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We could be coy and write approximately 600 words about rigorously testing 20 blenders in order to determine once and for all who makes the best blender. But we’ll spare you. It’s Vitamix. You know it, we know it, reviewers at Wirecutter, Consumer Reports, and Epicurious know it, and Vitamix and all its competitors know it. We use Vitamixes here at Bon Appétit, and they are the industry standard in professional kitchens.
Thanks to their powerful motors and sharp blades, they make the absolute creamiest soups and silkiest purées. They will liquify greens so you can *almost* forget there’s kale in your smoothie. And those coarse foods that a regular blender can’t handle? A Vitamix makes easy work out of grinding nuts for nut milk, crushing chickpeas into hummus, or even turning rice into rice flour.
How much will the ne plus ultra of blenders cost you?
All this does not come cheap! The Vitamix model used in the BA Test Kitchen, the 5200, clocks in at $458. And while the smaller E310 Explorian is similar to the 5200 and, at $350, less expensive, we’re still talking about an “investment piece” price point. (It should be noted that the 5200 and the E310 come with 7- and 5-year included warranties, respectively, so you can rest assured that Vitamix stands by its products.) Vitamix also sells “certified reconditioned” blenders with 3- or 5-year free warranties; not only do these used machines come at a reduced price, but since you’re not buying new they have a smaller environmental footprint too.
Vitamix 5200 Standard Blender
Vitamix E310 Explorian Blender
So the question is not which blender is best, it’s—
Do YOU need the best blender?
A Vitamix blender might be the most versatile, but if you’re the type of cook who breaks out your blender only once in a while and for relatively straightforward tasks like smoothies or salad dressings, it might not be worth it for you. Whether you’re in the market for your first blender or thinking about upgrading your current machine, ask yourself the following questions:
Do you often find yourself not making a recipe because it calls for a blender, or, if you already have a blender, being disappointed by the results?
If you have a blender, are you using it every day? If you don’t have one yet, do you expect to use it almost daily? Do you know no other breakfast than a morning smoothie?
And in addition to those daily smoothies, can you see yourself using a blender for a wide range of other uses, from making almond flour to crushing ice for frozen drinks?
Are you a texture perfectionist? Is a rogue lump in your butternut squash soup most unwelcome?
If you answered “Yes! Yes! A thousand yeses!,” you may want to start saving up for a Vitamix.
And if not…
If you only dabble in blending, opt for a solid consumer-quality machine like the $130 KitchenAid 5-Speed Blender with 56-Ounce Pitcher.
Or, if you’re short on storage space, consider an immersion blender like the $100 All-Clad 600-Watt Immersion Blender. While it will never be as fast or thorough as a traditional blender, it’s fine for small jobs like making salsa, liquifying a can of whole tomatoes, whipping up single-serving smoothies or milkshakes, or puréeing re-hydrated chiles. And when it comes to hot soups, immersion blenders are actually the more convenient choice: Instead of ladling the hot soup into a blender bowl, you can stick the immersion blender right in the pot, hassle-free.
Time for soup?
Name a better activity for an autumnal, sweater-weather Sunday than simmering a cozy soup. (Oh, and apple-picking doesn’t count.) When cooked from dry, chickpeas are way more tender than their canned counterparts—and, despite what you’ve been told, they don’t even need to be soaked. We cook them straight from the bag, then harness the flavor of their cooking liquid to make the base for a creamy, bean-studded soup. A small amount of ham—in the form of a smoked hock—goes a long way here. You won’t get a lot of meat off that bone; its major contribution is saltiness, smokiness, and a silky, rich texture. If you don’t have or can’t find a ham hock, use a few ounces of slab bacon instead.