When warm weather comes around, you need the best frozen drinks to while away the hot afternoons.
Unless you plan on visiting a Sonic drive-in every day for their delicious nugget ice frozen drinks, the best option is to make your own at home.
For that, you need a good quality blender that can handle ice and frozen fruits without breaking a sweat, or a blade.
But with a zillion blenders on the market, how do you choose the best one?
This in-depth buying guide is designed to help steer you to the best blender for your budget, type of drink and other factors that matter to most of us.
So let’s dive in!
What’s Your Budget?
Looking at different blender prices can be a real mind bender.
Most blenders retail between $100 and $300.
But then you come across a blender going for $500 or more and some for more than $1,000.
How can this be?
They are all electric blenders, after all, and they all claim to blend your smoothies equally well.
In fact, if you look at customer reviews, the cheapest blenders do not have the worst reviews. There really is no correlation between price and customer satisfaction.
Some of highly rated brands cost less than $100.
So what causes this disparity? Most importantly, how much should you spend on a blender?
Some blenders cost less not because they are of a lower quality, but because they can only do one or two things.
For instance, a typical $100 blender will only crush frozen fruit and ice. For a lot of people, this is enough.
If you want a good quality blender just to make frozen smoothies, then you need not spend more than $200.
If you want a blender with more functionality and power, though, you’ll have to more money to your budget.
$299-$300 blenders have more power and can produce creamy smooth frozen smoothies. Some can also make spreads and dips.
If you want a blender that is perfect for more than just homemade margaritas, check out the pricey world of premium blenders where brands like Vitamix rule. These $400+ blenders can pulverize almost anything you throw at them – seeds, coffee beans, frozen fruits, veggies, cake batter and so on.
They can prepare bread dough, make nut butter and even prepare hot soup right in the blender. These blenders are not just versatile; they are also incredibly powerful.
You are the one to decide what price range will meet your needs.
Want a blender just for blending ice and drinks? Get a simple $100 or $200 model.
Want a blender that goes from crushing ice to grinding your coffee? A $400+ blender will give you your money’s value.
When it comes to blenders, there are several mainstay brands that we’ve come to trust.
Names like Magic Bullet, Oster, SharkNinja and Vitamix are known for their quality blenders.
In choosing our top picks, we included a selection of the best and most trusted blender brands. With these brands, you are assured of quality and value for your money.
Best Budget Blenders (<$100)
Oster Reverse Crush Blender – Best Budget Pick
This blender boasts of a 6-point blade that spins in both directions, which provides a more thorough crushing and frees up the blades if they get jammed.
It is incredibly easy to use thanks to the preprogrammed settings on the blender. With just a press of the button, you can customize your drink. There are seven preprogrammed settings, each setting affecting how fast the blades spin and in which direction.
Speed levels range from low to high pulse. Then there are two other preset buttons for frozen drinks and food chop. Pressing any of these buttons increases speed and causes the blades to automatically alternate between forward and backward spin to ensure a smooth blending.
Whether you are making a frozen smoothie or crushing ice to add to your cocktail, you just have to press a button.
For durability, the blades are made from hardened steel. They can handle frozen fruit and large ice cubes without any problem. The jar is made using tough glass that is dishwasher safe. As for the drive, the part that often breaks down first in most blenders, Oster uses an all-metal system that is backed by a 10-year warranty.
For less than a $100, the Oster Reverse Crush Blender delivers quite a lot. It makes frozen beverages in no time, it can also help you with your dips and salsas, and it’s built to last. If you want a high quality, the multi-functional blender that will not leave your pockets empty, I highly recommend this one.
Ninja Professional Blender (BL660)
The SharkNinja brand is known for their affordable but high quality and high performing kitchen blenders. At 1100 watts, it’s more powerful than the Oster Reverse Crush Blender, but it also costs more.
So what do you get with all that power and for a few more dollars?
Well, for one it crushes ice like a true Ninja. In a few seconds, even the largest chunks of ice are transformed into powdery snow. If you are making a frozen drink or smoothie, it will come out creamy and smooth.
Regarding functionality, the Ninja Professional Blender opts for simplicity over versatility. It has only four settings buttons. These increase the speed from 1 to 3 while the Pulse button gives you more precise control over the blending process.
The Oster Reverse Crush is ahead regarding functionality (thanks to the pre-programmed settings), but if you just want a powerful blender to pulverize ice and make smoothies, the Ninja is good enough. In fact, because it has more power, it is more capable of handling larger ice cubes and frozen fruits. It’s also faster.
The XL capacity jar fits enough smoothie to fill everyone’s glass at the breakfast table. Note that the actual capacity is less than the stated capacity you’ll find in the specifications. While the jar can fill up with 72oz of liquids, its maximum fluid capacity is 64oz. This is still plenty enough for a party of 4-8.
There are also two Nutri Ninja cups each with a 16oz capacity. They come with to-go lids so that you can carry your smoothie on the road. Both the jar and the cups are dishwasher safe and BPA-free.
The only issue mentioned by customers is that the blender is noisy. This is most likely because of the added motor power. Take note if you have young kids or pets around who are scared of loud noises.
Ninja Master Prep (QB1004)
For around 50 bucks, the Ninja Master Prep is another low-cost delight that is perfect for those who want a simple but quality frozen drink blender.
Even if you just wanted a drinks blender, maybe you can still find the use of the other two functions of the Ninja Master Prep: food processing and chopping.
To fit its 3-in-1 functionality, the blender comes with three jars. Each of the jars can be fitted onto the 450-watt power pod. The 48oz pitcher is for blending smoothies and other frozen drinks; the 40oz jar is for food processing while the smaller 16oz pitcher is for chopping, mincing, dicing and pureeing whatever you put in it.
All the jars have lids so you can safely store any leftovers for later. They are also BPA-free and dishwasher safe.
What I love most about the blender is the versatility it provides at such a low price. I can prepare my vegetable smoothie in the morning, make a delicious beetroot dip for lunch, fix everyone a cup of frozen fruit smoothie in the afternoon and chop up my vegetables when cooking dinner.
That’s not to mean there are no limitations. For one, the motor is only 450 watts. That is a far cry from the 1100 watts of the Ninja Professional and 1000 watts of the Oster Reverse Crush. The blades may not be able to crush your ice and frozen fruits as smoothly as a more powerful blender would.
The jars are also not built very strongly. I recommend sticking to fruit smoothies, veggies, and other soft foods. It can do some decent coffee grinding, but the jar will most likely start cracking. With just one year of warranty, I also wouldn’t be too confident about the blender’s durability.
If you want a cheap blender that will make you decent smoothies and also chop your dinner ingredients while at it, I recommend the Ninja Master Prep.
Best Midrange Blenders ($100-$400)
Clean Blend 3HP 1800-Watt Commercial Blender – Best Midrange Pick
In the budget blenders category, we were talking about mixers that have a power rating of so and so watts. In this category, we stop talking about watts and start rating blenders regarding horsepower or HP. This is the same unit used to denote the power of car engines.
So for a couple or so hundred dollars more, you get powerful blenders that can handle anything you throw at them from coffee beans to smoothies. One such blender is the Cleanblend 3HP Commercial Blender.
They call it a commercial blender, but it’s not overly powerful or too expensive that you can’t use it at home. It’s perfect if you want a powerful blender but a Vitamix seems too pricey.
Let’s start with the power. With a 3HP motor, the blades can pulverize anything within no time. Smoothies come out smooth and creamy. Ice cubes are crushed into snow and vegetables are chopped up correctly. You can even make nut butter by grinding nuts.
The blade system consists of three stainless steel blades mounted on a sturdy stainless steel (rather than plastic) bearing. This adds more power to the blades and ensures longevity.
To make sure your smoothies are perfectly creamy, the blender has something called a tamper wand. As you blend, it breaks up bubbles trapped within your smoothie. This ensures your smoothie doesn’t come out lumpy.
The BPA-free jar has a capacity of 64oz. It’s extra hardy design ensures it lasts for years without a single crack.
The blender is easy to use. The main component is the variable speed knob. While the blender is running, you can change the speed without having to stop the blender first. On the right side, a pulse button gives you more precise control of the blades.
With a 5-year warranty, I am confident that you are going to be using this blender for several years.
Oster VERSA Pro 1400Watt Blender
I’ve always wanted to whip up interesting recipes using a blender. Healthy and delicious as they may be, smoothies can get a tad boring after a while. If you also want to step up your blending game, you are in luck because modern blenders offer much more versatility. You can create a wider range of recipes including ice cream, margaritas, and soups.
You are even luckier because the Oster VERSA Pro comes with two full-color cookbooks to help you get started. So when you want a change of pace, flip through the several recipes provided. They include easy recipes for soups, smoothies, spreads and even baby food. They are a nice addition to the several margarita recipes I’ve already collected.
The 1400 watt motor is not as strong as that of the Cleanblend but still brawny enough to spin the blades at over 250mph. At this blistering speed, nothing is spared. You can forget about chunky smoothies. The Oster Versa Pro produces creamy smooth goodness.
To make sure your blender does not wimp out after just a few months, it features a durable all-metal drive. The base is sturdily designed to keep the blender from shaking or tipping over during blending.
The 64-ounce plastic jar is designed to withstand years of use without cracking. The plastic is BPA-free and dishwasher safe. If you are still worried about durability, the blender comes with a 7-year warranty, much longer than most blenders offer.
Using the Oster Versa Pro is easy. It has three preprogrammed settings for smoothies, soups and dips or spreads. So you just need to put in the ingredients and press the right button to get the magic going. There are plenty of awesome recipes in the cookbooks to inspire your blender culinary pursuits.
When it comes to making soups, the blender has another amazing feature. When you press the soup setting, the blades spin 28,000 times per minute. This is fast enough to generate a significant amount of friction which in turn produces a whole lot of heat, enough to get your soup steaming hot.
So there is no need to transfer the soup to a stove after blending it. Serve it hot straight from the blender.
The Vitamix 5200 (reviewed below) is almost double the price of the Oster Versa Pro. But the two are almost similar in functionality and versatility. If you want a super blender that doesn’t blow the bank, I’d seriously recommend the Oster. The warranty is good, the price is good, and customer reviews are full of praise.
Best Premium Blenders ($400+)
Vitamix 5200 – Top Premium Pick
If you want a blending beast and you don’t mind paying more, much more, for it then the Vitamix 5200 is for you. For double and triple what most blenders cost, the Vitamix 5200 promises to make all of your culinary dreams come true.
It can do the basics; blend smoothies, make purees and pulverize up your veggies into a frothy treat. It can also do much more like mix your dough, make ice cream, make hot soup and grind nuts into butter.
With a peak power of 2HP, it’s no wonder the Vitamix 5200 can make almost anything. This is why the blender can heat your soups by making the blades spin so fast that the friction produces a lot of heat.
With such power and speed comes the need for durability. Too many blenders boast of power but then fall apart within a few months. The Vitamix brand is known for extreme durability. Many customers had their Vitamix blenders for five years and others for over a decade before they saw the need to upgrade to the newer 5200 model.
Backed up by a 7-year warranty, you can expect the Vitamix 5200 to last for at least that long. With proper use and care, it could last even longer.
Their longevity is one of the reasons why I don’t think the Vitamix blenders are overpriced. For one, they provide more versatility than almost any other blender. What can another blender make baby food, nut butter, cake batter, dough, smoothies, hot soups, salsas and dips, frozen drinks, cooking ingredients and so much more? The more proper question to ask is what can’t it make?
Secondly, the blender is incredibly powerful. It can handle anything including smoothies, large and small ice cubes, leafy vegetables, frozen fruits, and nuts. The sharp fast-spinning blades can pulverize everything down to the tiny seeds so that everything comes out exactly how you want.
Third, these machines are built to last. You’ll spend almost $500 buying the Vitamix 5200, but you can be sure that you won’t have to buy any other for the next 7 to 10 years or more. Within that period, you would have most likely cycled through three or four cheap blenders.
The Vitamix 5200 has all the features you need to make your experience smooth. It has variable speed, which you can change at any time without stopping the blades. There is a high-speed pulse button to give you more precise control, and the 64-ounce jar is easy to attach and detach from the base.
If you are still not sure, see what customers have to say.
Blendtec Pro 800 with WildSide Jar (Quietest Blender)
With a list price of slightly over $1,000, the Blendtec Pro is not your usual blender both in price and features. It stands out with its high-tech features and surprisingly low noise level. For instance, while the premium Vitamix 5200 has clunky buttons and an old school dial, the Blendtec uses a touch interface.
Let’s start with the power. The motor inside the base has a peak power rating of 3.8HP. That’s more than the Vitamix 5200 and even the Cleanblend commercial drinks blender. With such an immensely powerful motor, the blender can pulverize everything you put in it.
Vegetable smoothies, which often come out stringy, are super smooth. Fruit smoothies, which in other blenders may feel chunky, are deliciously creamy.
But despite the industrial-level power, the blender produces conversation-level noise. It’s not the rattling and shaking monstrosity you would expect. A lot of technology has gone into making the Blendtec Pro 800 so quiet, and I suspect that’s primarily why it is so expensive.
All that sound produced by the powerful motor is dampened using various innovative features built into the base. The housing is tightly sealed to keep the noise from disrupting kitchen conversations. So you can normally talk while whipping up a morning strawberry banana smoothie.
In fact, it is quieter than other less powerful smoothie and margarita blenders.
When it comes to using the blender, there is a lot to wow over. I especially love the sleek touch interface. There are no buttons to press or dials to rotate. Just touch a virtual button to choose your preferred setting. A touch slider allows you to cycle through 11-speed levels and there is also a pulse button for high-speed bursts.
Using the preprogrammed settings you can make different recipes including margaritas, smoothies, hot soups, dips and ice cream.
With a warranty of 10 years, you can spend your money confident that the Blendtec Pro 800 will serve you well for a long, long time.
To be honest, the Blendtec Pro is a bit much for most people who just want a nice delicious smoothie. But if you have a thing for fancy, high-tech tools that perform as highly as they cost, then the Blendtec Pro is perfect for you. See what other customer have to say about it.