I will crush you. BTW, can you give me some tips on how best to do that?
September 3, 2009 3:55 PM   Subscribe

Should I buy a monstrously powerful ice-crushing carrot-liquifying nut-pulverizing fruit-vaporizing circuit-breaker-throwing uber-blender? Why? And which one?

I have a decent blender (KitchenAid). I've been using it a lot lately, making smoothies and soups and such, including things with ice, veggies, greens, nuts, etc. It does an okay job. Texture and processing speed seem to leave room for improvement.

There is another tier of blenders out there, things like BlendTec and Vita-Mix, that reputedly can reduce anything to a smooth and creamy consistency in seconds. So should I upgrade? If you have one of these things, what does it deliver that my merely-decent blender doesn't? Smoother texture (no graininess from veggies and nuts)? Anything else? Convince me to switch!

If I do upgrade, which brand and model should I get? Is it just BlendTec and Vita-Mix out there, or are there others? Is one noticeably quieter than the other? Or better/worse otherwise? Particular model to get? Where to buy?
posted by madmethods to Home & Garden (26 answers total) 13 users marked this as a favorite
More powerful blenders can make quick work of ice and other frozen items, I've noticed. Useful if you freeze berries that you want to use in smoothies, for example.
posted by dfriedman at 3:56 PM on September 3, 2009

Just something else to look at, mixies might be a bit less expensive.
posted by dilettante at 4:00 PM on September 3, 2009

Old school Vita-mix.
posted by StickyCarpet at 4:31 PM on September 3, 2009

The Vita-mix gimmick is that it's best models use a specially designed motor that can do an instant reverse at high speed, which really mixes things up.
posted by StickyCarpet at 4:33 PM on September 3, 2009

BlendTec and Vita-Mix are the high end, pretty much. Consumer Reports likes the Vita-Mix 5000 over the BlendTec TB-611, for what it's worth.
posted by jedicus at 4:36 PM on September 3, 2009

A friend of mine had a Vitamix and upgraded to the Blendtec (I think his is a commercial model). They're fantastic machines. He bought his on eBay, used.

The major difference is that the Vitamix comes with a plunger thing to push the ingredients down into the blades. The Blendtec doesn't need it--it's powerful enough to bring the ingredients down itself.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 4:49 PM on September 3, 2009

Oh, and the Blendtec liquifies pretty much everything--greens, nuts, fruits, veggies, you name it. The Vitamix left things a tad grainy and sometimes partial pieces of greens would remain--nothing substantial but you notices it when drinking.

There was a guy on youtube last year who blended a Vitamix in a Blendtec to prove the power difference. He was a distributor in California.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 4:51 PM on September 3, 2009 [3 favorites]


Because you will be tempted to buy a high-end one like something employed by an industrial cider mill. The lights will dim when you activate it and it will be capable of juicing gravel given the opportunity. You will feel the need to make full use of such a fine machine so you will keep it out on your kitchen workspace where it will contribute to clutter. Greatly. You will try out all the strange attachments a work your way though the supplied recipe book. You will make smoothies for your friends from carrot, apple and pomegranate and they will tell you how delicious they are. Politely. At once stage you will even be tempted to try something with wheat-grass juice; you will retch a little but it may take several goes until you realize the gods are laughing at you. You will seek out websites and books which talk about smoothies and juicing. At some stage you will come across a link to an article on juicing at quackwatch - but you will not think they are talking about you. At this stage you will still be convincing yourself that the thing is easy to clean up afterwards. Then one day you will be in a real hurry and you will decide to just eat the damn apple/carrot/celery stick and be surprised how much you like the taste and texture - or you will just buy a ready made smoothie from somewhere and be surprised how much you like the lack or hassle, the taste and the price. The dream will be broken and the juicer will be retired to the back of a cupboard. It will take up a lot of space there and your heart will sink a little each time you catch a glimpse of it.
posted by rongorongo at 4:58 PM on September 3, 2009 [33 favorites]

I have a Vita-Mix and love it. The love is magnified because I didn't have to pay for it, though.
posted by pmbuko at 5:53 PM on September 3, 2009

I found this consumersearch article on blenders to be pretty helpful. I chose the measly little Oster Beehive blender, but they talk about the Vita-Mix and Blendtec monster blenders as well.
posted by orme at 6:08 PM on September 3, 2009

I have a BlendTec that I paid for, therefor I love it deeply. But seriously, it is one of the few purchases I have made where I feel like I'm able to cross the item off any future purchase list. And that is a wonderful feeling. Most things like this you end up re-buying a half-dozen times in your life… things like humidifiers, air conditioners, vacuum cleaners. My "crossed-off" list has maybe ten items on it. My Les Paul Custom is on that list, to give you an idea of how seriously I take it.

The BlendTec "Total Blender" (the TB-611 mentioned above) is simply more blender then you will likely ever need, which means it does the kinds of things you really need very, very well. Ice? The BlendTec laughs at ice. Fruits & Vegetables? The BlendTec scoffs at biological matter—it is unworthy of its blades. I realize I probably sound like I'm BlendTec's PR-man, I don't care. It's not magic, their claims aren't a scam. They have simply over-engineered the fuck out of the thing, which is why they're so damned expensive. If it makes you feel better you can think about how much you're saving by adding up all the times you won't be buying another blender.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 6:12 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

Love my Vitamix. The dry blade can make flour, and therefore homemade bread, mmmm.
posted by Melismata at 6:45 PM on September 3, 2009

I have a perfectly serviceable blender from Target, does the job, but I wish they still made them with a heavy glass jar instead of plastic. I would buy a high-end one for that alone.
posted by nax at 6:51 PM on September 3, 2009

I'll shout out the middle option: a Waring Bar Blender (there are several varieties, you can get a stainless steel pitcher but the glass ones are super sturdy).

At about $100 it's a little more than one of the $30 plastic ones you get at target, but the motor is way more powerful and mine has always gotten the job done. You don't get the one-touch-smoothie convenience of a $500 blender but you can be sure that you won't have to replace it in a year when the motor blows out or the gasket starts leaking.
posted by rxrfrx at 7:10 PM on September 3, 2009 [1 favorite]

I have a breville blender, it's not top-end but more of a mid-end. It works well on nuts. A cheapo blender I had before got its blades bent when trying to blend nuts. All in all Breville is a very nice blender, looks very neat, well built, it's shaped like a mixing bowl on the bottom and two of the blades rotate along the curve very near to the bottom surface so that there's no space under them where chunks can get stuck. It's quieter than cheaper blender I had and the cap is easier to put on and take off.
posted by rainy at 7:12 PM on September 3, 2009

How about a gasoline powered blender? You get drinks while the power is out, and it should have alot of power.
posted by Marky at 7:20 PM on September 3, 2009

I have a BlendTec (from back before WillItBlend). It can take anything (and it is also wonderfully easy to clean). It was pricey, but I will, quite literally, never need another blender.

Coke-chicken, make it happen!
posted by milqman at 7:46 PM on September 3, 2009

I have some kind of scary-ass industrio-blender. When I flick the switch, the lights dim and my neighbors complain.

The downside: it has two speeds - on and off.

The upside: I haven't found anything that even strains it.

Mostly it's what you want to do with it. I mostly make smoothies and protein shakes with it. So I'm not interested in 18 different speeds, but I like the ability to smash the heck out of any solids I toss in it (like -14 degree ice).
posted by krisak at 8:04 PM on September 3, 2009

We love our BlendTec 3 horsepower blender. It makes delicious shakes, smoothies, ice cream, soup and everything else you can possibly imagine. In fact, we use it instead of a food processor pretty regularly.

We have yet to meet anything it won't blend, including tons and tons of ice and nuts and other difficult things. In fact, that's the whole idea of this series.
posted by WidgetAlley at 5:29 AM on September 4, 2009

Vitamix, vitamix, vitamix. It *is* worth the money. If mine broke down tomorrow, I would buy another immediately. Especially for juicing. My friend has a Champion juicer and the ease of juicing and quality of juice from my Vitamix blows the Champion away. For smoothies, nothing better. For any task requiring a food processor or blender, nothing better. Seriously.
posted by hecho de la basura at 6:28 AM on September 4, 2009


If you're going for carrot juice, such as you might purchase in a bottle that says "Odwalla", buy a juicer. Juicers remove a portion of the pulp/fiber, and the texture is very different than either blenderized carrots or blenderized carrots with water.
posted by yohko at 9:39 AM on September 4, 2009

One of the best things about my vitamix (and I'm guessing this is true for blendtecs as well) is that you don't have to take them apart to clean them. In fact, vitamix discourages disassembling the containers. It is a breeze to clean (just add hot water to the container with a bit of dish soap and turn the power back on for a minute, and then rinse).

I haven't ever used a blendtec, so I can't tell you which one is better. I know that vitamix users have a sense of community; vitamix sends out enewsletters that contain lots of good recipes for very healthful and delicious things, offer sales to existing customers and their customer service is *excellent*. Because of those reasons, I would probably shop vitamix before I looked at blendtec, but ymmv.

Unless you are planning to provide smoothies for dozens of people a day for years to come, there is no reason to purchase a super top of the line vitamix model. You can buy from the vitamix website, but our local Costco has a vitamix kiosk set up several times a year with live demonstrations and such, and I think it is somewhat cheaper to buy from that demo guy than from the website. (It might not be that much of a savings, though, and with the online shop you get the cookbook and dvd and I'm not certain you do with the demo guy)
posted by Brody's chum at 10:48 AM on September 4, 2009

My dad has a Vita-Mix, and I have a KitchenAid blender. His blender is amazing, and it can do all the things the ads say it can do. He used to make margaritas by just throwing whole limes into it with some tequila, ice, and triple sec. He can turn anything into juice (whole carrots, apples, whatever), and the KitchenAid can't do that without having a fair amount of liquid already in there, and with things already cut into small pieces.

If those features are things you would want/need/use, then you should go for it! For me, I just use my KitchenAid for making smoothies and milkshakes, and occassionally pureeing soups, so it's perfectly sufficient.
posted by booknerd at 10:48 AM on September 4, 2009

If all else fails you can always recreate the TopGear V8 juicer. I think they mated around 400 horsepower to a gearbox and transferred it to the blender.

As I recall it started smoking and blew up so it stills needs some work but I think they proved out the concept.
posted by fingerbang at 11:19 AM on September 4, 2009 [1 favorite]

I mentioned the thread to my Blendtec owning friend and he says that for people who say their Vitamix will take anything, try the chocolate tart he suggested here. He says that blew the motor on this Vitamix repeatedly (you put it in the freezer for 20 minutes to revamp the motor) but the Blendtec can handle it.

And I've had that tart. It's fantastic.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 1:29 PM on September 4, 2009

I love my Waring Pro Blender. It does great things with ice and fruit and minimal liquids. It does hummus and pesto. This is really all I need it for so..I will say that it makes my life better and I couldn't justify spending more than the $100 I spent on it.
posted by eleanna at 2:45 PM on September 4, 2009

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