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What is the best machine to make frozen smoothies?

Smoothies have become an increasingly popular and convenient way to get a nutritious breakfast or snack on-the-go. Blending frozen fruit and vegetables with yogurt, milk, juice or water creates a refreshing, vitamin-packed beverage. But which appliance can blend up frozen ingredients into the creamiest, lump-free smoothie? Let’s compare some of the top machines for making frozen smoothies.

Blenders

Standard countertop blenders are the most common appliances used for smoothie making. Models from brands like Oster, Ninja, NutriBullet and Vitamix have powerful motors and sharp blades capable of pulverizing frozen fruits, veggies and ice into a drinkable consistency.

Most blenders have 3-7 speed settings, pulse functions and pitcher sizes around 48-64 ounces. Lower-end models with lower wattage motors may struggle with some tougher ingredients like avocado pits and seeds or very firm frozen produce. Higher-end blenders around $150+ are better equipped to crush through ice, seeds and stems easily.

Key things to look for in a good frozen smoothie blender:

  • Motor power – aim for 700+ watts
  • Sturdy blades – preferably stainless steel
  • Large enough pitcher – at least 48 oz
  • Settings for frozen drinks
  • Pulse button for crushing ice

The Vitamix 5200 is a popular choice, with a powerful 1,380 watt motor and aircraft-grade stainless steel blades. It can whip frozen smoothies to a silky consistency in 30-60 seconds. The Ninja Professional BL610 has 1,000 watts and Total Crushing technology to pulverize ice and frozen fruit.

Immersion Blenders

Immersion or stick blenders are compact handheld devices with rotating blades on one end and a grip handle on the other. They can be inserted directly into a blending container or pitcher to puree ingredients.

Immersion blenders are inexpensive ($30-100 range) and good for making single serving smoothies or smaller batches. Since they don’t have a motor base, they take up minimal space. However, most immersion blenders are not designed to crush ice well.

The best immersion blenders for frozen smoothies have at least 200 watts of power. Variable speeds and different attachments like a chopper and whisk make them more versatile. Some options to consider:

  • Kitchenaid 5-Speed
  • Breville Control Grip
  • Cuisinart Smart Stick

Adding some liquid to your smoothie ingredients first allows an immersion blender to process frozen elements more easily. You may need to stop and stir a bit to fully incorporate thick frozen chunks.

Personal Blenders

Compact, single serve blenders like the NutriBullet, Ninja Cup, and Magic Bullet are ideal for making fresh smoothies to grab and go. They typically include individual-size blending jars (16-24 oz) and powerful motors around 600 watts packed into a small base.

Most personal blenders pulse and blend very efficiently through frozen ingredients and ice. Look for built-in ice crushing or frozen drink settings. The blades are designed to grind frozen fruits and veggies into a drinkable texture right in the take-along cup.

Benefits of personal blenders for frozen smoothies:

  • Make single servings
  • Easy to clean
  • Great for travel
  • Affordable ($50-100 range)

Popular picks for frozen smoothies include the NutriBullet Pro 900, Ninja QB3001SS Fit Personal Blender, and Hamilton Beach Personal Blender.

Food Processors

Full-size food processors like those made by Cuisinart, KitchenAid and Breville aren’t necessarily the first choice for smoothies. But their chopping and blending attachments can pulverize frozen produce into smoothie-ready consistency.

The slicing/shredding discs can grind frozen bananas, berries, mango and other fruit into tiny pieces. The plastic chopping blade does well with frozen veggies like spinach or kale. Then let the processing blade blend everything together with your liquid.

Tips for using a food processor for frozen smoothies:

  • Use short pulses, stopping to stir
  • Add liquid gradually while processing
  • Remove center of feed tube while blending
  • May need to blend in batches for larger smoothies

The versatile Cuisinart Elite FP-14DC Processor makes quick work of frozen smoothie prep. The Breville Sous Chef has a 1,200 watt motor and auto-adjust blade speeds to power through frozen ingredients.

High Powered Blenders

High performance or commercial grade blenders are designed to smoothly puree almost any ingredient with precision. Top brands like Vitamix, Blendtec, Cleanblend and Omega specialize in blending whole fruits, veggies, ice and more into silky smooth drinks and smoothies.

These industrial-strength blenders have 3+ horsepower motors with 1,400 – 2,200+ watts of power. That allows their blades to easily pulverize just about any frozen smoothie ingredients you can throw at them.

Key features of commercial blenders for frozen smoothies:

  • 3-5+ HP motor
  • Speeds optimize for frozen blending
  • Blades crush through ice, frozen produce
  • Large volume (64 oz) pitcher
  • May have preset programs
  • Typically $300 – $500+

The Vitamix 5200 is a high-performance blender that can whip up a cup of frozen smoothie in 30-60 seconds. The Blendtec Designer smoothie maker has pre-programmed cycles for whole juice smoothies and frozen treats. Both are great choices for silky frozen smoothies.

Comparison Chart

Here is a helpful comparison chart summarizing some key attributes of different frozen smoothie blender options:

Blender Type Motor Power Good for Ice Pitcher Size Price Range
Standard Blender 700-1,500 watts Fair-Excellent 48-64 oz $50-$500
Immersion Blender 200-400 watts Fair n/a $30-$100
Personal Blender 400-900 watts Excellent 16-24 oz $50-$150
Food Processor 500-1,200 watts Good 8-14 Cup $150-$350
High Power Blender 1,400-2,500+ watts Excellent 48-64 oz $300-$650

Top Picks

Based on their performance for crushing ice and frozen ingredients, these are my top recommendations in each blender category for smoothie making:

  • Standard Blender: Vitamix 5200 or Ninja Professional BL610
  • Immersion Blender: Kitchenaid 5-Speed
  • Personal Blender: NutriBullet Pro 900
  • Food Processor: Cuisinart Elite FP-14DC
  • High Performance: Vitamix 5200

Conclusion

While you can make smoothies in almost any blender, some are better equipped to handle frozen ingredients. Standard countertop blenders and high powered blenders consistently provide the best results for creamy frozen smoothies.

Models with 1,000+ watts like the Vitamix 5200, Ninja Professional BL610, and Blendtec blenders have the optimal mixer of power, blade strength, speed settings and pitcher size. Personal blenders also do an excellent job of quickly blending individual frozen smoothies to go.

For frequently enjoying smoothies with frozen elements like fruit, vegetables and ice, a quality blender designed specially to crush ice is a smart investment. Look for at least 1,000 watts of motor power and stainless steel blades. With the right blender, you’ll be sipping cold, flavorful frozen smoothies anytime!