What’s the difference between a smoothie blender, a regular blender, and a food processor?
When considering a smoothie blender, you might wonder what the difference is between a smoothie maker, a regular blender, or even a food processor. Smoothie blenders are better designed to crush ice and make frozen drinks, while regular blenders don’t have ice-crushing power and tend to be more expensive. Food processors, while excellent at chopping solids and ice, tend to leak when they’re filled with liquid, and are too small to make a generous smoothie serving.
What kinds of drinks/food can I make with a smoothie blender?
Since smoothie blenders are good at breaking up ice and other solids, there are a lot of dishes you can make besides fruit smoothies. This includes pesto’s, soup, frozen yogurt, salsa, dips, frozen beverages, flour mixes, and milkshakes. Some smoothie makers are even able to chop up spices, nuts and coffee beans. With a really versatile smoothie maker, you could potentially replace a food processor.
How much power do smoothie makers have?
When making smoothies, thick fruits and veggies are frequently used, so you want a smoothie blender with some power. A smoothie’s power is measured in wattage since they are powered by electricity. In general, the smaller the blender, the less wattage they have. The smaller ones also tend to have trouble crushing ice and chewing through frozen fruits or veggies. A personal-sized blender with good power will have about 700 watts. 900 watts is an example of a higher-powered smoothie maker, and the really powerful ones can be as much as 1000 watts or more. Smoothie blenders measure speed in RPM (revolutions per minute), so a smoothie blender with a high wattage and high RPM will pierce through thick fruit-and-veggie skin very quickly.
Does the number of blending functions matter?
Many blenders have as many as ten blending functions. These functions can be very precise and designed for specific jobs, like “Grate” and “Chop.” Whether or not a high number of blending functions matters to you depends on what you want the blender to do. Having a lot of blending functions means more versatility, and you can make different foods than just smoothies, like pesto’s, frozen yogurt, and so on. If you plan on using your smoothie blender for mainly smoothies, you probably don’t need a lot of blending functions.
What is the capacity range?
In terms of how many servings a smoothie maker can make, there are blender that are designed for just a single person (personal blenders), and others that can make enough for a crowd. The capacity is generally measured in ounces, so a 40-ounce smoothie blender will make about 5 cups. A more expensive appliance can make as much as 64 ounces. Some smoothie blenders, like from the Ninja brand, come with pods you can switch out so you can make smoothies as small as 18 ounces as well as larger sizes.
What portability features do smoothie blenders have?
For the smoothie-lover on the go, lots of blender brands come with features designed for you. Personal smoothie blenders are often small enough to take back and forth from different places, like parties, while others come with sports bottles or lids that turn the actual blender container into a portable bottle. Magic Bullet and Hamilton Beach have several smoothie blenders that come with travel pieces, like storage lids and containers for easy portability.
What kinds of special technologies are there?
There have been a lot of technological advances over the years that make smoothie blenders more convenient and more effective. Hamilton Beach frequently uses special blades with Wave-Action to better mix smoothies. The blades pull liquids from the top, so everything gets stirred evenly. Ninja smoothie makers also have special blades, called Pro-Extractor blades, that are extra thick and powerful enough to blend ice, fruit skin, stems, and seeds. Many other smoothie maker brands have preset blending functions, like “Crush Ice” and “Smoothie”, so you don’t have to experiment with time and power; you just push a button, and you’re all set.
What is the maintenance process for a smoothie blender?
When it comes to keeping a smoothie blender clean and in good shape, many are glass and dishwasher-safe, which makes cleanup easy. Some parts of a blender, like the base, need to be washed by hand. You should also check to see if the blender parts (like the blade) come detached from the base, or you’ll have to be careful when you’re washing it. Another maintenance concern is a smoothie blender motor overheating. If the motor gets too overworked, it will shut down and you have to wait or unplug the blender for a while. Look for thermal protections, which guard the motor against motor damage from running it too long.
What safety concerns should I be aware of?
Since smoothie blenders tend to be smaller than regular blenders, you don’t have to worry about weight. Still, some of the bigger smoothie blenders will be heavy, so you should take care to not let small children try to lift them. You should also be careful with glass containers, since they could break in storage or even the dishwasher. Most modern appliances have an auto shut-off, so when the container is separated from the motor base, it turns off, so you don’t have to worry about getting caught in the motor.
What kind of noise level should I expect?
Smoothie makers chop and blend up solid foods like ice and frozen fruit, so they can be pretty loud. In general, the more powerful the machine, the louder it is. If the majority of the blender is made out of plastic instead of metal it will make it louder. Some more powerful motors are designed to be as quiet as possible, though you should expect to pay more for features like this. If you are sensitive to noise, you should consider getting a smaller blender with a high RPM. This way, even though the blender might be loud, it is fast, so you don’t have to run it as long to get the evenly-blended results you’re looking for.
How much do smoothie blenders cost?
There is a wide price range for smoothie blenders. Vitamix is a very popular brand right now, and it’s also the most expensive. These appliances can be in the triple digits or even in the $1000’s. Ninja is also a really popular brand with some very affordable blender options, especially for smaller sizes. Magic Bullet, which was all the rage for a while, are reasonably affordable and tend to come in sets with a lot of pieces, like travel bottles and storage containers. Hamilton Beach is very affordable pretty much across the board.