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Blender, juicer or smoothie maker?

By Jane Darling

We explain the pros and cons of each to help you choose the right gadget for you.

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Want to make tasty drinks at home but can't decide whether you need a blender, juicer or smoothie maker? We'll help you figure out what's best for you, including whether a Nutribullet is the ultimate solution.

Should I get a jug blender, personal blender or smoothie maker? Is juicing better? Should I buy a Nutribullet instead? How much do I need to spend? We answer the questions the retailers don't, to help you find the right product for you - and save money. 

Read on to find out the pros and cons of buying a jug blender, juicer or smoothie maker, and get the lowdown on whether the Nutribullet is better.

If you already know what you want, head straight to our blender reviews or juicer reviews to find out which products did well in our tough independent tests. 

Jug blender pros and cons

The classic blender has long been a kitchen staple. Good blenders will whip up a lovely smoothie in seconds, and can also be used for soups, sauces, and things such as homemade mayo.

Should I buy a jug blender?
  Pros Cons
  • Versatile; can be used for a wide range of smoothies, soups, cocktails, sauces and even ice cream
  • Most models can also chop, purée and crush ice
  • Some are specially designed for soup making, with built-in heating elements
  • Uses the whole fruit, so little waste
  • Can add dairy, nuts, protein powders and other ingredients to the mix
  • Usually easy to clean
  • Models available from £10, with Best Buy blenders  available from less than £30
  • No tap to dispense your blended drink (although these usually aren't very good anyway)
  • Not really suitable for juicing, although some come with filter sieves that are supposed to separate out the pulp
  • Can be bulky to store
  • Need to get the right balance of ingredients to avoid a really thick or bitty drink

Find out what to look for and more on jug blenders with our expert guide to how to buy the best blender.

Juicer pros and cons

A good juicer will speedily extract all the juice from your fruit and veg, making a delicious fresh juice drink. Juicing can be a simple way to include more varied fruit and veg into your diet.

Should I buy a juicer?
  Pros Cons
  • Designed to separate the juice from the pulp, leaving you with a smooth, clear drink
  • Some (masticating) models can also be used for other food prep tasks such as grinding coffee beans and mincing meat
  • Best Buy juicer models available from less than £40
  • Large range to choose from, with different sizes, features and prices
  • Good for vegetable-based drinks
  • Not usually suitable for making smoothies, although some pricier models come with attachments to help you create thicker drinks
  • Not good at dealing with soft or starchy fruits, such as bananas and berries
  • Usually have at least five parts that need cleaning
  • Wasteful; it takes a lot of fruit to get a decent amount of juice
  • Can't generally handle other smoothie ingredients, such as nuts or dairy
  • Bulky

Discover the difference between masticating and centrifugal juicers (plus which is best for wheatgrass) with our guide to how to buy the best juicer.

Smoothie maker pros and cons

Smoothie makers are very similar to blenders. The only major difference is that smoothie makers have taps to dispense your blended drinks from, so you can blend and dispense straight into your glass.

Should I buy a smoothie maker?
  Pros Cons
  • Has a dispensing tap to pour your smoothie straight from the jug and stop potentially heavy lifting
  • Generally comes with a stirring stick (tamper) to help you mix your drinks
  • No longer widely available; little choice
  • Dispensing taps are difficult to clean and tend to pour slowly

If you want a speedy and convenient smoothie-making experience, a personal or mini blender may be the solution. To find out more, take a look at our guide to how to buy the best personal blender or read on for a quick overview of the pros and cons.

Should I buy a Nutribullet?

The original Nutribullet 600 was a runaway success a few years ago. It claims to be the best of both worlds – saying that it doesn't juice or blend, but 'extracts' the nutrients from food. And because it has a separate blade for grinding nuts, beans and coffee beans, it can also take on some of the jobs of a food processor.

Don't believe the marketing though. All the Nutribullets - the family has burgeoned to five now - work just like standard blenders. However, the design, in which you blend using a smaller personal blending cup that then converts into a travel cup for your smoothie, is clever and convenient. The Nutribullets have no buttons or settings, and the simplicity is appealing.

But how well do these Nutribullets blend compared with standard jug blenders? Find out with our Nutribullet guide: Nutribullet blenders compared.

Personal blender pros and cons

The Nutribullet isn't the only personal blender we've tested. There's plenty of choice among brands such as Nutri Ninja, Philips, Sage and Russell Hobbs, if you think this type of mini blender might be right for you. They tend to be popular with people who want a quick and easy way to make and transport smoothies.

Should I buy a personal blender?
  Pros Cons
  • Blends straight into a cup you can drink from
  • Cups usually have lids so you can easily transport or store your smoothie
  • Some come with sports bottles – ideal for taking a protein-based smoothie to the gym
  • Compact and easy to store
  • Usually very simple to use - with just one control button, or none at all
  • Tend to be easy to clean
  • Models available from around £20 (although the Nutribullet 600 is around £60)
  • Smaller than jug blenders; so you can't blend big batches in one go
  • Lack features of more expensive models, such as timers, programs or multiple speed settings
  • Models with skinny sports bottles can be harder to clean

To see our independent reviews and find the best mini blender for you, go straight to our blender reviews.

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