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Step into the kitchen of any high-minded chef and you’ll likely hear the high whine of a blender as often as carbon steel slicing through vegetables. The humble kitchen appliance has become the de facto method of whipping up exotic sauces, frozen cappuccinos and other culinary delights with speed and efficiency. Whether you’re mixing a cold ginger soup or a batch of boozy summer cocktails, a capable blender can enhance and expand your range in the kitchen. We scoured the market to find five blenders, ranging in price and pulverizing power, to suit everyone from the morning smoothie maker to the Michelin-star hopeful. 

1. The Budget Best: Hamilton Beach Multi-Blend
Normally blenders at this price point will crumble after a few margarita sessions. But this bare-bones appliance is a competent kitchen companion. It 650-watt engine won’t pulverize almonds or produce a satisfying green juice, but it can handle simple tasks like crushing ice cubes or churning out a consistent pesto. It’s made of lightweight plastic (a standard for this price point), but the 48-ounce pitcher is both durable and large enough to produce a decent batch of boozy drinks. $40; hamiltonbeach.com

2. The Tiny. The Mighty: Nutribullet
Items As Seen On TV are often overhyped, but this compact 600-watt blender is ideal for quickly whipping up small batches of paint-thick smoothies, veggie-packed juices and small ice-laden drinks. It comes with four cups (one 32-ouncer, two 24-ouncers, and one eight-ouncer), each of which you attach to the base and press down to initiate blending. Just don’t expect it to help with dinner prep: There are no dials; rather, the bullet just spins until you stop pressing. The company states that it breaks down fruits and vegetables to increase absorption, but all we can say is the compact mixer is a boon for efficient small-batch drinks. $80; nutribullet.com

3. The Middleweight Champion: Breville Hemisphere Control Blender
The Hemisphere punches well above its price by mixing, pureeing and pulsing almost as well as a professional model. It has a 48-ounce glass pitcher, five speeds and three preprogrammed settings, as well as an LCD timer. Its blades are engineered to yank ingredients down as they spin a design that, in conjunction with its 750-watt engine, helps create consistent batches of everything from piña coladas to pizza dough to juice. $200; breville.com

4. The Semiprofessional Powerhouse: Vitamix S30 Blender
Vitamix blenders are revered for good reason: They’re high-powered workhorses that can tear through anything in their path yet have the finesse to handle softer ingredients. These blenders are often enormous things, but the company’s latest stands only 18 inches tall. It ships with a 40-ounce pitcher and a 20-ounce container, each of which fits onto the 750-watt, 10-speed blender’s blades. The 20-ounce container is clutch for single-serve juices and smoothies. It also comes with its own flip-top lid and is double-walled to keep its contents cold for a few hours. The large container is ideal for at-home blending of soups and bigger batches of just about anything you can dream up. $410; vitamix.com

5. The Professional Powerhouse: Blendtec Pro 750
The Blendtec Pro 750 is a hulking machine capable of making big batches of anything a chef requires. Packing a peak of 3.0 horsepower enough to reduce a bone-in rib eye to a bloody puddle the Blendtec won’t bow down to any substance. A touchscreen control panel lets you select from one of ten speeds or an additional six preprogrammed controls (margarita, bread dough, etc.), and this blender is built to sustain years and years of daily wear. Bonus: The blades spin so fast, the friction can almost heat up soup. $470; blendtec.com

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