There are many different types of blenders to choose from. They have also considerably improved in the past few years. Consumers nowadays are really spoilt for choice.
The initial thing to consider is whether you want a jug model, or an immersion (aka handheld) model. Jug-blenders, as the name suggests, have a jug attachment that connects to a motor unit. There is a blade at the bottom that spins when the appliance is turned on, which allows it to blend and chop food. Most jug-blenders hold around 1-1.5 litres and can be made of either glass or plastic. Glass is the sturdier of the two – but the plastic options are lighter.
Alternatively, if you will mostly be doing very quick blending and chopping, and less smoothie-making, you might do better with handheld immersion models, which you dip directly into a bowl of ingredients. They are less faff and excellent for making soups, as you don’t have to pour a bowl of hot liquid into a jug and out again. You can get hand blenders with a range of different attachments, such as a whisk – they make good all-rounders.
With jug-blenders, you will find different varieties for different needs. There are the high-performance models – these are the most expensive options, with highly powerful motors and fast blades. They will blend almost anything – even hard things like ice and nuts. Then there are the conventional models which are slightly less expensive – these are your standard smoothie and milkshake makers. Finally there are personal blenders – these are very popular with health and fitness fanatics – they are a new typ that allow you to make small smoothie and shake portions and take them with you on the go, doubling up as a travel cup.
Choose your blender based on what you intend to use it for. If you cook and eat a lot of veg, it would be beneficial to seek out an option that has a ‘chop’ setting as well as a ‘blend’ setting, so it’s useful for both. If you’re planning on only using it to make smoothies and milkshakes, you should make sure the appliance has a nice sturdy base that won’t go flying when the power’s on. A useful feature to look for is a lid that has a hole in the top, so you can add extra ingredients as you go without needing to take the lid off.
There are lots of different aesthetic styles out there, so it’s easy to find one that will match the look and feel of your kitchen – whether it’s steel, cream, colourful, retro or traditional. Bear in mind how much space you have and whether the appliance will fit comfortably on your countertop (or wherever you plan to store it).
Blenders can be very small, for one person, or much larger. Consider your family size when deciding which option is right for you. If you’ll be serving the whole family, you might want a large capacity or even an immersion model. Chefs should certainly opt for a large capacity version, as you will save both time and energy. The smaller options tend to be less expensive – although that doesn’t always apply, as it does also depend on the number of fancy features that the appliance has. Usually, they will hold anywhere between 0.5-2 litres.
Blades are incredibly sharp and incredibly fast. More often than not, manufacturers make it so that the blade base is removable for easy cleaning. Look out for this in your purchase, as it will make things a whole lot easier. The blades to look for are made from stainless steel for greater durability and to stop them rusting. If you use a dishwasher, look out for options that are labelled as dishwasher-safe.
Some are more powerful than others. Some will liquify almost anything, whereas another blender might struggle with anything tougher than frozen fruit. Ice and tough vegetables in particular can cause problems with the less powerful blenders, so if you are going to be using it for crushing ice, for example, then you might want to go with something more powerful.
Wattages tend to range between 200-2000W, so the difference can be quite significant. But not everyone needs super-duper powerful blenders – and don’t assume that because it has a higher wattage it is necessarily lots better. If you want a standard blender that will make you a nice smoothie, then you don’t really need to go higher than 500-700W. Above 700 is very powerful, best for grinding things down really small – they can be used for things like grinding coffee beans, ice and nuts as well as all the usual ingredients. A higher powered option is quite good if you want to make baby food out of tougher vegetables, such as carrots and potatoes.
The basic settings you might find on blenders are as follows:
Puree is best for things like soup, whereas for a smoothie you would choose the liquefy setting. Mix is great for combining ingredients, for example with a salad. It is all fairly self explanatory.
With conventional blenders (less so with personal ones) there are usually two speed settings at least, or different settings for different ingredients. Do some research to ascertain which settings are important to you.
A standard blender operates at around 88 dB (decibels), and they can be quite noisy. If you’re looking for a quieter option that isn’t going to wake up the whole house if you start blending early in the morning, you should opt for one that is sound-optimised, like this Bosch model, or keep an eye out for blenders with a low dB count, closer to 68 or 78. For context, a 88 dB model would be twice as loud as a 78 dB one.