The Ninja Professional is our low-budget pick because it feels and operates like a blender two to three times its price, coming in just under $100 (and often even less on sale). It has a sleek design and simple functionality that looks and feels, well…professional. There are only four settings plus a power button, making it a machine that’s easy to operate but still versatile. The stacked blades may look gimmicky, but they’re actually very effective. In fact, out of all the blenders we tested, it is the only one that was able to crush ice into an even texture, beating out even higher-end models. And anything that can make a margarita just as well as it can make a smoothie is a winner in our book.
We blended everything from ice cubes to nut butters to hummus, and in all the taste tests and user surveys, the Ninja emerged victorious. It excels at smoothies: Whether you’re using frozen or fresh ingredients, everything gets mixed smoothly, evenly, quickly, and with ease. This is likely because the Ninja has the most powerful motor you’ll find in the market in this price range. It operates at 1000 watts, which translates to 1.34 horsepower. (Editor’s note: A blender’s horsepower can be determined by multiplying the wattage by 0.00134; this number reflects the actual operating horsepower of a blender, which can be different to the peak horsepower rating — the burst of power when you first start the machine up — often in a product’s description. For comparison: Considering that the high-end Vitamix E310 runs on 1440 watts or 1.92 horsepower, that’s pretty impressive!)
Don’t be intimidated by the extra blades — this blender is designed to make operations as easy and safe as possible. It is the only blender we tested with a locking lid and a locking jar (some have one, but not both features). The blender won’t start unless everything is locked into place. There are arrows and labels that guide the user step by step on how to assemble and disassemble the parts. It’s also one of the only ones we tested that has a pour spout, which might seem like a minor feature, but it actually makes things considerably less messy when trying to pour a smoothie into a to-go cup.
When it comes to cleaning up, it couldn’t be simpler: You can completely remove the blades and just wash the jar on its own. Of all the models we reviewed, the Ninja is the only one with removable blades, and we found it considerably easier to hand wash and dry than other models because we weren’t in fear of slicing our hands on the blades (the blades themselves do require delicate handling, but we found that a soak in some soapy water followed by a quick rinse does the trick). The blades, jar, and lid are also dishwasher-safe. All these features make the Ninja Professional an excellent beginner model for someone who’s just getting into the blending scene.
At $89.99, the Ninja Professional falls on the higher end of the <$100 range. If the price tag is still beyond your budget, it’s worth noting that our runner-up, the Oster Heritage (the only blender with a glass jar), is $51 and also performed admirably in taste tests. And if you’re a single-blender-user household, this $25 Oster is a solid favorite of our Tasty editors for smaller jobs. But overall, the Ninja scored higher in horsepower and user-friendliness, making it our ultimate choice. Lest you need further convincing, we’re not the only ones who love it: This model is a solid customer favorite, with tons of five-star reviews across big-box retailers from Amazon to Walmart to Target.