Wednesday, 4 February 2009 | Tags: ,

Made popular by soda shops in the early 20th century, blenders have many uses in the modern-day kitchen. From milkshakes to crushed ice, purees to chopped nuts we find out the best qualities and features to look for in a countertop blender.

The Basics

  • Counter-top blenders are great for getting rid of all the lumps. Handheld or immersion blenders work well for lighter-duty jobs that don’t require as much pulverization.

  • Glass jars are best because they don’t warp, crack (unless dropped), scratch or retain food odours like plastic. Plus, they’re see-through, making it easy to watch progress, unlike stainless steel jars.

  • Look for a jar that is dishwasher-safe.

  • The best jar design is almost cone-shaped, with a wide mouth at the top for putting food in, flat walls that taper toward the base for easy scraping, and a tapered shape that acts as a funnel to send the contents towards the blades.

  • Simple is best when considering speeds and buttons. Low, high, and pulse are the most commonly used functions, so you don’t necessarily need a whole bunch of buttons.

  • Dial control panels are easier to keep clean than button control panels, which have many crevices in which food can collect.

  • Look for a blender with at least 350 watts of power, but don’t worry too much about getting the highest wattage because it’s only a measurement of how much power the blender consumes, not its output.

  • Look for a jar lid with a removable centre, convenient for adding ingredients while stopping food from splashing up the sides.

  • Make sure the blades are set as close as possible to the blender’s bottom, which helps to create strong vortex, pulling food into the cutting area and stopping chunks from accumulating below the blades.

Other Considerations

  • If you really want a lot of control over the blending speed, consider a blender with a dial that allows you to start out at a slow blend and gradually increase the speed.

Be Aware

  • The shape of the jar will really make a difference to your blending.

    • Avoid jars that are cylindrical (same width from top to bottom) because chunks of food will be stuck at the bottom beyond the blades and require you to push it in constantly.

    • Avoid cloverleaf-shaped jars because they’re difficult to scrape down.

    • Avoid jars that have a small mouth and a wider middle or base area because you’ll have trouble scraping them down and putting food in.

  • Make sure you allow any hot food you’re blending to cool down first, or you could create pressure in the vacuum-tight jar and have a small explosion.


We recruited some girl guides to help us test our blenders as we crushed ice and cookies for some milkshakes.

  • Oster Osterizer Contemporary Classic Beehive: $89.99
. . Amazon.ca Amazon.com
  • KitchenAid 5-speed: $99.99
. . Amazon.ca Amazon.com
  • Black & Decker iBlend 5-speed: $99.99
. . Amazon.com
  • Breville Ikon Die-Cast: $199.99
. . Amazon.ca Amazon.com

(Note: prices listed above are approximate and in Canadian dollars)

Crush and Puree Test

We tried out each blender with our various ingredients and blended each for 30 seconds:

  • The Black and Decker didn’t do a great job crushing the ice and left some substantial chunks behind.

  • The Oster has only two settings: on and off. It did did a pretty good job crushing ice, but was also very loud.

  • The KitchenAid did an okay job blending the cookies and milk, but when we added the ice, it didn’t finish the job very well. We’re usually fans of KitchenAid products, but this one disappointed us.

  • The Breville blender was nice and quiet, and it did a great job crushing the ice. Far better than any of the others.


The Breville Ikon won the battle of the blenders, with its quietness and overall effectiveness. However, it’s also double the price of our other options, so our less expensive alternative pick is the Osterizer Classic Beehive.


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