Smoothie blenders are high-powered blenders that are specifically designed to crush large pieces of whole fruit, frozen fruits, hard vegetables and a lot of ice with ease. But do you need to buy a special smoothie blender in order to make great smoothies?
The answer depends on how often you make smoothies. If you plan on making smoothies more than once a week, it might be worth investing in a smoothie blender. But first, I recommend that you try the tools you already have.
Why Buy a Smoothie Blender
The big advantage to buying a smoothie blender is that they are powerful machines. You can make smoothies with frozen fruit (my preferred way to get that icy texture), because the smoothie blender can easily turn that frozen fruit into an icy milkshake-style smoothie in seconds.
Likewise, smoothie blenders can turn whole fruits into drinkable smoothies or juices in a flash.
The Best Smoothie Blenders to Buy
The two leading smoothie blenders are the Blendtec (compare prices) and the Vitamix (compare prices). Both of these blenders do an excellent job of crushing ice, frozen fruit, whole fruits and vegetables. Both of these blenders also have additional uses, including making salsa, pesto, nut butters and pureeing soups. And both of these blenders come with BPA-free pitchers.
The differences between the Blendtec and Vitamix are small - the key question is whether you want to spend the money on a smoothie blender at all.
The Drawbacks of Smoothie Blenders
The biggest drawback of buying a smoothie blender is price. They typically cost $350-$500. The other drawbacks are height (some smoothie blenders are too tall to fit on countertops under kitchen cabinets) and noise (the two most popular smoothie blenders are very noisy).
Because these smoothie blenders perform many of the functions of other kitchen tools, such as an immersion blender, food processor, regular blender, chopper, etc., they can be quite useful if you make the investment. But if you already own these other tools, it may make sense to use them to start out with.
A regular blender, such as a KitchenAid 5-speed blender (compare prices), can perform the job of crushing ice very well. If you don't mind thinner smoothies, this is a good way to go.
Don't have a regular blender? A food processor, such as the Cuisinart DLC Prep Food Processor (compare prices) can perform most of the tasks of a smoothie blender with ease.
The big drawback is that a food processor typically has a wide bowl and isn't really suited to pouring easily. But it's a good way to see if you do enjoy making smoothies often. And if so, you can always buy a smoothie blender then.