The 4 best KitchenAid stand mixers we tested in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • KitchenAid is a brand synonymous with stand mixers and has been making them for more than 100 years.
  • Its stand mixers are great for tasks that take a lot of effort to do by hand, like whipping and creaming.
  • The Artisan Series 5-Quart Tilt Head Stand Mixer is the best stand mixer because it balances power and size.

A stand mixer is the crowning jewel of a kitchen, and KitchenAid’s stand mixers have been the standard for over a century. They make efficient work of tasks that typically take a lot of time or effort to do by hand, like whipping egg whites to soft or stiff peaks, turning cream into whipped cream, churning out big batches of cookies, and kneading tough, heavy bread doughs.

I’ve used a KitchenAid stand mixer daily – sometimes all day – while working in professional kitchens for more than a decade. I have years of experience with each stand mixer in this guide: I’ve broken them, repaired them, purchased them for my own personal use, and am intimately aware of each model’s advantages and limitations.

But I didn’t just rely on my previous experiences. I researched eight models and put four top-selling KitchenAid stand mixers through a standard set of tests for this guide. I used a King Arthur recipe for bagels, a stiff dough with a 10-minute mixing time; I prepared Compost Cookies (kitchen-sink cookies with five cups of mix-ins including chocolate chips, potato chips, and pretzels) from New York City’s Milk Bar; and put each mixer through additional tests to evaluate its capacity, mixing capability, and ease of use. You can read more about how I tested KitchenAid stand mixers in our methodology here, along with how to shop for a KitchenAid and what to make with it.

Here are the best KitchenAid stand mixers in 2021

The best overall

best stand mixer overall 2021 kitchenaid

This popular model balances power, capacity, and size for a mixer that is perfectly designed for most home bakers; plus it comes in more than 45 fun colors.

Pros: Easily accomplishes common cooking tasks, lots of customization options, work bowl has a handle

Cons: Too underpowered if you regularly make a lot of stiff or wet doughs

The Artisan Series 5 Quart model strikes a great balance of power, size, and design. During testing, it quickly became my favorite mixer to use. Tilt-head stand mixers have a smaller base than bowl-lift stand mixers so the bowls tend to be narrower and can feel cramped. You often have to stop the mixer and tilt the head back whenever you want to scrape down the mixing bowl. This wasn’t the case with the Artisan mixer; the large bowl of the felt open enough that I could scrape the sides without adjusting the head. The bowl also has a sturdy handle for easy lifting, and provided plenty of room for pouring in ingredients — particularly helpful when adding more than five cups of mix-ins for Compost Cookies. 

While it shook a bit when I made bagel dough, it was never overly noisy and I didn’t feel like I had to babysit it for fear of it walking off the counter. That said, I don’t think I would make multiple batches of bagels in a row to avoid overheating the mixer’s lower-powered motor. 

This model also offers customization, allowing you to choose from almost 50 color options, engrave your stand mixer or switch out the standard bowl for a patterned ceramic or glass mixing bowl.

Since initial testing, we’ve continued to use this model at least once a week. It’s worked its way through pierogi dough and filling, multiple babkas, and many batches of holiday cookies, and still functions as well (and looks as good) as it did when I first received it. We’ll continue to use this model regularly and report on its long-term durability.

Best budget

Best KitchenAid stand mixer Classic Plus

The least expensive model made by KitchenAid, the Classic Plus has all the quality components of more expensive mixers but it’s compact, efficient, and powerful enough to accomplish most tasks for casual bakers. 

Pros: Relatively inexpensive, spacious but still maneuverable, can handle most common tasks and occasional tough doughs 

Cons: Work bowl doesn’t have a handle, relatively low-powered motor, not ideal for heavy use

If you’re an occasional baker or just starting to dip your toes into cooking, the KitchenAid Classic Plus 4.5 Quart Tilt-Head Stand Mixer is a great model to get started with. It’s made with the same metal parts as more expensive KitchenAid stand mixers, has a strong motor, and a relatively roomy work bowl. While on the smaller side, it still easily accommodates single batches of common recipes. 

An earlier version of the KitchenAid Classic Plus was, in fact, my first mixer. I used it heavily for about five years until it gave out on me while kneading dough for hand-pulled noodles (a notoriously tricky dough, and one known to tax stand mixers). This issue first highlighted to me how most stand mixers break and the importance of choosing a model built for your typical usage. 

I tested a new version of this mixer for this guide, and while it happily worked through cookies, egg whites, and even hefty bagel dough without issue, it’s possible that with too much heavy use, like making many batches of bagel or pizza dough back-to-back, the mixer can overheat or — in the case of my old mixer — wear down its gears. While the issue is repairable, it requires seeing a KitchenAid repair specialist, which can be expensive, so you’re better off purchasing a stand mixer with a wattage that meets your needs from the get-go. 

Best for bread

Best KitchenAid stand mixer Pro Line Series 7-Quart Bowl Lift Stand Mixer

The KitchenAid Pro Line Series 7-Quart Bowl Lift Stand Mixer is the largest, most powerful KitchenAid mixer you can buy without venturing into commercial models, which makes it perfect for avid bakers. 

Pros: Largest capacity of any residential model, bowl-lift design provides stability when mixing, wide mixing bowl for adding ingredients, powerful motor that can handle all kinds of doughs, work bowl has a handle

Cons: Heavy, takes up a lot of space, only comes in a few colors

Stiff or heavy doughs like bagel dough, pizza dough, and some noodle doughs require a large amount of power to knead properly, which can be taxing on many stand mixers. The 7-Quart Pro-Line model has a 970 watt motor for powerful and thorough kneading without overheating the mixer. The wider bowl-lift design also provides more stability during mixing, so the mixer doesn’t “walk” or shake as much during use. 

This is the model I primarily used during a decade of work in professional kitchens. The machine is reliable, nimble, easy to use, and remarkably quiet for such a large mixer. It can handle everything from whipping two egg whites to mixing triple batches of cake batter. KitchenAid claims the 7-quart size can make up to 14 dozen cookies in a single batch, and while I haven’t ventured to test the limits of that claim (I love cookies, but I don’t need 14 dozen), it made double batches of compost cookies and bagels with plenty of room to spare. 

The wide bowl is easy to remove from the mixer, has a large comfortable handle, and provides lots of space for adding ingredients during mixing. Avid bakers and especially those who make bread will appreciate its reliability — these mixers saw heavy daily use when I worked with them in professional kitchens and rarely needed repairs. If you take care of this mixer, it’s likely to last you decades. 

That said, it’s a hefty machine and not the sort of mixer you want to lug around, so it’s best for those with ample counter space to devote to its large footprint.

Read our full review

Best for small spaces

Best KitchenAid stand mixer Artisan Mini

The smallest of KitchenAid stand mixers, this model is the perfect size and strength for occasional bakers, new cooks, and those with petite kitchens.

Pros: Perfectly sized for small kitchens, easy to maneuver, makes single batches of most recipes well, ideal for occasional bakers, a good size for kids, work bowl has a handle

Cons: Too small for double batches, shakes a lot when running at high speed

When I moved into a 600 square foot apartment, every inch felt precious. Since counter space was limited, I needed a mixer light enough that I wouldn’t mind hauling it out from a cabinet every time I wanted to bake. The KitchenAid Artisan Mini 3.5 Quart Tilt-Head Stand Mixer hit all these marks for me. 

Measuring just over 11 inches wide, the Mini is about 25% smaller than our best overall pick. While this may not seem like a drastic difference, the Mini is much more maneuverable, and I love that it fits easily under my cabinets or on a shelf. Less surface area also means less to clean, and the Mini’s work bowl doesn’t hog space in my sink or dishwasher.

Despite being more petite, the Mini is perfectly capable of whipping up a single batch of cookies or biscuits. I’ve made muffins, pasta dough, bread dough, pizza dough, cake, frosting, and more cookies than I can count in the Mini with no issues or changes to the mixing times called for in the recipes.

When I put my Mini through strenuous tests for this guide, it showed some of its limitations. The work bowl was just able to fit all the mix-ins for compost cookies, but it started to overflow a bit when I turned on the mixer. Bagel dough also came together fine, but the mixer shook and “walked” around the counter during the long kneading time, enough so that I felt like I had to keep an eye on it for the whole 10 minutes it was mixing. 

That said, if space is your primary concern or you’re an occasional baker, the Mini is a great option for an unobtrusive machine that can do just about anything a full-size mixer can do.

What else we considered

What else we considered, KitchenAid Stand Mixers

We also researched other KitchenAid models for this guide that we ultimately didn’t end up testing. Here are the products that didn’t make the cut and why: 

  • KitchenAid Classic Series 4.5 Quart Tilt Head Stand Mixer ($279.99): Previously our best budget pick, the Classic is identical in both function and design to our new affordable pick, the Classic Plus. We confirmed this with KitchenAid, who said the only difference is that the Classic Plus is available in a silver color. There used to be a slight difference between the Classic and the Classic Plus with the former having 250 watts, a slightly less powerful motor than the Classic Plus’ 275 watts. However, both models are now being made with 275 watts and are priced the same. Both are great options, and since KitchenAids have been in short supply, buy whichever you can get your hands on. We’ve seen some retailers still selling the 250-watt version of the Classic, so be sure to check the specs before you buy. 
  • KitchenAid NSF Certified Commercial Series 8-Qt Bowl Lift Stand Mixer ($699.99): Unless you’re running a bakery, you don’t need a mixer this large or this powerful. That said, if you are operating a bakery or food business, this is the only KitchenAid mixer that is certified by NSF International for commercial use. It has a two-year warranty (double the time of their other mixers) and a strong, durable motor for heavy use. However, home bakers are unlikely to need these extra features, which are designed to withstand hours of heavy use each day. 

Our testing methodology

While I drew from my own experience as a food editor working in professional kitchens and using these mixers over many years, I also put each model through a standard set of tests to see how they’d compare to each other. Here’s how I evaluated KitchenAid stand mixers:

Size, capacity, and ease of use: I weighed and measured all the stand mixers, including comparing the stated versus functional capacity (the capacity when measured from the bottom of the work bowl to the top of the mixing attachment) of each work bowl. I carried the mixers around and noted how comfortable they were to move and handle.

Power: We consulted the company to learn the power of each motor in watts. Residential stand mixers range from 250 to 970 watts, and mixers with higher wattage motors can mix heavy, wet doughs more readily. 

Whipping: I whipped two egg whites to stiff peaks in each mixer, which tests the mixers’ control during gradual ramping up of speed. It also tested the larger mixers’ ability to function well even with a very small volume of ingredients. 

Creaming: I used each stand mixer to make Milk Bar compost cookies, which have more than 5 cups of mix-ins. Not only did this test the functional capacity of the mixers, but also their ability to operate on different speeds — high speed for creaming butter and sugar, and low speed for incorporating delicate mix-ins like chips and pretzels without breaking them. 

Kneading: Each mixer was used to make a batch of King Arthur bagels; a stiff dough with a long, 10 minute mixing time. I made a note if any of the mixers shook or walked, struggled, or made excessive noise during this tough task. 

Durability: The true test of a stand mixer is how it performs over time. While I included information from my own experience working with these models over nearly a decade, I’ll continue to use the stand mixers in this guide and report back on any durability issues.

What we’re testing next

Our picks encompass most of KitchenAid’s offerings, but there are two models we’re interested in testing that we weren’t able to include this time around: 

  • KitchenAid Professional 5 Plus Series 5 Quart Bowl-Lift Stand Mixer ($419.99): Previously our best KitchenAid for making bread, this model was out of stock at the time of this testing. I’m of the mindset that if you’re going to upgrade from our best overall pick (which is also 5 quarts), it should also offer an increase in capacity. However, this model may be a good fit for those who prepare a lot of heavy, wet doughs but either don’t make large batches or are prioritizing cost. 
  • KitchenAid Pro 600 Series 6 Quart Bowl-Lift Stand Mixer ($499.99): This model offers a slight jump up in capacity from the 5-quart professional model and was also unavailable at the time of testing. It offers 15 colors; the most colors of any of KitchenAid’s bowl-lift models. We’d like to see if the slight increase in capacity justifies the big jump in price.

FAQs

What is the warranty on KitchenAid stand mixers?

Almost all of KitchenAid’s stand mixers come with a limited one year warranty, though you can purchase an extended service plan for another three years of coverage. 

What do I do if my KitchenAid stand mixer breaks?

When a KitchenAid stand mixer stops working, it can usually be repaired. The machines are designed so that inexpensive gears fail before the core part of the mixer; oftentimes a repair is as simple as replacing a gear. If your stand mixer is still within warranty, you should contact KitchenAid for a replacement. However, in my experience, don’t expect much from KitchenAid customer service if you’re out of warranty. While plenty of KitchenAid repair videos exist online, you’ll get the best results from a paid repair from the KitchenAid factory or by visiting a reputable appliance repair service. Keep in mind that you can void your remaining warranty if you attempt to repair your stand mixer on your own.

Will my KitchenAid stand mixer last a lifetime?

With proper care, it’s possible! Keep in mind that technology changes, so it’s never a guarantee that a small appliance like a KitchenAid stand mixer will be forever compatible with modern home wiring or safety specifications. (Your grandma’s toaster or microwave may still work, but it might not necessarily be safe.) While your stand mixer might not become a family heirloom, you should get many years of use out of it. 

How do I use my KitchenAid stand mixer?

I’d start with a solid recipe for something you like to eat often, like cookies or bread. Once you know what you want to make, a well-written recipe should guide you through when to add ingredients, what speed to use, and even when to scrape down the bowl. Recipes from cookbooks or food magazines are usually well-tested and thoroughly written. Some good cookbooks to start with include “Pastry Love,” “Black Girl Baking“, “Bravetart,” “Cook’s Illustrated Baking Book“, “The New Way to Cake,” and “The Back in the Day Bakery Cookbook.” It’s also good to keep best practices in mind: avoid overloading the mixer or adding too many ingredients at once, and turn up the speed slowly to avoid kitchen messes. Only operate your stand mixer on a stable countertop or table, and don’t leave it unattended while it’s running. 

Can I use an electric hand mixer instead of a stand mixer?

Electric hand mixers are best used for light batters or frostings where you want to incorporate a lot of air, and it doesn’t take a lot of mixing to bring the ingredients together. While the electric mixer is spinning the whisks, you’re still responsible for moving the mixer around the bowl. This is much less efficient than a stand mixer where the whisk is rotating, but also moving in a circular motion around the work bowl. Electric hand mixers also aren’t very good for heavy doughs or recipes with a lot of varying textures since these tend to get caught in the smaller tines of the beaters. While an electric hand mixer is an efficient way to whip up a batch of brownies or frosting, stand mixers are much more versatile.

How to choose a KitchenAid stand mixer

How to choose, KitchenAid Stand Mixer

KitchenAid makes an overwhelming number of models. Here are some considerations to help you narrow down your selection.

Wattage: The higher the wattage of the motor, the more powerful the mixer will be. Mixers with higher wattage — like the 970 watt motor on the KitchenAid Pro — glide through tough doughs and don’t easily overheat. If you bake at least once a week or you regularly make a lot of heavy, wet doughs like pizza or bread dough, then you’ll benefit from a larger, more expensive model with a high wattage motor built for power and durability. However, if you’re the kind of person who breaks out the stand mixer once a year to make holiday cookies, you don’t need the Cadillac of KitchenAids. Occasional bakers will be perfectly well off with 250 or 275-watt models, like the Artisan Mini or the Classic Plus. Lower wattage models can also handle the occasional tough task like kneading bagel dough a few times a year. Be mindful that tough kitchen tasks can be hard on the gears of smaller machines, so give your machine time to cool down between uses if you’re making a hard dough in a lower wattage model. 

Capacity: The advertised capacity of a KitchenAid mixer is not its actual capacity. The advertised or stated capacity refers to how much the work bowl can hold when completely full. Not only would you have a big mess on your hands if you tried to use a mixer at full capacity, but it also wouldn’t operate effectively since the ingredients would actually cover the mixing attachment. Instead, the functional capacity is measured from the bottom of the bowl to the top of the mixing attachment and it’s usually about 1 to 1.5 quarts less than the stated capacity. One quart is about the size of a large deli container, so if you have a recipe that regularly makes enough dough to fill four or five of those, opt for a mixer with a larger stated capacity of 6 or 7 quarts. It’s also a good idea to buy a mixer with a larger capacity if you make a lot of bread since the mixer needs a fair amount of clearance to knead the dough effectively.  

Maneuverability and storage: The bigger the capacity and more powerful the mixer, the heavier and larger the mixer will be. The largest KitchenAid mixers in our guide can weigh almost 30 pounds. Unless you’re comfortable regularly lifting an appliance of that size, you’ll either need to consider a small mixer or have dedicated counter space. Larger mixers will take up about half the width of a standard size counter and may not fit readily under your cabinet overhang. If space is at a premium, consider a smaller, less expensive mixer.

Colors and customization: For some people, the most important factor in choosing a KitchenAid is the color. If a fun color is your priority, opt for a mixer from KitchenAid’s Artisan series. Our best mixer for small spaces and best overall pick are both Artisan mixers and are available in up to 47 different colors. Our best overall pick also offers further customization with interchangeable decorative work bowls in various patterns and materials. The Classic and Pro Line series offer a much more limited color choice — just red and a handful of neutrals.

Why buy a KitchenAid stand mixer

While there are a number of other stand mixer brands out there — including Breville, Sunbeam, Oster, and Bosch — none are as ubiquitous or revered as the KitchenAid stand mixer. Some people consider purchasing a KitchenAid stand mixer to be a life milestone, and according to The Knot, a KitchenAid stand mixer was the most-wished-for product on wedding registries in 2019. Julia Child’s KitchenAid mixer even lives in the Smithsonian Museum. But what makes KitchenAid stand mixers so special?

KitchenAid stand mixers have been around for more than a century. According to KitchenAid, the brand got its name in 1919 when an executive’s wife called the first home model stand mixer “the best kitchen aid I’ve ever had.” The name stuck and KitchenAid has been synonymous with stand mixers ever since. While there are a number of great stand mixers from other brands out there, KitchenAid still stands out in a number of ways.

Durability: I’ve tried almost every brand of stand mixer out there in my seven years reviewing kitchen products, and KitchenAid mixers are the only ones that use an almost all-metal construction. Other brands cut costs by using plastic in part of the design: either in the body of the mixer, on knobs and dials, in the mixing attachments, or even in the gears. Mixers made with a lot of plastic are usually lighter and less expensive, but much less durable. KitchenAid mixers can last for decades because of their strong metal parts. While this stronger construction comes at a premium — KitchenAid mixers are among the most expensive out there — their durability makes them a great investment. Even the most affordable KitchenAid mixer shares this same hearty construction and powerful motor and will last for decades with proper care. There is also a robust network of authorized KitchenAid repair technicians who can repair your stand mixer if something does break.

Stability: The all-metal design makes KitchenAid mixers much heavier than most other brands. While they can be a pain to lug around, the added heft produces an important benefit: more stability when mixing. Lighter machines can shake or “walk” off countertops. The heaviness of KitchenAid mixers helps them stay put. 

A mixer for everybody: Many brands that make stand mixers only produce one or two models. KitchenAid makes almost a dozen models with different capacities, power, and price points. This allows you to choose a model that meets your needs and excels at the tasks you perform most.

Attachments: KitchenAid is the only brand that has produced a robust lineup of attachments that extend the versatility of its stand mixers. These attachments can turn your KitchenAid into a food processor, meat grinder, ice cream maker, spiralizer, pasta machine, and more — eliminating the need to buy separate appliances that are often larger and more expensive. 

Colors: It’s undeniable that one of the major selling points of a KitchenAid mixer is the sheer number of colors available to choose from. KitchenAid offers its mixers in 47 different colors — no other brand even comes close to that much customization. While choosing an appliance based on color may seem silly to some consumers, the ability to pick out a color that matches your personality or decor is one of the reasons people feel such an affinity to KitchenAid mixers.

Glossary

KitchenAid Glossary

Tilt head: A common mixer design where the work bowl twists onto the base of the mixer. The head of the machine tilts forward for operation and lifts back so you can attach a paddle, whisk, or dough hook; add ingredients to the work bowl; or use a spatula to scrape down the sides of the bowl. These machines have a lever that allows you to lock the head in place so it doesn’t accidentally lift during mixing or moving. This style is common in smaller capacity mixers and is contrasted to a bowl-lift design.

Bowl lift: A mixer design where the work bowl sits on a Y-shaped arm extending from the body of the mixer. A lever allows you to raise and lower the bowl. A raised position brings the bowl closer to the mixer head for operation, while a lowered position allows you to more easily add ingredients or add/remove the paddle, whisk, or dough hook. This design allows for more stability during mixing but comes at the cost of a larger footprint. 

Hub: A circular port at the front of the mixer head where you place KitchenAid branded attachments such as the meat grinder, pasta cutter, or spiralizer. When not in use, the hub is usually covered by a silver medallion with the KitchenAid logo. 

Paddle: A flat, open mixing attachment included with every KitchenAid stand mixer. The paddle is used for mixing ingredients together when you don’t want too much air incorporated, such as when creaming butter and sugar, mixing cookie dough, and combining some batters. Think of it as the stand mixer equivalent of a wooden spoon. 

Whisk: A balloon-shaped wire whisk mixing attachment included with every KitchenAid stand mixer. The whisk attachment is used when you do want to incorporate a lot of air into the ingredients you’re mixing, like when whipping cream, making meringue or frosting, or mixing cake batter. It’s used in similar ways to a hand whisk.

Dough hook: A corkscrew-shaped mixing attachment included with every KitchenAid stand mixer. The dough hook is used for kneading bread dough. Typically you’ll mix the dough with another attachment such as the paddle, and then use the dough hook to form the dough into a ball and knead it. The corkscrew shape pushes the dough against the sides of the work bowl in an action that approximates kneading by hand. 

Attachment: Can refer to the paddle, whisk, and dough hook that come with the mixer, but also used to describe the various accessories you can purchase to extend the versatility of your stand mixer such as the ice cream maker, food processor, or meat grinder.

What to make in your KitchenAid stand mixer

What to make with KitchenAid Stand Mixer

We’ve put together a number of how-tos for making the most out of your KitchenAid stand mixer. KitchenAid makes more than two dozen different attachments that expand the versatility of your machine and let you make everything from zoodles to sausage to ice cream and more. Most of the attachments operate from the “hub” of the mixer — the portion underneath the metal disk on the top front of the machine. Since all KitchenAid mixers have this hub, almost all the attachments are compatible with every KitchenAid model in our guide. If you’re interested in KitchenAid attachments, we reviewed them all here

Here are some of our favorite things to make with our KitchenAid mixers and attachments:

Fresh pasta: This is one of those tasks that shows the true versatility of a KitchenAid stand mixer. You use the stand mixer and work bowl to make the dough, and then the KitchenAid pasta sheeter or pasta extruder to form the pasta shapes. Read more about how to make pasta in your stand mixer

Bagels: Chewy bread like bagels are one of the hardest and most arduous tasks to do by hand, which means they’re the perfect recipes to outsource to your stand mixer. While writing this guide, I used this recipe by King Arthur and it churned out perfectly springy bagels that reminded me of home in New Jersey.

Sausage: KitchenAid makes several attachments that allow you to grind your own meat for homemade sausage. Read more about how to grind meat and make sausage with a KitchenAid stand mixer.

Pizza dough: This type of dough is really wet and sticky, but a stand mixer excels at pulling it all together. Here’s a recipe I really love for pizza dough made in a stand mixer. 

Ice cream: KitchenAid makes a special bowl that fits on all stand mixers except the Artisan Mini that makes homemade ice cream. Read more about how to make ice cream in your Kitchenaid stand mixer

Check out our other kitchen appliance guides

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The 6 best air conditioners we tested in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • A good air conditioner is energy efficient, runs quietly, and cools your space quickly.
  • The Friedrich Chill Premier Smart Window Air Conditioner is our pick for the best air conditioner.
  • It did the best in our cooling tests, features app connectivity, and is Energy Star-certified.

For those who don’t have central air to cool their space, window air conditioners are the next best thing. They can fit in most windows for convenient cooling, and if you choose one that’s Energy Star certified (which most of our picks are), your bills won’t run up too high.

Despite what you may see in the movies, window ACs are relatively easy and safe to install as long as you follow each unit’s instructions, and many models come with brackets that keep the air conditioner in place and prevent potential burglars from pushing units in and getting inside your home.

To determine the best air conditioners, we tested 10 models (details on our testing methods here) and consulted with Matt Brown, the merchant for home comfort, air quality, and floorcare at The Home Depot, and Enesta Jones, a spokesperson for the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which oversees the Energy Star program. Our guide features units that performed well in our tests, have useful features, and are energy efficient.

If you are searching for portability, we’ve included our top portable AC pick in this guide, but you might also want to check out our guide to the best portable air conditioners.

Here are the best window air conditioners in 2021

The best overall

best air conditioner overall 2021 friedrich

If you have a medium-sized room, the Friedrich CCF08A10A Chill Premier Smart Window Air Conditioner is your best option with its impressive cooling abilities, smart connectivity, and long warranty.

Pros: Did the best in our cooling tests, smart connectivity with a useful app, fits a wide array of window sizes, five-year warranty on sealed refrigerant system, Energy Star-certified

Cons: One of the loudest units in our tests

Of the 10 units we tested for this guide, the Friedrich CCF08A10A Chill Premier Smart Window Air Conditioner did the best job of cooling our 650-square-foot test room. During the one-hour testing period, the temperature dropped 5.3 degrees Fahrenheit. 

It was also easy to install, taking only 20 minutes plus an extra 10 minutes to install and connect the smartphone app (available for iOS and Android), which lets you set schedules and control your AC from anywhere. 

The Friedrich Chill Premier is Energy Star-certified, and in our tests, it was in the middle of the pack in its power consumption. It used 0.4 kWh of energy while we blasted it on high for one hour. 

Our only complaint is that it was one of the loudest ACs in our tests, registering 56.3 decibels on high, which is a little bit louder than the average refrigerator. Even on low, our sound meter registered 54.8 decibels, which is quite noisy. 

Best budget

Best budget air conditioner 2021 GE

The GE AHY08LZ EZ Mount Window Air Conditioner is your best bet if you’re looking for a cheap way to cool your room, with its low-decibel output, outstanding cooling, and easy installation.

Pros: Energy Star-certified, performed well in cooling tests, easy to install, quiet operation

Cons: Unable to access smart features, unimpressive CEER rating, minimal warranty

The GE 8,000 BTU Smart Window Air Conditioner (model AHY08LZ) features a relatively light weight of 54 pounds and is simple to install. I had it up and running within 20 minutes of opening the box, and it fit my slender 24-inch-wide window frame.

More importantly, it’s a workhorse. In our test room of 650 square feet — nearly twice what the unit is rated for — the GE was able to decrease the temperature by more than 3 degrees F in an hour. It did this while remaining fairly quiet, registering only 55 decibels on high, which makes it suitable for bedrooms and home offices.

Its control panel shows the temperature in large, easy-to-read numbers and automatically dims to keep light to a minimum if you’re using it in the bedroom at night. The face also features adjustable louvers that allow you to send cool air precisely where you want. 

The GE has Wi-Fi connectivity and can be operated remotely, but I could not get it to connect with GE’s Comfort app (available for iOS and Android). After several tries, I still couldn’t use any of the smart features. Based on the 2.9-star rating in the Google Play store and 1.9-star rating in the App Store, I’m not alone. 

I reached out to GE about the app issues, and it responded quickly. According to the company, it’s a known issue for some users but it did not have a timeline for when it would be fixed. However, even without the smart features, this is an outstanding unit.

Best energy-efficient

Best energy efficient air conditioner 2021 midea

The Midea MAW08V1QWT U Inverter Window Air Conditioner features a unique U-shape design that allows you to open the window when it’s installed, and it’s one of only a few ACs to earn Energy Star’s “Most Efficient” certification.

Pros: Unique U-shaped design, Energy Star “Most Efficient” certification, easy to install in a wide array of windows, comes with a support bracket, quiet 48-decibel operation, smart connectivity that works well

Cons: Can only change airflow direction horizontally

The Midea MAW08V1QWT U Inverter Window Air Conditioner has a unique U-shaped design that offers more secure installation when combined with the included support bracket — hardware rarely included with AC units — and allows you to open and close the window to let in fresh air. 

It’s the first window AC to receive the Energy Star “Most Efficient” certification, and it remains one of only three models to receive that designation — another is the LG Dual Inverter AC, our pick for the best AC for large rooms. 

The Midea U uses inverter technology to achieve such impressive efficiency numbers. Inverter compressors have variable-speed motors that adjust to maintain the desired temperature. This constant low-level operation is actually more efficient than cycling high output on and off like traditional units do. According to my smart plug, the Midea U consumed 9.6 kWh over a 24 hour period, which works out to 0.4 kWh each hour.

Installation was quick, though the instructions could be a bit clearer. Still, I had the unit up and running within 25 minutes of opening the box. Connecting to the smart app was also quick and let me control the Midea U with my voice using Alexa.

I was impressed with how quietly the AC runs. The sound meter registered 48 decibels when it was operating on its highest setting. 

The only reason the Midea U isn’t our top overall pick is its lukewarm performance in our cooling tests. It only decreased the temperature of our 650-square-foot room by 1.7 degrees in the first hour — comparable to our budget pick. 

Best for small rooms

best air conditioner for small rooms 2021 haier

The Haier ESAQ406TZ Window Air Conditioner is ideal for bedrooms and home offices thanks to its ultra-quiet design.

Pros: Good cooling for its size, quiet operation, easy installation, seemed to improve air quality during testing, Energy Star-certified, multi-directional vent control

Cons: Requires a window width of at least 26-1/16 inches, minimal/standard warranty

The Haier ESAQ406TZ Window Air Conditioner registered the lowest noise output of any of the units in our testing. On low, our sound meter measured 41.9 decibels, which is almost as quiet as a library. Even on high, it was only a little louder than a normal conversation at 51.4 decibels. Coupled with the low Btu output, this is the ideal unit for bedrooms and home offices.

Installing the Haier AC was relatively easy and didn’t require any special steps. The process took me about 25 minutes. However, I found it surprising that such a low-Btu unit would require such a wide window opening.

The Haier was in the middle of the pack in cooling. It brought the room’s temp down by about two degrees in one hour. This is impressive considering it was one of only two units with less than 8,000 Btu that I tested. (The other, the GE AHQ06LZ, did a much poorer job.) I like that there are multi-directional vent adjustments so you can send the cool air where you want it most.

During testing, I used a handheld monitor to measure any changes to air quality, and it showed a significant reduction in VOCs and particulate matter.

Lastly, it’s Energy Star-certified, and that lined up with my experience with it. After an hour, it had used 0.3 kWh of electricity. It has an estimated yearly energy cost of about $52 according to government data.

Best for large rooms

best air conditioner for large rooms 2021 LG

The LG LW1517IVSM Dual Inverter Smart Window Air Conditioner provides an impressive combination of quiet operation, outstanding performance, and energy efficiency.

Pros: Good performance in our cooling tests, quiet operation, certified Energy Star “Most Efficient,” Wi-Fi connectivity with support for Alexa and Google Home, can be controlled remotely with a smartphone app

Cons: Pain to install, underwhelming one-year warranty, only works in windows at least 27-inches wide

This LG unit was one of the best in our cooling tests, dropping the temperature in a 650-square-foot room by 3.3 degrees in one hour. It was also one of the quietest, registering just 53 decibels when on high. 

LG was the first to use inverter technology in its air conditioners. The dual-inverter compressor of the LG LW1517IVSM Dual Inverter Smart Window Air Conditioner helped it earn the rare Energy Star “Most Efficient” certification.

Home Depot’s AC expert Matt Brown is a fan of this model. “LG inverter units are exciting because they offer the best smart connectivity, are much quieter than standard units, offer customers significant power and utility bill savings, and look very sleek and modern,” he said.

This is the main air conditioner I use on the ground floor of my home. Even on the hottest days, the LG LW1517IVSM keeps us cool. And, it remains quiet enough to facilitate normal conversation.

Installation was difficult, however. It took me two hours and included steps like removing and reinstalling parts from the unit. Uninstalling it for the winter was a task. Usually, I can carry air conditioners on my own, but I had to enlist the help of my teenage son when putting it in storage.

The LG can used with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant. You can also use LG’s SmartThinQ app (available for iOS and Android) to schedule the unit and perform other remote operations.

Best portable

best portable air conditioner 2021 LG

The LG LP1419IVSM Dual Inverter Smart Wi-Fi Portable Air Conditioner is a well-rounded, energy-saving unit that can be controlled by your phone or voice.

Pros: Can be controlled and scheduled using your phone, voice control, easy to move, performed well in cooling tests, fits a wide array of window types and sizes

Cons: Set up took longer than others, one-year warranty, terrible energy efficiency compared to window ACs

*Editor’s note: This model frequently goes in and out of stock at many retailers. We’ll continue to update this post with availability.

Portable air conditioners have their benefits: namely portability and the ability to work with any outside opening. However, they vastly underperform compared to window ACs and no portable models are currently certified by Energy Star. While window AC units suck in hot air and vent it directly out the window, portable ACs rely on a long tube to carry air from your room to the outside. Along the way, heat radiates from the tube and stays in the room, so it takes a lot more energy (and money) to cool a room with a portable AC than a window AC. 

If you have a window that will accommodate it, we always recommend a window unit over a portable model. If that’s not an option, however, the LG LP1419IVSM Dual Inverter Smart Wi-Fi Portable Air Conditioner is your best bet.

The LG portable AC is our top pick from our guide to the best portable air conditioners because it’s quieter and more efficient than most portable models due to its dual-inverter compressor. It’ll take about double the time to cool a room than a window unit, but it’s very easy to install and use. 

After an initial 30-minute installation time (including connecting to the app), it was super simple to move from room to room. It only took about a minute to reinstall it in a new room thanks to its handles, smooth casters, and a dedicated slot for the window slider when in transport. We like that it can accommodate a wider range of windows than the other units in this guide.

It’s Alexa-enabled and also has smart capabilities through the LG ThinQ app (available for iOS and Android), which lets you schedule when the unit runs.

What else we tested

best air conditioner 2021 what else we tested

We’ve tested 10 air conditioners over the last year, and there are several that barely missed the cut for our guide but are worth considering.

What else we recommend and why:

Frigidaire FHWW083WB1 Smart Window Air Conditioner ($359): There’s a lot to like about this AC, but I couldn’t find a category that it was tops in. It did well in the cooling tests, the app works well, it fits a broad range of window sizes, and it seemed to improve the air quality while operating. The negatives are that it’s kind of loud and wasn’t particularly energy efficient. It’s occasionally on sale at a lower price than our budget pick. If you are looking for a deal and happen to find this Frigidaire unit marked down, I strongly recommend picking it up.

Windmill Smart Window Air Conditioner ($395): This was the loudest AC I tested at 63 decibels on high. It was also among the biggest power users and isn’t Energy Star-certified. Plus, you can’t adjust where the air flows. The Windmill was in the middle of the pack in cooling performance bringing the temp down by about two degrees in an hour. I also liked how incredibly easy it was to install and that it fits windows as small as 23 inches wide.

What we don’t recommend and why:

Friedrich Kuhl Series KCQ08A10A Window Air Conditioner ($869): This AC performed poorly in our cooling tests, and I spent half an hour trying to get the weird browser-based Wi-Fi connectivity to work without any success. On the plus side, it comes with a nice warranty, fits a lot of window sizes, and doesn’t use much power. But, at this price point, there are much better options out there.

GE AHQ06LZ Window Air Conditioner ($250): The only positives with this unit are it fits a wide range of window sizes and it doesn’t use much power. It did the worst in our cooling tests, only has bidirectional vents, didn’t come with insulation for the side curtains, and it seemed to have a negative impact on air quality.

GE PHC08LY Profile Smart Window Room Air Conditioner ($395.10): This was another model that I thought deserved a spot in our guide but didn’t quite fit anywhere. It was runner-up in our cooling test, decreasing the room temp by five degrees in an hour. However, it fell short in so many areas. Only the Windmill used more power. This unit only has left/right vent control and not up and down. I couldn’t get the app to connect to it. And, our air monitor showed a decrease in air quality, though it didn’t reach harmful levels.

Testing methodology

best air conditioner 2021 methodology

I personally tested all of the air conditioners in this guide. There are several objective tests I put each model through. The most important factors I consider are cooling abilities, energy efficiency, and special features.

Here are the main attributes we look for and how we test them:

Cooling: I set the unit up in a 650-square-foot test room. I measure the temperature from the opposite side of the room, run the AC on high for an hour, and then compare the readings. 

Noise: I use a sound meter positioned six feet away from the air conditioner as it runs on high. I also adjust the fan speeds and set point temperature to see if these changes cause off-putting sounds that could startle people nearby.

Extras: At a minimum, an air conditioner should come with a window installation kit, a remote control, dehumidifier and fan modes, and a delayed on and off switch. I also look for additional conveniences, like including foam to seal and insulate the openings around the AC. Wi-Fi-enabled smart capabilities are also a major plus, but I found there’s a lot of room for improvement in this area.

Energy efficiency: I look at whether the unit is Energy Star-certified as well as the unit’s combined energy efficiency ratio (CEER). The CEER is calculated by dividing the Btu output of the unit by the energy consumed while it’s operating and in standby mode. To receive Energy Star certification, most units need a CEER of at least 12 in addition to other requirements. I also perform my own tests using a smart plug to measure the power consumption while running the AC on high for an hour or more.

Installation: Though installation will likely only be a small part of your relationship with your AC, it’s an important one. Windows between 27 and 36 inches wide will accommodate most ACs, but if you have a 25-inch-wide window, it gets dicey. We look at what windows different models fit, how long it takes to install, if you need special tools, and how difficult it is to uninstall and reinstall it since you will likely need to do this each fall and spring.

Air quality: This is a newer test that we don’t weigh as heavily. We take air quality readings using a monitor to determine changes in the carbon dioxide, volatile organic compounds, and particulate matter in the room while the AC is running. The air quality didn’t enter the “harmful” range while running any of the ACs. However, we did note that the air quality readings changed significantly with some units. We’ve noted these in the guide.

What we’re testing next

We’re always looking for air conditioner models to test to ensure our guide is as comprehensive as possible. Here’s what we’re looking forward to testing before the next update:

Frigidaire Gallery Inverter Quiet Temp Smart Room Air Conditioner ($479): As of this writing, the new Frigidaire Gallery AC isn’t available anywhere. But, it’s already earned the Energy Star “Most Efficient” certification. Along with the Midea U and LG Dual Inverter, it’s one of three ACs to earn that distinction. We’re looking forward to testing it when it’s more widely available.

LG Smart Window Air Conditioner ($439.99): This is similar to our pick for best AC for large rooms, but it doesn’t use inverter technology. We’re curious to see how the cooling and efficiency numbers compare.

LG Window-Mounted Air Conditioner ($449.99): This model is similar to the one above, but it’s not Wi-Fi-enabled. Many reviewers recommend this unit, and we want to see if it lives up to the hype.

How to choose the right air conditioner

Best air conditioner 2021 how to choose

Matt Brown, the merchant for Home Comfort, Air Quality and Floorcare at The Home Depot says there are five primary factors to consider when shopping for an AC: Btu, room size, outlet type, window size, and extra features.

The room size, outlet type, and window size are entirely dependent on your space, and the extra features are dependent on your personal preferences. One thing you can’t compromise is the Btu of your air conditioner.

“ACs are rated by Btu (British thermal units) and range from 5,000 to 24,000 Btu, which correlates to 150 to 1,500 square feet. The larger the Btu, the larger the room it covers,” Brown says. “It’s critical to not get a unit too big or small for a room for maximum cooling and efficiency.”

The Department of Energy provides a helpful guide for determining the BTU that is right for your room size. If you get a unit that is too big for your room, it will cool too quickly without removing the moisture, which will create a cold, clammy environment. Alternatively, an AC that is too small will be overworked, which can boost your energy bills. 

It’s common for model numbers for the same units to vary by one or two digits. This is usually to denote different Btu ratings and colors, so it’s important to choose a model number that reflects the Btu rating right for your room.

How to turn any AC into a smart AC

A trend you’ll see in high-end window air conditioners is smart connectivity. This allows you to operate the unit remotely through an app on your phone, provided it’s connected to your home’s Wi-Fi network. This lets you turn on the AC before you arrive home from work, or turn it off if you had forgotten before you left the house. Some units even offer voice operation via Amazon Alexa, Google Home, or Apple HomeKit.

As useful as this feature may be, not all ACs have smart connectivity. And, we’ve found it doesn’t always work properly even when units do have the capability.

If smart connectivity matters to you, an option is to connect the unit to a good smart plug. This option will turn any AC into a smart appliance, giving you the aforementioned benefits. Some can even monitor the energy being used, so you can keep track of usage. Unlike an AC with smart connectivity built-in, the downside of using a smart plug is that you can’t adjust the temperature setting or modes — a smart plug simply turns the unit on and off, so you would have to adjust those settings in advance. You should also make sure that the smart plug can handle the voltage that the AC requires and is the correct outlet type.

One of the best smart plugs we’ve used recently with an air conditioner is the BN-Link WiFi Smart Plug Outlet. It’s easy to set up and we’ve had no issues connecting to it remotely from a smartphone — it also supports Alexa for voice operation when we’re at home. It’s very affordable, and it doesn’t require a hub — just your home’s Wi-Fi. Check out our guide on the best smart plugs and outlets if you would like more options.

FAQs

Best air conditioner 2021 FAQs

How can you use your air conditioner efficiently?

According to Enesta Jones, a spokesperson for the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), which oversees the Energy Star program, there are several best practices:

  1. Make sure the unit is level.
  2. Don’t put lamps or TVs near the AC thermostat because the extra heat will cause it to run longer.
  3. Set the thermostat temperature only as high as is comfortable to save energy and money.
  4. Set the fan speed low on humid days to remove more moisture. 
  5. Use an extra fan to spread cooled air around.
  6. Remove the unit or use an appropriately sized cover at the end of the cooling season to minimize heat loss.

We’d also add that you should try to install your AC in a window that is shaded for maximum efficiency.


Can I use an air conditioner in a room without windows?

The short answer is yes, but you need to have some way for the hot air produced by the air conditioner to leave the room. If you don’t, you won’t experience any of the cooling benefits of the air conditioner. Most window air conditioners vent hot air out of the back and sides of the unit, but some only produce hot air out of the back. This variety can typically be installed in an outside wall. 

Portable air conditioners afford you more options since you just need an opening to the outside that is as big as the ventilating hose.


Which is better: a portable air conditioner or a window/room air conditioner?

“In general, a room air conditioner is a more efficient choice over a portable air conditioner,” says Jones. “Portable air conditioners are not part of the Energy Star program.”

Our testing backs this up. Our top portable air conditioner, which uses an energy-efficient inverter compressor, still used 60% more electricity than our top window air conditioner. Our top window AC also did a much better job of cooling and costs much less both upfront and to run.

The main reason portable ACs are so inefficient is that they send their hot air outdoors through a hose that is located indoors. So, a lot of the heat stays in the room. Window air conditioners on the other hand are mostly outside so the hot air has a harder time entering your room.

So, if you have a double-hung window with the right dimensions for it, we strongly recommend choosing a window air conditioner. Only opt for a portable AC in spaces where a window AC isn’t an option.

Glossary

In the heating and cooling industry, there’s a lot of jargon to wade through. What do all of those acronyms and terms even mean? Here are the definitions for a few that you’ll commonly hear:

Btu: This is short for British thermal units. One Btu is equal to the amount of heat needed to raise one pound of water by one degree Fahrenheit. In cooling, Btu is used to measure how much heat is removed from a room. The more Btu per hour an air conditioner is rated for, the better job it does cooling.

CEER: “The CEER, or Combined Energy Efficiency Ratio, is a measure of energy efficiency for a room air conditioner,” Jones says. “The higher a room air conditioner’s CEER value, the more efficient the room conditioner is when comparing across models with the same cooling capacity.” The CEER is measured by dividing the Btu output by the amount of energy consumed both while the unit is running and while it’s in standby mode.

Compressor: The compressor works to push the hot air outside so cold air can circulate in your room. The gas refrigerant within the cooling system takes on the heat from the air, and the compressor turns the hot gas refrigerant back into a liquid. It works with the condenser on the air conditioner’s hot side to dissipate the heat from the refrigerant. Along with the condenser and evaporator, the compressor is one of the three main components of any air conditioning unit.

Energy Star: This is a program run by the US Department of Energy and EPA to promote energy efficiency. “Any window AC model that earns the Energy Star label is independently certified to save energy, save money, and help protect the climate,” says Jones. 

kWh: This is short for kilowatt-hour. It’s a unit of energy that most electricity utilities use to measure your power use, and it’s what we use to measure the energy consumption of the air conditioners we test.

Check out our other home heating and cooling guides

best air conditioner 2021 more guides
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The 5 best blenders in 2021

Table of Contents: Masthead Sticky

  • When selecting a blender, you’re going to want one that’s powerful enough to do any job you need.
  • The Calphalon Auto-Speed Blender is our best pick as it has a  powerful motor, is affordable, and is easy-to-use.
  • We also recommend other blenders that have powerful motors, rival professional models, and more.

A blender seems like a simple kitchen tool, and for the most part, it is. Blenders give you a variety of settings to help you achieve the consistency you need for a particular recipe. And even if you don’t use it specifically for cooking, a blender is essential when you want to whip up, say, kale smoothies or homemade vanilla milkshakes.

Although blenders all seem to perform the same tasks, a good blender has a powerful motor, and can handle blending everything from frozen drinks and smoothies to fruits and vegetables. A blender is a great investment if you enjoy having smoothies frequently, make a lot of dips and sauces, or if you simply would like some help prepping and chopping ingredients while cooking. We tested several blenders and recommend the following options due to their power, affordability, and versatility in blending several kinds of foods.

Here are the best blenders in 2021

The best blender overall

calphalon blender

True to its name, the Calphalon Auto-Speed Blender automatically senses the correct speed for the ingredients you’re blending and can be used for smoothies, dips, and milkshakes.

Pros: 1100-watt motor that automatically senses ingredients and adjusts for best results, four preset functions, 10 adjustable speeds, easy to clean, features durable stainless steel blades, comes with a Blend-N-Go jar for added convenience

Cons: Lid that goes with smoothie cup is slightly awkward to use

The Calphalon Auto-Speed Blender has four preset functions, 10 adjustable speeds, and a 1100-watt motor that automatically senses the thickness of your ingredients. 

I put the Calphalon Auto-Speed through its paces, and it’s held up well to daily use, resulting in thick, silky smoothies. It do much more than make smoothies, however, which makes it a great multi-purpose tool to have on your kitchen counter. The pulse feature allows for food prep and chopping — and makes great salsa. There are also four preset functions for dips, milkshakes, frozen drinks, and smoothies as well as adjustable speeds for more hands-on control.

I especially like the addition of the reverse pulse button which helps pull the ingredients further down into the blade if necessary to prevent any jams, resulting in a smooth blend. The 6-point stainless steel blades are durable and easy to clean thanks to the way they’re angled.

Presets and speeds are controlled by a dial on the front that’s clearly labeled, and you can start, pause, pulse and reverse pulse at the push of a button. The easy to read digital interface shows you how long you’ve been blending, or counts down to the finish if you choose to use one of the presets.

Each part of the blender that attaches to the base is also dishwasher safe for further convenience. I’ve cleaned each of these parts in our own dishwasher multiple times with no issue.

When blending, you can either use the 2-Liter pitcher for larger quantities, or the convenient 25-ounce Blend-N-Go Jar for single-serving-sized smoothies and drinks. While I liked using the Blend-N-Go Jar, I did find the drinking lid that comes with it slightly awkward to use. It prevented any spills, but the attached cap was sometimes more of a nuisance than anything else. — Kylie Joyner

The best blender on a budget

blender

The KitchenAid 5-Speed Blender is a solid, affordable blender that can make soups and smoothies easily.

Pros: Sturdy, affordable, makes good smoothies, decent motor, five speeds

Cons: Not as powerful as others

Although you certainly can spend hundreds of dollars on a blender, you don’t have to if you only want an occasional smoothie, soup, or blended dessert. I’ve owned the KitchenAid 5-Speed Blender for several years, and it’s still going strong.

The Die Cast Metal Base is sturdy, so it doesn’t shake as it blends, which is something that a lot of cheap blenders tend to do. Although it’s not as powerful as many of the blenders in our guide, the KitchenAid has a perfectly capable motor that helps the stainless steel blades blend just about anything with little effort.

KitchenAid’s Intelli-Speed Motor Control tech ensures that ingredients are blended equally. The 56-ounce BPA-Free pitcher is easy to clean, as is the two-piece lid. Years of use haven’t harmed the sturdy plastic pitcher or the lid, which still fits snugly. — Malarie Gokey

The best high-powered blender

blender

The Ninja Professional Blender delivers plenty of power to crush ice and blend a variety of ingredients to create perfect smoothies every time.

Pros: Perfect option for creating smoothies at home, good price point, offers many different kinds of blending options, works to crush ice, blends many kinds of foods successfully

Cons: Unit’s lid can be difficult to clean, blades are sharp when you take blender apart for cleaning

If you’re looking to create great-tasting smoothies at home, you’ll want a blender with plenty of power to ensure the ingredients are well mixed and delivered at the desired texture. The Ninja Professional Blender has the features needed to pulverize ice and create the highest quality smoothies possible.

It boasts 1,100 watts of power with three speeds, a pulse setting, and a single-serve function. Ninja also includes two 16-ounce to-go cups so you can take your breakfast smoothie with you. The blender’s 72-ounce pitcher is a good size and it has a form-fitting lid and a nice big handle.

Guides Editor Les Shu has seen the Ninja in action. The multiple sharp blades that run up the core of the blender cup, while befitting of the Ninja name, look both frightening and ridiculous. When it’s running, the blender is jet-engine loud. But it did a terrific job cutting through ice and fresh pineapple for piña coladas.

Indeed, the Ninja blender does a great job with all kinds of blending needs, including crushing and pureeing for smoothies. It’s the perfect choice for people who don’t want to invest in our top pick but still need a powerful blender.

As for downsides, the Ninja blender is difficult to take apart and clean, in large part because of the sharpness of the blades. The lid also has some crevasses that are tough to clean properly. But otherwise, this is a great pick. — Kyle Schurman

The best professional-style

Screen Shot 2018 07 23 at 2.53.02 PM

The Vitamix Professional series 750 offers everything you need in a blender, and its proven longevity makes it worth the price.

Pros: Consistent, powerful motor, strong blades stay sharp, 7-year warranty

Cons: Price tag

We know this is a lot to spend on a blender, or anything, really. But if you want the most consistent consistency, and you use your blender on a daily basis, it’s easily justified. When you go to a smoothie shop, you’re probably paying well over $5 per drink, and if you do so even two or three times a week, that adds up (I’m a writer, so I’ll let you do your own math).

The Vitamix 750 is a professional-grade, 1440-watt blender built to last the better part of a decade, and Vitamix’s 7-year warranty is enough to attest to that. Sure, you may have some 20-year-old anvil of a thing living on your counter that still works, more or less, but I’ll bet your smoothies turn out to be laden with large, blade-neglected chunks of your chosen fruits. I’ll also bet it’s not the prettiest thing in your kitchen, either.

The Vitamix 750 has 10 speeds as well as four automatic settings for smoothies, hot soups, frozen desserts, and purées. These settings allow you to walk away from the blender while the automatic drive on the blender assesses the power and speed needed to acquire the proper consistency of your desired dish.

For those who use their blender only every so often but still demand perfection, the Vitamix 5200 is of comparable quality, just with a less technical interface and no automatic drive for setting your blender to smoothie mode and walking away. — Owen Burke

The best vacuum blender

breville the super q z

The Breville Super Q Blender isn’t inherently a vacuum blender, but together with Breville’s Vac Q attachment, it becomes one of the best.

Pros: Extremely powerful, versatile, automatic shut off/hands-free

Cons: Expensive, not as easy to manually operate as a Vitamix if you’re getting technical

Breville’s Super Q Blender is a great blender on its own, but when you add the VacQ attachment to it, it becomes a vacuum blender and removes all air from your concoctions.

An 1800-watt motor that drives steel blade tips at 186 miles per hour; it’s a remarkable feat of technology for blending (and nearly juicing) just about anything you can get your hands on. The Super Q also has five programmed presets for easy use.

Insider Reviews editorial director Ellen Hoffman and I set up shop at Insider Reviews Headquarters (otherwise known as our office kitchen) where we stuffed the Breville Super Q with every fruit and vegetable we could get our hands on. We ended up with a host of perfectly consistent, sometimes strange-tasting concoctions (through no fault of Breville).

Two things impressed me about this blender in comparison with the Vitamix. First, the Super Q is unbelievably quiet. We were able to carry on with a conversation at normal volume while the motor was whirring away somewhere between a whisper and a barely vocal growl. This is, far and away, the quietest, albeit most powerful blender I’ve ever put to use. 

What really makes the Super Q a solid buy, however, is the Vac Q, which, unfortunately, comes separately. That’s my only gripe with this machine so far. A small-handled vacuum about the size of a coffee mug that you place over the top of the pitcher or smoothie cup, the Vac Q pulls as much air out of the container as would seem possible. This process creates such a tight seal on the lid that it’s almost impossible to open without using the depressurizing cap, which reduces oxidation and bubbles.

In short: It makes your juice taste better and last longer. The more foam and froth in juice, or anything you’re blending, the more nutrients you lose. Sure, there are many reasons we drink juice, but most of us are taking nutrition into account, too. — Owen Burke

Breville Vac Q Attachment

Breville Super Q Blender

The best personal blender

breville boss to go sport

For the smoothest smoothies, shakes, and juices, the powerful Breville Boss To Go Sport is your go-to personal blender.

Pros: Powerful, blends ice and harder foods, two travel cups and lids

Cons: Only one speed

The Breville Boss To Go Sport is a perfectly sized blender for on-the-go smoothies in the morning or smaller blending jobs. But don’t let its compact form-factor fool you: This is a powerful 1000-watt blender that can pulverize ice and hard fruits.

Besides the powerful motor, the Boss To Go Sport uses what Breville calls a Kinetix blade. The unique curved design of the four blades helps to create smoother foods — great for silky smoothies and shakes, not so much if you like chunky guacamole. And it does things fast, which is great if you’re short on time in the morning.

The blender comes with two travel cups and lids, one 23-ounce and one 15-ounce. There’s only one speed, however. But like all Breville products, the Boss to Go Sport looks industrial-sleek. 

The Boss To Go Sport is pricey, but like many Breville products, we believe it’s a good investment and it’s backed by great customer service. You can purchase personal blenders at half the price (or more) of the Boss to Go Sport, like those from NutriBullet. However, in our experience, NutriBullets are notorious for leaking and their motors tend to blow out too easily. — Les Shu

What to look for in a blender

Here’s what we look for in a great blender:

  • Power: The motor is the most important part of any blender, and the higher the wattage, the better the performance. Always get a blender with a motor that’s more than 500 watts. If you want to make frozen drinks, you may need one with 1,000 watts of power.
  • Blades: Some blenders have blades made for solid objects like ice, while others are better equipped for blending softer foods. Stainless steel blades are best.
  • Size and materials: We look for durable, wide blender jars with tight-fitting lids. 

Types of blenders

There are a few different types of blenders, each with its own unique features: conventional, multi-function, personal, and immersion. 

  • Conventional: A conventional blender is the most common type for use in your home kitchen; it can perform a variety of functions from making soup to blending smoothies.
  • Multi-function: Multi-function, professional-style blenders have powerful motors and are often used in restaurants. F
  • Personal: These small appliances make single servings and may run from a battery for portability.
  • Immersion: These stick-like handheld blenders can be placed directly into a pot or other container to puree soups, sauces, and smoothies. We left immersion blenders (also called hand blenders) off of this list because they have their own comprehensive buying guide, which you can check out here.

Check out our other small appliance buying guides

Breville 98xl juicer

 

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