Best Blender: The 2023 Tasting Table Awards

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Blenders are an important player in any kitchen. Whether you're removing the lumps from a chunky soup, cheffing up an herby sauce, or chilling out with a frozen smoothie, a good blender always comes in handy. But it needs to be versatile, too — able to obliterate tough ice cubes as well as mince fine herbs. It is often the case that a machine performs well with certain tasks but falls short in other areas. Fortunately, Tasting Table is here to help. 

We tested several recognizable blenders priced at $100 or less and judged them based on five factors: noise, speed, mess and cleanup, design and interface, and texture. We also took the liberty of making the same recipes in every machine — our bright and fresh pesto and strawberry banana oatmeal smoothie — to see how each could handle both sweet and savory recipes with varying ingredients and textures. Here are our top picks along with the reasons they stand out and how to purchase them.

Read more about the 2023 Tasting Table Awards methodology and all the top picks here.

Best Overall: Cuisinart Smartpower Duet/Food Processor 7 Speed Blender

Hold on — who brought a food processor to a blender fight? The Cuisinart Smartpower Duet comes with a food processing chamber, and its settings indicate things you'd do with both machines, which is the main reason we love it so much. You can pulse on all the various settings or simply go straight into whatever you're aiming to do, whether that's crushing ice, pureeing, or simply mixing. We're suckers for machines that are easy to intuit, and the Cuisinart's clearly labeled buttons are exactly the kind of clarity we want in our kitchen appliances.

Aside from the interface, the overall design is worth mentioning as well — this blender has a sturdy base and a heavy, wide glass jar that can easily hold whatever you're blending and leave you with no fear of tipping once it's separated from the rest of the unit. The Cuisinart crushed ice and minced herbs fabulously well; no blender we tested produced a better texture for our pesto and smoothie tests. This is the blender we could most easily see ourselves using day after day, regardless of the recipe.

Purchase the Cuisinart Smartpower Duet/Food Processor 7 Speed Blender on Amazon for $73.

Best Performance: Ninja NJ601AMZ Professional Blender

If you want to feel like you're revving an engine in your kitchen, the Ninja NJ601AMZ Professional Blender is the one for you. This machine isn't complicated — there are only three speeds and four buttons total — but boy is it powerful. Its vertical blades absolutely pulverize anything put in its way, including ice and frozen fruit; herbs are helpless against this monster. It both feels and operates like a kitchen workhorse. 

This is the kind of blender that serves you well if you're regularly making large batches of sauces or beverages, given the lid's convenient pouring spout — frozen margaritas, anyone? We imagine the Ninja would absolutely nail a charred tomato salsa or any recipe in which you'd add your roasted vegetables to the blender whole. Size can be an issue here if you're in a smaller kitchen, and the vertical blade rotor is prone to letting smaller ingredients (pine nuts in our case) sneak underneath it. Cleaning the blades can be a little tricky, too, but the entire rotor pops right out with ease. This is a modern blender equipped with advanced power that can play an essential role in a busy, high-volume kitchen.

Purchase the Ninja NJ601AMZ Professional Blender on Amazon for $100.

Best for Small Kitchens: NutriBullet Pro

The NutriBullet Pro has become synonymous with smoothie making, and it's easy to understand why. Blenders don't come much simpler than this, and when you factor in its sleek design and compact size, you can't do a whole lot better if you're stuck in a house or apartment with cramped kitchen quarters.

Seriously, this thing can fit anywhere and blend just about anything; it made quick work of the basil and pine nuts in our pesto and held up well to the ice in our smoothies. Though it's only one speed, of course, the interchangeable screw-on tops make for added convenience whether you're blending up frozen drinks or a protein shake to take on the go. You won't be able to make a ton of whatever recipe you're going for, but the NutriBullet Pro has enough volume to fit two reasonably-sized smoothies comfortably in its container. You'll need a little more space for all the extra parts, but other than that, you can tuck this puppy into a tight corner and feel secure in the knowledge that whenever you pull it out to whip something up, it'll deliver.

Purchase the NutriBullet Pro on Amazon for $100.

Best Classic Design: Oster Core 16-Speed Blender with Glass Jar

You might've noticed that the machines on this list are a bit, shall we say, new-fangled. There are a million-and-one different blender designs out there today, all with their own pros and cons. That kind of variety is good. But there's a reason blenders looked the same for so long — sometimes the classics are all you need, and the Oster Core 16-Speed Blender is living, blending proof.

But just because this machine assumes a throwback form doesn't mean it isn't built to do the work in a modern kitchen. Per its name, the Oster Core comes with 16 speeds, all clearly labeled based on what exactly you're trying to do to the contents inside. A quick beat or mix? You got it. Making milkshakes or crushing plain old ice? No problem. Just be sure to flick the switch on the bottom toward whichever direction you'd like to blend (that took us a couple of tries to remember). This handled our sauce and smoothies with aplomb, and we'd be remiss if we didn't mention the metallic finish on the base. You might be able to find a blender with more flash or interesting features, but you certainly can't go wrong with this one.

Purchase the Oster Core 16-Speed Blender with Glass Jar on Amazon for $53.

Best Portable: BlendJet 2 Portable Blender

It makes sense that we're giving the award for portability to a blender that literally has "portable" in its name. The entire unit can fit in a backpack, tote bag, or large handbag, and is battery-powered, so it truly has no limits. Go ahead and stick it in your gym bag — the BlendJet 2 can easily whip up a quick protein shake in a pinch. Need a simple blender to keep in your desk at work for a quick citrus juice or smoothie?  This machine is the perfect fit.

Just make sure whatever you're making doesn't have ice, though — while our BlendJet handled the strawberries and bananas well, it couldn't do much with the ice cubes we placed inside it. You could tell it was working hard, too, so you definitely can't overload this thing with too many ingredients. Being forced to stick to soft fruits and simple liquids means this isn't the most prolific blender on the list, but it does have its merits as a mixer. And because of its size, cleanup is a breeze, too. 

Purchase the BlendJet 2 from Target for $45.