In the market for a new blender for your smoothies? Don’t just invite any old blender into your world. You need one with a good blade to handle frozen foods, decent power, and a construction to suit your space and travel needs.
But you also don’t need a $1000 blender food processor juicer, slot machine combo.
Smoothies are serious business for those who rely on them on a daily basis. A capable blender is crucial to achieving a smooth, velvety smoothie without the dreaded lumps or icy texture. Luckily, you don’t actually need to empty your savings to find a decent smoothie blender, as there are some impressive ones out there for smaller budgets.
We’ve put together a collection of the best blenders this year according to different budgets and travel needs.
Table of Contents
- 1 What’s the difference between a smoothie and a shake?
- 2 What makes a blender good for smoothies?
- 3 Jug or bottle blenders?
- 4 How to make a smoothie with a blender?
- 5 What are the best smoothie blenders by budget?
- 6 Conclusion
What’s the difference between a smoothie and a shake?
No doubt there are varying opinions as to the difference between a shake and a smoothie. But there are some characteristics that are pretty universal and hard to dispute. Here are the key characteristics of smoothies and shakes…
- Contains a majority of frozen or fresh fruit and vegetables
- Can contain yogurt
- Contains liquid such as water, juice, nut milk or dairy milk
- Can often contain dry ingredients such as ground nuts, seeds or oats
Okay, so there are two key different kinds of shakes. The healthy type and the treat type.
A healthy shake is most often made of protein powder or a weight-loss supplement blended with milk (and perhaps a banana for extra sustenance). A treat shake contains ice cream, dairy milk and the odd berry or chunk of banana.
The key difference:
A smoothie is filled mostly with fruits and vegetables with liquids only to help with the consistency. A shake is more focused on powdered supplements. Shakes don’t require as much “work” to pulverize the ingredients to achieve a smooth consistency.
What makes a blender good for smoothies?
- Different blending options i.e. pulse or auto or turbo
Smoothies typically have hard ingredients such as frozen fruit and tough, bristly ingredients such as raw leafy greens. Blenders that have an “auto” button are great for smoothies because they start and stop to let the ingredients fall toward the blades before starting again. This means you get a smooth uh…smoothie without having to stand there holding down the button or manually switching it off and on. The pulse function is also good for smoothies because you can control the consistency of your smoothie and manually give it a few last blasts before you pour it. Those final blitzes can sometimes make the difference between smooth and really smooth.
- A strong, sharp blade
There’s nothing more frustrating than a watery smoothie with chunks of frozen fruit getting stuck in your straw. A strong, sharp blade (combined with a hefty motor) is crucial for a chunk-free smoothie. Blenders designed to extract nutrients are good for this because what they’re really saying is “this blender blends the heck out of your food”.
- A compact size and easy-to-store construction
This one applies to people who want a blender only for their smoothies, as opposed to an all-around blender which is also great at blending smoothies. You might have your “all-around” blender sitting on the counter and your smoothie blender tucked away between uses. For this reason, you need a light, sleek and compact design. This is also great for people who want to stash a blender at work or even take with them on trips. A huge blender with a bulky unit probably isn’t going to go down well in the communal office kitchen.
- Dishwasher safe bottle or jug
Dried smoothie gets caked onto blender jugs like cement. If you find yourself forgetting to give the container a rinse immediately after your smoothie creation you’ve got a hand-washing chore ahead of you. But if you can just pop it into the dishwasher you can forget about it until it comes out clean. Also, smoothies with dairy products (milk and yogurt) can leave residue which “turns bad” and creates an unpleasant smell. The dishwasher can take care of this for you.
If you don’t have a dishwasher? A Container and blade without too many crevices and curves is ideal so it can be easily rinsed and washed by hand.
Jug or bottle blenders?
There are two different kinds of blenders; jug blenders and bottle blenders. Jug blenders have a large jug often made of glass or BPA-free plastic which is loaded from the top and sits in the blender unit. It has a lid and a little spout for pouring.
Bottle blenders have a bottle, often made of BPA-free plastic and a screw-top lid which has the blades attached. After loading the bottle with ingredients you screw the blade into the bottle then click it into the unit.
In my opinion, which one is “better” is completely dependent on your needs. If you need a portable blender with a bottle you can take with you to work, then a bottle blender is best. If you need a large blender with capacity for a few servings, a jug blender could be the best option. As long as the blades are strong and there’s enough “grunt” to really grind those frozen chunks then the overall style doesn’t matter so much.
How to make a smoothie with a blender?
Well, it’s pretty easy really. It’s just a matter of adding your ingredients and blitzing until you reach the consistency you like. But there are some crucial tips to follow for the best smoothie result:
- Don’t go overboard with the liquid at first. It’s best to add too little then add little splashes until you get the right consistency. If you add too much at first it can be almost impossible to get the thickness right from there
- Put the leafier ingredients closes to the blade so get blitzed to smithereens first
- It goes without saying, keep the lid on
- Don’t overfill the bottle or jug…it will create a real mess as it busts the seems of the lid
- If there’s an auto-blend button, use it. Or else start the speed at the mid-way point and work up to the highest speed every few seconds from there for a great texture
What are the best smoothie blenders by budget?
Best cheap blenders for smoothies
With blenders on the lower price scale, you might compromise on a few features such as wattage and function variety. However, there are some fantastic low-cost blenders that have a slightly lower wattage but still produce a great smoothie. The key features to focus on are blade quality and overall strength. A simple blender with a sturdy design and tough blades is better than a complex, fancy blender with dainty blades and a knack for breaking down.
The Aicok brand make a super cheap but high-quality option if you are a solo smoothie drinker. It has a small base, screw-top, detachable blade, portable bottle and a no-spill lid for drinking your smoothie on the go. Made for one serving.
- Strong, stainless steel blades (cuts those frozen fruits like the wind)
- BPA-free bottle doubles as blender vessel and smoothie drink bottle
- Dishwasher safe parts are great for removing dried-on smoothie and keeping sterile for each use
- Small and compact, great for small kitchens or offices where smoothies reign
- Very affordable, so much that you could have one at home and one at work
Just note that the small size of this model is only a “pro” if you are only making one serve of smoothie. It would be a real nuisance if you were serving more than one person.
This one from Oster has a little more bulk to it and will have to be a permanent feature of your benchtop. But for hardcore smoothie drinkers, this isn’t a problem. The smoothie-making gold lies in the blades!
- Blades alternate as they turn which draws foods into the blades and ensures no lumps
- Pre-program buttons provides different options for different ingredients i.e. a smoothie made with large frozen mango chunks you can use the “frozen drinks” button or even use the “ice” program on “high”
- The blade has the Oster “All-Metal Drive” system with a 10-year warranty
- 600 watts of power for frozen fruits
- Dishwasher safe glass jar
Be aware that this one is definitely for keeping snuggly on your benchtop and not lugging around. It has a glass jar and a pretty bulky base so it needs a permanent home. For this reason, I think it’s wise to get a blender which is an ace with smoothies but does have a few extra speeds and buttons for other uses.
This budget-friendly blender has a powerful motor, a portable cup and a sleek design. It’s great for smoothies because of the “auto blend” function designed to pulverise hard, frozen ingredients until smooth. You don’t need to hold down the button or monitor the blender, it blends until it’s done.
- Auto-blend and pulse button for manual or automatic blending
- Sleek design great for little kitchens, offices and storage between smoothies
- Comes with two different portable containers of different sizes (both with lids)
Best mid-range blenders for smoothies (up to $150.00)
A comprehensive blender with a hardy construction and multiple features. You have a choice of 6 speed levels to choose from depending on how hard or soft your smoothie ingredients are. As well as a specified “smoothie” button, it also has buttons for pulse, ice cream, juice, and stir so it’s worth a spot on your benchtop. The 100% hardened stainless steel blades can handle the hardest of frozen smoothie ingredients.
- 6 speed levels
- Can also make juices and ice cream
- 100% hardened stainless steel blades for pulverising hard frozen fruits
- Comes with a tamper for pressing extra ingredients into your smoothie as you please
- Self cleans
- FDA-certified for safety
- Powerful, fast motor (280000 RPM) for smooth, chunk-free smoothies
This blender comes from the popular “Jamba” empire. While it has a large jar for multiple smoothie servings (or a couple of huge ones) it does have a low-profile design so you can fit it into the cupboard when you’re done with your smoothie. It has a button especially for smoothies and tough blades to handle hard, frozen ingredients.
- Low-profile design to stash away in the cupboard neatly in between smoothie sessions
- A special setting button for smoothies (as well as “ice crush”, “whole juice” and “soup”)
- 10 speeds for different smoothie consistencies and hardness of ingredients
- Pulse function for getting those last few blasts in for a smoother smoothie
- Large BPA-free jar for multiple servings
- Stainless steel blades for easily cutting through frozen fruits
The Nutri Ninja Auto-IQ really does blend ingredients to a fine, creamy texture for the smoothest of smoothies. The Auto-IQ function is ideal because it starts and stops to allow the ingredients to fall toward the blades so no chunk is left. Ninja blenders are well built, with strong blades can handle ice, frozen fruits and tough, leafy greens. It comes with two different-sized cups with sipper-lids so you can take your smoothie with you without risk of spilling.
- Auto-IQ functions (blend and ultra blend) for smooth smoothies with the touch of one button
- Pulse button
- Digital timer which counts down the remaining time when the blend and ultra blend functions are in use
- Medium and large cups with screw top sipper lids for portable smoothies
- Dishwasher safe cups, lids and blade
Best professional grade blenders for smoothies
While we are dealing solely with smoothies here, I have to be honest. I think that if you’re spending a good few hundred dollars on an appliance it should be multi-talented. An expensive blender should produce 5-star smoothies as well as giving you other options such as dry blending and hot food blending.
You won’t be surprised to see a Vitamix on this list (our #2 rated Vitamix blender nonetheless), considering how very well loved they are. With a powerful motor and incredibly hard and tough blades, any smoothie ingredient is whipped to a creamy consistency. Skins and peels can be included in your smoothies as the Vitamix 5300 is designed to incorporate them seamlessly. The machine has been specially designed to ensure the ingredients return to the blades over and over, leaving no chance for chunks and uneven texture.
*Note that you can get certified refurbished models for cheaper but just as good
- Aircraft-grade, stainless steel blades for extra-hard smoothie ingredients (frozen berries and frozen bananas can be treacherously tough)
- Motor stays cool no matter how many “smoothie runs” you make
- Speed control for catering to your smoothies depending on ingredients and consistency
- Pulse function for giving those last little blitzes to get the smoothness just right
- Can make anything (smoothies and other) so you can use it as a multi-tasking, permanent appliance
This hardy construction from Breville has a smoothie and a green smoothie button for one-touch smoothies. And it really does deliver on the promise. The blades are very tough and are designed for an especially smooth result.
It’s got all the bells and whistles you’d expect for the price; cleaning function, timer function, LCD display. It breaks down gristly greens and chunky, rock hard frozen ingredients for a smooth (never chunky or icy) smoothie. Texture and consistency are the cornerstones of this appliance’s design which is why it’s so trustworthy for smoothies.
- Smoothie button
- Green Smoothie button for smoothies with leafy, gristly greens
- Well-designed blades for maximum smoothness
- Tough enough for smoothies containing nuts and oats
- BPA-free jug (no nasties in your smoothies)
What are the best personal blenders for smoothies that you can travel with?
When you’re camping, traveling in a motorhome, or even heading overseas the last thing you want to take is a bulky piece of kitchen appliance. But you also shouldn’t have to give up your smoothies; they can be the best way to get extra nutrients among all the travel treats. Luckily, there are some very sleek, lightweight, and affordable personal blenders that have enough power to blend a smoothie for one or two on the go.
A very sleek blender perfect for plugging into hotel or hostel rooms, motorhomes or campsite kitchen blocks, and whipping up a smoothie. The Oster My Blend is powerful enough to blend hard ingredients such as ice and frozen fruits. Awesome for solo travelers or couples to share a smoothie.
- Light and compact to stash into your suitcase or caravan cupboards
- BPA-safe bottle
- Dishwasher safe bottle (or just rinse it out and get back on the road)
- Blends ice and frozen fruit for cold, refreshing smoothies without chunks
- Super affordable
- Comes with a lid for spill-free smoothing drinking as you travel
- Great for large single-serve smoothies or two smaller smoothie servings
This is an ultra cheap option for travel smoothies. It does require a small power outlet in order to work, but if you travel in a caravan or motorhome you’re good to go. You can also take this to and from work and the gym without burdening your bag or overloading your desk. The blades and power are strong enough for a smoothie-for-one made with frozen fruit. Comes in black, blue, red and green.
- Small, compact and very easy to store and carry in bags and drawers
- Very affordable
- Cord wraps discreetly around the base
- BPA-free cup
- Lid has a spout for spill-free sips
- One simple button for blending and pulsing to your preferred smoothie consistency
- Dishwasher safe cup and lid
This super affordable, cute-looking blender is made for one-serve smoothies on the go. You can charge it at work with a USB charger and make smoothies whenever and wherever you need to.
Great for when you’re on a clean eating plan and need something to help you make healthy choices. Tough enough to blend ice (if you use the little ice tray provided) and small frozen fruits and veggies.
- Affordable price
- Powerful lithium batteries built into the unit
- Charges via USB
- Lightweight and easy to carry in your gym bag or work bag
- Dishwasher safe for removing smoothie debris
- BPA-free, FDA-approved cup
- Comes with a free ice cube tray made especially for small ice cubes
- Perfect for berry smoothies with small fruits such as blueberries and raspberries
There are so many blenders to choose from, we hope this list has clarified the confusion for you and helped you to narrow down your perfect smoothie blender.
Consider what you’ve already got and home and what you really need. If you’re lacking in blenders and food processing units, then a combo model with different functions could be ideal. Something like the Vitamix or the Breville is great for this as you can multi-task with it in between smoothie sessions.
But if you already have your non-smoothie needs covered and need something dedicated only to smoothies then something like the Nutri Ninja could be ideal.