Psst... We're working on the next generation of Chowhound! View >
HOME > Chowhound > Cookware >
Nov 15, 2010 07:02 PM

Powerful blender for Quirky Single?

I didn't want to say "blender for 1" as that sounds sort of pathetic, like I'm lamenting my lack of roommates (so totally NOT the case! Heaven is having your own apartment!). Heh heh.

Anyway, I've been wanting a blender for ages, but a regular blender is just too. darn. big for just one person. Plus, my kitchen is SMALL. VERY small. Okay, so it's really just crowded with all my equipment, so I really don't want to add another large appliance to it.

I know I could maybe buy one of those informercial blenders like the Magic Bullet, but those appliances are always cheaper than they look on TV.

I want something that will:

-crush ice because I like my non-alcoholic pina coladas and other virgin cocktails
-cost less than $50, preferably
-won't take up more space than say...a mini food processor (think mini cuisinart). The smaller the better, though I know that's difficult if I want something powerful and reliable enough to crush ice.

Does something like this exist? Or am I just dreaming of something that I'll probably have to pay $100+ for?

Thanks in advance for any suggestions.

  1. Click to Upload a photo (10 MB limit)
  1. I once considered a Magic Bullet until I read the scores of negative reviews - cheaply made, burns out quickly, etc. I suspect that the ice-crushing requirement will preclude anything less than a full-size blender. I have a mini cuisinart and would not try putting ice in it - I can smell the motor if it runs for more than a minute or two without a break. For other blender uses, you could get an immersion (a.k.a. stick) blender. You can easily pay $50 for one but I am perfectly happy with my $10 model. Takes up very little room, cleans in a blink by whirring it in a mug of soapy water.

    1. Crush ice by putting it in a dish towel or canvas bag and whacking it with a mallet or something else heavy.

      1. don't get the Magic Bullet, it's a piece of crap. i bought one just for travel, and even for that it's not worth giving up valuable suitcase space!

        these two seem to be the best-reviewed on Amazon:

        but honestly, none of these small/personal blenders are really meant to be used as primary workhorses. your problem isn't going to be price - you can get a decent counter-top blender that will serve your purposes for very little money, either from Amazon or with a coupon at Bed, Bath &'s size that's the issue. none of them are as small as a mini-FP.

        10 Replies
        1. re: goodhealthgourmet

          nuthin' beats a Waring. 2 speeds, glass cup, all you need. sometimes you can find them in your price point. frickin' workhorses. I worked in a bar that specialized in frozen drinks and the only caveat was don't hold them down into the socket (they're not going anywhere) unless you want to burn out the motor.

          1. re: hill food

            I agree about the Waring. I spent years trying to avoid Waring. I thought it was too pricey. I did not fall for versions of Magic Bullet, but did get cheaper name brands that had umpteen speeds on them, or the bottom screwed off for "easier cleaning." Well, the screw off bottom rusted in the dishwasher (turned out the bottom was screw-off so they didn't have to seal the motor) and all of the oil in the world never got it to twirl again, Trash can! All of the different speed variances between "Stir" and "Puree" on the seventeen speed model were meaningless. Slow is nice. Fast is nice. The difference between puree and frappe were lost on me. I finally broke down and bought this one: and have NO regrets! Smallest footprint of any I've owned, does an exceptional and reliable job and comes out of the dishwasher good to go! Turns out it was the cheapest in the long run.

          2. re: goodhealthgourmet

            LOL. I, too, bought a Magic Bullet for travel and mini-prep. It's OK for the latter, but next to a complete waste when it comes to crushing ice or blending icy drinks.

            Years ago, my mom gave me for Christmas an all-stainless Oster Commercial Bar Blender that has been a flawless joy. Two speeds, and on/pulse switches that look like they came out of a 1950s missile silo. 1 blade does everything (except milkshakes, for which you can get a separate blade). Even the cordset is bombproof. Couldn't recommend it any more highly.

            1. re: kaleokahu

              You are blessed indeed! It was my Oster blender with the screw-off bottom that rusted and locked when I put the whole thing in the dishwasher!

              1. re: Caroline1

                Car: I bet there's a story there... How did you come to putting the whole thing in the DW?

                1. re: kaleokahu

                  Not the base with the motor in it. Just the jar with the screw off bottom still attached because I couldn't get it to unscrew. The thing I love about my Waring is that it is the original clover-leaf all glass jar and the blades cannot be removed. The whole thing goes in the dishwasher and comes out like brand new! Through years of experience, I have learned to HATE blenders with the screw off bottoms that have the blades in them. And I've put stuff in those blenders and everything was fine until I turned it on, then the bottom wasn't screwed properly (it felt right!) and it blew food clear across the kitchen! No screw-off bottoms for me!

                  Wanna see something funny? Go here: and see the problems has allowed customers to post showing their problems with their $200.00 Oster blender. The little pictures on the left under the big one. Just run your cursor over them and look at the mess! Says "CAVEAT EMPTOR" in big bold letters, doesn't it!

                  1. re: Caroline1

                    Car: Sorry about your accidental spackling job. LOL I'd pay to see the look on your face when it happened!

                    Interesting link, too. Still, the Oster Professional Bar Blender reviewed under that link got very high overall reviews (4.5 out of 5). There are several explanations for cracked bottoms and ground gears, many of them falling under the heading of misuse.

                    I don't use my OPBB very much anymore, but I used to be a health nut/strength athlete, so I was using it 6x365xYEARS for protein smoothies (and a little for cocktails). No breakage, no leaks, nary a hiccup.

                    Maybe the difference is old/new--my model isn't the same as in the bellyacher's photos. Mine DOES have an all-metal drivetrain, and the bowl is SS. The bowl's bottom IS plastic--with a bronze bushing for the SS drive--but I've had no problems after all these years. Of course, I put the plastic base in the top of my dishwasher, and I wait for the blades to stop before removing the bowl.

                    Most importantly, the rubber bowl/base gaskets need replacing every couple of years--otherwise you can have sticks and leaks like you experienced (Once the gasket gets hard and thin, it tends to dribble a bit, and then people tend to screw the base on harder to compensate, and the resulting out-of-design leverage against the threads cracks the plastic bowl bottom. I would say it's DESIGNED to break--like a car's universal joint--rather than have a glass bowl break and send you to the ER).

                    I know Oster made die-cast metal bottoms for its glass jars on some older models, because I have one at my beach house. I'll see if they're swappable. Of course, in our throw-it-in-the-dishwasher-then-throw-it-away age, maybe no one is interested in maintaining their stuff, I dunno.

                    1. re: kaleokahu

                      I'm sticking with my Waring! '-) And if I didn't put it in the dishwasher, it's VERY easy to clean. Hot water and a drop of low suds dishwasher liquid and then buzz! Rinse and it's clean as a whistle and doesn't need to be more than air dried. Hey, maybe Waring will send me another one free for my wet bar for the endorsement! (I ain't holding my breath on that one!)

                      1. re: Caroline1

                        Car: You should hold off until the induction blenders are debugged.:)

                        1. re: kaleokahu

                          By George, I think you've got it! '-)

          3. Do a search for the Ninja food prep gadget. Has 6 blades in one and acts like a food processor and blender in one. Crushes ice into snow. Good reviews and about $37 with rebate and 20% off coupon at BB&B. You can see videos of it on the net and probably youtube. Forget which shopping channel had it too but the video is there as well as the reviews.

            1 Reply
            1. re: blondelle

              One more vote for the Ninja, Blondelle. We got one about 6 months ago, and love it. It seems heavy duty enough. Most blenders we have had have had some plastic over the years, and this one seems sturdier than others we've had. The common sense design of blades not all stuck at the bottom. I look for excuses to make a malted or other milkshake. And it crushes ice much better than other machines. I am a fan. Under $40.00 at WalMart? Can't beat it. I think the WalMart kind has one less blade than the TV offer ("a bazillion easy payments of just...") and it has less accessories- I wouldn't use most of the infomercial bells and whistles anyway.
              Florida Hound

            2. Hmm...the Ninja looks like it has too many plastic parts to be that durable, but I'll have to check out the reviews.

              Can anyone recommend a good hand mixer that will crush ice, then? I'm willing to pay a bit more for a good hand mixer.

              13 Replies
              1. re: yfunk3

                What's your definition of a "hand mixer?" An electric mixer similar to a stand mixer but no stand? No chance of one of those crushing ice!

                1. re: Caroline1

                  Sorry, I meant something like an emulsion mixer/stick blender. I know there's a million ways of naming those. Should've been more careful.

                  1. re: yfunk3

                    I wondered if that might be what you meant. Some stick blenders come with a cup it can be used with as a container blender, but who knows if it would do ice well? I still think your best and most satisfying long term solution will be the Waring. I have given away two stick blenders because they were wimpy pains, and I don't want to fork out big bucks for one that's (hopefully) not wimpy. Whatcha gonna do?

                    1. re: Caroline1

            're forcing me to go through all my kitchen appliances and wares to make more room when I was just content on letting them take over and do their own thing. LOL!

                      Will definitely look into the Waring and other powerful-yet-small blenders (bonus if I can buy it on Amazon). It's all a matter of inches of space, I suppose! Also, Xmas is coming up. ::cough:: :o)

                2. re: yfunk3

                  I'm still not sure about the crushed ice thing. Even my Vitamix isn't really going to crush ice unless I also put water into it, which just gives me wet ice. Ok for chilling raw fish, not ok for drinks.

                  1. re: jaykayen

                    Oh, well, I mean crushed iced for those icy drinks like pina coladas and such. So there would be liquid in it anyway.

                    Obviously, I want to make smoothies and milkshakes and use the blender for other things, as well.

                    But it's really so I can enjoy icy drinks (non-alcoholic). Which is why I had a set budget for it...

                    1. re: yfunk3

                      With respect, your budget of $50 is not very realistic, at least if you want a new appliance. Check eBay for bar blenders.

                      1. re: kaleokahu

                        Not necessarily new, just powerful enough for what I want to use it for. I knew $50 was a bit cheap for the best, but I was hoping someone would come in with a suggestion for a blender that was good enough to do what I wanted it to do without it breaking within a year of occasional use. I guess they don't make things like they used to! :o) Will definitely check out used bar blenders online.

                        Also, not sure if this matters too much in the end, but I don't have a dishwasher, which is why I'm wary of buying the Waring. I do sort of like the screw-off bottoms on standard blenders since it's easier for hand-washing.

                        1. re: yfunk3

                          I have an Oster blender that I paid less than $50 for on sale last year at Target.It's very solid and strong with a glass jar. I make smoothies and crush ice in it all the time. I also don't have a dishwasher and it's easy to maintain.

                          Also check

                          I would be very skeptical about getting one used online.

                          1. re: yfunk3

                            hey yfunk, check out Caroline's comment re washing a Waring (and at the bar where I used them we didn't have a dishwasher, all was by hand)

                            "it's VERY easy to clean. Hot water and a drop of low suds dishwasher liquid and then buzz! Rinse and it's clean as a whistle and doesn't need to be more than air dried. "

                            1. re: hill food

                              hill: Good point, at least in the circumstance where the used bowl is not allowed to age/crust/ossify on the counter or in the sink. When I lived in an apartment by myself, that was a rare occurrence.

                              1. re: kaleokahu


                                that is an important factor. one that happens with far less occurrence since college.

                              2. re: hill food

                                Yup yup. That soothed my nerves a bit, as I wasn't relishing sticking my hand and dishwashing sponge down into the blades and hoping for the best!

                                Dishes get done promptly by me, or if left overnight, are soaked in water + soap in the sink. Could never understand (even in college) why people let disgusting dishes pile up and the food gets dried up (or worse, moldy!). Makes the entire room smell bad!