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Blender Performance

Cheap blenders are handy little appliances, and according to the blender reviews we read, they don't disappoint as long as your expectations are modest. Reviews indicate that the best cheap blenders are adept at liquid-based operations, like making smoothies and shakes or pureeing soup; a few can even crush ice, smash fruit, and make baby food.

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But for the most part, the cheapest blenders have limited uses and cannot tolerate over-use. The consensus among reviews written by consumers and experts seems to be that heavy demands (in terms of tasks and frequency of use) are best met by investing in a higher-priced model.

Blending.

For the most part, blender reviews say the low-priced models do a more than adequate blending job. Our two picks for best cheap blenders garner particularly favorable comments from reviewers. The personal-sized Hamilton Beach 51101 is a hands-down winner with a multitude of consumers, whose reviews on Target and Amazon rave about the smoothies and shakes it produces. Many note that the addition of frozen fruit or ice doesn't overtax the unit so long as you pulse in multi-second spurts. Several users also say this cheap single-serve blender easily handles small amounts of onions, garlic, and herbs, and that its performance beats out pricier single-serve models. The Cuisinart CSB-76 Smart Stick wins loud applause in reviews on sites like Viewpoints and Chefs Catalog, where users say this held-held model excels at soups, gravies, purees, and smoothies. Several moms assert it's a handy tool for making baby food and some cooks use it to blend eggs for omelets or crumble bread into crumbs.

Praise is forthcoming for the Kalorik BL-16909, whose fans write in blender reviews about its prowess in the smoothies and ice crushing arenas. Commenting in reviews on Overstock.com, several recommend adding frozen or solid ingredients for smoothies and shakes at the outset for the best results, and one user says the Kalorik BL-16909 makes a mean salsa. Although many consumers say daily use poses few challenges for this 500-watt model, a few reviews on Buzzillions caution that you must follow the instructions and run the blender for a maximum 60 seconds at a time to avoid motor burnout.

Assessments of the Oster 6843 12-Speed are, well, blended, according to blender reviews. As with other cheap blenders, most consumers use this model for smoothies and other liquid concoctions. Some reviews on the Target site report smooth results (smoothie heaven, says one) but others report the blending action is sluggish, leaves chunks of fruit, and can't handle vegetables. Several write about needing to use a spoon to free solids that get stuck in the blades. And while some consumers are thrilled with its ice-crushing muscle, others posting on Kmart caution against testing this capability every day. Tests by Good Housekeeping seem to validate users' experience. These experts say the Oster 6843 does a good job grinding coffee beans and making smoothies but fares poorly on frozen drinks and is only adequate for onion-chopping.

Blenders reviews of the Black & Decker BLC12650HB Cyclone are largely unenthusiastic. Users gripe about dull blades and big chunks of ice left floating in smoothies, although a few are satisfied with its blending performance.

Durability.

We found a substantial number of blender reviews that complain about leaking. The 12-speed Black & Decker BLC12650HB Cyclone, in particular, is dinged on sites like Walmart and in its 10-speed iteration on Macy's for weak gaskets that allow liquid contents to flow out the bottom. The Oster 6843 12-Speed is chided for leaks due to plastic parts that crack and break at the base of the jar; one opinion on Amazon suggests the plastic can't stand up to the challenge of the heavy glass jar and frequent unscrewing for cleaning. A couple of reviews of the Kalorik BL-16909 on Drugstore.com report leaking around the blade assembly and one consumer post on Buzzillions warns users to hold on to the lid because the first explosive burst can send the contents flying.

Review continues below

Apart from gripes about leaks, cheap blenders' overall durability varies by user. Some consumers claim to use their blender daily for smoothies, often with ice or frozen fruit, without ill effect while others say the very same model conked out within weeks after only intermittent use. Take, for example, the Hamilton Beach 51101. One consumer writes in a blender review on Amazon of making a smoothie daily for five years before this single-serve blender gave out. But another user, posting on Target, says the seal came loose after just three months of daily use.

We read similar positive and negative reports for the other cheap blenders on our list, although the Hamilton Beach 41101 and Cuisinart CSB-76 Smart Stick fare better than the others. Replacement parts are available for many of these cheap blenders, but consumers note that the cost (including shipping and the dollar value of your aggravation) make this an expensive way to go. For almost the same price, you can buy a new blender.

Cleanup.

If you have time to hand wash your blender instead of putting it in the dishwasher - do so. Despite manufacturers' assertions that some blenders are dishwasher-safe, experts say the rubber gasket may shrink or warp over time from frequent exposure to the high heat and drying cycles in a dishwasher.

Fortunately, most blenders offer no-fuss cleanup. In several blender reviews that we read, consumers say pouring in soapy water and whirring the blender for a few seconds does the trick. One review on Walmart notes the beaker of the Hamilton Beach 51101 goes right into the dishwasher without any disassembly. The Cuisinart CSB-76 Smart Stick likewise receives warm words for easy clean up -- just detach the stainless steel wand and stow it in the dishwasher and wipe down the motor component. The Kalorik BK-16909, by the way, is hand-wash only, and we did see a report on Drugstore.com about difficulty cleaning dirt that collects under the gasket because the assembly doesn't come apart. And experts at Cooks Illustrated say the plastic buttons on the Black & Decker BLC12650HB Cyclone are difficult to clean.

by Maralyn Edid (Google+ Profile)

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