Benchtop blenders are the workhorses of the kitchen. Here's how to find the right one for you.
Which blender for the job?
For crushing ice or frozen berries, a benchtop is the best bet. But a hand-held may do the trick if you’re mainly pureeing soft foods or chopping vegetables.
“Super” blenders can do more than a regular benchtop blender – using blade friction they can blend raw ingredients into a hot soup in a few minutes, process nuts and seeds into a paste, make sorbet from frozen fruit, mill grain into flour, and make dough.
Our tests for super blenders included making nut butter, sorbet from frozen fruit, milling almonds and making dough. For our newly tested super blenders we’ve also made hot soup from raw ingredients.
The force generated by super blenders means they create more air and heat than a regular blender. In our test, we found green smoothie temperatures rose by as much as 10°C (regular blenders rose up to 2°C). To chill a too-warm smoothie, just add ice.
We also measured how noisy the super blenders were blending kale on their highest setting. Blenders are noisy if they are between 65-79 decibels, and very noisy 80 decibels or higher. Most of us perceive sound louder than 80dB as uncomfortable, which is about as loud as a noisy cafeteria. The noise could be even louder when processing hard fruit or vegetables, crushing ice or making soup.
Benchtop blender features
If you’re choosing a new benchtop blender, here’s what to look for.
You want a lightweight and stable jug that’s easy to lift, comfortable to hold and stays firmly on the bench. Glass jugs are heavier and prone to breaking if dropped. Plastic jugs are lighter, but may become stained with certain foods like turmeric.
Measurement gradings on the side of the jug can be a useful cooking tool, and indicate how much you can put in your blender.
Check the lid is easy to remove – the suction on some lids can make them tricky to remove.
Sealed controls help keep food out of crevices.
A good-sized chute helps add ingredients without spills while the blender is on. Some blenders come with a tamper so you can safely move ingredients around while the blender is on. Tampers are handy if you’re making nut butters.
Cleaning is easier when the blender has a removable blade.
Some jugs are dishwasher-safe, but check the jug will fit in your dishwasher.
A pulse function gives a short burst of power and is useful for small quantities, especially dry ingredients, to encourage even blending.
Some models come with pre-programmed settings like soup, green smoothie or sorbet.
In our test kitchen we had a smoothie explode all over the place – the lid was off a jug and the pulse button was accidentally activated.
An incident like this can easily happen so it’s important you take a few precautions:
Be aware of where the controls are positioned and how they work.
Don’t blend boiling hot soup – wait for it to cool first.
Make sure the lid is securely on and keep the lid on when removing the jug in case you accidentally bump the controls.
Turn the appliance off at the power point first before removing the lid.
Don’t overfill the jug – especially with hot liquids.
Don’t go over the maximum blending times recommended in the instructions.
Look for a blender with a safety cut-out time, lid lock and measuring cap lock.
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