What Are High-Performance Blenders, and Are They Worth the Cost?
Will they take really your smoothie to the next level?
If you ask someone who owns a high-performance blender how they like it, you'll likely be met with a fanatically positive response. Indeed, these machines may not be able to change your life, but they can definitely make a major impact on your cooking and eating. If you're considering one, it's helpful to know what differentiates a high-performance blender and a "regular" blender. The powerful motor is key—Erica Chang, brand marketing manager at Hurom, says that power equals speed. "Standard blenders typically use motors that use 500 to 1,000 watts," while high-speed blenders use "more than 1,000 watts," she says. (Hurom's Hexa Power High-Speed Blender uses a 1,600-watt motor, which is roughly two horsepower.)
Mary Rodgers, director of marketing communications at Cuisinart, says that the cutting blade and blender jar are other important players in a high-performance blender. (Her company's Hurricane Velocity features a powerful 2.25 peak horsepower motor.) Vitamix's Scott Hackman, VP of strategy, brand, and marketing, concurs, saying, "The blades are shaped to optimize both smashing and cutting," and the container "creates a circular flow that ensures that all of the food is fully liquidized."
Put all of these things together, and you're able to bring some less-loved ingredients up to some of your most-loved (we're looking at you, kale). In essence, a high performance blender, like the Vitamix 5200, is a tool that makes "maintaining a whole-food and healthy lifestyle easy," says Hackman.
What can they do that others can't? The most obvious one is that high-performance blenders are amazing with "difficult" ingredients, such as frozen bananas, stringy celery, and nuts—they can quickly turn an entire bag of almonds into spreadable butter. Where standard blenders will struggle or get stuck blending ice, nuts, or fibrous ingredients, a high-performance blender will whiz right through them, giving you silky smooth results (goodbye, chunks, pulp, and seeds).
A kitchen workhorse, the high-performance blender can chop, grind, purée, and juice. That means it can transform single ingredients into something else entirely: sugar becomes powdered sugar, corn kernels become cornmeal, almonds (and water) become almond milk. Another great use for these appliances: making hot soup. There's no need for a heating element, since the friction of the blades can quickly warm vegetables and broth as they blend. On top of all this, they're quite durable, with Vitamix owners often telling the company they pass their blenders down from generation to generation.
So, why are they so expensive? One reason comes down to the hardware itself. The blades, the motor, the blender jar—all of these elements you find in high-performance blenders are several notches above ones you see in standard blenders. The engineering technology behind these machines is another factor that impacts the price. For instance, they're made to perform at a high level—in fact, when you run a Vitamix at its top speed, it kicks the blender's internal fan, which improves airflow and keeps the motor cool, so "burning out" isn't really a concern.
Now, for the million-dollar (well, not quite) question: Are high-performance blenders worth the cost? If you make smoothies everyday or want to make juice at home rather than buying it everyday (that cost soon adds up), then yes. But if the smoothies made with pre-chopped ingredients, milkshakes, and frozen drinks are all that are on your wish list, then probably not, says Eric O'Neill, director of brand marketing, blending at Newell Brands, which includes Oster, makers of the Versa High Performance Blender. On the other hand, if you want a gorgeously smooth smoothie from tricky ingredients like kale, or if you want to incorporate more healthy ingredients into your diet, then the answer is likely yes. Life-changer may be a stretch, but game changer? We think so.