 64-ounce tall jar. We see no difference between this and the 5200, besides that the base has a gray face.

CIA Professional Series ($529) – No presets, 64-ounce jar. We see no difference between this and the 5200. This does come with a book including recipes from the Culinary Institute of America.

TurboBlend VS ($450) – No presets, 64-ounce tall jar. We see no difference between this and the 5200.

Creations GC ($500) - No presets, 64-ounce tall jar. We see no difference between this and the 5200.

5200 Super-Healthy Lifestyle ($550) – No presets, 64-ounce tall jar. Comes with one additional 32-ounce dry-grains jar and an extra tamper.

5200 Deluxe Complete Kitchen ($650) – No presets, 64-ounce tall jar. Comes with additional 32-ounce dry-grains jar, and one 32-ounce wet jar (for making smaller batches of soups and smoothies).

5200  with Compact Container  ($450)- No presets, only comes with a 48-ounce jar for wet ingredients.

Professional Series 200 with Compact Container ($480) – No presets, only comes with a 48-ounce jar for wet ingredients. We see no difference between this and the 5200 with Compact Container (besides that the blender base is red).

CIA Professional Series with Compact Container ($530) – No presets, only comes with a 48-ounce jar for wet ingredients. We see no difference between this and the 5200 with Compact Container. This also comes with a book including recipes from the Culinary Institute of America.

Creations II ($450) – No presets, only comes with a 48-ounce jar for wet ingredients. We see no difference between this and the 5200 with compact container (besides that the face of the blender base is gray).

Creations GC with Compact Container ($500) – No presets, only comes with a 48-ounce jar for wet ingredients. We see no difference between this and the 5200 with Compact Container.

TurboBlend Two Speed ($400) – No presets, does not have variable speed dial or pulse setting. Only has high and low speed.

CIA Creations ($549) – No presets, comes with 48-ounce wet jar and 32-ounce dry-grains jar. Does not have variable speed dial or pulse setting. Only has high and low speed.

Creations Turbo ($550) – No presets, 64-ounce wet jar, comes with additional 32-ounce dry-grains jar. Does not have variable speed dial or pulse setting. Only has high and low speed.

Professional Series 500 ($650) – three presets (smoothies, soups, frozen desserts), 64-ounce tall jar. Only available in gray.

Vitamix 6300 ($650) – Three presets (smoothies, soups, frozen desserts), 64-ounce tall jar. Available in five colors.

Vitamix 6000 ($600) – No variable speeds, instead it has a dial for preset times (20 seconds through 6 minutes 30 seconds), 64-ounce wet jar.

G Line:

Vitamix 7500 ($529) – No presets, 64-ounce short jar.

Creations Elite ($558) – No presets, only comes with a 48-ounce jar. Besides the smaller jar, we see no difference between this and the 7500.

Pro 300 ($560) – No presets, 64-ounce short jar. We see no difference between this and the 7500.

Pro 750 ($639) – Five presets (soups, smoothies, frozen desserts, chopping, self cleaning), 64-ounce short jar.

What makes a good blender?

As with food processors and immersion blenders, a blender should create a good vortex. How efficiently a blender does this depends on a combination of blade length and position, the shape of the mixing jar, and motor strength. All three of these elements affect how food is brought down around the blade and chopped up.

Vitamix, Blendtec, and Oster Versa models all come with seven-year warranties, and—at least for Vitamix machines—I’ve read plenty of user reviews about them lasting 20 years.

According to America’s Test Kitchen, a good vortex is formed when the blender’s blades have a “wingspan” that comes close to the sides of the blending jar. If there’s a big gap between the tips of the blades and the jar, chunks of food end up missing the blades. America’s Test Kitchen also found that blenders with a curved bottom, rather than a flat 90-degree bottom, created a better vortex. And, of course, a more powerful motor created a better vortex.

A good blender should also be durable. Vitamix, Blendtec, and Oster Versa models all come with seven-year warranties, and—at least for Vitamix machines—I’ve read plenty of user reviews about them lasting 20 years. You can’t really expect that level of performance from cheaper brands, which is probably why most of them only come with one-year limited warranties. At the same time, some budget models can last for several years of heavy use. Julie Morris told us that she used a Cuisinart blender daily in college and liked it so much that when it burned out after a year, she just bought another one—it was still cheaper than buying a Vitamix.

Many blenders come with preset speeds for making smoothies, soups, crushing ice, or making frozen desserts. Presets can be great if you want to throw ingredients in the blender and walk away to tackle something else while your smoothie or soup blends. I’ve actually been enjoying the convenience of the preset buttons on the Oster Versa. That said, there can be durability issues to presets. Tess Masters, of The Blender Girl, told us that she’s found that these buttons can wear out after years of heavy use. And presets generally up the price of a blender. The Vitamix 5200 retails for around $450, while the Vitamix Professional Series 500—the same machine as the 5200, but with three preset speeds—retails for $650. We think that’s a pretty steep jump for the convenience factor, but if you don’t mind the price or possible durability issues, we do think presets can come in handy if you’ve got a lot going on and don’t have time to stand by the blender.

After testing nine blenders, we quickly realized that a tamper—basically a small plastic bat—separates the good from the great. When a blender is really cranking, air pockets tend to form around the blade, and a tamper allows you to burst these without having to stop the machine. Blenders that come with tampers have a removable opening in the lid to slide the bat through, so you don’t have to take the lid off. This is a safety feature and also helps reduce splatters. All of the Vitamix models and the Oster Versas come with a tamper to push food down toward the blade.

After testing nine blenders, we quickly realized that a tamper—basically a small plastic bat—separates the good from the great.
A poorly designed blender can create some serious cleaning problems. Food trapped around gaskets or in the base of the jar will rot and cause a very unsavory odor. Some companies, like Breville and KitchenAid, have designed their blending jars so they are virtually seamless at the bottom, with just a bolt to connect the blade. We found these easy to clean.

As far as high-performance blenders go, Vitamix and Blendtec are the biggest names and each have devoted fans. Thanks to the superfood smoothie craze, more companies are developing these types of powerful blenders. The lower-priced brand Oster has introduced two versions of the Versa, and Tess Masters said Omega and Breville will be coming out with high-end blenders at some point in the next year.

As for regular blenders, almost every small appliance company makes them, from Hamilton Beach and Black & Decker on the low end to Breville and KitchenAid on the high end.

Most of the blenders we tested come with BPA-free plastic jars. The Vitamix 5200, Oster Versas, and Breville Hemisphere jars are made of Tritan plastic, which is very durable and has some flexibility. Many of the lower-end blenders don’t advertise what material their jars are made of, beyond being “BPA-free.” But the majority of these are probably made of polycarbonate, which is more rigid than Tritan but also very strong. Both materials will crack if heated too high, which is why these jars should not be washed on very hot settings in the dishwasher.

In fact, it’s probably not a great idea to wash plastic jars in the dishwasher at all. As has been recently reported, even BPA-free plastics may leach estrogenic chemicals and heat causes even more leaching. You’re better off hand-washing the blending jar with warm soapy water rather than running it through the dishwasher (this may also help the jar last longer). And don’t store liquids in the jar for extended periods of time.

If you’re really concerned about chemicals leaching, you may want to go with a blender with a glass jar.

Care and maintenance

Both Tess Masters and Julie Morris told us that keeping a blender on the counter is the best motivation for using it. We’ve also found that appliances tucked away in cupboards get much less use than if they’re sitting ready on the counter. Tess Masters keeps the base of her Vitamix on the counter, but stores the blending jar in a cupboard. This seems like a nice compromise.

In our own testing, we found that the best way to clean a blender jar is to use a bottle or scrub brush. Don’t try to use a sponge or you may cut your hand on the blender blades. Processing water and a little soap in the blender jar will help loosen up tough ingredients like peanut butter, and the brush should do the rest. You can use a toothbrush to get gunk out of the controls, as Tess Masters does.

Wrapping it up

If you’re a regular smoothie-maker and like using a blender for soups, sauces, and even margaritas, we think you can’t beat the Vitamix 5200. Its powerful motor, high-quality components, and proven track record make this a machine you should be able to get decades of good use from.

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Sources

  1. Blender Reviews, Consumer Reports
  2. Blenders, America's Test Kitchen
  3. Lindsay Hunt, The Best Blender for your Kitchen, Real Simple
  4. Blenders Reviews, Good Housekeeping
  5. Ry Crist, From smoothies to pesto: Seven blenders reviewed, CNET, October 29th, 2013
  6. Mariah Blake , The Scary New Evidence on BPA-Free Plastics, Mother Jones, March/April 2014
  • Heather

    I purchasedanother brand, Australian-owned and new in the UK, called the Froothie Optimum blender. I would highly recommend it as a blender at par with the popular Vitamix. Not cheap (but still cheaper than Vitamix), however it is commercial-grade, high quality and performs all the exact functions as the Vitamix. According to the specs, it is faster and has a more powerful blender, definitely worth checking out and reviewing

  • SickSix

    I’m partial to my $100 Ninja Professional blender. It obliterates ice, perfoms acceptably with chopped kale (no whole leaf happening there), and blends tougher fruits and veggies with ease with minimal prep. Cleaning the blades is simple, without the risk of destroying your cleaning utensils and reducing the risk of losing a finger. Granted, it’s no Vitamix, but for the cost, the ability to replace individual parts, and the performance: I’ll be sticking with my Ninja Pro for a while.

  • MJruns

    I’ve recently seen both VitaMix and Blendtec (not sure which models or what the prices were) at Costco – being demo’d on opposite sides of the store, same day. I think VitaMix also sells some refurb models on their site. I’ve got an on/pulse super “cheap” Oster that I’m finding takes more work/time and tamping/poking (esp w/kale and fresh fruit) than it may be worth, especially as I’m looking at making more smoothies. Hate to spend the $ on a VitaMix since I also have an immersion blender (never used), food processor (have to learn to use) and a just-purchased ice cream maker (my first electric ever!) – supposedly VM can replace all of those, plus make soup, etc. Sounds like it would make great smoothies, and might replace ice cream maker (and sometimes immersion blender) but the cost….then again, the frustration I have when making smoothies now is annoying! Thanks for the reviews.

    • Lar Mul

      Is the Oster the Versa model with the tall jar? The ads for the new Versa with a shorter jar have been all over the place and the price is quite a bit less than a Vitamix for what looks like an equivalent product.

  • Tara Raport

    Seamus,

    Consumer Reports rates your recommended Vitamix Pro 300 at 81/100. The full-size blender that CR recommends is the Ninja Master Prep Professional QB1004 (retailing for $60). For the record, its highest-scoring Vitamix blender is the Vitamix 5200.

    The CR link is at http://www.consumerreports.org/cro/appliances/kitchen-appliances/blenders/blender-recommendations/blender.htm. I was able to view it freely by accessing it through my city library’s website.

    As I have trusted thewirecutter for buying my document scanner, I would also like to trust thesweethome. Please tell me:

    1. Did your review of blenders include the Ninja Master Pro?

    2. If you did test out the Ninja Master Pro, what are your comments on it?

    • Seamus Bellamy

      Hi Tara, Thanks for your questions.

      My review of blenders did indeed include the Ninja Master Pro as well as a number of the company’s other products. However, they simply did not measure up to the hardware I tested, for a number of reasons.

      In the case of the QB1004, it only has a 40 oounce jar, which was below the minimum size I set for the piece after speaking with the experts at America’s Test Kitchen. Second to this, the Ninja blender only comes with a two year warranty. I felt that this was a cause for concern, as one of the most important things about investing in a blender is it’s durability and longevity. The length of a warranty reflects the build quality and therefore the projected longevity of a product. No matter how well they may work at first, blenders, due to the extreme amounts of vibration and heat produced by their regular operation, are prone to breaking down, sometimes literally shaking themselves apart. This was an issue that America’s Test Kitchen discovered with one of their picks, which operated well and was priced under $300. But with regular use, The blender failed in under a year. When I see that a low cost piece of hardware like this comes with a two year warranty, I have no doubt that it’s not designed to last. The Vitamix we tested, by contrast, has a seven year warranty.

      It’s also worth mentioning that I was able to find a number of reports online indicating that the Ninja QB1004 was unable to reduce flaxseed to a fine powered, or handle kale as efficiently as the hardware we ended up testing. This speaks to the power of the blender and possibly, an inefficient blade design.

      I hope that helps!

      • Tara Raport

        Thank you so much for taking the time to reply. I guess my heart will now say goodbye to the thought of buying the Ninja Master Pro.

        Maybe, for other shoppers who think highly of the Ninja after learning about Consumer Reports’ recommendation, you could add a section in your post on the Ninja?

  • Tara Raport

    Seamus,

    You say many watts is a good thing. Later, you quote John Kohler who said that the Vitamix may have less watts than a Blendtec, but it has more RPMs. So how do those 2 things square? If high wattage is a good thing, Blendtec is better. But because you did not disagree with Kohler, I’m thinking that RPMs is more important.

    Please explain your position.

    • Seamus Bellamy

      Choosing the best piece of hardware, for The Wirecutter and Sweethome at least, seldom comes down to the numbers, Tara. When I review a tablet, for example, the processing speed of its chipset doesn’t matter. What matters is the experience the hardware provides. It’s enough to say that it’s faster than another similar product, or that it’ll make most people happy.
      The same can be said for blenders. RPMs are important, and watts are important too. But in the end, it comes down to the over all performance, build quality and general feel of a product. I wanted to like the Blendtec hardware with its easy hands off settings, digital display and high RPMs more. But the Vitamix proved to be the better piece of gear due to it’s spartan features, ease of operation, raw power and blade design.

  • Tara Raport

    Seamus,

    You wrote:

    [The Vitamix] lid is constructed of thick rubber that was satisfyingly difficult to remove from or place back on the jar.

    I understand the “satisfyingly difficult to remove from jar” part (the lid won’t pop out when blender is in use). But I don’t get what’s satisfying about a lid that’s difficult to place back on the jar.

    Could you please let me know?

    • Seamus Bellamy

      I found that, at least for me, having a lid that I had to think a little about in order to put it on, ensured that it was secured and ready for use every time. Feeling the thick rubber of the lid snap in place gave me a sense of security that I didn’t receive from using the other blenders. With the other two finalists I tested, I felt compelled to stand there with my hand on the lid while they were operating. They were by no means insecure, but I wasn’t filled with the same confidence as the Vitamix gave me with it’s beefy rubber latches.

      • Tara Raport

        Ah! I see.
        Maybe it would be good to actually confirm how secure the other two are. Maybe measure the distance the lid has wiggled away from the “fully down” position. This would make the testing more scientific, I think. :-)

        • Seamus Bellamy

          That’s a good suggestion. I’ll be sure to include something along these lines the next time we test blenders.

          • Tara Raport

            If Sweethome or the manufacturers sends me the blenders, I’ll test them right away! :-)

  • Tara Raport

    Seamus,

    Thanks so much for answering my questions.

    Even with your thorough post and very helpful responses to my questions in the comments, I’m still not 100% in. Here’s why:

    1. Your reasons not to recommend the Ninja are not exactly strong:

    a. Short warranty (which you take to mean that the company doesn’t fully trust its own product, and with this reasoning, I am with you). But maybe they have a short warranty because, at the $60 price, they can’t afford the risk of too many returns. Vitamix on the other hand can afford a 7-year warranty, partly because of the huge $500+ price. How about test the Ninja until it breaks or doesn’t work? See how many days/weeks/months it takes. Then record the same for the other blenders you’ve tested.

    b. You’ve read reports of the Ninja unable to pulverize flaxseed or handle kale as well as your 3 tested blenders. I think it would be much much much better if you could verify these reports for yourself. The journalistic creed, “Trust, but verify”, would do well for all WireCutter, SweetHome reviews. And if Ninja won’t offer you or SweetHome a free test model, at $60, it should be financially easy to purchase one off Amazon.

    2. I trust Consumer Reports. I believe them to be unbiased in their opinions, and scientific and methodical in their testings. When they place the Ninja in their No. 1 spot, that influences my opinion very much. So now I’m left confused. Get the Consumer Reports-backed Ninja (and maybe risk the short life you suspect it has) or get the highly and widely praised VM (and spend 9 times as much)! Ah, decisions!

    I’ve emailed Consumer Reports with a question. And I have yet to hear back from them. You are 1,000,000,000 better in responding to my questions than Consumer Reports is. I really appreciate it, Seamus.

    P.S. I am not connected with Ninja or its makers in any way. I’m just a shopper who wants to make the right choice.

  • Brian Schack

    Dear Mr. Bellamy,

    Consumer Reports recently reviewed blenders also, and they recommended a different model –– the Ninja Master Professional which unfortunately you did not mention in your review at all. I am a fan of The Sweethome, but I think that this was an oversight.

    Two other commenters, MJruns and Tara Raport, noticed your omission also. So, a year after your original review, you gave three criticisms of Ninja in the comments. First, you mentioned negative customer reviews, but you didn’t link to them for me to evaluate. Second, you said that forty ounces was below your minimum size, but the Blendtec Total Blender that you reviewed was only thirty-two ounces. And third, you said that Ninja only provides a two-year warranty, but you reviewed the Breville Hemisphere Control with just a one-year warranty, and even if it did break, you could buy ten Ninjas for what Vitamix charges.

    I am inclined to trust Consumer Reports’ recommendation over yours for several reasons. First, they tested forty-nine blenders, but you only tested three. Second, they purchased them secretly at retail prices, but you asked the manufacturers for test models. Third, they don’t accept any advertising, but you take advertisements and commissions. And fourth, their reviews have been trusted since 1936 –– before The Sweethome and its writers were born.

    You didn’t have to agree with Consumer Reports or any other reviewer, but recommending “The Best Blender” was a bold claim which required a thoroughness that you omitted. I respectfully request that you update your review.

    Regards,
    Brian Schack

    • Brian Schack

      I hope I wasn’t too harsh…

      • http://www.linkedin.com/in/matthewtagg Matt Tagg

        Well it came across a little hostile, but you’re just being honest. It’s odd that SH hasn’t acknowledged your post.

    • Peter Nguyen

      I would really like to see a reply to your salient post.

    • bpollen8

      They never responded, but when I wondered about this, when I saw the Consumer Reports blender ratings is that one thing that CR doesn’t include in its tests is durability/reliability. It merely performs a test and reports the outcomes at the moment, not taking longevity or even consistency over time into consideration. In doing exhaustive (compulsive?) research of blenders for the last several weeks, I’ve reached the conclusion that while some Ninjas (only one or two….not other models) perform well at first, they are prone to a lot of problems early on. Many Ninjas were returned for breakage or nonperformance or leaking even within the 30 day retail return window. Some lasted 6 months. Some lasted a year or 18 months. I saw very few reviews by people who had owned and used a Ninja for years without problems. That was not the case with the high end blenders. Other blenders had reliability issues, as well, of course. Breville is an example. Excellent performer, but some are prone to problems soon after the 1 year warranty expires. That includes BlendTec, which has a container leakage issue that still exists, as far as I can tell. Of course, if the blender is inexpensive, you can buy a new one every other year; it would take you years to equal the cost of a BlendTec or VitaMix. I must say that I don’t want to spend for a VitaMix, but that is the only blender I’ve run across with solid rave reviews across the board, on various sites, by new owners and those who have owned their blender for years. There is no doubt in my mind that that is THE blender to have, for quality and long term use, IF you can afford it. The problem comes in when you can’t afford it, as in my case. Then what do I get?

    • http://thewirecutter.com/ tony kaye
  • Alyosha

    One of the main reasons I want to get a blender is for pureeing hot soups such as split pea soup. I wonder if your review can look into how the blenders can handle the high temperatures of blending a hot soup near boiling temperature. My concern is the motor overheating or the materials wearing down over time.

    Thanks!

    • tbarribeau

      Hi Alyosha,

      While I didn’t write this review, I’m one of the other Sweethome writers who has this blender (based on Seamus’ excellent write-up). I use it regularly for boiling hot soups, and while I can’t comment on long-term wear, it’s done fine for about six months of heavy use. This Gordon Ramsey broccoli soup has become a firm favorite for “I’m lazy, here’s dinner” cooking

      Keep in mind, Vitamix blenders are essentially commercial grade, and often used in pro kitchens, so they tend to be able to take a hell of a beating. Plus the seven year warranty should see you through most troubles.

      -Tim

  • muledoggie

    I think a $550.00 blender makes this a specialized product few would buy and should be eliminated based on price. Just my $.02.

    • muledoggie

      BTW, LOVE LOVE LOVE thesweethome.com. Keep up the good work!

    • steven75

      I can see that point. This site and the wirecutter tend to operate on the principle of “getting it right the first time.”

      Long term, that can *save* money (and time). We bought this product on the recommendation here and have used it far more than I thought initially. I have no doubt that part of the reason we use it so much is because it works so damn well that using it is a reward in itself.

  • Matt Groener

    @homesweethome, please consider updating this post to include the rather copious information about the Ninja line into the review. We have just past the year mark for this article (no updates I can see). There is plenty of data available (in the comments) that suggests that there is confusion about the high CR review of the Ninja line vs. its absence from the review at all.

    For my own needs, I am more than willing to consider a product that has a significantly lower price entry point, also knowing full well what I am getting into with regards to warranty, etc. I feel on many reviews you have offered folks the “best of breed” while also giving others with limited budgets an alternative idea (I hesitate to call it a “recommendation” as the reviewer rightly says that a short warranty gives him pause to recommend it).

    My biggest gripe about the article is that the issue revolves partly around warranty, yet the other two picks in this article that *did* gain an “also-ran” status have one-year warranties. If this is true then the Ninja doubles that (and smart shoppers know there are clever credit card options that can double this again, especially in light of the abuse this kind of product is likely to sustain.

    I am in a transition time in my life and there is no single website that has helped me more to make accurate, qualified decisions about products than WireCutter and SweetHome. I dare say your sites are BETTER than CR or similar because they are as pragmatic as they are sensible, realistic as they are a kick to read. I love and value the “cut to the chase” mantra as well as all the backstory.

    There are several savvy inquirers in the comments now that are asking for an update. Please do not let us down.

  • TallDave

    I love my Blendtec HP-3A ($400). I bought it 4 years ago after reading many, many reviews stating Blendtec > VitaMix. I think vitamix spends more on marketing, which makes them more popular. Reminds me of Intel and VHS.

  • Lar Mul

    How about the updated Oster Versa. The ads and Amazon reviews are winning me over I have to say.

  • RocFinds

    This review was so weirdly anti-Blendtec from the beginning. I own neither, but in every other online comparison I have read, testers conclude that Vitamix and Blendtec performance is incredibly similar, not that the Blendtec was practically smoking after a water and kale test (??) A few comments–

    1) Vitamix recently had to pay $24 million dollars to Blendtec for patent infringement.

    2) At costco Blendtec is $360 and Vitamix is $500. That’s a major price difference.

    3) you quote the “blender dude” talking about the durability of the Vitamix, but you don’t mention the fact that in his 5-video series comparing the Vitamix and the Blendtec he called it a draw–i.e. one will work better for one person and one for another.

  • James

    I think one is better off taking the plunge and spending more (even if it is a lot!) for a good, hard-working, LONG-LASTING piece of equipment. Even so, you can wait some time for the price to drop or for refurbished models to appear (as you can now buy the 5200 for $329 and the Pro 300 for $439, both with a 5-year warranty, on Vitamix’s website!) With something that will last YEARS, buying one used, in my opinion, will be a good investment. Look on eBay or Craigslist. You might be surprised with the deals you can find. Also, it’s made in Cleveland, OH. GO AMERICA!

  • Run4Fun

    It is disappointing that SH missed the Ninja in this review.

    Regardless, the Vitamix and Ninja products, in my research, are both quality machines with price point being biggest differentiating factor discussed by most reviewers and commentators. In there arguments, I rarely see any mention of the fact that Ninja’s are made in China while Vitamix is made in America.

    Take this comment for what you want and make your own assumptions. I mean this comment to speak nothing of quality of either product but rather to point out how this factor is often overlooked by consumers.

    https://www.vitamix.com/Discover-Vitamix/Engineering

  • jasonswan

    I can’t agree with the kitchen-aid reccomendation. I went through three of them. They all failed at the bottom of the jar – leaking. Unfixable. I think it is a fundamental flaw of their design that cannot be fixed.

    I bought a breville hemisphere. No problems 3 years later doing the same things that killed three kitchen-aids.

    • Christine Cyr Clisset

      Thank you for letting us know. We are testing this model long term and will watch closely for the issue you’re talking about. May I ask, when did you buy this machine? We’re keeping an eye out for whether KA has fixed this problem more recently.

      • jasonswan

        The last kitchen-aid I went through was a good while ago – at least three years. They very well may have changed the design since then.

      • bobigail

        I bought the KitchenAid last week and it died within five minutes of trying to puree stewed prunes. I’m not sure whether to try another one or step up to the Oster. I’m using it to make baby food

        • Christine Cyr Clisset

          Hi bobigail, that’s disappointing to hear! In my experience testing the KitchenAid, blending stewed prunes really should be an issue (the machine seems more than strong enough to do this, as long as the prunes are soft and there’s enough liquid to keep everything blending smoothly). If you like the size of the KitchenAid, I’d try another one before stepping up to the Oster Versa; you may have just gotten a lemon.

  • Brian Schack

    Good review! It addresses the comments on the previous review.

  • V13NYC

    I have a Vitamix 750 (received it as a gift). As mentioned above, having a blender or at least the base on the counter promotes using it. If it’s in a cabinet it just won’t get taken out as much. A 5200 or other classic series wouldn’t fit under our cabinets so we ruled them out. The 750 is a bit quieter but all high performance blenders are pretty loud. We really like the presets the 750 and the 6300 offer but I would agree they are relatively expensive upgrades for the presets. It seems like you are really paying to get the stainless look.

    Our 750 wasn’t impacted by the jar recall but I wouldn’t let that impact anyone’s decision on a 300/750. Vitamix definitely stands behind their products.

    I’m curious if you looked at the Dash Chef series as another alternative? It seems to be getting decent reviews and is only slightly more than the Kitchenaid?

  • Adam Goldfarb

    Is there an equivalent to the Vitamix 5200 at Bed, Bath, and Beyond or Costco? I know they use different item numbers but was just curious…BBB has the 1363 and 1709 Professional Series at $499 but I can’t tell what is different. I know Costco sells their Vitamix for $374…anyone know if any of these are equivalent to the 5200? Thanks.

  • Eric Brewer

    My VERY old Vitamix is finally having problems. Bought it quite used over 25 years ago for $13 (no idea how old it actually is) and it’s been rock-solid reliable ever since! Was thinking of doing a repair on it myself, but maybe it’s time for a new one. The 5200 is still essentially the same machine as mine, though they used to have all metal containers.

  • Aleksi Niiranen

    Last year I bought a Dualit blender with 2 liter can and 1000W engine. I’ve been mostly happy with my purchase. Cleaning it is really easy thanks to removable blades. Although it will leak if you put the seal ring on the can and not the blade part (learned this the hard way).

  • Sean Cotton

    I have the Dash chef series digital blender, and I think it is pretty awesome. I paid $99 for it at Sam’s club, and it is definitely a winner!

  • http://jgheaton.com/ Jeff Heaton

    Has anyone used the Waring Xtreme series? I’ve heard good things at almost $100 less.

    • http://www.wilmark.johnatty.com wilmark johnatty

      Its much less that 100$ cheaper and ITS SUPERIOR TO THE VITAMIX 5200. There are tests showing this, but VItamix devotees leave out the Waring from their comparisons – they compare it to Chinese crap like Ninja.

      • KB

        The slickdeals link I gave below has reports of some Warings exhibiting the same black flake residue problem as with the Vitamix.

  • http://xoxotara.wordpress.com Tara Melissa

    As an FYI, the reconditioned Vitamix 5200 is now selling for $299 + tax.

  • http://enkerli.wordpress.com Enkerli

    After hearing so much about Vitamix blenders, I’m eventually getting to understand what difference they make. Yet, I might not be ready to invest in such a device, at this point.
    Interestingly enough, Canadian models of the Vitamix series have different names. Looks like the “Total Nutrition Centre” is pretty much the same thing as the 5200, but it’s a bit difficult to check.
    Been intrigued by the Oster Versa line, especially the less expensive 1100 series (operating at 1100 watt). Not sure the difference in wattage has disastrous consequences and it actually has presets on top of the manual controls. Plus, blades can go in reverse, which might help in some cases.
    Might end up getting a Versa 1100 for the time being and upgrade to Vitamix after some more kitchen experiments (ricemilk, nutbutter, horchata…).

  • http://victorlombardi.com/ Victor

    I’m not satisfied with my Vitamix. For the price, it should be easier to add ingredients and (the real annoyance) not be so loud. I don’t like being in the same kitchen with the machine on high it’s so loud.

    This Popular Mechanics review is old but very good and the Kitchen Aid comes out on top. I recommended that to my friend and she’s been very happy with hers, for much less money…

    http://www.popularmechanics.com/technology/gadgets/tests/4332328

  • http://perfectsmoothie.com Matt Sedlacek

    We filtered the top 50 most-recommended and most sold blenders on the market to determine what the best blenders were, specifically for making smoothies: http://perfectsmoothie.com/smoothie-blenders

    We also came to the same conclusion that the Vitamix 5200 is the overall best value.

  • KB

    I think people should know that there is a problem being discussed on slickdeals concerning Vitamix containers with blades manufactured in March or June of this year:
    http://slickdeals.net/f/7035600-vitamix-blender-certified-refurbished-246-75-25-shipping-5-year-warranty
    (See the post with the huge red lettering a few down from the top)

    Until this problem is resolved, I won’t be buying one. In fact, I’ve read some good things about the Omega 630, a 3HP blender with a 10-year warranty. Costco.com sells one for a “reasonable” price. I’m a longtime Vitamix user, but our Total Nutrition Center bought about 20 years ago seems to be dying. (The motor overheats often, shutting down for half an hour, while making smoothies.) Time to buy something new, and I had assumed it would be a Vitamix, but now I’m not sure.

    • jj

      Thanks for this, I think I will off for a little while as well. Vitamix is sending new jars to people who have the problem.

  • eslater

    You should mention their recall for those that bought their Vitamix in 2013.
    http://www.cpsc.gov/en/Recalls/2013/Vitamix-Recalls-64-Ounce-Low-Profile-Blender-Container/

    • jj

      The review does: “any of the models from Vitamix’s G line (with the squat 64-ounce
      jars)—make sure you buy one that was manufactured after July 2013.
      Models made before that date were recalled in 2013 because blades in the
      jars kept breaking.”

    • http://thewirecutter.com/ tony kaye

      We do if you read the guide.

  • http://www.wilmark.johnatty.com wilmark johnatty

    You guys conveniently left out the Waring Pro Extreme models – although you said that it didnt get high enough reviews – as of now there are about 120 reviews virtually ALL 4 and 5 star. Vitamix ‘lovers’ are a cult. Why else would you overpay for a tool and then call it “an investment” its NOT, ITS A BLOODY BLENDER. The Waring is more powerful, much cheaper and you can get every part including a stainless steel jug and other smaller jugs at reasonable prices at professional outlets. I have never needed the Tamper.

  • Sean F.

    Would like to ask about this… since Costco now has the Blendtec at $300 vs the Vitamix pushing up on $4-600, is this review still the same? I think the blendtec maybe a better option for the money right now given the similarities for the vitamix lines and the Costco Pricing.