Sure, you likely already have a traditional blender sitting on your countertop, and possibly a food processor tucked away in a cabinet, but for quick chores like thickening soups, making fluffy whipped cream or mixing a smoothie, an immersion blender (also known as a hand, wand or stick blender) makes a handy addition to your kitchen arsenal.
To find out which immersion blenders performed the best, we put seven models to work, testing four recipes and noting everything from speed to comfort to how easy they were to use.
Best immersion blender overall: Vitamix Immersion Blender
Vitamix has developed a cult-like following for its powerful — albeit pricey — traditional countertop blenders over the past several years. Able to eviscerate, well, pretty much anything, the brand took top luxury honors in our review of the best blenders. So we’re really not surprised Vitamix’s take on the immersion blender performed just as strongly.
Like its big sister blender, the compact model is relatively expensive compared to the competition. At around $150, it was the third-priciest immersion blender we tested, and only includes a motor body and blending wand, unlike some other models that included a range of accessories. Since one of the selling points of an immersion blender is that you just use it in the container you’re preparing your food in, we don’t really mind the lack of accessories here, but they do come in handy. Adding them does get the cost of the unit up near $200, so it’s something to keep in mind.
For testing purposes, we added the 32-ounce blending jar ($19.95 at Vitamix) and whisk attachment ($19.95 at Vitamix) and we recommend investing in both. The whisk was of clearly superior construction to the whisks supplied with the other models, and while the jar’s mouth was a bit narrow (it was hard to dig hummus out with a spatula) we liked the dual sets of metric and imperial markings.
But first, the motor. The 110-volt Vitamix version boasts a 625-watt motor, the most powerful of those we tested. A single-button control lets you select from five variable speed settings that are clearly displayed via LEDs on top of the handle. It rose above the pack for its thoughtfully designed ergonomic handle that makes it super easy to control speeds with one hand, even while in use.
The stainless steel blending wand with its four-blade design (all the others had three blades) attaches easily to the motor unit with a simple twist, locking into place, as does the whisking wand. It was only one of only two models (the other was the Breville) to feature a plastic coating on its bell, a feature we love because it means you won’t have to worry about scratching up any non-stick pans or cutting yourself on the blade cage.
But best of all was the Vitamix’s performance during our recipe tests. It blended our green fruit smoothie much faster than any other model tested, taking just over 30 seconds and absolutely pulverizing all the ingredients. There wasn’t a hint of fibrous leaf material left behind and even the pesky blackberry seeds were practically undetectable when all was said and done. Our hummus came together lickety-split, with the perfect creamy texture and just-right consistency. While some hummus we made with other immersion blenders was a little too thin or a little too thick, the Vitamix nailed it (nope, we’re never buying store-bought hummus again). The root vegetable soup? Again, completely smooth with not a trace of rosemary or thyme stalk or even the slightest chunk of vegetable. Like all of the immersion blenders we tested, the Vitamix turned out great whipped cream; the whisk (again, a separate purchase) was of clearly superior construction to the whisks supplied with the other models.
Of course, nothing’s perfect. With so much power, it is really important to watch your speed when using this immersion blender, especially if you’re working within a smaller container. The smoothie, for example, was perfection on low power and speed modes, but when we amped it up, it splashed all over the counter (and our T-shirt). Lesson learned: Staying on low power solved that issue. And, sorry, but it’s not completely dishwasher-safe (the jar and whisk are, but not the whisk attachment itself). But, like all the blenders tested, cleaning these things is about as easy as it gets.
The Vitamix immersion blender is an investment, especially if you outfit it with the full suite of accessories. But with a three-year warranty, serious power, high-quality construction and clever design, we think it’s worth every penny. And just think how much you’ll save on hummus.
Best budget immersion blender: Nutribullet Immersion Blender
We’re not going to lie: Since it’s priced at around a mere $30 — half the price of its closest competitor — we didn’t necessarily have the highest of expectations for Nutribullet’s compact hand blender. But keeping an open mind, we were more than pleasantly surprised. It did well on all the tests we threw at it, often outperforming much more expensive models.
The box includes a 350-watt motor body, stainless steel blending wand and whisk attachment. It measures 16 inches long (when put together) and was relatively lightweight at 2 pounds (the models we tested ranged from 2 to 4 pounds assembled). The Nutribullet’s wand twists on and locks into place with ease and we found the ergonomic design delivered a comfy grip, and the speed controls were among the easiest to use of the various models we tested. Two buttons let you select between low and high power ranges, while a dial lets you fine-tune the speed within those ranges.
During our four recipe tests it did an admirable job. Our green fruit smoothie had nary a trace of kale or spinach leaf, and the Nutribullet did the job third-fastest of all of the blenders we tested. The hummus came together quickly, with a smooth, even texture, and our root vegetable soup was blended completely smooth with little time or effort. We used the included whisk attachment, just as easy to lock into place as the wand, to make whipped cream, and also ended up with fast and fluffy results.
Both the wand and whisk detached fuss-free with a simple turn, and clean-up, for the most part, was a breeze. The motor body, blending wand and plastic whisk attachment base are not dishwasher-safe (the whisk itself is), but everything was easy to clean with little need for any extra elbow grease. To clean the thicker hummus from behind the blade, we simply dipped the blender in a jar of soapy water and it came right off.
We do wish the Nutribullet came with a blending jar with measurement markings for convenience’s sake, but it’s certainly not a dealbreaker (and even our much more expensive top pick doesn’t come with one either). A large wide-mouth Mason jar will do the trick. We did note a bit of vibration in use on some of the tests, though not enough to make it difficult to use. And the one-year limited warranty was shorter than those offered on most of the models we looked at.
Because of its low price, we will be interested to see how well this model stands the test of time (though we have seen mostly positive user reviews on retail sites). If you’re not sure whether you’d use an immersion blender very often but are eager to find out, at $30, this is the perfect product to take a chance on.
How to choose an immersion blender
One of the immersion blender’s best features is its convenience. Small enough to tuck away in a kitchen drawer, it doesn’t take up counter space like a blender or food processor, plus it’s lighter in weight and easier to use than a hand mixer. They’re great for tasks like pureeing soups because you can just use the blender right in your pot with no waiting or potentially messy fuss of pouring hot soup into a traditional blender and dirtying yet more dishes, and they let you whip up or blend small batches of most anything you need in whatever container you’re using.
The models we tested ranged in power from 280 to 625 watts and all provide variable speed control, which allows you better control over the consistency of your blending and lets you avoid splashing (you’ll always want to start at a low speed and work your way up as needed).
All the immersion blenders we tested had detachable wands and attachments, making them easy to store and clean. While all of the motor units and the majority of the blender wands we tested are not dishwasher-safe, all were simple to rinse in the sink. Stubborn stuck food could be easily removed by running the blender for a few seconds in a jar of soapy water. Also, one note on safety: Because the blades are exposed, be sure your blender is unplugged before removing the wand to avoid any accidental injury.
Speaking of blades, when it comes to the blade guards (also called cages), all the models we tested were stainless steel, which is recommended for longevity and heat resistance, although their shapes and sizes varied slightly. Some had slits or holes for added circulation, but we found those could trap food like kale and also lead to more splashing.
A few higher-end models featured plastic guards at the edge of the blade, which we preferred. Not only did it protect our soup pot from scratches and marks, but there were no jagged or sharp edges to worry about that could lead to accidental nicks or cuts.
Another thing to look out for is included accessories. While some blenders simply include the motor and wand, others also feature a blending cup, whisk attachment and even chopping bowls. A blending cup with marked measurements is certainly useful, but not a dealbreaker, as the blender will work in any big-enough glass, ceramic, stainless steel or plastic bowl or jar. And, often, you’ll be using your immersion blender straight in a pot or bowl. If you’re looking for something mostly to make smoothies or other blended drinks, a personal blender might be a better choice anyway.
Finally, when shopping for immersion blenders, one of the biggest factors to consider is the comfort of use. Where the speed controls are located makes a big difference when you’re using one hand to control the blender (your other hand will most likely be holding the blending jar), and we found models that make it simple to change speeds with your finger or thumb the easiest to use.
But before you think you can replace your countertop blender altogether, remember immersion blenders are made for smaller jobs and softer foods that should still be chopped up into smaller pieces before you begin. If you want to blend up lots of ice or more fibrous veggies, or need to blend for longer than, say, a minute or two at a time, best stick to your traditional blender.
How we tested
Our testing pool included seven immersion blenders ranging in price from $30 to $180; some included a range of accessories while others arrived as bare tools. In these cases we added the accessories necessary to complete our tests.
While all the models performed well in our recipe tests, which included a green fruit smoothie, hummus, a root vegetable soup and whipped cream, some models did a better job blending and resulting in the desired texture. We found differences in comfort, build, ease of use and other details.
To test performance, we used four typical immersion blender recipes in all of the models.
- Green fruit smoothie: We blended up our go-to smoothie recipe — almond milk, peanut butter, protein powder, frozen berries and a mix of kale and spinach — noting the time each immersion blender took to complete, along with texture, whether any green bits were left in the jar, any splashing that occurred and overall ease.
- Hummus: We used the same chickpeas, tahini, olive oil, garlic, cumin and lemon juice recipe to make the spread, paying close attention to texture, smoothness and ease of blending.
- Root vegetable soup: Using the same simple recipe (potatoes, sweet potatoes, turnips, carrots, rutabaga, onion, herbs and broth), we cooked the soup in a cast-iron pot and then recorded how well each model worked when used directly in the pot to blend it to a creamy consistency, noting any bits that failed to blend, the overall consistency, any splashing outside the pot and whether the immersion blender scratched or left marks on the bottom of the pot.
- Whipped cream: Going from low to high speed, we blended heavy cream with a heaping spoon of powdered sugar and a splash of vanilla with each immersion blender, noting ease of use, time and consistency. If a whisk attachment was included, we used it on this test, also recording construction and how easy it was to attach and remove.
Some high-powered models will cause a lot of suction, which can lead to splashing as you try to pull the blender up, so we noted when suction occurred. All immersion blenders we tested were easy to use, although some were more comfortable and simpler to operate than others. All models were easy to clean, as most parts are dishwasher-safe and, with the exception of hummus, all blades rinsed easily under the kitchen faucet.
While testing, we took special note of the presence or absence of variable speed settings, overall design and build quality, the quality of the included accessories (such as a blending jar or whisk), ease of setup, size and weight, the ergonomics of the handle and any unique features such as LED screens or cordless capability. Some blenders included a chopping jar, which some may find handy, but since it wasn’t universal or nearly so, we did not test this feature for the purposes of this comparison.
We also noted whether the blenders were comfortable to use, whether vibrations made it uncomfortable to use, how easy it was to assemble and disassemble and to change speeds while blending and how much time it took to complete recipes. We also listed all the accessories included, user-friendliness and whether the parts were dishwasher-safe or easy to clean.
We also looked at warranty coverage, customer service accessibility and price — not just paying attention to affordability, but in particular, making sure that any higher-priced models we examined were worth the additional cost over budget models.
Other immersion blenders we tested
$130 at Amazon
This is a great immersion blender, with high-quality construction, a stainless steel wand with a plastic protector at the bell to keep it from scratching up pots, a pistol-grip handle, 15 speeds that can be selected via a dial at the top and a wand that simply snaps into place and is released by pressing the eject buttons. It also performed great on all our recipe tests.
But its 280-watt motor pales in comparison to the Vitamix, we wished the handle was smaller for a more comfortable grip and it’s on the heavier side at nearly 4 pounds. The Breville also ranked in the middle of the pack for speed of use and only has a one-year warranty. On the other hand, if you think you’ll use accessories or a chopper often, for just about $10 more than the Vitamix, you also get a whisk attachment, plus an extra-large 42-ounce blending jug, an anti-slip mat to keep it in place and a 3-cup chopper bowl with stainless steel blades.
$73 at Amazon
Like the Nutribullet, this Hamilton Beach model packs a lot of wallop for a good price. With a stainless steel wand, 300-watt motor and included whisk, it did a nice job on our recipe tests. The smoothie left behind some flecks of kale, the hummus was a bit on the thick side and while the soup ended up nice and creamy, it splashed more than other models. The whipped cream turned out beautifully. Our biggest complaint was that we found it difficult to control the speed. It comes with five variables, but they’re pressure-based, so you have to pay close attention while blending at anything other than full speed (which is fully depressed). Like other models, only the whisk is dishwasher-safe, but a five-year limited warranty is a bonus.
$230 at Amazon
No doubt, a cordless immersion blender can be really convenient. Whether you’d rather not stretch a cord across the counter to puree your vegetable soup or you have a kitchen with oddly placed outlets, it can certainly simplify your work. Of course, you have to keep the thing charged, or it’s pretty much useless. All-Clad’s 600-watt stainless steel version helps keep the guesswork out of its battery life with a light that flashes red while charging, flashes blue when fading and stays solid blue while charged and in use. Once we got it charged up, the blender, which comes with the motor, blending wand and charging base, was easy enough to twist into place and start using. But we found the pricey All-Clad was outperformed by most of the other models. The wand caused a lot of suction while blending our smoothie and kale got stuck in cutouts of the blade cage. The hummus and whipped cream turned out well, but we learned the hard way why it’s not recommended for use on nonstick or cast iron pots, as it left marks on the bottom of our Le Creuset while blending the soup. If you’re willing to spend $180 on an immersion blender (with a two-year warranty), we say stick with a cord and opt for the Vitamix or Breville.
$100 at Amazon
There was a lot we liked about Braun’s immersion blender. It did a fine job on all our recipes, leaving our smoothie, hummus, soup and whipped cream nicely mixed. We admired its stainless steel design and appreciated its 500-watt motor and how easily its attachments snapped into place. In addition to the motor and wand, it comes with a 20-ounce beaker, whisk and 2-cup chopper attachment (besides the motor base, gearboxes and chopper lid, all other parts are dishwasher-safe).
But at 3.5 pounds, it’s on the heavier side; our bicep got a nice little workout and our hand was slightly sore after blending up our soup. And the blade cage was a bit scary — sharp-looking and somewhat rough around the edges, where most models were smooth, or like the Vitamix and Breville, protected by a plastic covering. This model uses a pressure-controlled trigger to adjust speed and we found it difficult to maintain the speed we wanted. It also has a flexible wand designed to allow you to push the wand gently into your food for more coarse or chopped results, something we look forward to experimenting with in other recipes.
$100 $80 at Amazon
Let’s start with the pros: The cordless feature of KitchenAid’s stainless steel hand blender makes it really easy to use once it’s all charged up and ready to go. This model also worked great on all our recipes. The smoothie time was second fastest, our hummus was also fast and nice and creamy, our soup ended up super smooth and our whipped cream came to perfect soft peaks in no time. We liked that the battery indicator changes color from green to red to let you know when it’s time to plug it in and that the box includes a blending jar and pan guard along with the motor and wand pieces (plus, the arm, jar and pan guard are all dishwasher-safe). It also comes in a slew of colors and has a little built-in stand on the body so it rests nicely on your counter and won’t roll around. But here are the cons: Though it weighs just 2.5 pounds, it feels rather heavy in hand and it has a safety button feature that must be held down at the same time you press the power trigger, which can be awkward. We found it difficult to control the speed (which is changed according to how much pressure you use), though it was the hardest model to detach the wand from, and we experienced lots of vibration, both in the hand holding the blender and the one holding the jar. But, again, when it came to performance on recipes, the KitchenAid was in our top three, so if you’re willing to experiment with the speed control, for $100, it may be worth a look.