A good blender can make all the difference when it comes to making soups, smoothies, milkshakes, sauces and purees. Professional-grade ones, such as Vitamix and Blendtec, move into food processor territory too, managing to chop veg, mill grains, crush ice and heat soup.
Your first decision is whether to go for a jug blender, soup maker, smoothie maker or a smaller bullet blender
If you want a machine for quick and convenient one-portion smoothies and milkshakes, using whole fruit and veg, our advice is to go for a bullet blender as the taps on smoothie makers can easily clog up. Some bullet blenders mill nuts and seeds too.
If, on the other hand, you’re a soup enthusiast, consider a soup maker which enables you to both cook and blend your soup all at the same time, thanks to the heating element on the bottom. That leaves the traditional jug blender, which is far and away your best option if you want a good all-rounder machine for all these things, and more.
Don’t assume you always get what you pay for or that the greater the power, the better the blender. We found some of the cheapest machines and/or with the least power excel at certain tasks that some fancier models struggle with. Instead, start with your needs and match them to the machine, using our guide below.
Consider whether you want a glass (sturdier but heavier) or plastic jug and how easy it is to use. Does it have variable speeds for better blending control? Are there programmes for specific ingredients, such as ice crushing? Are the parts dishwasher friendly? Is the blade easy to cut yourself on or is it well-protected? Do you want extra jugs and blades? And is it lightweight, with cord-storage included, if you need to store it away between uses?
In this round-up, we’ve tested jug blenders across all budgets and brands – creating everything from iced drinks to sauces including pesto, and from butternut squash soup to smoothies with raw foods such as ginger, kale and celery.
1. L’Equip RPM Professional Blender: £249, UK Juicers
If you’re desperate for a Vitaxmix or Blendtec (see number 9 and 7) but if just can’t justify the price tag of a professional-grade blender, this is an affordable alternative, blitzing foods with its eight-pronged blade which draw ingredients into the middle of the machine. Even raw foods like kale don’t pose a challenge and we found it was good with dry ingredients too, milling grains and grinding seeds with the ease it promises. Available in silver or white.
2. Magimix Le Blender: £159.99, Amazon
This classy and compact looking blender comes in a range of colours, and aesthetics aren’t all it’s got going for it, with no unwanted lumps spoiling the smooth finish of your culinary creations – even when it comes to ice, which is often a sticking point for blenders. It’s quiet, easy to keep clean and the new BlendCup – available separately – means you can turn it into a bullet blender. The recipe book is great, but the machine is heavy.
3. Russell Hobbs Creations Jug Blender: £49.99, Argos
The one thing most blenders struggle with making is pesto, but despite the low price tag, this one does it really well, revealing its capabilities when it comes to both wet and dry ingredients. We also found it good for soups and smoothies and even ice. It’s a doddle to set up – including the extra grinder attachment – and the glass jug is built to last. But it’s not the fastest and as you need to wash the blade by hand, be sure to have your marigolds at the ready.
4. Sage The Boss: £299.95, John Lewis
You’ll be hard pushed to make a smoother smoothie, puree or soup (which, by the way, you can reheat afterwards) than with this powerful machine, all thanks to the patented blade and bowl system. The five pre-set programmes and 12 speeds means it’s got most ingredients and recipes covered, although be warned it’s loud. And while it’s not the cheapest of machines, it’s actually fifty quid cheaper than it was a year ago.
5. Philips Avance: £85.42, Amazon
You might need a bit of patience with this one, which isn’t the quickest at blending, but the super-smooth results are worth it and it’s pretty quiet too, as well as being simple to use and good value for money. Philips says it’s the off-centre blade jug that creates the desired consistency – in which case, it’s a damn fine invention.
6. Smeg Retro Style Food Blender: £149.95, John Lewis
With a mammoth seven colours to choose from – including our favourite, the pastel pink – this retro-look compact blender will make an eye-catching addition to your worktop and it’s nice and light too. No need to bore yourself with lengthy instructions as it’s a doddle to use straight from the box and it’s great for everyday smoothie and soups, although we don’t rate it for dryer ingredients or frozen fruits or indeed for being quick.
7. Blendtec 575 Classic: £1000, Amazon
No, you didn’t read the price wrong, but there’s nothing this American industrial-spec machine doesn’t breeze through, which is why many restaurants and smoothie bars also use them. The blades are dull (so no cutting yourself), as well as being far thicker and stronger than most, and are designed to suck the ingredients down, rather than sending them around the jar. It’s easy to clean (one drop of washing-up liquid and press the clean cycle), almost impossible to break and there’s an eight-year warranty (longest in the industry). But it is noisy.
8. Kenwood Blend-X Classic Blender: £101.26, Amazon
Every blender claims to have some magic bullet to super-smooth results and with this one, it’s a multi-layered blade. We found it excelled at everything – including vegetables, nuts and the acid test of crushing ice – and it doesn’t make too much noise in the process. Not the best machine if you’re in a hurry though or if you don’t like cleaning as the parts can’t go in the dishwasher.
9. Vitamix Professional Series 300: £449, Lakeland
The Americans know a thing or two about blending, with this US brand making some of the best known blenders on the planet. This one makes lump-free creations using every ingredient we tried in record time and it’s hugely versatile, with 10 speed settings and a genuinely handy DVD and cookbook, along with a seven-year warranty. While not as loud as previous machines in the range, it could still be quieter.
10. Lakeland Stainless Steel Power Blender: £34.99,
This machine is half price until the end of January, so snap one up if it takes your fancy. The illuminated controls give a smart look and it creates lump-free smoothies and soups in under a minute – very quick for a blender at this price. Removing the jug can be fiddly at first, but you soon get the knack. However, be warned it’s heavy and quite loud.
The Verdict: Jug blenders
L’Equip RPM Professional Blender and Sage’s The Boss both come in at under £300, yet they still have a professional feel and are easily good enough for keen cooks (Sage is quicker; L’Equip excels at raw ingredients). Few people have a grand to throw at a blender, but if you know you’ll use it every day and want fast and faultless results, as well as durability and longevity, Blendtec is an incredible bit of kit. At half the price, the Vitamix is still expensive, but certainly more than half as good. And at the budget end, Russell Hobbs Creations Jug Blender is a bargain for under £50.
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