Commercial Countertop Blender Buying Guide
Why you need a commercial blender
We told you that you need a blender, but if you’re asking why, it’s quite simple: speed and efficiency.
Sure, you can chop and dice your products by hand, but it pales in comparison to the output of unrelenting motorized blades cutting with superior precision — and needs about 1/1,000th of the time.
Having a blender do something in seconds, that would otherwise take you exponentially longer, frees up more valuable time to divert to handling all the other tasks behind a kitchen/bar.
Blenders can mix items of different textures and densities seamlessly and also chop and dice in a contained area. This erases the potential for massive spills in your workstation and minimizes the overall cleanup.
Storage is also a key consideration: blenders are not massive pieces of equipment that can be tucked away easily and won’t disrupt your overall workflow.
Types of commercial blenders
Bar and Beverage Blenders
With one primary usage — blending drinks such as pina coladas, margaritas, blended coffee and smoothies — commercial bar blenders can range from one speed and a simple on/off switch to variable speed.
Your daily volume of blended drinks could determine whether you’ll need a heavy-duty bar blender or not. The location of your blender behind the bar will also determine whether you want a transparent container (for customers to see the blending happening) or something with no inside visibility. Also, you might require noise-reducing sound enclosures to not disturb the guest’s experience.
Food and Culinary Blenders
Whereas a bar blender generally has one primary job — blend drinks — and thus one speed setting, culinary versions require (and offer) a lot more blender control.
Different power and speed settings, various blade styles and attachments allow food blenders to become more versatile, allowing chefs to perform different food related tasks (such as blending, emulsifying, chopping or grinding).
Food blenders are also generally used far more frequently, so they often have a higher horsepower and are able to withstand continuous operation without burning out or breaking down.
These types of culinary blenders are able to process higher volumes of food at once, while also generally being quieter. As the name implies, you immerse the blades and shaft of this blender into the container of food. For more about immersion blenders, check out our Commercial Immersion Blender Buying Guide.
How to choose the right commercial blender
What type of blending do you need? As mentioned above, are you just doing some simple drink mixing and maybe blending a sauce or two… or does your menu requires foams, soups, and sauces? Grinding up of grains? And maybe, chopping veggies for roux as well?
While having the nicest blender(s) possible is great, there’s also no sense in paying for features that your business will never use… just as much as it would be detrimental to buy a blender that isn’t designed to fulfill all your wildest (menu-based) dreams.
Volume: Are you making one or two frozen drinks a day, and a soup or sauce every couple of days? Or are you a morning grab-and-go place that cranks out smoothies? Or, a fast-paced, high-volume fine-dining restaurant that seems to have the blender running more often than not?
Having a blender that can withstand the rigors of constant use is paramount to the success of your business. Forcing a light-duty blender to do a heavy-duty workload will result in you having to replace blenders way too often for your bottom line’s liking — make sure you get something appropriate for your business.
Commercial blender features
When choosing a blender container, there are three primary materials that are used:
Stainless steel: Extremely durable, so you don’t need to worry about chips or cracks. Also, very versatile due to being able to handle all temperatures from frozen to hot and are very easy to clean.
The one negative is that you cannot see what’s happening inside, making it difficult at times to judge if your food is adequately blended. Although, some stainless steel containers come with see-through lids.
Plastic: Extremely durable and lightweight, making them popular behind busy bars and in fast-paced restaurants. Also are clear, so these containers allow you to see what’s going on inside as you’re blending.
However, the one drawback is that polycarbonate containers sometimes contain BPA, so they are not recommended for use with hot preparations.
Glass: Are able to handle both hot and cold preparations and also are transparent, making it easy to see what’s happening mid-blending.
Glass containers, however, are often heavier than plastic and stainless steel and typically not used in foodservice operations.
Other things to consider when choosing a container:
Size: For single-serving uses (and rather infrequent use) then a 32-44 oz container is probably all you will need. Larger containers are also available, commonly ranging up to 128 oz.
Shape: The design of your container can affect how your materials blend — wider, square-shaped containers can blend larger chunks easier, while more narrow, circular-shaped containers can blend liquids much smoother.
Stackable: If you’re a high-volume venue, and have multiple blender containers, having them be stackable makes things much easier for storage purposes.
Graduations: For an added level of precision, having containers marked with measurements can make your blending even more efficient — and increase the consistency of your menu items!
Plastic, chrome and stainless steel bases are all available. Each with its own pros and cons.
Plastic is the easiest to maintain and very durable, but it doesn’t have as nice of an aesthetic if it's used in a location visible to guests.
Chrome is the nicest-looking, but gets “dirtiest” quickly as scuffs and smudges easily show.
Stainless steel bases are a nice middle ground between chrome and plastic.
Feet: For stability and safety in commercial kitchens, look for blender bases that have non-skid feet or even suction cup feet to keep the blender safely in place.
Blenders can vary in power, and your usage generally determines how much power you will need:
1/2 HP: Best for light food preparation and drinks such as margaritas, roughly up to 50 servings per day
1-1 1/2 HP: Best for medium food preparation, roughly 50-75 servings per day
2 HP: Medium to heavy food preparation with between 75-100 servings per day
3+ HP: Heavy food and beverage (such as smoothies) preparation, for more than 100 servings per day
This is just a general guide — blenders generally range from 3/8 HP up to 3 3/4 HP. This will often determine the speed controls on the machine, which can range from two different speeds to up to as many as 17 different levels.
Possibly the most important part of the blender — the blades which are the part that actually does the blending!
Almost always made of stainless steel, different blade styles are used for different blender purposes.
Food blenders generally have a sharper, thinner, “X” style of blade that is proficient at chopping and cutting, while bar blenders utilize larger “wing” style blades — which are more of a blunt edge that is better at crushing ice for frozen beverages and smoothies.
There are also all-purpose blenders, which have blades that somewhat combine both style of blades into one.
The coupling is what connects the blender’s motor to the blades, and has three primary styles:
Set-screw rigid: The most common style of coupling features the coupling that is set into place by a solid screw. The biggest drawback is that after prolonged usage, it is harder to remove the screw, making this type of coupling not good for kitchens that require frequent blade changes.
Clamp-style rigid: The coupling (in one or two pieces) wraps around the shaft evenly to provides a secure fit without marring the shaft. These couplings are easily adjustable but the cross-cut of the clamp is a potential weak point.
Flange-type rigid: The least common type of coupling. They are similar to set-screw rigid couplings but consist of two independent hubs which are connected using bolts. Each hub also has one or two set screws to hold the shaft in place — these are better for blenders with larger shafts but require more assembly and disassembly time.
Blenders will vary in visual appearance of control panels, but there are three main styles:
Toggle/Paddle: Simple to use as you just flick the switch on/off. Best for blending where precision over the speed/timing isn’t paramount. Aimed towards low-volume blenders.
Electronic: Offers more precision than toggle controls. With options including timers, start/stop buttons and varying speeds/power levels.
Programmable: The highest level of precision. Timers, power levels and speeds are among the options that can be pre-set, making it preferred for high-volume venues that strive for product consistency.
Blenders are loud! Some are louder than others, depending on the machine’s power.
But if you want to minimize the sounds (such as bar blenders that are within earshot of customer tables), you can purchase a polycarbonate sound enclosure that surrounds your blender and dampens the sound/noise produced.
Having the proper blender (and blender setup) for your venue’s needs will not only improve your efficiency and increase your consistency — it will enhance your customer’s experience!
Written by Jared Hochman