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The Best Inexpensive Blenders

Our winning midpriced and high-end blenders are excellent—but expensive. Could we get great performance while paying less?

By Published Jan. 15, 2021

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What You Need To Know

If you have a great blender, it’s easy to whip up smoothies, milkshakes, frozen drinks, sauces, dips, and dressings, and you can even grind nut butters from scratch. You toss in the ingredients, push a button or two, and it’s done—at least in theory. While we’ve found excellent midpriced and high-end blenders, which cost about $200 or more, we wanted to find out if we could match their performance while spending less.

Setting a cap of $100, we bought seven models, all priced from about $29 to about $99. (That’s what we paid, but we’ve seen blender prices fluctuate. More on that later.) Their design and features varied, with jars made of plastic or glass, capacities ranging from 4 to 8 cups, and blades that were either permanently attached or removable for cleaning. The controls of the models ranged from simple to complex, with some including timers and programmed settings; one model even cooks. Some blenders had no accessories, while others were equipped with everything from travel cups to a chopping jar to a bag for straining nut milk.

 We put all the models through a battery of tests that we’ve used to evaluate blenders many times, including pureeing raw kale and frozen fruit into smoothies, crushing ice, emulsifying mayonnaise, and grinding almonds into nut butter. We measured noise levels and stain and odor retention. We compared them with our favorite midpriced blender, the Breville Fresh & Furious (about $200), rating their performance as well as how easy they were to operate, handle, and clean.

Where Inexpensive Blenders Fall Short

The best blenders have a powerful motor, sharp blades, and a jar shape that helps ingredients keep moving. Ideally, as the blades whirl, food is drawn to the bottom of the jar, chopped, and spun upward again, moving in a vortex that circulates ingredients until they reach the precise texture you want. 

Our biggest problem? These were not the best blenders. Five of our seven models simply couldn’t keep ingredients moving. They’d start with a roar, but within seconds everything would stop. The blades would be whirling away inside an air pocket. 

Over and over, we had to turn off the power, remove the lid, scrape down the sides of the jar, burst the “bubble” of ingredients, and try again. Everything would move for a few seconds more and then stop as the bubble reformed. Even high-end blenders, such as our test kitchen favorite, the Vitamix 5200, sometimes form these bubbles when processing thick ingredients such as hummus or nut butter, so they include tools called tampers. While the machine is running, you stick the blunt, rod-shaped tamper through the lid opening—by design, ...

Everything We Tested

Good : 3 stars out of 3.Fair : 2 stars out of 3.Poor : 1 stars out of 3.

Highly Recommended

Recommended with reservations

Not Recommended

*All products reviewed by America’s Test Kitchen are independently chosen, researched, and reviewed by our editors. We buy products for testing at retail locations and do not accept unsolicited samples for testing. We list suggested sources for recommended products as a convenience to our readers but do not endorse specific retailers. When you choose to purchase our editorial recommendations from the links we provide, we may earn an affiliate commission. Prices are subject to change.

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The mission of America’s Test Kitchen Reviews is to find the best equipment and ingredients for the home cook through rigorous, hands-on testing.

Lisa McManus

Lisa is an executive editor for ATK Reviews, cohost of Gear Heads on YouTube, and gadget expert on TV's America's Test Kitchen.