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How to Use a Blender

Sheryl Cannes
Updated on: November 18, 2022

In many homes, a blender is a staple kitchen appliance. If you haven’t used one of these small appliances to chop, blend, or puree, you’re in for a treat. They can take the work out of your favorite recipes and expand the types of foods you can prepare and eat. We’ve created a quick guide to help you learn how to use one.

Blender vs. Food Processor: What It Is and Isn’t

Both blenders and food processors have a cup with a rotating blade in the center. While they do many of the same things, they are different. Blenders are better for chopping wet foods. Their funnel-shaped cups create a gravity-fed well that circulates wet ingredients through the blades. They don’t work as well with thick, chunky, or fibrous foods because of the narrower cup design and blade shape.

Food processors have a shorter, wider cup and longer blades that work well for chunky foods like meat and dry foods, such as bread crumbs and vegetables.

Parts of a Blender

All blenders have detachable parts, so you can clean all of the cracks and crevices, including around and under the gasket seal.

Blenders basically all come with the same parts, which include:

  • Base
  • Cup
  • Lid
  • Blade
  • Lid plug (some models)
  • Gasket seal

The blades are removable, as is the lid plug. Lid plugs act as a small cap to give you access to the inside of the blender without removing the lid. That way, you can add ingredients as you go, saving yourself time.

How to Use a Blender

Layer food correctly

You load a blender in layers. Most people find it easier to load the cup while it sits on the counter rather than in the blender’s base. That way, if you spill any ingredients, they don’t get in or on the base.

The layer order affects how easily the blender can break up and grind the food. The size of the cup can change the effectiveness of the order layer. For that reason, we’ve included two layering options based on cup size.

Cups over 20 ounces:

  • Liquids: Cold or warm water, milk, or juice
  • Dry: Flour, sugar, salt, or oats
  • Leafy greens: Spinach or kale
  • Fruits: Fresh or frozen
  • Ice: Cubed or crushed
  • Frozen ingredients: Frozen berries or fruits

Cups with a higher volume blend better with a liquid base to lubricate all of the other ingredients as they are pulled into the blades. Don’t worry if you do the layers in the wrong order. Just keep an eye on the blender to make sure there’s enough liquid to keep the heavier layers moving.

Under 20 ounces:

  • Ice
  • Frozen ingredients
  • Fruits
  • Leafy greens
  • Dry ingredients
  • Liquids

Smaller cups don’t have as much space for the ingredients to work through. As the liquids trickle through the bottom layers, they lubricate small portions for easier blending. You don’t need the liquid at the bottom to keep everything else moving as you do in a larger cup.

A couple of things to keep in mind. The blades push air into the ingredients, so they will expand towards the lid. Leave at least a ⅓ of the blender’s cup space for expansion. Most blenders have a maximum liquid fill line. Don’t put any ingredients above this line. Doing so could lead to an overfilled, leaky blender.

Secure the Cup and Lid

Once you’ve loaded the ingredients, secure the cup in the base and tightly seal the lid, locking it in place if the blender has a lid lock. Some blenders have a safety feature that doesn’t allow the blades to start unless the cup is locked into the base correctly. If you press the buttons and nothing happens, it could be that the base is not locked correctly.

Start Slow and Work Your Up to Speed

Most blenders have several speeds, with some having ten or more. Start at a slow speed and gradually work your way up to higher speeds. Some blenders have preset speed functions—for example, smoothie or frozen food settings that will blend for a specific time at varying speeds.

Base your speed on the type of ingredients. Stay at slower speeds with chunkier foods until you’ve broken them up into smaller pieces. Blenders often feature a pulse button, so you can do bursts of speed. This works well when working with chunky foods that get caught in the blades. The pulse feature adds extra movement and prevents the blender from overheating.

Add Liquid or Tamper

If the mix gets too thick, it can slow the blades and overwork the motor. Stop the blender. Take off the lid or lid plug, and slowly add liquid. Put the plug back in or lid on, and try blending again.

Sometimes you need a thick mix. However, the ingredients may create suction that prevents them from working their way through the blades. If that’s the case, use a long-handled spoon to tamper down the ingredients. If you can break through the suction, the gravity feed will continue moving the food. Make sure you turn off the blender before sticking anything into it. Keep blending until you reach the desired consistency.

Blender Tips and Tricks

  • Read through the owner’s manual before making anything. You’ll find speed recommendations, cleaning instructions, and a rundown of the blender’s features. You may learn how to use a built-in timer or any extra accessories as well. Plus, the owner’s manual usually has a troubleshooting guide in case you encounter problems.
  • A blender motor works hard. If the cup starts to feel warm (and you’re not working with warm ingredients), stop the blender, and let the mixture rest. You might try using the pulse feature to reduce the load on the motor until the mixture gets broken down further.
  • Don’t immerse the base. The base contains electrical components that can get ruined. While the rest of the components are hand washable and some dishwasher safe, the base only needs a wipe down with a clean, damp cloth.
  • Give your blender motor a break, and cut solid foods into smaller pieces.

FAQs

What can I use a blender for?

Blenders can take over a lot of the chopping and some of the mixing from many popular recipes.

You can make sauces, dips, dressings, smoothies, nut butters, baby food and purees, flours and cereals. Family favorites like pancakes, desserts, and crushed ice work well in a blender, too. You can even grind coffee beans to make your favorite brew.

Keep in mind that blenders work better for coarse grinds rather than the fine grounds needed for espresso.

How do I clean my blender?

There are different methods to clean a blender. One of the simplest is to pour a cup of warm, soapy water into the blender’s cup. Then, put it in the blender base, lock the lid, and blend. The water and soap touch everywhere the food did, rinsing and sterilizing the cup at the same time.

You may need to take apart the blender and get into the small cracks and crevices around the gasket seal and base. You don’t want to miss any food because it can mold and make the blender smell.

What should I avoid making in my blender?

As handy as a blender is, there are things your blender can’t handle. Bread doughs, for example, are too thick and sticky for the blender. Fibrous meat like beef and chicken can cause the blender to get stuck and the motor to overheat. Mashed potatoes are another no-no. The starches in the potatoes act like glue and overwork the motor. Even a high performance blender can meet its match with some of these foods.

Conclusion

Ice cream mixes and hummus, tomatoes and bananas can all turn into delicious snacks and meals with the help of a blender. You can make batches and batches of salsa or soup without doing the tedious chopping. Watch the layers, and blend just long enough to get the right texture. As you get more adept at using the blender, you’ll recognize when you’ve blended long enough to extract the best flavors.

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