Updates since original post: Vitamix has added three new offerings to the S-Series: the Vitamix S50, the Vitamix S55, and the Certified Reconditioned S30. The S50 and S55 add preset programs, but are otherwise identical to the S30, so all of the tests in this review apply equally to all of these machines. I have added a section describing the preset modes to the end of this review.
September 23, 2016 Update: Vitamix is having some inventory issues with the S-Series, so the only model that is in stock right now is the Reconditioned S30, for $249 (which is a great deal). If you want to go with new, or you want the presets of the S50 or S55, look on Amazon.
I’ve been testing out a Vitamix S30 for the past few months. Now that I’ve had a chance to put it through its paces, here is my Vitamix S30 review and performance comparison to the other Vitamix models. Vitamix provided the S30 tested here, but this is a fully independent review. If you make a purchase after following a link from this site, JoyofBlending.com may be compensated, and I thank you for your support.
The S30 is Vitamix’s first entry into their personal blender S-Series. (I’m not sure what the S stands for—Small?) It’s designed for people who like to make single servings, or are feeding a small family of two or three.
My initial reaction to the announcement of the S30 was a bit negative. On the spec sheet, compared to the rest of the Vitamix lineup, it’s a smaller, less powerful machine for only a slightly lower cost. However, a full-size Vitamix can be overkill, and the S30 does have some advantages. The S30’s performance has been better than I expected.
From the first time I picked up the S30 blender components, I could tell that Vitamix did not skimp on quality. The components feel solid, and the design is sleek. These subtle touches add a little boost of satisfaction each time you use it, and also make it likely that the S30 will long outlast its 5-year warranty.
In addition to being smaller, the signature feature of the S30 is the to-go container. You can blend your smoothie in the to-go container, flip it over, then replace the blade assembly with the to-go lid and take it with you. The container holds 20 ounces and features double-wall construction to keep your smoothie cold.
The S30 also comes with a 40-oz container that uses the time-tested lid and tamper design, which makes it easy to blend thick or stubborn ingredients. (For those not familiar with Vitamix blenders, the lid has a hole that you can push the tamper through, and the tamper has a flange that stops on the lid, allowing it to get close to the blades without ever touching them, so you can use the tamper without stopping the blender.)
The other Vitamix containers (for the C and G Series) are not compatible with the S Series, and, conversely, the S-Series containers can’t be used on the larger Vitamix models.
As a quick overview, here are the pros and cons of the S30 compared to its bigger Vitamix siblings:
- Convenience of to-go container and being dishwasher safe
- Smaller minimum blending volume
- Takes up less space
- Portion control (it can be easy to overdo amounts with the large Vitamix containers)
- Lower capacity
- Need to unscrew blade assembly to clean threads after each use
- Lower power
Buying Advice Overview
The S30 can be a good choice for people who want something smaller and blend smaller quantities. It offers the to-go blending option, ultra small quantities will blend better, and the 40-oz container can make the wide range of recipes that the bigger Vitamix models are known for. However, if you are not super excited about the to-go container or blending super small quantities (under ~1 cup), I would recommend considering a larger model, because they are a bit more capable and they are not that much bigger or expensive. (You can add a 32-oz container to a C or G-Series model to make it take up less space and make it more convenient with small volumes. For help deciding which other model, try my Vitamix comparison page.)
In testing the S30, my main concern was how it would perform with its lower power. (It’s rated at 790 watts instead of 1380–1440 for the C-Series and G-Series.) I was generally impressed with the results, although I found it necessary to blend twice as long to get fibrous ingredients similarly broken down. I was also reminded of an advantage of this smaller blender model: the minimum volume needed to blend well is smaller. This is particularly apparent in thick blends such as nut butter or frozen treats.
One minor unexpected downside that I came across in using the S30 is that the removable blade design means that you have to unscrew the blades after every use and clean the threads because ingredients seep down into the threads. I never had one of the containers leak, but food does get down in the threads—the gasket seal is below the threads. (The bigger Vitamix containers with integrated blades can self-clean by running soapy water in the blender, and that does not work with the S30.) I guess it’s normal to have to clean the threads on traditional blenders, and it’s not a big deal, but it is slightly less convenient than the other Vitamix models. Of course, this is even less of an issue if you plan on cleaning your container in a dishwasher.
20-oz container: Vitamix recommends cutting ingredients into 1-inch pieces because this container cannot use the tamper. When I used that size ingredients with a bit of liquid it blended perfectly well. I found it possible to use larger pieces of ~2 inches, but they didn’t always blend immediately. One interesting thing about the 20-oz container is that once the blade is screwed on, the container is completely sealed. The complete seal means that if the ingredients are not blending, you can take the container off the base and vigorously shake it to get the ingredients into the blades. Shaking when necessary worked well, so I found myself putting in apple quarters instead of worrying about chopping them smaller.
I also tested how well the double-walled container insulates. Not surprisingly, it’s better than a single-walled container, but it can’t compete with a vacuum double-walled container like a Thermos. I poured ice water into the S30 to-go container and Vitamix’s single-walled smoothie bottle, and I found that the S30 bottle keeps liquid cold for about twice as long. (The ice water in the S30 container warmed to 46°F in 60 minutes, whereas the single-walled container warmed to 46°F in 30 minutes.) The better insulation also means that your cold drink will collect less condensation and “sweat” less.
40-oz container: The 40-oz container is similar to the classic Vitamix containers in that you can use the tamper to push ingredients into the blades. The 40-oz container is a bit narrower at the bottom than even the narrow standard Vitamix containers, so for the same ingredients, you’re more likely to need the tamper.
I was curious how the smoothness would compare between the S30 and a larger Vitamix. For soft ingredients it would probably be hard or impossible to tell the difference, so I compared a carrot-kale-ginger smoothie. I used identical amounts of ingredients (by weight) and compared a Vitamix 7500 with 32-oz container to the S30 with 40-oz container.
In addition to taste-testing, I used some standardized mesh strainers to visualize the amount of unblended bits of carrots and kale above a certain size. Not surprisingly, after blending the same amount of time, the 7500 was detectably smoother. However, by doubling the blending time in the S30 I got results almost as fine as the 7500.
If you want the smoothest possible blends using tough ingredients, you may want to consider a higher power Vitamix. However, for most ingredients the difference is not noticeable, so the S-Series is not a bad choice.
One last thought on smoothies: if you make smoothies with lots of greens, unblended greens take up a lot of volume in the container. So even if your final blend ends up well under 20 or 40 oz, it can be convenient to have a larger volume container. This is not a deal-breaker since you can always blend a bit to incorporate greens, then add more ingredients, but if you want to blend high-volumes of greens it’s something to consider.
My standard Vitamix hummus recipe blended perfectly well in the 40-oz container with use of the tamper. I found it slightly more cumbersome to get the hummus to circulate with the tamper, but it was perfectly doable. The hummus came out smooth, even though my recipe calls for whole sesame seeds instead of pre-blended tahini.
Some people struggle to make almond butter so I thought it would be a good test. The official Vitamix recipe calls for adding some neutral oil to make it easier to blend, but I didn’t want to make it too easy. I did use roasted almonds, because making nut butter from raw almonds without any added oil is nearly impossible in even the full-size Vitamix blenders. (I used Trader Joe’s dry-roasted almonds.)
The S30 plowed through 2 cups of almonds with a little help from the tamper, and in 90 seconds I had smooth, warm almond butter. This is about the same time it takes in the larger Vitamix models. The notable difference is that the S30 can make smaller batches, which is useful if you have a smaller household, or if you want to make specialty blends in limited quantities. (Sometimes its nice to mix different nuts, or add spices, honey, or chocolate.)
I have not fully tested the smallest possible batch, but I believe you can go down to ~1.25 cups of nuts, whereas with the classic Vitamix container you can go down to ~2 cups of nuts. These are not hard cutoffs, as they will depend on how oily the nuts are and if you’re willing to stop and scrape down the sides of the container. The standard Vitamix-recommended batch sizes for nut butters are 2 cups of nuts in the S30, 3 cups in the classic C-Series containers, and 4 cups in the wide G-Series container.
Ice Cream and Frozen Treats
A strawberry frozen yogurt blended up no problem, and again it is possible to make smaller batches than in the classic Vitamix machines. Vitamix-made frozen treats are best consumed right away, so it’s nice to be able to make a small amount for one or two people. (You can store frozen treat leftovers in the freezer, but they will harden and have more ice crystals.)
Like the bigger Vitamix models, the S30 will heat blending ingredients via friction, and in principle you can use this to make a hot soup. The 40-oz S30 container has the Vitamix-patented, snug, vented, two-part lid that allows steam to escape while preventing liquid from splashing out. Since the S30 is lower powered than the C and G-Series models, it heats more slowly. How much more slowly?
To get to the same temperature, you have to blend the S30 for about 50% longer. In 5 minutes 3.5 cups of carrot soup went from 68°F to 111°F with the S30, and to 130°F with a 7500.
I usually steam or roast some of the vegetables before blending, so I don’t end up using the blender as the main heater of soup. If you want a really hot, piping soup, I find it’s nicest to just heat it on the stove to save the racket from running the blender for multiple minutes.
I also often end up making more than 40 oz of soup at a time, so for me it’s nice to have the larger model.
Salad dressings are easy to blend. The S30 has two advantages here. First, if you want to just make a small salad, the smaller minimum blending volume is nice, and cleanup is easier since you can put the container/blade in the dishwasher. Alternatively, you can make a week’s worth of dressing and store it in the fridge in the sealed to-go container. If you do this regularly, you might want to get a second to-go container. Since the to-go container is separate from the blade assembly it is much less expensive ($29.95) than the other spare Vitamix containers ($129–$149).
The S30 can wet and dry chop, which you can do make something like coleslaw, or even grate hard cheeses. However, you have to cut the ingredients into smaller pieces before putting them in the blender, and you are also limited to smaller quantities. So it’s possible, but it’s not a big strength of the S30.
Dimensions and Weight
The base is 8.34″ deep by 5.90″ wide. It is 14.55″ tall with the 20-oz container and 15.66″ with the 40-oz container and lid in place. It is noticeably smaller than the other Vitamix models, but it is not by any means tiny. If you’re curious how much space it will take up on your counter, here is a top view (for scale, each machine is on a 8.5×11″ piece of paper): I also made an actual-size PDF of the Vitamix footprints that you can print (make sure it prints at 100% scale, and not “fit to page”). These footprints are the outline of the container as viewed from directly above (the area in contact with the counter is less, especially with the S30.)
The S30 blade diameter is 2.5” compared to 3″ for the C-Series and 4″ for the G-Series.
The S30 base only weighs 6.16 lb. The base with 40-oz container and blade weighs 8.11 lb.
I used my previously developed sound measurements to measure the minimum and maximum speed of the S30. Interestingly, the maximum RPM speed is only slightly less (~7%) than the G-Series. Of course the shorter blade makes the blade tip speed significantly slower.
- Minimum speed = 1,800 RPM (13 MPH blade tips)
- Maximum speed = 21,000 RPM (160 MPH blade tips)
The noise level of the S30 is similar to the bigger Vitamix models. It’s loud, but most people don’t mind it. I like to use ear muffs.
In addition to stylish curves, the design has a number of highly engineered features. If you forget to include the rubber gasket on the blade assembly, the container will leak. However, the Vitamix engineers planned for this possibility by providing a liquid collection area and drain on the top of the base. This will prevent any leaked liquid from dripping into the motor and damaging it.
Also, the motor will only start if a container is properly in place. Two magnets on the containers indicate to the base when the container is safely seated. The front panel has a light above the speed dial that is surprisingly evocative for a single light:
Plugged in, no container.
Container in place, ready to blend.
Warning, speed dial not at zero (must set to zero before turning on).
The to-go smoothie lid is also well designed. It features a solid clip and seals to keep it from leaking. I shook it up a lot, and couldn’t get the slightest leak. It also has an air hole (which also seals) for easier drinking. The cover seal folds back and lightly locks so that it doesn’t fall into your face.
40-oz Lid Seal
When I first used the S30 I noticed while blending water only, the lid did not seal perfectly, and some water dripped down the sides. I have also seen this happen on G-Series lids. The solution is to rub a little oil on the lid and then wipe it off. Since doing that the lid has perfectly sealed and I haven’t had any leaks.
If you already own a Vitamix…
Unfortunately the S30 containers are not compatible with the larger Vitamix models. My guess is that it is a safety issue. If you were to put the blade assembly on the base and start it without the container, it would be extremely dangerous. The S30 has the magnets in the container, which make it so that the machine will only start if the container is in place. The larger Vitamix models do not have that setup, and they don’t need it because in normal use the blade is always safely attached inside the container. Vitamix even used a different number of gear teeth on the S30 drive shaft (10 vs. 12), which I’m speculating is to prevent gadget modifiers from hacking anything together that would put the S30 blade on a full-size Vitamix.
30-day trial period
If you’re at all tempted by the S30, you should give it a try. If it turns out to not be right for your needs, you can send it back within 30 days and get a full refund. As with all the other Vitamix models, Vitamix will even cover return shipping.
Vitamix S55 and S50 Preset Modes
The S55 adds four preset modes to the S30, but it still has the full range of variable speed control. Counterclockwise from the vertical off position, first there is the pulse (also present on the S30), followed by Smoothies, “Power Blends,” Dips & Spreads, and Frozen Desserts. Power Blends is optimized to better incorporate tough things like hardy greens and frozen fruit into smoothies. The S55 also comes with the premium brushed stainless finish. Between the Vitamix quality, the presets, and the premium finish, the S55 is the undisputed fanciest personal blender.
Meanwhile, the Vitamix S50 is right in between the S30 and S55. It has all the same components and design, except that it has two preset modes: Smoothies and Power Blends:I don’t find presets super useful, but I know many people who love them. For further discussion of preset modes, see the presets section of my Vitamix comparison page.