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Cheap Blenders Buying Guide

Blender Reviews

Budget blenders are bare-bones appliances with several blades and a small motor boasting anywhere from 175 to 600 watts of power. Upscale blenders with price tags in the triple-digit range, by contrast, are powerhouses more suited for heavy-duty use on raw fibrous vegetables or nuts, say, or in a restaurant or catering operation.

Today, home cooks can choose among three types of cheap blenders: wand, single-serve, and traditional multi-serve.

Wand blenders are hand-held immersion devices; that is, the blades are located at the tip of a wand that you submerge in whatever you need to blend. With single-serve and regular-size blenders, the blades sit at the bottom of a jar or canister that's made of glass or plastic and varies in size by model. The blades on inexpensive blenders are usually stainless steel and often removable for easy cleaning.

Although some low-price blenders have been known to last at least a few years, others survive only several months. This is one consumer products category that receives mixed reviews from experts and users alike for blending performance and durability, although there seems to be consensus that these little kitchen appliances are easy to clean and quite noisy.

The best and cheapest blenders are personal, single-size blenders and hand-held immersion blenders. Based on the many consumer-submitted blender reviews that we read, these blender types last longer and perform better than regular-sized blenders in the same price range. For these two types of cheap blenders, we like the single-serve Hamilton Beach 51101 (starting at $19) and Cuisinart CSB-76 Smart Stick (starting at $30). We found enough favorable comments about two cheap traditional multi-serve blenders, the Kalorik BL-16909 (starting at $39) and the Oster 6843 12-Speed (starting at $35), to list them as good inexpensive blenders. The caveat here is that you shouldn't plan to use either of these budget multi-serve blenders multiple times a day on high-stress tasks like chopping ice and tough fruits -- pushing an inexpensive blender beyond its limits will inevitably shorten its lifespan. Although Black & Decker also makes several low price blenders, the Black & Decker BLC12650HB Cyclone 12-Speed Blender (starting at $25), along with its 10-speed counterpart, receives more consistently negative reviews than other blenders we researched.

The bottom line: Judicious use of your cheap blender is the order of the day.

Size.

Your choice of either a full-size, single-serve, or wand blender obviously depends on your needs. If you're making smoothies for the family's breakfast or pumpkin soup for dinner, a blender with a minimum 40-ounce (five cup) capacity is the way to go. Among the cheapest blenders we researched, the 48-ounce Kalorik BL-16909 and 40-ounce Oster 6843 12-Speed stand out as good inexpensive full-size blenders. A need for even more capacity at a budget price might point you to the 56-ounce Hamilton Beach 52182 12-Speed (starting at $27).

If your blending requirements veer toward an afternoon pick-me-up protein shake or icy drink, say, a cheap single-serve blender with 14-16 ounces of capacity will do. These small blenders, like the Hamilton Beach 51101 (starting at $19), have the added advantage of compact size and containers-to-go; that is, they take up minimal counter space and many double as travel mugs for your blended drink. The Back to Basics BPE3BRAUS (starting at $35) is a pricier model that comes with two 24-ounce travel mugs and two blending containers (12 ounces and 18 ounces).

Wand, or stick, blenders don't have capacity constraints, as such. Stick blenders often come with a plastic beaker with a capacity ranging from two to four cups, which serves well for smoothies and the like. But the chief virtue of a cheap stick blender, like the Cuisinart CSB-76 (starting at $30), is the ability to plunge it into a pot or bowl and puree the contents without dirtying another container. If you plan to whip egg whites or cream, you might prefer the Hamilton Beach 59770 Turbo-Twister (starting at $18), which dispenses with the beaker but does come with a wire whisk. For lots more money you can get a stick blender with other accessories, like a chopper for nuts, cheeses, and herbs.

Power.

Motor power varies in the cheapest blenders category, starting at 175 watts and topping out at 650 watts. Experts at Cooks Illustrated argue that the wattage (power output) and horsepower on a blender aren't really relevant because performance is affected more by the design of the blending container and the blades. In the interests of full disclosure, however, here are the power specifications for the best blenders on our list: the full-size Black & Decker BLC12650HB Cyclone 12-Speed Blender (starting at $25) boasts a 650-watt motor, and the Kalorik BL- 16909 and Oster 6843 12-speed feature a 500-watt and 450-watt motor, respectively; the Cuisinart CSB-76, our best wand blender, features a 200-watt motor; and the single-serve Hamilton Beach 51101 comes in third with a 175-watt motor. Higher-end blenders of all types typically feature heftier wattage.

Container.

The containers on cheap blenders are either glass or plastic. Although glass can crack and shatter, it may be more durable overall, is easier to clean, and seems to be preferred by consumers; most of the full-size blenders we researched feature glass container. Plastic tends to scratch, according to consumers' reviews, and sometimes fogs up or discolors; the single-serve Hamilton Beach 51101 features a plastic container. For inexpensive single-serve blenders that do double duty as a travel cup, or come with an accessory travel cup, plastic is obviously the safest choice.

Although the material composition of the container shouldn't affect the blender's performance, experts say the design of the container does. Tall containers with a base that's narrower than the top deliver better results than containers with a wide bottom. On our list, both the full-size Kalorik BL-16909 and Oster 6843 satisfy this shape criterion, as does the single-serve Hamilton Beach 51101.

Settings.

Because cheap blenders are meant to be used primarily for liquid preparations like soups, smoothies, and shakes, you really don't need any more than two or three speed settings. Pricey blenders, like the $400 Blendtec 1560-Watt Total Blender, feature multiple preprogrammed blending cycles for soups, sauces and batters, ice crushing, and the like. By contrast, the single-serve blender by Hamilton Beach offers just one speed and the Cuisinart CSB-76 Smart Stick operates with a pulse action (hold down the button and release when you're ready). The Kalorik BL-16909 comes with three speed settings -- high, low, and pulse -- that are activated with a dial. Both the Oster 6843 and Black & Decker BLC12650HB Cyclone feature 12 speeds, which is rare for inexpensive blenders. At this end of the market, however, experts and consumers generally say the multiple settings are meaningless.

Blades.

When shopping for a cheap blender, insist on metal blades; all the blenders we researched meet this standard. Most low price blenders feature at least three blades, although some have only two. Experts prefer blades that are slightly tapered or serrated, with one or two curving slightly upward and one or two curving slightly downward to keep the contents churning. The Kalorik BL-16909 comes with six stainless steel blades, including two that are serrated.

Preferably you'd like a blender with a blade housing that can be detached for easy washing, as is the case with the Oster 6843, Black & Decker BLC12650HB, and Cuisinart CSB-76 Smart Stick -- all parts on these cheap blenders, except for the base, are dishwasher safe. The blades on the Kalorik BL-16909, on the other hand, can't be dislodged so you'll have to wash by hand.

Blender Reviews

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. 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.

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.

Review continues below

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.



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