TYPES OF BLENDERS: HOW TO CHOOSE
From summer smoothies to winter soups, the blender is a must-have in any kitchen. With so many types, sizes and features of blenders available, choosing the best type of blender can be tough. When deciding what to look for in a blender, it all comes down to which blender best enables your culinary goals and explorations.
You may be asking yourself: what blender should I buy? How much room you have to store your blender, what recipes you plan to make and how often you think you will use it are all things to take into account when figuring out what the best blender is for you. We’ll break down the types of blenders and their uses so you can easily shop the best blender for your favorite recipes.
DIFFERENT TYPES OF BLENDERS
There are three main types of blenders: countertop blenders, immersion blenders and personal blenders. The countertop blender is the classic kitchen appliance featuring a motor base beneath a jar with blades inside. A personal blender is a smaller version of this that usually makes 1-2 servings at a time. An immersion blender is handheld and features a long arm with blades at the end. This blender type is placed directly into your food, rather than the other way around.
While blenders can vary widely in size, design and features, the information discussed below will give you a general idea of the typical differences between the three most common types of blenders:
1. COUNTERTOP BLENDER
The type of blender that usually comes to mind is this popular countertop appliance that includes a base containing the motor, a clear pitcher or jar and a plastic lid. These traditional blenders are the kind you see in a bar, coffee shop or smoothie shop. They offer multiple speeds that are designed for mixing, blending, chopping and more.
When purchasing a countertop blender, there are several factors to consider:
Blenders come with jars that have different capacities, typically between 4 and 8 cups. If you plan to make larger quantities in your blender, consider a larger model, such as the KitchenAid® High Performance Series blender.
The motor strength, often described by wattage or Horsepower (HP), determines how much power it can bring to the job. If you’re looking to try green smoothies using fibrous vegetables such as kale, be sure to choose from higher-powered blenders, such as the KitchenAid® K400 series or Pro Line® Series.
TYPE OF PITCHER OR JAR
Some blender jars have double wall thermal control jars for pureeing hot soups and sauces and keeping them warm, while most have single-walled jars.
FEATURES & ACCESSORIES
You’ll appreciate a blender jar lid with a removable center cap so you can add in ingredients while it runs. Drizzling in oil as you blend is necessary for creamy and smooth emulsified sauces and salad dressings. Most KitchenAid® countertop blenders also mark the removable cap with measurement guidelines so you can use it to add precise amounts. KitchenAid® Pro Line® Series and select K400 Blenders also come with a tamper to safely push ingredients toward the blending vortex and scrape the sides of the jar to ensure thorough blending. KitchenAid now offers expansion packs for the K150 and K400 Blenders that include a Personal Blending Jar and a Small Batch Jar for even more versatility. Browse all countertop blenders from KitchenAid brand to learn more about features and accessories.
Some blenders have specific settings for common uses. The KitchenAid® K400 model has 3 Preset Recipe Programs: Ice Crush, Icy Drinks and Smoothie to deliver ideal performance for each task, like making frozen margaritas. The Pro Line® Series Blender with Thermal Control Jar includes programs for smoothies and juices, as well as blending and heating soups to serve and enjoy hot right from the jar.
Some blenders, such as the KitchenAid® K150 3 Speed Ice Crushing Blender models, have buttons to move between 5 different speeds, while others like the KitchenAid® High Performance Series or K400 models have dials to move from low to high speeds in increments for tasks like making chutney or salsa. Many blenders also have a pulse button for quick bursts of blending.
Blenders such as the K150 and K400 models are designed with the Soft Start® Feature that starts the motor at a slower speed to pull food into the blade, then quickly increases to the selected speed setting. The Intelli-Speed® Motor Control senses and maintains the selected speed to power through whatever your recipe calls for.
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2. IMMERSION BLENDER
Immersion blenders, also known as hand blenders or stick blenders, allow you to mix directly in the bowl, pot or cup of your choice. This type of blender is compact and easily stored, an advantage for those with small kitchens or people who want to take their blender on the go. Since they don’t have a jar with a set capacity, you can blend a little or a lot at once.
If you’ve seen a milkshake machine in an ice cream shop or restaurant, you’ve watched the server push the cup of ice cream and ingredients up onto the descending blender arm. Immersion blenders are a handheld, home version of this same concept. Some models, like select KitchenAid® immersion blenders, are available in cordless configurations so you can prep on any counter or tabletop in your kitchen.
Factors to consider when choosing an immersion blender include:
NUMBER OF SPEEDS
Stick blenders can vary from two to nine speeds, with some models featuring variable speeds so you can smoothly ramp up from mixing and chopping to whisking and whipping. This range of speeds lets you blend harder ingredients into a smooth consistency as well as whisk and aerate for light and fluffy results.
LENGTH OF BLENDING ARM
Most residential immersion blenders feature 8” blender arms which are good for standard stovetop pots, smaller containers or more shallow pots. If you’re making a large pot of soup, a longer blending arm of 12” or more will allow you to reach the bottom of the pot and keep your hands and arms further from the heat.
Some immersion blenders come with a variety of accessories, such as a blending cup with a lid, a pitcher, a whisk attachment or a food chopper that you can power with the blender’s motor.
View KitchenAid® immersion blender attachments here.
INTERCHANGEABLE BLENDING ARMS
Check out the KitchenAid® Cordless Variable Speed Hand Blender with interchangeable blending arms and bell blades. Simply twist off and on to switch the bell blades and quickly and easily crush ice, puree soup, froth milk and so much more.
CORDLESS OR PLUG-IN
Most immersion blenders come with cords of varying lengths. But if you want to walk around your kitchen with your hand blender or bring it to the table to finish pureeing just before eating, KitchenAid brand now offers a few cordless blender options. Free yourself up in the kitchen and beyond with a cordless model like the new KitchenAid® Cordless Hand Blender that comes in a range of colors to match your style.
If you’re looking to match your appliances with each other, or add a pop of color to your cooking scene, this factor will be important to you. KitchenAid® Variable Speed Corded Hand Blenders come in 10 colors to match your personal style, from classic Black or white to bright, bold, or calming hues like Aqua Sky, Empire Red and Pistachio. The new cordless hand blender also comes in a range of 7 colors including Blue Velvet for a modern take on a vintage vibe.
Learn more about why you need an immersion blender to open creative possibilities in your kitchen.
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3. PERSONAL BLENDER OR PORTABLE BLENDER
For smoothie lovers who are always on the go, a personal blender can be just the right choice. Although they’re typically not as powerful or versatile as traditional blenders, they are good for single-serving protein shakes, milkshakes and soft ingredients like bananas, fresh fruit and yogurt. Personal blenders are designed for those who appreciate a liquid breakfast or a blended afternoon pick-me-up.
KitchenAid brand now offers Personal Blending Jar and Small Batch Jar expansion packs for the K400 and K150 models. The Personal Blender Jar comes with a blade assembly that attaches to the countertop blender base for quick and easy single-serve blending. It also comes with a sealed, screw-on lid for smoothies, frappes or breakfast on the go. The Small Batch Jar is perfect for making sauces, dressings and even blending homemade baby food. A convenient sealed lid lets you blend and store contents in the same container.
These expansions are a great option if you frequently make small batches or smoothies for one, but still want to keep the versatility and larger capacity of a full-sized blender.
Some immersion blenders provide the same convenience and travel capabilities as a personal blender. The KitchenAid® 2-Speed Hand Blender and the new Cordless Hand Blender both include a 3-cup blending jar with a secure lid.
Making your morning smoothie to drink now or later is quick and simple with the advantage of an easy clean up. Add your ingredients to the cup, blend with your hand blender, rinse off the stick and blades and enjoy your smoothie or protein shake right away, or attach the lid to take it with you to the office or gym.
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OTHER CONSIDERATIONS FOR SELECTING A TYPE OF BLENDER
HOW YOU PLAN TO USE YOUR BLENDER
The kinds of things you plan to make with your blender will help you determine which model is right for you.
If crushing ice is a key use for your blender, look for models such as the KitchenAid® K150 or Classic models that include “ice crush” features.
If your smoothie-making will include fresh, fibrous greens such as kale, you’ll need a heavier duty blender with a larger motor such as the K400 or High Performance Series® Blenders.
If soups, bisques and warm sauces are some of your favorite blender uses, then KitchenAid® Pro Line Series® Blenders with thermal control jars will allow you to blend hot mixtures easily and keep them warm for longer.
Emulsifying for mayonnaise or salad dressing can be done with either a traditional blender or an immersion blender. The difference may be how much you make at a time.
Whipping up whipped cream? An immersion blender will quickly take your topping from the refrigerator to the table.
Want to experiment with different foods like making horchata, homemade ice cream in a blender, or homemade peanut butter, for example? Any of our countertop blenders will do the trick.
Whether you have plenty of counter space and spend your time experimenting with new blender recipes, or you're just looking for a compact appliance to help with small, quick tasks, think about your lifestyle and your kitchen space when choosing a blender.
If you don’t have a lot of counter space for a traditional blender or you’re always on the go, you may prefer the ease, compact size and convenience of an immersion blender. Choose one with a food chopper accessory if you sometimes use a food processor to chop nuts or veggies and you’ll get a double-duty small appliance. If you’re considering a food processor vs a blender, read our guide to help you choose.
If you use a blender frequently for everyday meals, or if smoothies are a part of your morning routine, a traditional blender can reside right on your countertop. The versatility and power will allow you to blend a wide range of ingredients and experiment with a greater number of recipes and techniques. New blender expansion packs for the KitchenAid® K150 and K400 blenders bring even more versatility for blending tailored to your lifestyle. Try the Personal Blender Jar or the Small Batch Jar for powerful blending, made personal.
Pay attention to the horsepower of the blenders to determine how powerful the motor is. Soft ingredients can be mixed with any blender, but making nut butters, grating cheese or making hummus will require a high-power motor.
You want your new blender to last and you want to be able to trust the manufacturer to stand behind the blender’s construction. Blender warranties can range from a single year to up to a decade.
A two-speed immersion blender can be yours for around $30, while a professional or commercial blender can cost between $300 and $800. There are many models that exist in between as well. Consider your budget as well as your plans when deciding how to choose a blender. Whether you’re going for a top-of-the-line blender or starting off with a classic model, you’ll find KitchenAid brand quality throughout. Looking for a commercial blender? Learn more about professional appliances in our commercial baking buying guide.
CHOOSING THE BEST BLENDER FOR YOU AND YOUR FAMILY
You’re only limited by your imagination when it comes to what you can make with the right blender. KitchenAid opens the door to new possibilities for creative and passionate Makers with its extensive line of countertop and immersion blenders, each one backed by quality engineering and performance. Whichever blender you choose, exploring new tastes and textures as well as whipping up your favorite blends has never been easier.
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What Is an Immersion Blender & Why Do You Need One? An immersion blender is ideal for many cooking uses like quickly blending soups, smoothies and more with fast clean-up. Here’s why you need a hand blender.
Food Processor vs Food Chopper: What’s the Difference Learn the difference between a full-size food processor and an electric mini food chopper and why you may need both in your kitchen.