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Personal Blenders

“Personal blenders” offer promising perks over full-size blenders, such as smaller footprints, lower price tags, and lids that allow them to transition neatly from pitchers to travel cups. So how well do they work?


Published Nov. 1, 2015. Appears in America's Test Kitchen TV Season 17: Refreshing Desserts

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We love our winning full-size blenders, but “personal blenders” offer promising perks, such as smaller footprints, lower price tags, and lids that allow them to transition neatly from pitchers to travel cups. Curious if these conveniences would justify the purchase of a second blender, we gathered nine models with pitchers sized 24 ounces and smaller, priced between about $15 and nearly $100. We evaluated their performance in blending smoothies with hard frozen berries and fibrous kale, whipping up thick chocolate milkshakes, and incorporating fresh herbs into creamy Green Goddess salad dressing. Though these blenders come with as many as 16 pieces of equipment, including superfluous handles and specialty blades, we focused our attention on the pitchers; the blades designed for blending; and the travel lids (with spouts when available), which allow them to seal completely and be flipped open for easy drinking on the go. We rated each machine on its speed and ease of use and evaluated how evenly and completely all of the ingredients were blended together. Finally, we tested the comfort of the drinking lids and the tightness of their seal. Throughout testing, we compared our models to a new copy of one of our favorite full-size blenders.

While two of the models we purchased are designed like traditional blenders—the blade is permanently centered in the bottom of the pitcher, and the pitcher moves directly from the blender base to the countertop—the other seven work differently. To operate them, you screw on a cover fitted with a blade and invert the pitcher onto the blender base so that the blade engages for blending; after blending, you remove the pitcher and flip it back over to remove the cover and screw on a travel lid. None of the models offered variable speeds or settings.

Neither of these designs affected how well the blenders worked, but their performances did vary dramatically. Some consistently whirred hard-frozen and fibrous ingredients into a cohesive blend in less than a minute, while others struggled for several minutes to incorporate chopped herbs into a creamy dressing. Part of that discrepancy came down to the shape and style of the pitchers. Tall, narrow vessels trapped ingredients far from the blades, so they couldn’t incorporate into a smooth, uniform mix—and pausing to shake or stir the contents was fussy. The two U-shaped models were more effective because the pitchers flared gently toward the opening and thus provided more space for the ingredients to circulate. (The only downside to their wider shape: They don’t fit in most standard cup holders.)

Another factor was blade design—specifically the number ...

Everything We Tested

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


Recommended with reservations

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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. We stand behind our winners so much that we even put our seal of approval on them.

Kate Shannon

Kate is a deputy editor for ATK Reviews. She's a culinary school graduate and former line cook and cheesemonger.