Smoothies, soups and salsas. Nut butters, milkshakes and margaritas. Puddings, dips and batters. If any of this sounds like the making of the menu of your dreams, a kitchen blender should be at the top of your small appliance wish list.

But with so many options ⁠— and a huge range of price tags⁠ — to choose from, picking the right one for your needs can be tricky. To help settle the score, we put nine popular blenders to the test⁠ whipping up smoothies, soups and nut butter and pulverizing ice to find the models that produced the creamiest, silkiest textures and had the best functionality, durability and more.

The bottom line: Higher cost also means increased performance and a longer-lasting machine, so if you’re a frequent blender, we think they’re worth the investment in the long run (and just think how much you’ll save by skipping your daily $8 smoothie by making your own version at home). But if you rarely have the need to blend — and prefer Skippy to your own custom almond butter⁠ — a budget model should suit your needs just fine.

After lots of blending, tamping, cleaning and avoiding noise complaints from the neighbors, we narrowed it down to three winners:

A quick look at the winners

With 1,800 watts of motor power, the Breville Super Q features a slew of preset buttons, comes in multiple colors, includes key accessories and is touted for being quieter than other models. At $500, it does carry a steep price tag, but for those who can’t imagine a smoothie-less morning, what breaks down to about $1.30 a day for a year seems like a bargain.

While we concede that $630 seems like an extreme amount of money to spend on a blender, but as a luxury option, the Vitamix Venturist V1200, with its whopping 10-year warranty and plethora of functional, durable and just plain cool features, simply rose to the top in every test performed.

Finally, when it comes to a blender priced at $100 or less, we found the Ninja Professional Plus Blender with Auto-iQ to be tops. Besides doing an admirable job at blending up creamy soups and smoothies, it comes with a number of presets, as well as low, medium and high manual settings. It doesn’t have the heft or quality materials as the high-performance blenders we tested, but for casual users, it won’t disappoint.

A deep dive into the winners

Best overall blender: Breville Super Q ($499; breville.com)

Breville Super Q
Breville Super Q

The world’s fastest roller coaster reaches 150 miles an hour. A cheetah can run at about 75 miles an hour. Usain Bolt, the world’s fastest man, clocks in at 28 miles per hour. So when we read that the Breville Super Q boasts surgical stainless steel blades that can get up to 186 miles an hour, we were impressed. But not terribly surprised. No wonder our spinach disappeared into our smoothie in seconds.

Those blades, along with a big-time 1,800-watt motor in a hefty blender with a sleek design, delivered high marks on all of our tests, turning out creamy smoothies, perfectly blended hot soups, and such delicately crushed ice that we decided to declare every evening from here on out boozy slushie night.

The commercial-grade Super Q (the Q is for quick and quiet) comes in six colors (brushed stainless steel, black, gray, white, champagne and navy), and includes a large 68-ounce BPA-free Tritan jug, as well as a 24-ounce blender cup. The lid includes a nifty inner measuring cup that can hold up to 2 ounces (fewer dirty dishes is always a plus). When you’re done blending, a button on the lid releases the suction, making it easier to remove — the finger hold ring also helps. W