By Pat Crocker

Blenders are so ubiquitous that people sometimes forget that there are different features that make each make and model unique. If you plan to make smoothies daily, you’ll want to keep the blender on top of the counter, so height, size, and appearance will be a consideration in addition to the features outlined here.

Container material and size

Blender containers are made from

  • Plastic: The least expensive blender containers are made from plastic. The advantages of plastic are that it’s lightweight and chip-proof.

  • Glass: Glass is durable and won’t discolor or absorb odors from herbs or vegetables the way plastic can.

  • Stainless steel: Stainless steel is the most expensive and the most durable. It keeps frozen mixtures cold longer. On the downside, you can’t see the mixture inside until you take the lid off.

Containers range in capacity from 8 ounces for the personal or mini blender container to 10 to 64 ounces for the average traditional blender to 80 ounces for a high-performance blender. Only you can determine what size is appropriate for your needs.

Motor size

As with juicers, the power of the motor is important for blending hard and fibrous vegetables. The average kitchen blender boasts between 300 and 600 watts of power, with the high-performance blenders weighing in at an average, whopping1,300 watts.

Opt for the most powerful motor you can afford when choosing a blender — the higher the wattage, the more versatile your machine will be. A lower-wattage machine won’t be able to handle thick, frozen cocktails; sorbets; and granitas.

Drive socket and blades

Look for stainless steel drive socket, blades, and blade drive shaft because plastic wears out quickly. The drive socket should be easy and inexpensive to replace because it may be stripped if something blocks the blades from turning. This protects the motor from overworking.

Pulsing button

If you plan to make iced drinks, sorbets, or granitas, a pulsing button is essential. The ice falls into the blades when paused and is ground up again when the blades begin to spin. Without the pulsing button on your blender, you will have to stop and mix up the ice before starting the motor again.

Variable speeds

Being able to start the blender at a slow speed and gradually increase it to high puts less stress on the motor. The ability to reduce from a high speed to a very low speed allows you to add ingredients at the end of blending that you don’t want to be liquidized or puréed into the rest of the mixture.

Ice crusher

This function is similar to the pulsing button. It automatically stops and restarts the blades so that ice can be easily chopped and integrated evenly into a blended mixture.