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Lesley Kennedy/CNN Underscored
Sure, you likely already have a traditional blender sitting on your countertop, and possibly a food processor tucked away in a cabinet, but for quick chores like thickening soups, making fluffy whipped cream, of mixing a smoothie, an immersion blender (also known as a hand, wand or stick blender) makes a handy addition to your kitchen arsenal.
To find out which immersion blenders performed the best, we put seven models to work, testing four recipes and noting everything from speed to comfort to how easy they were to use.
Best immersion blender overall
This slim, compact hand blender is packed with power, making it a versatile tool that can whip up everything from smoothies to soup to spreads in seconds — and, when you’re done, can be tucked away out of sight easily in a drawer.
Best budget immersion blender
Nutribullet’s inexpensive take on the hand blender is simple to operate, has many of the features of its much pricier counterparts, and produces fab results
Vitamix has developed a cult-like following for its powerful — albeit pricey — traditional countertop blenders over the past several years. Able to eviscerate, well, pretty much anything, the brand took top luxury honors in our review of the best blenders. So we’re really not surprised Vitamix’s take on the immersion blender performed just as strongly.
Like its big sister blender, the compact model is relatively expensive compared to the competition. At $150, it was the third priciest immersion blenders we tested, and only includes a motor body and blending wand, unlike some other models that included a range of accessories. Since one of the selling points of an immersion blender is that you just use it in the container you’re preparing your food we don’t really mind the lack of accessories here, but they do come in handy and adding them does get the cost of the unit up near $200, so it’s something to keep in mind.
For testing purposes, we added the 32-ounce blending jar ($19.95 at Vitamix) and whisk attachment ($19.95 at Vitamix) and we recommend investing in both — the whisk was of clearly superior construction to the whisks supplied with the other models, and while the jar’s mouth was a bit narrow (it was hard to dig hummus out with a spatula) we liked the dual sets of metric and imperial markings.
But first, the motor. The 110 volt Vitamix version boasts a 625-watt motor, the most powerful of those we tested. A single-button control lets you select from five variable speed settings that are clearly displayed via LEDs on top of the handle. It rose above the pack for its thoughtfully designed ergonomic handle that makes it super-easy to control speeds with one hand, even while in use.
The stainless steel blending wand with its four-blade design (all the others had three blades) attaches easily to the motor unit with a simple twist, locking into place, as does the whisking wand, and it was only one of only two models (the other was the Breville) to feature a plastic coating on its bell, a feature we love because it means you won’t have to worry about scratching up any non-stick pans or cutting yourself on the blade cage.
But best of all was the Vitamix’s performance during our recipe tests. It blended our green fruit smoothie much faster than any other model tested, taking just over 30 seconds and absolutely pulverizing all the ingredients. There wasn’t a hint of fibrous leaf material left behind and even the pesky blackberry seeds were practically undetectable when all was said and done. Our hummus came together lickety-split, with the perfect creamy texture and just-right consistency. While some hummus we made with other immersion blenders was a little too thin or a little too thick, the Vitamix nailed it (nope, we’re never buying store-bought hummus again). The root vegetable soup? Again, completely smooth with not a trace of rosemary or thyme stalk or even the slightest chunk of vegetable. Like all of the immersion blenders we tested, the Vitamix turned out great whipped cream; the whisk (again, a separate purchase) was of clearly superior construction to the whisks supplied with the other models.
Of course, nothing’s perfect. With so much power, it is really important to watch your speed when using this immersion blender, especially if you’re working within a smaller container. The smoothie, for example, was perfection on low power and speed modes, but when we amped it up, it splashed all over the counter (and our T-shirt). Lesson learned: Staying on low power solved that issue. And, sorry, but it’s not completely dishwasher safe (the jar and whisk are, but not the whisk attachment itself). But, like all the blenders tested, cleaning these things is about as easy as it gets.
The Vitamix immersion blender is an investment, especially if you outfit it with the full suite of accessories. But with a three-year warranty, serious power, high-quality construction and clever design, we think it’s worth every penny. And just think how much you’ll save on hummus.
We’re not gonna lie: Since it’s priced at a mere $30 — half the price of its closest competitor — we didn’t necessarily have the highest of expectations for Nutribullet’s compact hand blender. But keeping an open mind, we were more than pleasantly surprised. It did well on all the tests we threw at it, often outperforming much more expensive models.
The box includes a 350-watt motor body, stainless steel blending wand and whisk attachment; It measures 16 inches long (when put together) and was relatively lightweight at 2 pounds (the models we tested ranged from 2 to 4 pounds assembled). The Nutribullet’s wand twists on and locks into place with ease and we found the ergonomic design delivered a comfy grip and the speed controls were among the easiest to use of the various models we tested. Two buttons let you select between low and high power ranges, while a dial lets you fine-tune the speed within those ranges.
During our four recipe tests it did an admirable job. Our green fruit smoothie had nary a trace of kale or spinach leaf, and the Nutribullet did the job third-fastest of all of the blenders we tested. The hummus came together quickly, with a smooth, even texture, and our root vegetable soup was blended completely smooth with little time or effort. We used the included whisk attachment, just as easy to lock into place as the wand, to make whipped cream, and also ended up with fast and fluffy results.
Both the wand and whisk detached fuss-free with a simple turn and clean-up, for the most part was a breeze. The motor body, blending wand and plastic whisk attachment base are not dishwasher safe (the whisk itself is), but everything was easy to clean with little need for any extra elbow grease. To clean the thicker hummus from behind the blade, we simply dipped the blender in a jar of soapy water and it came right off.
We do wish the Nutribullet came with a blending jar with measurement markings for convenience sake, but it’s certainly not a dealbreaker (and even our much more expensive top pick doesn’t come with one either). A large wide-mouth Mason jar will do the trick. We did note a bit of vibration in use on some of the tests, though not enough to make it difficult to use. And the one-year limited warranty was shorter than those offered on most of the models we looked at.
Because of its low price, we will be interested to see how well this model stands the test of time (though we have seen mostly positive user reviews on retail sites). If you’re not sure whether you’d use an immersion blender very often but are eager to find out, at $30, this is the perfect product to take a chance on.
One of the immersion blender’s best features is its convenience. Small enough to tuck away in a kitchen drawer, it doesn’t take up counter space like a blender or food processor, plus it’s lighter in weight and easier to use than a hand mixer. They’re great for tasks like pureeing soups because you can just use the blender right in your pot with no waiting or potentially messy fuss of pouring hot soup into a traditional blender and dirtying yet more dishes, and they let you whip up or blend small batches of most anything you need in whatever container you’re using.
The models we tested ranged in power from 280 to 625 watts and all provide variable speed control, which allows you better control over the consistency of your blending and lets you avoid splashing (you’ll always want to start at a low speed and work your way up as needed).
All the immersion blenders we tested had detachable wands and attachments, making them easy to store and clean. While none of the motor units and the majority of the blender wands we tested are not dishwasher safe, all were simple to rinse in the sink. Stubborn stuck food could be easily removed by running the blender for a few seconds in a jar of soapy water. Also, one note on safety: Because the blades are exposed, be sure your blender is unplugged before removing the wand to avoid any accidental injury.
Speaking of blades, when it comes to the blade guards (also called cages), all the models we tested were stainless steel, which is recommended for longevity and heat resistance, although their shapes and sizes varied slightly. Some had slits or holes for added circulation, but we found those could trap food like kale and also lead to more splashing.
A few higher-end models featured plastic guards at the edge of the blade, which we preferred. Not only did it protect our soup pot from scratches and marks, but there were no jagged or sharp edges to worry about that could lead to accidental nicks or cuts.
Another thing to look out for is included accessories. While some blenders simply include the motor and wand, others also feature a blending cup, whisk attachment and even chopping bowls. A blending cup with marked measurements is certainly useful, but not a dealbreaker, as the blender will work in any big-enough glass, ceramic, stainless steel or plastic bowl or jar. And, often, you’ll be using your immersion blender straight in a pot or bowl. If you’re looking for something mostly to make smoothies or other blended drinks, a personal blender might be a better choice anyway.
Finally, when shopping for immersion blenders, one of the biggest factors to consider is the comfort of use. Where the speed controls are located makes a big difference when you’re using one hand to control the blender (your other hand will most likely be holding the blending jar), and we found models that make it simple to change speeds with your finger or thum
Tired of dealing with massive countertop appliances? An immersion blender takes up no space and powers through mixing chores
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