This is a common question: what exactly is the difference between a $40 blender and a Vitamix or Blendtec one that costs over $500? And do I really need one?
The simple answer is: very little – and no you don’t really need one.
A $40 blender will do 90%+ of what most people want. It’ll create scrumptious smoothies, delicious dips and boolicious baby food. Also, many people already have one – so the actual cost is $0. What’s not to like.
So … have I wasted my $500?
I actually started with a $100 blender – a KitchenAid five speed blender. This lasted me about a year before it had to be replaced (the bottom exploded!). This is the first difference. Anything costing five to ten times as much is going to be a lot better built – and both the Vitamix or Blendtec machines are real workhorses that are quite happy in the busiest of restaurants. However, if you are only doing one or two smoothies a week – this is not going to be a factor. You’d be better off replacing your blender every couple of years and save the expense.
The next benefit is ice and frozen fruit. The more expensive blenders will blend these in seconds, day in and day out, without any damage – this is one of their main design points. However, these ingredients are often an issue with the cheaper models. Two things can happen – either the blender wears out over time – or it has difficulty breaking down these hard substances.
Another benefit is smoothness – especially when doing green smoothies. The Vitamix and Blendtec machines produce a much smoother result. This is best seen by doing a head-to-head comparison using ingredients like kale, celery and carrot.
There have been studies done that show the Vitamix and Blendtec blenders “significantly enhance nutrient intake from whole foods”. This is because they completely destroy the plant cells – making all of the nutrients readily available. The less expensive blenders will produce a slightly chewy result – as they are less able to fully breakdown the cellular material.
Most of the cheaper blenders will get there eventually – but this means running them for longer: which heats up both the mixture and the motor. A warm smoothie is much less pleasant – and a hot motor will burn out eventually.
Should this concern to you?
I get a significant part of my nutrition via smoothies – so I feel that it’s a genuine benefit to me. However, if you are mainly doing fruit smoothies, or just doing them occasionally, I wouldn’t worry about it.
Lastly, the Vitamix or Blendtec machines will also make soups, flours, butters, dough, ice cream, etc. I don’t actually do any of those – but you might. If that is the case then the more expensive blenders might well be worth it.
The most important thing is that you eat well. Having regular smoothies made in a $40 blender is 100% better than not having smoothies at all. So don’t worry about it.
When you find yourself habitually making more than four or five a week – then I’d treat yourself. You’ll then be able to appreciate the difference and really value these wonderful machines.
For details on buying a blender and reviews of my favourite machines – please jump over to my Blender Review section.