If you’re into making smoothies and milkshakes or love homemade soup, then a blender is a nifty and useful addition to your kitchen – the best blenders can blitz your ingredients to a smooth consistency in seconds.
But do you need a traditional jug blender or would a personal blender such as the Nutribullet suit you better? And what features are really useful to have?
In the expert guide and video above, we tell you what to look for when you begin your jug blender hunt, how much you'll need to spend to get a decent one and whether the Nutribullet blender is worth the hype.
Most blenders cost between £30-£150, but there are some super-premium 'professional-grade' blenders from brands such as Blendtec, Sage and Vitamix which cost significantly more - sometimes more than £500.
Super-premium blenders claim to tackle many more food preparation tasks, such as milling grains, making nut milk, heating soup and chopping veg. Some also have lengthy guarantees and claim to be more durable than cheaper models.
The good news is that you don't have to spend a lot to get hold of a brilliant blender – we've found decent blenders for less than £40. And some pricier blenders have disappointed in our tests, so it's worth checking our reviews before blowing the budget on a premium model.
We've found that more power doesn't always equal better blending, but if you want features such as a high-quality BPA-free plastic jug, extra blades/jugs for different food preparation jobs, or a long guarantee, you'll need to pay more.
If you're in the market for a blender, chances are someone has told you to get a Nutribullet. There are now five Nutribullet models to choose from, all of which are based on the original Nutribullet 600.
This compact blender can handle blending whole fruit and veg, and pours your smoothie straight into a sealable cup. It costs around £60, and has two different blades – one for blitzing fruit and veg and a flat blade for milling nuts and seeds.
The simple design of the Nutribullet and its handy one-portion travel cups make for quick, simple blending. But at £60 for the entry level it's expensive for a low-capacity blender. There are plenty of rivals to consider, so if you think a blender like the Nutribullet might be for you, first read our guide to . You can see how the all five Nutribullet blenders scored in Which? lab tests by heading to our .
Smoothie makers are similar to jug blenders, except that they have a dispensing tap so you can pour your smoothie straight from the jug into your glass.
They're no longer widely available. If you're looking for a convenient and speedy smoothie maker, a personal blender such as the Nutribullet may be a better choice, as we've found that the taps on smoothie makers tend to clog easily.
Confusingly, some blenders also describe themselves as juicers. Juicers extract juice from fruit and veg, leaving you with a thin, clear drink, and pile of waste pulp. Blenders blitz all the fruit and veg together, forming a thicker mixture with no waste pulp.
In our tests, lots of blenders do a good job of blending soup. But transferring soup from the pan to the blender and back can be messy and time-consuming, especially if you're making a big batch.
If you mostly want to make soup, it's worth considering a soup maker. These have a heating element at the bottom of the jug, which means you can blend and cook your soup all in the same appliance. They usually also have a smoothie setting, so you might not need to get a blender as well.
Vacuuming blending is a recent trend with some new expensive blenders. They can take air out of the jug or cup before blending. It's often claimed that this produces brighter, more flavourful smoothies with fewer bubbles and less foam on top, and that the smoothie should separate out into layers less over time.
Bigger claims can even include that it will stay fresh for longer and retain more of the nutrients of the original ingredients. With ordinary blenders, the high-speed blending action can introduce lots of air into the mix. So, in theory, the lack of oxygen in the blending jug would help to prevent the smoothie oxidising – in the same way that avocados or apples go brown – by preventing enzymes from undergoing a chemical reaction that creates melanin. The lack of oxygen should also help to stop water-soluble vitamins, such as B-complex vitamins and vitamin C, from oxidising – helping to preserve the amount of each in your smoothie.
In our , we found that it produces a smoothie with fewer bubbles and less foam on top. But the smoothies weren't brighter or more flavourful, and didn't have less separation. We kept them in the fridge for four days, and found it didn't stay fresh for longer, either.
Don't shop for a blender without using our checklist below to ensure you get a blender with the extra features you really need.
Blender jug: Plastic is lighter but can absorb odours and get scratched over time. Glass jugs are sturdier and look more upmarket, but can be very heavy when full. You'll pay more for high-quality plastics such as BPA-free Tritan, which is extra strong, light and looks like glass, but offers the best of both worlds.
Dishwasher-safe parts: Washing up can be laborious, so look for a blender where the parts are dishwasher safe. It's handy if the blade is removable, so it can be separated from the jug and thoroughly cleaned.
Personal blending cups: Some jug blenders come with an extra smaller blending cup and lid as well as the standard blending container. Useful if you want to take your smoothie to work or the gym.
Speed settings: Variable speeds give more blending control. Most blenders have at least two speeds, while some have programs designed for specific tasks, such as milkshakes or ice crushing.
Ice crushing: More advanced models sometimes have an ice crush setting for making cold smoothies or frozen drinks. If your blender isn’t suitable for crushing ice, it can blunt the blades.
Milling / Grinding blade: Some models will have an extra jug and blades for drier jobs such as grinding coffee beans or nuts.
Tamper: This is a stick used to safely push ingredients towards the blending blades when stuck. Handy for thicker mixes such as instant ice cream, but ideally the blender shouldn't need manual intervention to blend smoothly.
Jug blender lids: Some models have a jug lid that incorporates a strainer that can filter out any remaining lumps when you pour. Many have removable inserts in the lid, which means you can add ingredients as you go along for precise blending jobs, such as when making homemade mayonnaise.
Cable storage: Cable storage keeps the cable tidy when not in use, and some machines have plug storage, too.
Smart connectivity: This is when a blender can connect with your smartphone to unlock extra features. The only smart blender we've tested is the that, the manufacturer claims, will work with an app on your phone to analyse the nutritional content of your smoothie.