Gear

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Planning to shop for a blender ? Start here ! You'll find advice on the best countertrop models, as well as superconvenient handhelds.

Smooth operators : Best countertop blenders

The editors of Good Housekeeping, Redbook, and Country Living tested 42 blenders to see how well they made drinks, ground coffee beans, and chopped onions. They also looked at how easy the blenders were to use and clean. Bottom line ? Complicated controls, hign wattages, and steep prices don't always mean a mart buy.

Master mixer

The Oster Beehive ($ 73) provides just the right blend of performance, ease, and style. Simple settings and exceptional results (smooth drinks and finely ground coffee beans) help it whip the competition. The only thing missing : a way to store the cord in the base. In 5 colors.

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Easy server

Designed with drink-making in mind, the Hamilton Beach Wave Station Express ($ 25) creates smooth beverages and has a handy spigot for less messy dispensing (this can, however, make cleanup more of a chore). There's storage in the base for the cord, to keep things tidy when the blender's not in use. In 2 colors.

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Multi-taster

The Hamilton Beach BlenderChef ($ 50) offers more bang for your buck. It creates superior drinks and comes with a food-processor attachment for chopping. However, the controls are less intuitive to use than some, and it can be tricky to clean around all the buttons. There's cord storage in the base. In black only.

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Choice chopper

With sleek digital contrl pads, the KitchenAid 5-Speed ($ 130) is as easy to clean as it is to use. A pulse option on each of its 5 settings lets you fine-tune your results. It's also one of the few models tested that excel at chopping. The cord can be stored in the base. In 11 colors.

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Best hand blenders

Making healthy, family-friendly veggie soups and fruit smoothies or whipping heavy cream is fast and fuss-free with a hand (or immersion) blender. You puree or blend right in the pot, glass, or bowl, eliminating any messy transfer to a countertop blender. Check out the top hand blenders tested by the Good Housekeeping, Redbook, and Country Living.

Supersize

With its long shaft, the De'Longhi DHB723 ($ 100) allows you to puree quantities of soup up to 8 inches deep (most immersion blenders max out at 6.5 inches), and its oversize pan-blender attachment mixes gravy in a roasting pan very efficiently. Other handy accessories include a whisk, a food processor bowl, and a blending jar.

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Real steal

For blending on a budget, consider the Hamilton Beach 59780R ($ 28). It purees soupe in under 90 seconds, and its whisk attachment whips cream to double the volume. Don't plan to use this blender for making true smoothies or for chopping, though : it can't handl frozen fruit or ice, and t lack a chopper bowl accessory.

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Soup & smoothies king

The Cuisinart SmartStick CSB-77 ($ 50) perfecty purees a thick soup in under 90 seconds. The unit also smooths frozen fruit, but it can't pulverize ice. Its whisk whips cream to double its volume in just 50 seconds; the chopper minces onions evenly. Its bowl, though labelled dishwasher-safe, is best washed by hand.

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7 ways to blend it better

No matter what you're blending, the goal il consistent texture. Here's how to get it :

  • Add the food in small batches. This will ensure that your ingredients are uniformly pureed and keep the blender from overflowing.
  • Chill the ingredients before making smoothies and frosty cocktails. That way, your drinks stay cold longer. It also creates a smoother texture.
  • Cut pieces of fruit and vegetables into small pieces that are the same size. This gives better consistency and puts less strain on the motor.
  • Place equal part liquid and solid foods into the blender jar when pureeing soups. This will help the texture remain consistent from 1 batch to the next.
  • For best texture, let hot liquids cool slightly before adding them to the blender.
  • Always crush ice or break it into small cubes before adding it to the container, particularly if your blender has a less powerful motor.
  • If you're combining ice with other ingredients, add ice to the blender last.

Buying guide

Once you discover the wonderful variety of luscious smoothies, frozen drinks, soups, and pancake batters that can be made in the blender, you may want to buy a newer, bigger, and more powerful model. Check them out carefully before you make your purchase.

Look for a blender that has a sturdy base to keep it stable. This will prevent it from jumping around on the counter while in use.

Check the capacity of the glass container. A smaller (32-ounce) container will work fine if you will be making just 1 smoothie or drink at a time. But go for a 40-ounce container if you plan to whip up 2 drinks at once or blend soup and pancake batter.

Safety first !

Always keep your hand on top of the blender while it's in use as a precaution against the top coming off unexpectedly. This can happen if you've added too many ingredients at once or they create more volume than you'd anticipated.

Be sure the motor is off before you clean down the sides of the blender and move the food onto the blades. Use a rubber spatula only – not a metal one or a knife.

Never put your fingers in the blender jar. The blades are sharp !

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