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Do you need a special blender for ice?

Blending ice can be a challenge for many blenders. If you want to make icy drinks like smoothies, milkshakes, or frozen cocktails, you’ll need a powerful blender that can crush ice with ease. In this article, we’ll look at why you need a special blender for ice and how to choose the right one.

Why regular blenders struggle with ice

Blending ice requires a lot of power. Ice cubes are solid and difficult to break down. When you put ice in a regular blender, the blender blades may struggle to grab and crush the slippery cubes. As a result, you’ll end up with annoying chunks of ice in your blended drinks instead of a smooth consistency.

There are a few reasons why typical blenders have trouble with ice:

  • Not enough blade power: Average blenders have blades that spin between 300-500 watts. That’s not enough power to pulverize ice.
  • Blades get dull over time: Blender blades gradually lose their sharpness and become less efficient at chopping ice.
  • Ice slips away from blades: The slick surface of ice cubes causes them to slide away from the blades rather than get chopped up.
  • Small capacities: Most regular blenders have small pitchers (40-48 oz) that can’t handle large volumes of thick icy drinks.

While you can try crushing a few ice cubes in a normal blender, it won’t be a great experience. The blender will churn loudly, take forever to blend, and leave you with a drink full of ice chunks. For the smoothest results, you need a more powerful ice crushing machine.

Key features of the best ice blenders

Here are the key capabilities to look for in a blender designed for ice:

Powerful motor and blades

A blender needs a heavy-duty motor and sharp, sturdy blades to pulverize ice. Look for a blender with 1000 watts or more of motor power. The blades should be made of strong stainless steel. High-end blenders often have six or more blades instead of just four to handle thick, frozen ingredients.

Smart speed settings

The best ice blenders have speed settings optimized for blending frozen drinks. There are typically 3-4 speeds, including:

  • Low: For mixing thin batters
  • Medium: For chopping fruits and vegetables
  • High: For blending ice and frozen foods
  • Pulse: For controlled short bursts of maximum power

You’ll want to use the highest speed or pulse setting when making icy drinks. The bladesspin extremely fast to pulverize ice on contact.

Large pitcher capacity

Look for a large blender pitcher that can hold 64 ounces (2 quarts) or more. The extra room allows you to blend drinks with higher volumes of ingredients and ice without overflowing the container. More space also allows the ice to move around easily so the blades can grind it up.

Durable pitcher material

The best pitchers for ice are made of tough Tritan or BPA-free plastic that can withstand freezing temperatures and impacts from ice cubes. Glass pitchers could crack under the stress.

Special ice crushing technology

Some high-performance blenders have patented blades and pitcher designs optimized for ice. For example, Vitamix blenders have aircraft-grade stainless steel hammermill blades and a preset program just for crushing ice. Look for a model with specific ice blending features.

Our top picks for ice blenders

Based on reviews and performance, here are the top blenders we recommend for making perfect icy drinks:

Blender Motor Power Speeds Pitcher Capacity
Vitamix 5200 2 peak HP Variable 10 speeds 64 oz
Ninja BN801 1500 Watts 3 speeds + pulse 72 oz
Blendtec Classic 575 1560 Watts 6 speeds + pulse 90 oz
Cleanblend 2001 1800 Watts 5 speeds + pulse 64 oz

Vitamix 5200

The Vitamix 5200 is a top performing blender renowned for making the smoothest frozen drinks. With aircraft-grade stainless steel blades, 2 peak horsepower motor, and variable speed control, it can obliterate ice into a fine powder. The 64 oz pitcher has a wide base that creates a vortex to pull ingredients down into the blades. It can whip up a pitcher of slushy margaritas or creamy milkshakes in seconds.

Ninja BN801

The Ninja Professional Plus Blender features 1500 Watts of power, Ninja’s Total Crushing Technology to pulverize ice, and stacked blade assembly for smooth purees. With 3 speeds plus pulse options, an extra-large 72 oz capacity, and dishwasher-safe parts, it’s extremely convenient for making large batches of icy drinks. The modest price tag makes it a great value pick for smoothie lovers.

Blendtec Classic 575

Known for power and durability, the Blendtec Classic 575 has a 3 peak horsepower motor to crush ice and frozen fruit without any hassle. The ultra-strong stainless steel blades are 80% thicker than competitors. With pre-programmed cycles, 6-speed manual control, and large capacity, it speeds up frozen blending tasks. The jar is designed to draw ingredients down into the blades for even blending.

Cleanblend 2001

For a more budget-friendly option, the Cleanblend 2001 packs impressive ice crushing power. The heavy-duty 1800 watt motor and stainless steel blades have no problem pulverizing ice. It offers 5 speeds, pulse function, and a 64 oz BPA-free pitcher. While not as advanced as some pricier models, it certainly gets the job done for smoothies, shakes, and other icy blends.

Ice blender buying guide

Here are some key factors to consider when shopping for a dependable ice blender:

Your blending needs

Think about what types of frozen drinks you want to make most often. Are you looking to whip up daily smoothies with some ice? Do you want to blend frozen cocktails for parties? Making huge batches for a big family? Take your needs into account so you don’t overbuy or underbuy.

Power level

Blender power is measured in watts or horsepower (HP). For ice, you’ll want at least 1,000 watts/1.5 HP for smooth results. More power means faster and finer blending. But higher power blenders are more expensive, so get what you need for your usage level.

Blade design

Sharp, durable stainless steel blades are best for crushing ice. Look for at least 6 prongs. Curved shapes and angled edges help pull ingredients into the blades. Removable blades are easier to clean and replace over time.

Program settings

Preset programs for smoothies, ice cream, or ice crushing provide one-touch convenience. They automatically adjust blade speeds to optimize performance. Manual speed settings like high, low, and pulse give you more control over texture.

Pitcher material

Tritan plastic withstands temperature extremes and chipping better than glass. Wide pitcher bases encourage circulation for even blending. Large capacities of 64+ ounces handle bigger batches.

Safety features

Blenders with non-slip bases stay put while operating. Transparent lids let you see inside while blending. Overload reset prevents damage if blades get stuck. These features enhance safety when making icy drinks that tend to splash.

Noise level

Powerful motors mean louder operation, which can be 90 dB or higher. But some brands like Vitamix have advanced noise reduction technology for quieter blending.

Ease of use

Look for dishwasher-safe parts, cord storage, and intuitive controls. Auto-cleaning modes also cut down on manual scrubbing. Warranties up to 10 years provide peace of mind for years of use.


Budget ice blenders start around $100 while high-end models run up to $600+. Determine how much power you need and what features fit your lifestyle. Then set a price range to narrow down the options.

Frequently asked questions about ice blenders

Here are answers to some common questions about purchasing and using ice blenders:

What is the best blender for crushing ice?

The Vitamix 5200 is regarded as the top ice crushing blender. With 2+ horsepower and stainless steel blades, it pulverizes ice into snow consistency. Other excellent ice blenders include the Blendtec Classic 575, Ninja BN801, and Cleanblend 2001.

Can you put ice cubes in any blender?

You can put ice in any blender, but typical affordable models under $100 don’t handle it well. The blades spin too slowly and ice just gets chopped into large chunks rather than finely crushed or shaved. Invest in a commercial-grade model if you’ll blend ice regularly.

What is the best way to crush ice in a blender?

For crushed ice, start with standard ice cubes made from filtered water. Fill your blender no more than halfway with ice. Pulse a few times to get things moving before switching to the highest speed setting. Let it blend for 30-60 seconds until ice is as fine as desired. For snow-like texture, blend 1-2 minutes.

Should you use water when crushing ice in a blender?

Adding a small amount of water (1/4 – 1/2 cup) helps your blender crush ice more efficiently. The water fills in gaps between ice cubes and causes less of them to bounce around whole. This provides better contact between ice and blades for more even grinding.

How long do high power blenders last?

With proper care, high performance blenders designed for frequent ice use can last over a decade. Top brands like Vitamix, Blendtec, and Cleanblend offer warranties of 5-10 years. Avoid overheating the motor and frequently cleaning the blades to maximize longevity.

Get blending icy drinks in no time

If you’re looking to start enjoying smoothies, shakes, and frozen cocktails at home, it’s worth investing in a blender built for ice. Models with 1,000+ watts of power, sharp stainless steel blades, and large pitchers can pulverize ice cubes with ease. Look for options with specialized speed settings and modes just for crushing ice. In just seconds, you’ll have perfectly blended icy drinks without annoying chunks.

With a little research, you can find a high-performance ice blender that fits your lifestyle and budget. Be sure to consider your frequency of use, batch sizes, and types of drinks you want to make. This will ensure you get a machine with the right capabilities. Blend up some fun frozen beverages and cocktails without ever having to crunch on ice again!