Smoothie makers are blenders designed to make one smoothie at a time using a single container that is used both for blending and drinking the beverage. Sure, you can place less ingredients into a full-size blender jar to blend a single serving, but you will dirty more than one dish and pay more for this machine. While these machines typically cost under $50, it is their easy-to-use simplicity (only one speed) and reduced mess (only one dish to clean) that explains their continued popularity.
Now, though, some smart manufacturers have started to make combo blenders that use one motor that can make a single smoothie in a to-go cup or blend an entire jar of smoothie goodness, but this versatility comes at a price (see our #3 recommendation).
In a hurry? Our Top-Rated Blenders for Smoothies Are:
Why make homemade smoothies?
While there are probably dozens of reasons; here are our top three:
- Health – WebMD lists the top 10 healthiest and 10 worst store-bought smoothies by counting calories, fat, saturated fats, carbs, fiber, and protein content of each brand. But, this is only part of the story. How about preservatives? Do they use organic ingredients? Did they use fresh fruits and vegetables? Did they use anything you’re allergic to? When you make smoothies at home, it’s according to your health needs.
- Cost – Robyn Openshaw, bestselling author of The Green Smoothies Diet, compares spending $8.19 to make one 72-ounce blender full of green smoothie (or, $1.80 for 16 ounces) at home versus buying Jamba Juice’s 16 ounce freshly-squeezed juices for $4.99 (on WebMD’s healthiest list) . At one smoothie a week for a year, you’ve spent $166 more. Perhaps more compelling, though, is the argument that if you drink 32 ounces per day, you’ll be meeting the US government’s daily recommended portion of fruits and vegetables for just $3.76.
- Taste – There are nearly unlimited options for how to make a smoothie, so you can always make one according to your preferences. I tend to find store-bought smoothies to be too sweet and artificial tasting. I prefer these 5 Ingredients or less smoothie recipes — full of fiber, protein, and healthy fats and are also completely sugar free, banana free, are vegan and therefore dairy free. Let us know which is your favorite in the comments!
How to make a healthy smoothie
Matt Frazier, author of No Meat Athlete, explains how he makes a healthy smoothie that tastes great every time. As someone who has had a smoothie “almost every single day” for the past few years, we trust his smoothie making expertise. You can read about his advice here. We like how his smoothie-making formula is flexible, but keeps you focused. Below is his “Perfect Smoothie Formula” (makes 2 smoothies):
- 1 soft fruit
- 2 small handfuls frozen fruit or fresh fruit
- 2-4 tablespoons protein powder
- 2 tablespoons binder
- 1.5 tablespoons oil
- 1.5 cups liquid
- 1 tablespoon sweetener (optional, less or more as needed)
- optional superfoods, greens, and other ingredients
- 6 ice cubes (omit if soft fruit is frozen)
Select one or more ingredients of each type below and add to blender in specified proportions. Blend until smooth. My wife spryly noted that ice cream was not part of this healthy smoothie formula (moving on).
How to choose the best smoothie maker
The best blenders (in general) are easy to clean, easy to use, reliable, not too expensive, and safe. Additionally, in this review we are evaluating the contenders based on the ease of making smoothies for a single individual, which mostly translates into dirtying only one dual-use blending cup that has a lid so you can take it to go.
Best blender for smoothies attributes:
Easy to clean – We only recommend blenders with dishwasher-safe containers.
Easy-to-use containers – The best smoothie makers feature plastic containers, which are lightweight and less prone to breaking than glass ones (no one wants shards in their smoothies!). Plastic can absorb odors and stain easily, though, so clean them promptly after each use. We only recommend products that are BPA free to protect you from diseases that may be caused by to using BPA plastic products (Mayo Clinic). Additionally, look for a container with a wide mouth that facilitates loading and cleaning, as well as displaying easy-to-read measurements.
Easy-to-use controls – Touch pads, push buttons, dials, and flip switches each have their pros and cons, but we did not see a clear winner here. We did notice that customers tended to complain more about blenders with “fancier” controls, so if you do not like reading directions then a blender with simple analog controls may be better for you. Our favorite preset controls were the digital timers that helped us follow the blender recipes.
Reliable – We all want a machine that simply works. And, when it doesn’t, you want a warranty that will replace it. Longer warranties are better (obviously), but they tend to come at a higher price. If all other features are equal, then we rated the blender with the longer warranty higher.
What factors drove our ratings?
- Easy to use – designed to make an individual portion.
- Easy to clean – same container used for blending and drinking, simplifying cleanup.
- Motor – at least 600 watts
- BPA-free plastic containers
- Dishwasher-safe containers (at minimum, can be placed in the top rack)
- Self-cleaning – verified customers confirmed that they clean their blender this way
- Warranty – longer is better
- Price – cheaper is better
Our #1-Rated — Best Personal Blender
The NutriBullet Magic Bullet (NBR-1201) is our top-rated personal smoothie maker. After more than 14,000 reviews, 71% of people gave it a 5-star review on Amazon as of publishing. NutriBullet may be the most renowned single-serve smoothie maker in the market. It’s solid 600-watt motor is perfect for blending frozen fruits and vegetables and the blender cup with to-go lids means less fuss and easy traveling. And as a bonus, every customer we found said it was easy to clean.
Teresa (a verified customer) said in November 2015, “Not since the microwave has a kitchen appliance been such a life changer. I bought my first Nutribullet two years ago, and found it to be ALL THAT and a bag of kale. I started by playing around with the recipes in the book, them I just started making my own concoctions based on fruits and veggies in season. Generally I stick to some combination of spinach, carrots, Greek yogurt, bananas, strawberries, mango, blueberries, apples, and papaya. I also add chia seeds or almonds sometimes. I add crushed ice and have a delicious smoothie every day for breakfast and it keeps me going till lunch.”
Negatives? The most common complaints are that it leaks, it’s loud, and (often around year three) it breaks. One customer suggested that you purchase a replacement blade periodically to reduce the noise and extend the life of the motor.
Our #2-Rated — Best Combo Blender for Smoothies and Full-size Jar Blending
The Ninja Professional (BL660) is our runner up for personal smoothie making. With 79% 5-star customer reviews as of publishing, a lot of people clearly love this machine. It includes both a blender jar and blender cups, so it’s still perfect for those who want to make individual portions of smoothies in the same to-go cup they used for blending. This simplifies cleanup while reducing the number of machines you need in the kitchen. It’s a win-win!
L Rollie (a verified customer) said in May 2018, “The blender is awesome–lots of power for smoothies. Works like a dream. We have used the individual sized cups a few times to process a small quantity of ingredients for a sauce. I would have given it 5 stars, but the suction cups on the bottom are a pretty annoying. It does keep the unit stable, however, it is almost impossible to move! We use it every morning, so we store it on the counter, pushed back agains the wall. To use, we slide it toward the front of the counter so that there is clearance room under the upper cabinets to open the lid, and for easy access when filling it. But it is a mighty struggle to “unstick” 4 STRONG suction cups. Our workaround was to put a piece of cardboard under the unit so we can slide it. But this makes it slide too easily while operating. Rubber feet on the old model would have been far better. We’ll look for a rubber mat of some kind.”
Negatives? The most common complaints are that the lid of the jar leaks when blending liquids, it’s loud, and it breaks. Of course, the majority of customers did not mention these issues, so they may or may not happen to you. If you are making smoothies, then you should not have issues with leaking since this seems to only happen when people are blending pure liquids. All blenders are loud, we suggest sliding a soft rubber mat under the unit to help dampen the noise. The one-year warranty is your best protection against potential breakage.
Our #3-Rated — Runner-up Blender for Personal Smoothies and Full-size Container Blending
The NutriBullet Blender Combo is one of our favorite blenders that comes with a full-size jar and also a blend cup perfect for a single serving that you can then take to go. We also rated this blender well in our Best Juicer Blender review because of its competitive price point and widespread customer enthusiasm for the brand.
Patrick O (a verified customer) said in September 2019, “This is the one I’ve been waiting for. Super powerful, and with a lot of options. Comes with a full size blender as well as personal blender cups with lids. Use this for my daily smoothie, and the “extract” setting makes it so easy. Basically it’s just a pattern of on/off/speed changes that mixes, blends, and gets all the ingredients perfectly smooth. Turn it on, go about your business, it turns off when it’s done with the cycle. Nice quality all around and enough power to do what I’ve needed it to do.”
Negatives? If you are only interested in personal smoothie making and are not interested in blending with its full-size jar, then this option is more expensive than the others in this category. Also, like all blenders — regardless of brand, the most common customer complaint we saw about this blender was that it was loud and and would sometimes break.
Other blenders for smoothies worth considering
- Best quiet blenders – The Blendtec Professional 800 Blender with WildSide+ Jar (90 oz), Sealed Sound Enclosure is a stellar option for those who don’t like noise. Alternatively, a more budget-conscious option is the Hamilton Beach Professional Quiet Shield Blender
- Best blenders for juicing – Vitamix 5200 Blender Professional-Grade, 64 oz. Container, Red. We gave this professional blender our #1 spot for best juicer blenders because of its best-in-class juice and smoothie smoothness (read full review).
It comes as no surprise that NutriBullet makes the best blenders for smoothies. They were the original champions of the concept. We recommend the Ninja Blenders – Countertop, 24 oz, Silver/Black if your budget is at the low end. It is an excellent single-purpose blender for making individual-portion smoothies.
If, however, you can spring for a little more and want more versatility, then we recommend the NutriBullet Blender Combo Blender. If your focus is making healthy, delicious smoothies to go everyday with the most ease, then you’ll be happy with either option.