Blenders differ from juice extractors in one significant way. Juicers mash or grind up the fruit using centrifugal or slow masticating forces to extract the juice, the whole juice and nothing but the juice.
This system allows you to consume large volumes of fruit and veg sustenance without feeling full and bloated. The absence of roughage also allows the digestive system to absorb nutrients more effectively. The downside is that juice extractors are a pain in the arse to clean and invariably large in height and width.
Blenders, on the other hand, simply liquidise the whole lot into one thick fruity concoction of both juice and fibre-rich pulp.
Smoothies, as they’ve come to be known, are much more filling since you’re basically ingesting a whole pile of fruits (and/or veg) in one go. This is equally good for the digestive system though you might find it repeats on you, especially if you’ve walloped down a glassful in one go.
Our favourite overall is the Sage by Heston Blumenthal The Kinetix Control. But it's not our outright favourite; if you have more money to spend then get the KitchenAid Artisan Blender. This is easy to clean, highly powerful, and has a certain sci-fi sex appeal to it.
Many will find the KitchenAid a tad expensive, however, and for them we recommend the Nutribullet 600 Series. That really is more of a smoothie maker specifically, rather than a multi-purpose blender.
How to buy the best blender for you
We have recommendations at as many price points as possible, from budget to "Oh my god, how can a blender cost that much?"
The following list starts with our favourite mid-price, budget and premium blenders. The remainder are then listed in descending order of price.
However, blenders have far more uses than juicers, making everything from soup to breadcrumbs… even pastry and turning normal sugar into icing sugar, at a push.
The blender market is totally over-saturated. Brands seem to prioritise blenders as a means of demonstrating their technical prowess, and there are some incredibly powerful and expensive models available. It's a big, food-puréeing, willy-waving contest, basically.
Our pick of the best blenders to buy today
1. Sage by Heston Blumenthal The Kinetix Control
Our favourite blender, all things considered
Power: 1,200 watts | Capacity: 1.5 litres | Dimensions: 40 x 17 x 19 cm | Features: 5 speed control, LCD timer
One problem with many blenders is that some ingredients tend to get trapped below the blades during the blending process while others – most noticeably pieces of banana – end up floating on top.
Sage’s bods – allegedly with the help of slaphead food experimentalist Heston Blumenthal – have skirted this issue by fitting an extra pair of long downward facing blades that kick up any errant ingredients.
The sharply curved bottom of the jug, meanwhile, sucks the liquid down in a sort of vortex, ensuring excellent results with all kinds of ingredients.
The Sage comes with a die-cast metal base for extra stability, a shatterproof 1.5-litre Tritan jug, a powerful 1,200-watt motor, five electronically controlled presets and an auto-clean feature that almost but not quite negates the need for a trip to the dishwasher. A best buy, and reasonably priced, too.
2. Nutribullet 600 Series
Best budget blender/best smoothie maker
Power: 600 watts | Capacity: 680ml | Dimensions: 35 x 13 x 13 cm | Features: plenty of accessories
If you’re in the market for a small, efficient blender that's especially good for smoothies, look no further than the NutriBullet 600.
It’s small enough to leave permanently on the worktop, very easily stored if you'd rather not do that, and comes with three different-sized containers and blade configurations for maximum convenience. It’s also a doddle to use.
This model is equipped with a 600-watt motor that produces a cyclonic action to tease the goodness out of your fruit and veg without massacring the vitamins.
Despite being primarily sold as a smoothie maker, the Nutribullet is perfectly adequate as an occasional blender for soups, ice and what have you. Clearly it is nowhere near as good as the Sage or KitchenAid, but given the price, it's very hard to fault.
3. KitchenAid Artisan
The best premium blender
Power: 1,300 watts | Capacity: 1.75 litres | Dimensions: 41 x 19 x 33 cm | Features: motor adjusts to contents, 700-20,000 rpm
Redefining the blender, this high-price, high-gloss, tech-packed machine uses powerful magnets to turn blades sealed into the base of the jug. As a result you can dishwasher it safely.
Once safely housed in the body of the blender – this does require a fairly forceful and manly shove – the Artisan Magnetic Drive also has an absolutely impregnable lid, through which nothing can escape.
The only slight down side to this is that a chute has had to be cut into the lid to add ingredients as you blend. This is, naturally, harder to clean than the norm, although hardly nightmarish.
That's both useful for you and just as well, considering the high velocity at which it can blend. The usable range is a claimed 700-20,000rpm and the motor is rated at 1,300 Watts.
As such, it can do anything from blade-assisted stirring to full-on puréeing and milling of spices, flour, sugar etc. Unlike other high-powered blenders, it doesn't heat the contents of the jug up, so you will just have to use the hob if you want to make soup. Oh well.
4. JR Ultra Touch 3 Quantum
Super-powered commercial-style blender
Power: 2,000 watts | Capacity: 2 litres | Dimensions: 25 x 22 x 47 cm | Features: quiet, brush-less motor
From this point onwards, our chosen blenders are in descending order of price and power. POWER. POW-AAAAH!
JR (Juicy Retreats) makes commercial-spec blenders that do everything from smoothies, thick shakes and cocktails to hot nutritious soups to, probably destroying iPhones.
The Ultra Touch 3 comes with a smorgasbord of tantalising features including an intuitive touch control panel, five automatic presets that make the pulverisation of fruit and veg an absolute cinch and, best of all, a noticeably quiet brushless motor – the comparable KitchenAid machines sound like jet engines taking off – that is guaranteed for 10 years of hassle-free blending.
Given that this model also makes soups, I threw a wild combination of hard and soft vegetables into the two-litre shatterproof jug and tapped the appropriate button. Seven minutes later it had produced a piping hot, perfectly smoooth soup using just the power of friction alone. In hindsight, perhaps the inclusion of turnip and onion was a step too far.
If price isn’t an issue and you’re after a machine that can blend anything short of a crowbar, head right this way.
5. KitchenAid Artisan Power Plus
A slightly more stylish super-blender
Power: 1,800 watts | Capacity: 1.65 litres | Dimensions: 45 x 26.7 x 23 cm | Features: 11 speeds, plus 4 pre-set functions
If you love KitchenAid products as much as we do, but feel the Magnetic Drive is just not quite expensive or insanely over-powered enough, then there is this, more traditional-looking model for you.
Rather than rating it in terms of Watts or rpm, KitchenAid is claiming a maximum power output of 3.5 horsepower. And I can confirm that it is indeed, very very (horse) powerful.
As with the JR model, the residual heat kicked up by the blades is enough to make hot soup, when that mode is engaged.
There are also easy settings for smoothies and slicing, although I generally found myself using the main control knob, which allows you to choose anything from a slow and methodical chop to a crazed, flailing, whirlwind vortex of death.
As a result you need to hold the lid on when at max power – boy, did I find that out the hard way – but that's a small price to pay for such turbo-charged blending.
Unfortunately the actual price in pounds that you have to pay is decidedly not small, but there we go.
6. Vitamix S30
Like a high-end Nutribullet
Power: 800-950 watts | Capacity: 1.2 litres | Dimensions: 40.6 x 15 x 22.8 cm | Features: 0.6l container for on-the-go drinks
Commercial blender manufacturer Vitamix supplies most of the world’s smoothie and cocktail bars so you can be sure it knows a thing or two about the subject.
The S30 is one of the US company’s first domestic ‘personal blender’ models. Like its high-priced professional stablemates, it’s superbly built, with full metal working parts for extra durability and reliable long-term use.
It also has a much smaller footprint than the average worktop model (it’s just 15 centimetres wide) so storage or placement shouldn’t be as big an issue.
The S30 comes with a shatterproof and dishwasher-safe 1.2-litre container along with a much smaller 0.6-litre takeaway flask with double walls for extra insulation and a rubber lid to stop the contents from spilling all over the shop while you're on a treadmill or whatever.
It couldn’t be easier to use. Just choose a container, screw on the blade assembly, stuff it with stuff and engage it with the motor spindle.
Now turn the variable speed control dial to the required setting and, bingo, an extraordinarily smooth concoction that slides down like a beer-bellied bloke on a waterslide.
The top traveller’s choice, and more than capable of fulfilling all your non-smoothie-specific blender requirements, this is essentially a pro-grade Nutribullet.
7. Smeg BLF01
Retro-styled, well-specced blender
Power: 800 watts | Capacity: 1.5 litres | Dimensions: 40 x 17 x 18 cm | Features: four speed settings, aluminum body
The Smeg is probably the best looking blender in this roundup and proof that bland domestic appliances don’t have to be so ugly you feel the need to hide them away when not in use.
On the other hand, Smeg’s very distinctive, retro styling doesn't always sit very well with stuff from other brands – presumably Smeg would say the obvious answer to that would be to buy only its products.
Available in seven striking colours, each adorned with Smeg’s classic logo, the BLF01 comes with a die-cast metal body with 800-watt motor, the industry-standard, 1.5-litre impact-resistant Tritan jug and a single control knob, with the addition of two presets for smoothies and ice crushing.
A very handy 600ml travel bottle is also available for those on the move though it must be said it does look like a baby bottle, replete with a teat-like sipping funnel.
Despite the poorly legible text on the control wheel, this model performed admirably, crushing ice and puréeing frozen fruit completely, leaving no discernible lumps in its wake. For the money, this 50s-styled throwback cuts the mustard (and everything else).
8. Philips Viva Collection Pro Blend 5
A solid budget blender
Power: 600 watts | Capacity: 2 litres | Dimensions: 34 x 26 x 19 cm | Features: multi-speed settings
If you’re only into making the odd once-in-a-while smoothie or milkshake then this plastic-coated, budget-priced Philips entry will do the trick.
Its seven-speed 600-watt motor and five-star serrated ‘ProBlend’ blade is a great combo for most smoothie recipes, though it didn’t crush ice very well.
The intermittent pulse mode, though, proved handy at nudging obstreperous ingredients off the walls of the 1.5-litre container. Given the nominal selling price, you could do a lot worse than to give this budget model a whizz.