Whizz the day away by investing in a quality blender to make light work of soups, smoothies and other puréed treats. Discover our pick of the best, from budget models to cheffy statement kit.
The only way to get perfectly silky soups or smoothies is to turn to electronic kit, and there’s no easier way of doing it than by sticking your ingredients into a stand blender. Better still, lots of modern models have specific smoothie and soup settings. Moreover, blenders can be used for more general kitchen tasks, like making sauces such as mayonnaise and pesto, or batters for pancakes and Yorkshire pudding that need to be pulsed until smooth. While you’ll need a decent amount of cupboard space to store this hefty piece of gadgetry, you can find blenders for as little as £20, making it an accessible, affordable and corner-cutting investment.
Ever tried smashing chickpeas with a potato masher to make houmous? Or manually juicing citrus with a hand squeezer? If the answer’s yes, you’ll know this kind of pulverisation takes time and elbow grease. A blender bypasses all of that. A blender is a great investment for soup or cocktail lovers too – as well as being designed to purée warm ingredients, lots of blenders can be used to crush ice too.
What should I buy?
Blenders are fairly uniform in size, and while the base has a smallish footprint, the glass or plastic jugs can usually hold over a litre of water, so they can be difficult to store, especially when you factor in the handle. For this reason, it’s good to buy a blender with a jug that can be easily stood up in the fridge, as it doubles up as a storage vessel. A basic blender will have a simple blitz function, sometimes in different speeds, but the more you pay the more settings you get, whether that’s specific smoothie, soup or ice functions. It’s worth considering whether you want a glass or plastic jug – plastic might be less prone to breakages, but may feel a little flimsier. Jugs with measurements are handy for those times when you want to quickly throw together the ingredients for a smoothie. Pour holes are handy for making mayonnaise as you can gradually add olive oil in a slow trickle.
What we looked for:
Blade strength: Arguably the most important quality in a blender is the strength of blade, although don’t go prodding your fingers around them to check. The best marker of blade strength is how quickly they work through hard ingredients. For that reason, we tested the blenders using hard vegetables.
Speed of blitzing: We timed each blender for how long it took to work through the vegetables.
Ease of use: We looked for blenders that were easy to unpack and set up, and those with functions that were easy to get our head around – pointless buttons and knobs just complicate matters.
Jug strength: Whether plastic or glass, a sturdy jug is an absolute essential, especially if you’re going to be pouring hot liquid into it.
Loudness: All blenders make a bit of a racket, but those that kept the din down to a minimum were judged favourably.
Functions: We totted up the number of added functions of each blender to assess whether they offered any extra benefits.
How we tested: Barney and I tested 11 blenders using raw carrot, beetroot and kale, lubricated by 500ml of water.
Our top five blenders
Best… professional model
This Tefal model looks cheffy thanks to its chic, functional lines. It has added smoothie and ice buttons, 12 speed settings, plus handy suction pads for those moments when the blender is working hell for leather and in danger of shuffling itself around the work surface. The blades create a smooth, even blend, and the jug is a good shape for propping up in the fridge, plus the thermo-resistant glass felt like it would stand up to hot soup. This is a solid mid-price blender that should stand the test of time.
Blitz speed: 50 seconds to make the vegetable smoothie.
£110, from Tefal
Best… jug shape
This handsome blender is part of the Kenwood KMix range, meaning it can be matched with other kitchen kit. It’s available in lots of lovely colours, from retro pastel to bold lime green but the beauty’s not only skin-deep as this blender functions like a dream too. The shape is practical and attractive and it's super-easy to set up and use, thanks to the no-nonsense control knob. The ridged glass jug is a square shape so could be propped in the fridge without risk of toppling over.
Blitz speed: 50 seconds
£129, from Kenwood
You can’t fault Smeg for design and this blender stays true to the company’s retro-inspired aesthetic with aplomb. Like the Kenwood model, it's available in a range of nifty pastel shades, and eschews lots of buttons in favour of one simple knob with four settings, plus pulse, smoothie and ice functions. This blender is ideal if you’re prone to butter fingers and prefer a plastic jug but it feels as robust as a glass jug. As a nice added extra, the base of the blender comes with a handy ring for securing the plug cable into a neat coil for storage.
Blitz speed: One minute
£149.95, from John Lewis
This is a great entry-level blender ideal for students keen to cook budget-friendly soups. What it lacks in aesthetic flourishes, it makes up for with ease of use. The blade is strong but the plastic feels flimsier than more expensive models as it’s very light, however it didn’t shake during use meaning the secure function is sound.
Blitz speed: 30 seconds
£20, from Wilko
Best… for time-pressed health buffs
This Sage model has a smaller jug that’s specially designed for portability - much like the phenomenally popular Nutribullet - although it feels quite large and could probably hold enough for two people. It’s designed for drinks so smoothness is its speciality. Let it be said, this is a serious piece of kit with a 1000W motor and ‘Kinetix’ blending action, designed for a 42% finer blitz. It’s an expensive choice but compact and made by a trusted brand, so if you’re serious about your smoothies, this could be the one for you.
£129.95, from John Lewis
This review was last updated in March 2016. If you have any questions, suggestions for future reviews or spot anything that has changed in price or availability please get in touch at firstname.lastname@example.org.