I was excited when I heard about the first Nutribullet full-sized blender—but not that excited.
You see, I'm the proud owner of an original-sized Nutribullet. I could really wax poetic about all the beautiful things it's done for me—so I will. It's a highly capable home blender that's wildly affordable and takes up very little space. And it is absolutely a crucial tool for cooking for one person: it makes it easy to whip up a perfect little portion of smoothie or sauce. You can tuck the appliance away in your cabinet, all in one piece. You can easily drink your smoothie out of the large cup container you blended it in—and even take that container to work with you. I have the gold one and I find it shockingly chic for a mini-blender that got its start on an infomercial. Which is to say, its small but mighty footprint makes it feel like it was designed for me, a single person living in a (cute but!) very small space.
And now, baby's growing up. (Nutribullet, I mean. Me? I'm still living in a box.) But I remained skeptical about the idea of a big blender from the people who brought you the convenient, small blender, because one of the key components of my love for the Nutribullet is, of course, the very smallness they are discarding with this new model.
We crushed ice and made smoothies packed with kale, dates, and almonds to find the best blenders on the market.
So I put it through its paces. I compared the Nutribullet full-sized blender with the winner of our blender product test, the Vitamix 5200, and my regular little Nutribullet Pro (I have the slightly more expensive version, which draws from 900 watts of power rather than the regular Nutribullet's 600). I made this smoothie recipe, which we have used to test every blender we've reviewed, since its ingredient list—an orange, two cups of kale, a whole quarter cup of almonds, a mere quarter cup of almond milk, and dates—will quickly take down any inferior blending mechanism.
Nutribullet's full-sized blender was able to blend the nuts, kale, almonds, and dates into a creamy, totally smooth smoothie. And this speaks to its power. An entire quarter cup of almonds and two cups of tough, leafy kale is too much for many blenders at similar price-points. However, blending the smoothie to the perfect level of creaminess took twice as long in the Nutribullet as it did in the Vitamix, and involved a lot of stopping and restarting the blender and scraping down the sides.
The full-size Nutribullet has a wide, round pitcher. Bits of kale and almond and date get flung up by the blades and stuck to the wide sides. In contrast, the Vitamix's tall, narrow profile (combined with its insane sports-car horsepower) keeps all of the ingredients contained in the bottom of the machine with minimal splashing, allowing the full mix to get sucked into the vortex at the base and quickly annihilated by the whirring blades.
The Nutribullet did have one advantage over the Vitamix. It didn't make my smoothie hot. The Vitamix quickly whirred the ingredients into a thick, gloopy green health concoction. But, the smoothie was warm from the high powered motor. (Using a frozen banana in the place of a room-temperature one might improve the situation. On the other hand, the Nutribullet that I started and stopped and stirred a bunch of times didn't give me warm, sweet kale soup. Which I was hugely grateful for. (It should be noted that the Nutribullet also comes with an additional small, bullet-shaped blending pitcher that you can put on the regular blender base.)
Okay, though, back to my complaints! The Nutribullet's tamper (that suspect-looking piece of rubber weaponry that blenders now almost always come with that you are supposed to use to push down ingredients) is too short to reach the bottom of the pitcher through the hole in the top of the lid. Instead, you're required to stop the machine and take the entire lid off to keep ingredients trending toward the bottom of their pitcher. The Vitamix offers a far-superior long, narrow tamper for this task.
It's not shocking that the finish quality of the Nutribullet feels cheaper than that of the Vitamix. Its buttons—which supposedly allow for low, medium, and high speeds as well as a pulse feature—are flimsy-feeling and hard to press. (I didn't see much difference in the power levels offered by the three buttons, while the Vitamix has high-quality knobs and switches to change from a range of power levels ranging from 1–10.) The Nutribullet's base is lightweight plastic, with suction cups on the bottom that firmly adhere it to your counter, but also make it annoying to move around. The Vitamix stays planted on the counter, its base sturdy without the need of suction. The Nutribullet is also significantly louder than the Vitamix.
It might not really be fair to compare the Nutribullet to the Vitamix. The Vitamix is a high-powered, luxury blender—with a luxury price of upwards of $500. The Nutribullet, on the other hand, sells for around $140, which is more in line with standard, regularly-powered blenders. However, Nutribullet invites the comparison. Their press release promises that "in terms of value, you’re getting a top-of-the-line blender the likes of Vitamix, for a fraction of the cost." The Vitamix draws from 1380 watts of power, compared to the Nutribullet's 1200. The Nutribullet is a capable blender at a comparable price point to most regular blenders—but it behaves more like a regular blender than a fancy high-powered one.
You might be wondering how my beloved, wee Nutribullet Pro fared in all of this. I'm happy to tell you that it quickly blended all of the ingredients into a perfect smoothie. Even though the mini-blender is small, and technically less powerful than the new release, it handled the almonds and kale more effectively and efficiently, not spitting them to somewhere it couldn't reach. I didn't have to open the blender to stir the ingredients at all. I also love the brushed metal of my model, and the ease of pushing the pitcher down rather than having to press a button to get it to start. It feels appealingly minimalist in design.
All of that is to say: I'd skip buying Nutribullet's new full-sized blender and instead opt for their Nutribullet Pro small blender (especially if you're cooking for one). If you want a high-powered, large blender, it's worth it to invest in the Vitamix.
Originally Appeared on Epicurious