Jug blenders: Smoothie makers vs jug blenders
Smoothie makers are marketed as a dedicated way to blend fruit into delicious drinks that can help you get your five a day. We've tested some smoothie makers to find out how they compare with jug blenders.
You can see full test results for all the jug blenders and smoothie makers we've tested in our jug blenders review.
Jug blender or smoothie maker?
These two machines are very similar – both have a motor unit and a lidded jug with a small spinning blade at the bottom. Most are a similar size and have a capacity of between 1.5 and 2.0 litres.
More expensive models tend to come with glass jugs, but this increases their weight from around 2kg to about 5kg.
The major difference between jug blenders and smoothie makers is that smoothie makers have taps to dispense your blended drinks from. This might sound like a handy addition, but in our tests we found that the taps made smoothie makers slow to pour from, and they took longer to wash up – you may be better off simply pouring from the jug spout.
Smoothie makers also generally come with a stirring stick to help you mix your drinks, although in our tests we got great results without using the stick. Lastly, while many jug blenders have rotary control dials, smoothie makers tend to have push-button controls – which you like best is down to personal preference.
In terms of style, smoothie makers are often shinier and sleeker. They may appeal to younger buyers and might encourage children to enjoy making their own healthier drinks. However, jug blenders are more versatile and have generally done better in our tests.
Visit our features explained page to see all the jug blender features you might want to look out for.
Whether you choose to make your smoothies in a dedicated smoothie maker or in a jug blender, follow these top tips to make delicious smoothies:
- Try freezing chopped bananas before adding them to your smoothie – they will make your smoothie cool and thick
- Frozen berries are often cheaper than fresh berries and taste great in a smoothie – so keep a tub in your freezer
- Buy your fruit in bulk to get the biggest savings
- Fruits that are in season are often on special offer – so make the most of strawberries, raspberries and blueberries in the summer and apples, blackberries and plums in the autumn
- Always add ice last, so it doesn't melt too quickly and dilute your smoothie – see our jug blenders reviews to find out which blenders can tackle ice
- Use the freshest fruit – if you wouldn't eat it, don't put it in your smoothie
- Get creative with your recipes – eating a variety of fruit and vegetables will help you get all the vitamins and minerals you need
- Try adding spices such as cinammon, nutmeg or ginger to give your smoothie an extra kick.
Are smoothies healthy?
Making your own smoothies will often work out cheaper than buying shop bought versions. But another good reason to make your own is so you can control exactly what's in your glass.
In December 2012 we found that of the 52 smoothies we tested, 24 of them contained at least 30g of sugar, and 41 had more sugar than a 250ml bottle of Coca-Cola.
While this sugar is natural, coming from the fruit itself rather than being added, there is a still a risk of tooth decay. Adding a little water to your smoothie will make the fruit go further, and will reduce the amount of sugar your smoothie contains per glass.
Shop-bought drinks are often gently pasteurised in order to extend their shelf life, which means some of the goodness is lost. Freshly made smoothies are the healthiest.