Picking a powerful blender can be a tricky decision because there are a lot of choices to make, and the significant cost increases the stakes. Here are my thoughts on deciding which one to buy.
Why buy a powerful blender?
Lets first step back briefly and consider why you’d want a powerful blender in the first place. Here are some of the more common uses:
1) Whole food smoothies: include the healthy fiber from fruits and vegetables, instead of just juicing, which removes the fiber. A powerful blender will be able to incorporate fibrous foods like carrots and kale into smoothies with a smooth consistency. You can also include nuts in smoothies to make them creamier.
2) Grinding grains into flour: make fresh whole grain flour with any grains you like.
3) Fresh nut butters
4) Soups, spreads, and sauces
5) Frozen desserts (typically sorbet-like)
A powerful blender can allow you to make new things in the kitchen, and it makes healthy food prep very easy. Cleanup is super easy.
Also, a well-built powerful blender will last much longer than a low-powered one if you’re using it a lot.
Which brand? Blendtec vs. Vitamix
The main brands to choose from are Vitamix and Blendtec, so those are the focus here. Later I will briefly touch on some more inexpensive choices. It’s been interesting to see in recent years that Vitamix and Blendtec have been picking up features from each other as they compete for customers. I should note that I’ve only ever used a Vitamix, but I’ve read a lot online about Blendtec machines. Ultimately, most people are happy with either one. A lot of these comparisons are rather minor points, but I thought I would try to compile everything I could find in one place. If you don’t want to go through all of the details and just want a simple recommendation, I’d say go with Vitamix–I’m happy with mine, and it looks like most recent blender shoot-outs are putting Vitamix on top (e.g. from Wall Street Journal, Consumer Reports, America’s Test Kitchen, The Wirecutter). But for people like me who like to consider all the angles, here are all of the factors that I’ve found that may weigh into your decision.
Blending performance (how smooth is the smoothie, etc.)
From what I’ve read, results are very similar, though from the side-by-side comparisons I’ve read more people state that smoothies from a Vitamix were smoother than from a Blendtec than vice versa. However, I think that at least some of the people who preferred the Vitamix consistency were comparing it to a Blendtec container with a 3-inch blade; some people report better results with the Blendtec 4-inch blade container. -slight advantage Vitamix
This is a case where Blendtec has taken a cue from Vitamix. Blendtec used to have a 3-year warranty, but their machines now come with a 7-year warranty. Vitamix has been doing a 7-year warranty for as long as I know.
One difference is that the 7-year Blendtec warranty only covers the motor/base–the pitchers are covered for 3 years, whereas Vitamix has a full 7-year warranty. I’ve seen enough reports of broken Blendtec containers that it seems if you use your container regularly, you shouldn’t be surprised if you have to replace it before 7 years are up. -advantage Vitamix Update: Blendtec’s warranty now includes containers bought with a base for the full 7 years (for home use). Containers purchased separately have a 3 year warranty, which is the same as Vitamix. Also, both Vitamix and Blendtec will cover shipping both ways for any warranty repairs. -tie
Vitamix uses a physical knob and switches, whereas Blendtec uses a digital screen and electronic controls. This is really a question of personal preference whether this makes a difference to you. For some people there’s no question that they prefer the analog controls. The screen on the Blendtec machines has an interesting feature that tells you how many cycles you’ve run. -personal preference
Speaking of user interface, here’s another instance where one of the companies took a cue from the other. In this case Blendtec has been offering preset programs for years, but recently Vitamix released some models that include preset programs (for smoothies, soups, or frozen desserts or hot soups). Blendtec still has more different preset options though. -slight advantage Blendtec
Vitamix machines are significantly heavier (11 lbs versus 7 lbs). Depending on how you use your machine, this could be good or bad. If you are traveling with it a lot, or if you cannot store the machine on your kitchen counter, the lighter weight would be nice. But if it generally just lives on your counter, the extra weight will make it a bit more stable. Also, I have the impression that Vitamix machines are a bit sturdier, and the weight difference is a sign of a more substantial machine: it might last longer. It would be interesting to see some data on average number of cycles before failure, but I’ve never seen that. -personal preference
Blendtec is more compact, and all Blendtec containers should fit underneath standard kitchen cabinets, whereas not all Vitamix containers will. But again, Vitamix responded to this criticism, and they now have a range of shorter containers that should fit underneath cabinets (however, they’re still taller than the Blendtec machines, so if you are planning on keeping your blender underneath cabinets you should double check the heights). -slight advantage Blendtec
Ease of getting thick mixtures out of container
Blendtec containers are shorter and wider than Vitamix containers, with the exception of one of the new Vitamix pitchers (found on the 7500/Pro 300 and 750). Also the Blendtec blade is 2-pronged instead of the 4 blades in the Vitamix, which means that there’s less in the way when you are trying to get thick mixtures out. The place where this makes the biggest difference is nut butters. I solve this slight shortcoming of the Vitamix by not worrying about getting every last bit of nut butter out and using the remains to blend into a smoothie. -advantage Blendtec
Vitamix uses a 6-foot power cord that has a handy hidden reel in the base for storing the excess, whereas Blendtec uses a 3-foot cord. -slight advantage Vitamix
Blendtec machines are slightly louder, but really they’re all pretty noisy, and I like to use ear protection. The newer Vitamix models have better noise muffling than the machine I have, but the thing is that no matter how well the base is muffled, there’s still the noise of the ingredients being bashed up at high speed (ice and grains are particularly loud). -advantage Vitamix
Separate dry blade
Vitamix makes an optional dry blade that you can get in a second container. The dry blade has a different shape that makes it grind things like flour more effectively. However, the normal Vitamix blade can grind dry ingredients, just not quite as efficiently (it will take longer, the flour will heat up more, and the flour might not be quite as fine). Some people say that the fact that Vitamix makes the dry container is an advantage for Blendtec, because the single container “does it all,” but given that you can grind flour in the normal Vitamix container, I do not think this is an edge for Blendtec. Blendtec actually makes a whole separate machine for milling flour. The last thing to note here is that grinding grains or other hard items will scratch up the inside of the container and make it look cloudy. I think it’s a non-issue, but it’s enough of a concern for some people that they like to have a dedicated container for hard items, so that their other container stays more clear. -personal preference
Vitamix machines come with a tamper that allows you to push food into the blades without the tamper hitting the blades; Blendtec machines do not come with a tamper. Blendtec touts their machines as superior because they do not need a tamper, but I have read about plenty of Blendtec owners who wish they had one because certain combinations can get stuck above the blades. If you get a Blendtec and run into this problem you can look for a third party tamper on eBay, or make your own out of wood dowels. While it’s nice to not need to use the tamper, using one is really not a big deal. I generally keep mine next to the machine, so it’s handy if I need it, and using it does not really make cleanup take longer because I generally just quickly rinse it in the sink while the Vitamix is finishing blending. One other development here, Blendtec recently released a new “Twister Jar” with a special lid that has two scraper tines that push thick mixtures into the blades. It performs a similar job as the tamper for things like nut butter or frozen sorbet. -advantage Blendtec: less likely to need the tamper. -advantage Vitamix: when items get stuck and are not blending, the included tamper is handy.
Volume of containers
Blendtec has containers that are 64 and 90 oz, whereas Vitamix has containers that are 32, 48, and 64 oz. However, this is a little misleading because the Blendtec containers don’t work if they are filled all the way to the top, while the Vitamix containers can be filled about an extra 8 oz past their rated capacity. -advantage vitamix (if you will be pushing the limits in terms of volume)
Pricing is similar, but Vitamix currently has a slight edge. A few years back Blendtec made in-roads by being the cheaper option, but that’s no longer the case. For consumer models the Blendtec price range is $434.95-$1034.95 with a refurbished unit for $384.95, while the Vitamix price range is $399-$689, with refurbished units starting at $329. Also, if you use my Vitamix affiliate link/code, you can get free shipping
, so that’s an added edge for Vitamix. -advantage Vitamix Blendtec now also offers shipping if you click through my Blendtec affiliate link.
If you’re looking for the lowest possible price, check out this post.
There’s a significant range of Vitamix options to choose from, which I give a rundown of in my next post.