The Best Blenders for Homemade Smoothies, Milkshakes, and Frozen Cocktails

The unassuming blender is one of the most easily overlooked home appliances, but this unsung hero of the kitchen can do more than you might think. From making baby food to performing various food processing tasks, today’s blenders offer a lot of versatility on top of powerful high-speed motors that can shred ice like tissue paper, with some designs virtually eliminating the line between “blender” and “food processor” altogether.

A good blender is also a vital tool in the modern Renaissance Man’s kitchen arsenal. And any weightlifter or endurance athlete knows how essential protein shakes are for hitting your macros for the day without having to inhale chicken breasts, and there’s no surer way to be the hero of a party or to impress a date than by whipping up some delicious homemade milkshakes and frozen cocktails.

For any of these essential kitchen tasks, you need the right blender, and chances are good that we already found it for you. It’s time to ditch that $20 Walmart blender you got years ago (or worse yet, that rickety decades-old thing your parents gave you). We’ve got you covered. Read on to see the best blenders that money can buy in 2019:

Best Overall: Ninja Professional Blender

The Best Blenders for Homemade Smoothies, Milkshakes, and Frozen Cocktails

Perhaps the most important consideration when buying a blender, particularly one made for making frozen smoothies and cocktails, is power. Ice is one of the toughest items that blenders are required to chop up, and you need a unit with a motor that can put out enough power to tackle frozen stuff without burning out. The Ninja Professional is one such blender and the best one we’ve found for less than $100, with a beefy 1,000-watt motor and six-blade chopper assembly that melts through hard ingredients without straining.

Its 72-ounce pitcher (that’s nine cups) is plenty big enough for preparing large batches of whatever you’re making, but its squared-off design maximizes space so it’s not too bulky on your countertop. At around $80, the Ninja Professional is simply the best blender we could find for less than $100 (and maybe even less than $200). For about $25 more, you can grab a version that comes with two single-serve bottles and a small blade assembly for making your own personal shakes and smoothies, but if you want a smaller blender for that, read on to see our other picks.

Also Great: Oster Pro 1200 Blender

The Best Blenders for Homemade Smoothies, Milkshakes, and Frozen Cocktails

Another great blender, and one that actually has dedicated settings for making milkshakes and smoothies (instead of just the low/medium/high/pulse buttons of the Ninja Professional), is the Oster Pro 1200. Along with a more powerful 1,200-watt motor for blowing through ice, the Oster Pro offers seven different output settings including a pulse function, offering a little more range than the Ninja.

The glass pitcher is a very nice touch at this price, too, particularly for those looking to eliminate plastic from the kitchen, although its six-cup capacity is smaller than the Ninja’s nine-cup pitcher. Be aware that it’s also fairly hefty, and be careful not to drop it in the sink when you’re washing it, although the glass is pretty substantial (hence the weight). The Oster Pro also includes a 24-ounce bottle for taking your smoothies on the go. This is an extremely solid, if somewhat plain-looking, blender for just $60.

Upgrades Pick: Vitamix 5200 Professional-Grade Blender

The Best Blenders for Homemade Smoothies, Milkshakes, and Frozen Cocktails

If you’re the type who lives by the maxim, “Buy the best and you only cry once,” then you need a Vitamix. This name is synonymous with “high-end blender” and the 5200 could be considered the flagship of the Vitamix fleet. With 10 variable speed settings plus a pulse function, the Vitamix 5200 can make everything from thin soups to thick nut butters (yes, you can make peanut butter in this beast) – and, of course, it makes perfect milkshakes, smoothies, and other frozen drinks.

What we really like about the Vitamix 5200 is that it’s not messy, even when using liquid ingredients that easily splash up the sides of other blender pitchers. It’s also extremely durable and reliable with a 1,380- motor that runs surprisingly cool for its output (the motor is designed and assembled in the U.S., as well), and on the off chance that something does go wrong, it’s backed by a seven-year warranty. Vitamix is a brand that’s favored by professional chefs, so while you’re going to pay for it, the 5200 might be the last blender you’ll ever buy.

Best All-Purpose Option: Ninja Mega Kitchen System Blender and Food Processor

The Best Blenders for Homemade Smoothies, Milkshakes, and Frozen Cocktails

The Ninja Mega Kitchen System was a contender for our top pick but was kept out of the number one spot because it’s almost twice the price of the Ninja Professional blender and if you’re just preparing simple meals at home for one or two people, a food processor is probably more than you need. This thing still deserves its own spot on our list, though, thanks to its sheer versatility for people who could use a food processor and want to save some space with a combo appliance like this.

At first glance, the Mega Kitchen System looks a lot like the Ninja Professional, albeit with a modified and even more powerful 1,500-watt blender motor that also accommodates a large eight-cup food processing bowl. This two-for-one design lets you create smoothies, shakes, and other blended concoctions (you even get two small single-serve bottles) while also giving you the ability to process food ingredients like cheese and dough. The only real drawback here is that it’s twice the price at $160, but the Mega Kitchen System gives you a lot of food prep capabilities for your money.

Best Single-Serve Option: NutriBullet Magic Bullet Personal Blender

The Best Blenders for Homemade Smoothies, Milkshakes, and Frozen Cocktails

A number of our picks, such as the Ninja blenders, come with their own single-serve bottles and even small blade assemblies for making one-person smoothies, but the blenders themselves are still rather bulky. If you already have a full-sized blender (or maybe you don’t need one at all) and you just want a small one that can make drinks for one, then it doesn’t get much better – or much more compact – than the $50 NutriBullet Magic Bullet.

The Magic Bullet blender is small but mighty, with a 600-watt high-speed motor that’s ideal for making your own fruit- and vegetable-based smoothies (it can also handle ice, but don’t overdo it – adding crushed ice instead of large cubes is a good idea). Your drinks are made right in either the included 24-ounce or 18-ounce cup, both of which come with lids storage and transport when your drink is ready. If you’re making a lot of frozen drinks, one of our other blender picks would be better, but if you’re looking for a unit that can whip up daily health shakes and smoothies made just for you, the Magic Bullet is the one.