By Christine Cyr Clisset and Lesley Stockton
This post was done in partnership with The Sweethome, a buyer’s guide to the best homewares. When readers choose to buy The Sweethome’s independently chosen editorial picks, it may earn affiliate commissions that support its work. Read the full article here.
After researching dozens of blenders, talking with five experts, and testing 20 models over the course of four years, we’re confident that the Oster Versa Performance Blender with Low Profile Jar offers the best value for most people. At roughly $200, it performs as well as blenders that cost twice as much, and it blows cheaper blenders out of the water. With both variable speed and presets for things like soup and smoothies, it has one of the most user-friendly and versatile control panels we’ve seen.
How we picked and tested
Our favorite blenders, from left to right: the Oster Versa, the Vitamix 5200, the KitchenAid 5-Speed, and the Cleanblend. Photo: Michael Hession
A great blender should be able to smoothly process tough things like fibrous kale, frozen berries, and ice without burning out the motor. How efficiently a blender does this depends on a combination of blade length and position, the shape of the mixing jar, and motor strength. All three of these elements combine to create an efficient vortex that will bring food down around the blade. For more on how a vortex is formed, see our full guide.
What separates high- and low-end blenders is that the former are more powerful and process much smoother textures, and they’ll generally last a lot longer than the lower-end, less-powerful ones. The biggest complaint we’ve found about cheap blenders is that their motors burn out easily and their jars crack or start leaking.
When choosing which blenders to test, we considered whether they had tampers, how easy they were to clean, and the material of their jars. To test, we made a green smoothie packed with frozen bananas and berries, kale, and coconut water in each blender. We made mayonnaise to test how each did with emulsification, and mixed raw peanuts into peanut butter to see how well they processed gooey purees. With our finalists, we made rounds of piña coladas to see how well they blended ice into slush.
In 2015, we also processed water for two minutes in each blender to see if any of the jars produced the dreaded black flecks that have fired up the “blend-o-sphere” the past few years. Additionally, we noted how easy or difficult each machine was to clean, how noisy they were, if any of them produced a burning smell while running, if the jars were difficult to attach to the bases, and how easy the interfaces were to use.
Photo: Michael Hession
We don’t think you can beat the value of the Oster Versa Performance Blender with Low Profile Jar. It performs as well as blenders twice the price, making silky smoothies, purees, and blended cocktails. It has one of the best combinations of variable and preset speeds we’ve found, and its controls are more intuitive to use than those on other models we’ve tried. The Oster Versa has a broader range of speeds, and the motor runs more quietly than those of equally priced blenders. It comes with features usually available only in more-expensive machines, like a tamper and overheating protection. And at 17½ inches tall to the top of the jar, it will fit under most cabinets, unlike many high-performance blenders.
The Oster Versa passed almost every test we threw at it, blending nuts into butter (as long as there are about 2 cups to work with), and making a velvety puree. It does struggle to make mayonnaise; we could make an emulsification only once out of four tries. It also didn’t achieve the absolute smoothest textures—it leaves whole raspberry seeds in smoothies and makes a slightly grainy piña colada. But these minor faults will likely not be a big deal for most people.
More powerful but less nuanced speeds
Photo: Michael Hession
We prefer the Oster Versa’s friendlier interface, range of speeds, and shorter jar, but we were also impressed by the equally priced Cleanblend. A relative newcomer on the high-powered blender scene—the company was started in 2013—the Cleanblend has an impressive 3-horsepower motor, and in some of our tests it blended better than the Oster Versa, and even the Vitamix.
The Cleanblend was one of the best at making really smooth smoothies in our tests. There were barely any raspberry seeds left in our fine-mesh sieve; the only blender that did better was the Blendtec. The Cleanblend also came in second, behind the Blendtec, in blending a really smooth piña colada.
But a few of its features (or lack of) bumped it from our number-one slot. The Cleanblend’s jar feels really light compared with the Oster’s, and we could see the jar cracking easily, or cracking over time, though we didn’t have any issues during our tests. We also found that during blending the jar tends to rotate slightly on the motor base. The handle is raw plastic and not that pleasant to grip, unlike the handle on the Oster, which has a smooth rubber handle cover. The Cleanblend’s taller jar makes the blender 2 inches taller, so it’s more difficult to store on the counter under cupboards.
Also great: For avid cooks and perfectionists
Photo: Michael Hession
If you want the best performance you can buy in a home blender, we’d spring for the Vitamix 5200. This has been our overall favorite blender for three years, and it’s the most basic model that Vitamix makes. It consistently performed best in all of our tests. It’s the model recommended to us by multiple experts and the one many pros keep in their own kitchens, and it’s recommended in many editorial reviews.
In our tests, the Vitamix 5200 did not make the absolute smoothest smoothies, but when it came to consistent and graceful performance, the Vitamix won every time. It was the only machine we tested that smoothly blends peanuts into butter. Where other blenders, like the Blendtec, Cleanblend, and even the Oster, spit bits of mayo up the sides of the jar and out the lid’s center hole, the Vitamix kept the mixture smoothly and evenly moving around the base of the blade.
If you just want a basic blender
Photo: Michael Hession
If you’re planning to use a blender just a couple of times a week, or you want a starter machine for making smoothies and purees, we like the KitchenAid 5-Speed Blender. It beat out all the regular blenders in our tests last year, and in a year of long-term testing we’ve found it works fine for rustic smoothies.
To be clear, this is no Oster Versa—and certainly not a Vitamix—but for a fraction of the price it does a decent enough job. The other blenders we tested in this price range were either cheap feeling or very loud, or produced a gross burnt-motor smell while running. We didn’t love the KitchenAid’s hard plastic lid, and the way the jar clips onto the base took some getting used to, but beyond that we have no complaints.
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