The 4 Best Blenders for Smoothies: Full-Sized and Personal Blender Machine Review
One of our editors, who is totally obsessed with superfood smoothies, recently conducted an in-depth investigation of the best full-sized and personal blender machines for making smoothies and other healthy drinks.
He shares his process and honest assessment of the best blenders on the market — and reveals the blender he ultimately settled on.
Superfood Smoothie Obsession
After years of toying with the idea of living a healthier life in a less hectic and more serene environment, my partner and I have finally done it.
We packed up our belongings and moved to a small village on the Atlantic Ocean.
We are enjoying every day of our maritime lifestyle and have used the move as an opportunity to prioritize health and wellness in all areas of our lives.
Living in a small town means less options for dining out and forces us to prepare healthy meals at home.
This has reignited one of my all-time obsessions: making smoothies.
A few years ago someone gave me a smoothie recipe book as a birthday gift. At first, I thought it was one of those gifts that needed to be re-gifted to someone who would appreciate it more.
But, out of appreciation for my friend, I decided to make one smoothie a day for an entire week and, well, became obsessed.
Smoothies are fun and easy to make, taste delicious and have a ton of health benefits.
Fast forward, and this year I decided that the cheap $20 blender I was using was not going to cut it — especially, now that preparing food and drinks at home has become a highlight of our days.
So, I embarked on an in-depth investigation into the best blender for making smoothies.
I encourage you to read the full review to make your own decision, but if you want my top pick and the blender machine I ultimately settled on you can skip to the end of the review.
I found a study that mentioned most people read less than six review articles before settling on a purchase.
In my investigation I’ve thoroughly read through dozens of expert reviews and around 150+ consumer reviews, so hope to spare you some time and energy.
Now, let’s get started.
The Blender Categories
There are so many different types of blenders that, from the start, I needed to cut down on the number of options I researched.
Essentially, there are three main blender categories:
Immersion blenders are hand-held cylindrical devices with open blades that you would mostly use for blending frozen fruit or puréeing soup.
In terms of performance and power, they do not play in the same league as full-sized or personal blenders as they aren’t as effective and convenient for day-to-day smoothie blending at home.
Therefore, I decided to focus my research and this review on the other two categories.
The difference between full-sized and personal blenders comes down to size and purpose.
The personal blender is best suited for quick take-away power shakes and work-out smoothies as the mixing containers conveniently also serve as travel jars.
They are perfect for fitness and workout aficionados or anyone needing a single-serve healthy smoothie on-the-go.
For higher performance blending for more than one person and/or frequent use, the full-sized blender is your machine of choice.
This is a heavy duty piece of equipment which can instantly blend whole pieces of fruit, and reliably crush ice, therefore delivering the silkiest smoothies and shakes.
Best Blender Criteria
My partner sometimes gets a good laugh out of my frugality because I insist on getting the most value out of every dollar I spend.
Since this blender will be one of our most used kitchen appliances, I wanted to make sure it met my quality standards, which include:
it always works as expected (performance)
it offers a high cost-value-ratio (affordability)
it is intuitive and simple to use (ease of use)
it lasts a long time (durability)
Methodology: Corroborating Evidence Through Independent and Unrelated Sources
With these preliminaries out of the way, let's dive into the nitty-gritty of my review.
I spent a considerable amount of time online reading through what felt like endless blender consumer reviews and institutional review articles.
The three types of institutional reviews that I trusted the most were:
Consumer Reports' independent and technical expertise: I purchased and studied their November 2018 test of 82 blender models from the top 10 brands.
Amazon.com’s herd intelligence and the combined wisdom of 10,983 actual users who reviewed the 8 highest-scoring personal and full-sized blenders (the four top blenders selected had an average of 591 reviews all of which consistently featured in the 4.5 – 4.6 out of 5 star range).
The New York Times affiliate publication Wirecutter: I read their independent and expert assessment (and number one ranked article on Google) which reviewed the top 4 blenders in December 2018.
Based on these sources and following the set of criteria laid out above, I came up with my own ranking for the four best full-sized and personal blenders for smoothies as follows.
Top 2 Full-Sized Blenders
1. Vitamix Professional Series 750 Blender, Professional-Grade, 64 oz Low-Profile Container
Vitamix has built some type of a cult following as one of the most trusted and well-known manufacturers of blenders over the past couple of years.
The Vitamix 750 — a 1,650-watt blending powerhouse — is a testament to why this brand’s reputation is more than well-deserved.
Crushing it at the ice-crushing test, the Vitamix 750 delivers the best most silkiest healthy smoothies and icy cocktails (or mocktails for non-drinkers like me).
Its high-powered engine in conjunction with the stainless steel aircraft-grade blades, enables this blender to cut through even the thickest vegetables like butter.
Its super fast blades do not only make creamy, puréed soups, the fast spinning can even heat your soup in the process!
Say, what? I’m also a soup enthusiast and completely geeked out when I saw this. So, ice-cold smoothies? Check. Velvety, beautifully puréed hot soup? Double check.
The blender's versatility is also evident in the 10 different programs you can choose from. However, testers do note that except for the soup program, the difference between the majority of programs was minor, if not indistinguishable.
All of the programs last about the same time (45-60 seconds each) and include a very similar stepped acceleration to reach maximum speed. In this respect, a little more variety would have been an added plus.
A nice touch is the convenient self-cleaning function: warm water and a drop of dish soap and 60 seconds later, your blender is clean again.
Amazon reviewers generously reward the ease of cleaning the Vitamix 750 with 4.8 out of 5 stars.
At 18 inches tall, it is 2 inches smaller than the Vitamix 5200 (see more on this below), but still considered tall.
A word of advice that I had to learn the hard way: take into consideration that for all full-sized blenders you need to check the measurements of your kitchen counter before purchasing as it may not fit.
On a related note regarding container sizes, the Vitamix 750 comes with a large 64 oz pitcher which means you can throw in and chop whole, long and thick veggies like carrots quite easily.
Is that size necessary for making smoothies for just one person? No, definitely not. This size easily serves 3–5 people which is convenient when making healthy, nutrient-rich smoothies for the family or entertaining a large group.
When tested over multiple days for its performance of high-intensity tasks such as ice-crushing, the Vitamix 750 scored very high – meaning it is very likely to last.
I’m a bit sensitive to loud noises, so this was actually a very important feature for me.
High-performance blenders are known for being inconveniently loud, some so much so as to making ear protection in the kitchen necessary.
With 86 dBA at its highest speed, the Vitamix makes quite some noise indeed, but it still is one of the quietest blenders of the entire Vitamix product line.
Compared to blenders from other brands, its noise level falls somewhere in the middle.
2. Vitamix 5200 Blender, Professional-Grade, 64 oz Container
Moving on to our second full-sized blender in the competition: the Vitamix 5200.
Confirming the strength and consistency of the Vitamix product line, the Vitamix 5200 is an extremely strong runner-up.
Some kitchen professionals may even argue it is actually better than the 750 which would explain why it is consistently featured at the very top across different publications.
It certainly is the best Vitamix in the below $500 price range.
Where other blenders' motors start to struggle, this 1,380-watt model powers through a range of tasks – from making delicious icy drinks in just seconds (listen up smoothie amateurs!) to crushing ice with ease and making creamy soups (no chunks, no fuss).
Featuring various speed controls, the Vitamix 5200 does not need program buttons.
Instead a broad spectrum of different speeds can be manually adjusted – a quality that makes it stand out viz-a-viz its more expensive brother (Vitamix 750) as well as other other similarly priced blenders.
The self-cleaning feature here is the same as with the Vitamix 750, a nice and convenient add-on.
With its 20 inch height, the Vitamix 5200 finds itself amongst the taller blenders.
A quick measurement of your under cabinet capacity may be a good idea before buying. As I mentioned about most full-sized blenders: they take up space.
Reviewers appreciate its strong and long-lasting workhorse-like qualities, making it score high in terms of durability.
This is important confirming that Vitamix blenders are very likely to offset the high initial investment by their longevity.
On top of that, Vitamix scores extra points thanks to a strong seven-year warranty on the motor and a one-year warranty on all other parts.
This, too, is not a given: among the personal blenders reviewed below, providing only a one-month (!) return window was not uncommon.
In the noise test, it is similar to the Vitamix 750 and scores average for this element.
Top 2 Personal Blenders
1.Ninja Fit Personal Blender with 700-Watt Base and two 16-Ounce Cups with Spout Lids
This personal blender is a total winner. If you are looking for a fast and efficient appliance to make a single-serve superfood smoothie, this blender will offer great value to you.
At about 1/10 of the cost of a full-sized Vitamix blender, the Ninja is an altogether steal that gets the homemade healthy smoothie-making job done.
The Ninja Personal Blender makes shakes and smoothies of a silky consistency – all in a matter of seconds, with no chunks in your drink.
Its 700-watt motor and razor-sharp blades efficiently grind frozen fruit to liquid, including strawberries and avocados, seemingly without much of an effort.
It also quickly crushes ice into a fine snow-like texture which is perfect for your frozen smoothies.
However, unlike the full-sized Vitamix blenders reviewed above, it is not the type of blender that would allow you to make hot soups or other hot beverages.
The Ninja is very easy to use, particularly because it does not need all of the excess parts that could easily get lost or become broken.
Plus, the 5-step picture-based explanation on how to use it makes it rather dummy-proof.
The one downside to note is, unlike full-sized blenders that allow you to press one button go check your mailbox and come back again with your smoothie ready, you will need to press and hold the Ninja button down until the smoothie is finished.
What is nice about the cups is that you use them to blend your smoothie and then if desired you can immediately drink out of them, too, which means less dirty dishes.
You can easily hand wash them with hot water and soap, but the cups are also dishwasher safe making clean up quick and convenient.
In terms of dimensions, the typical advantage of personal blenders over full-sized blenders is that they are significantly smaller in size, which makes finding a spot for them in the kitchen easier.
With any blender however, you always want to quickly check out and compare measurements before purchase.
The two 16 oz. plastic cups seem sturdy, but are rather small. Again, this personal blender is good for one person, so if you want to serve a family you will have to run the blender multiple times.
In terms of durability, out of 487 Amazon reviews the Ninja got a 4.6 out of 5 stars score, with reviewers reporting that they got their money's worth as the blender apparently lasted for years.
Like many personal blenders, the Ninja is both powerful and quite noisy.
2. Ninja BL455 Nutri Professional Personal Blender with 3-Sip and Seal Single Serve Cups, Stainless Steel or Black
The Ninja BL455 stands out for its powerful blending performance, its easy handling even for smoothie newbies and the convenience of its efficient and quick in-and-out use.
This blender is for you when you want to make single servings of healthy smoothies and quick shakes out of whole foods. You can also blend and purée veggies and fruit with ease to support you efficiently on your weight loss journey or health-conscious diet in general.
If you compare it to full-sized high-performance blenders such as the Vitamix, the blending results are good, but probably not as silky and smooth, especially when using large amounts of veggies and fruits.
For a budget personal blender you do get a lot of value. Yet, when comparing this to its more affordable little brother (the 700-watt Ninja model), it isn’t immediately clear what justifies the 50% higher price point.
The Ninja BL455 features a powerful1,000-watt motor that cuts through raw vegetables, nuts and fruits as if they were paper.
Whether preparing baby food or smoothies, it turns everything into nice and smooth textures, with no unblended leftover chunks.
It also chops through frozen fruit as well as ice effortlessly, making ice smoothies in a matter of seconds.
Amazon reviewers award it an exceptional 4.9 out of 5 stars in this category. Especially for newcomers to the healthy smoothie and superfood shake community, this blender is straightforward and unintimidating.
You literally feel like a blending ninja (pun intended) after a few tries already.
The cups and blades are dishwasher-safe, but it may just be as easy to rinse them out with soap and water.
Similar to the 700-watt Ninja model above, with this blender you also have to continuously hold the cup down while blending.
In terms of versatility, different options for adjusting speed would have allowed for more nuanced uses and justified the extra cost. This is a little bit of a missed opportunity.
The BL455 blender comes with three cups (one more than the Ninja model above) of different sizes: 12 oz., 14 oz. and 18 oz.
The 12 oz. and the 14 oz. cups are rather small and should be used for a single person while the 18 oz. may be just enough for two people.
Note that the window for returns is surprisingly short (1 month only) which left several reviewers on Amazon dissatisfied when they experienced issues with their product.
Questions were also raised as to whether the manufacturer could be depended on to continue supplying replacement cups and blades in the future.
Expect this blender to be on the louder end of the spectrum as reviewers felt it was exceptionally noisy.
Considering the short time needed only to blend a smoothie (15-30 seconds), the noise seemed bearable.
Best Blenders Conclusion
The four blenders I reviewed all scored very high on Amazon, with the two Vitamix blenders on top of that consistently scoring high across a range of other independent expert sources.
For both brands of blenders tested — Vitamix for full-sized and Ninja for personal — they each own their categories, so it really comes down to what you intend to use them for.
These two brands cater to different needs, with the full-sized Vitamix blenders standing out for performance and durability while the Ninja personal blenders are more affordable, smaller and best-suited for single-servings.
Vitamix scores much higher in terms of its warranties, return policies and customer service than Ninja. At the same time, the Ninja personal blenders cost a mere fraction of the cost of the professional full-sized Vitamix blenders.
In a nutshell, for the budget-conscious, the smoothie newbie or the frequently on-the-go, a small affordably priced personal blender from Ninja may be a good fit — with the Ninja 700-watt being the best in terms of cost for value.
For anyone who spends more time in their kitchen, values a reliable, high-end appliance that lasts for years and expects to use their blender machine either frequently or for many people, the more professional Vitamix blender is the best bet.
Personally, as part of my commitment to self-care, I felt it was worth to splurge within reason: I opted for the Vitamix 5200.
Blending my own fresh and 100% natural superfood smoothies really has become one of my simple everyday pleasures.
It makes me feel good about my health and is something I look forward to almost every day — and that should always be worth the investment.