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Ninja Ultima Review

There are better blenders out there for the same price, or less.
Ninja Ultima
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Price:   $190 List
Pros:  Good liquifying for smoothies and purees.
Cons:  Loud, poor grinding performance, pour spout pops open shutting off the machine.
Manufacturer:   Ninja
By Cam McKenzie Ring ⋅ Review Editor  ⋅  Oct 25, 2016
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62
OVERALL
SCORE
  • Smoothies - 25% 8
  • Ease of Use - 20% 4
  • Frozen Drinks - 15% 6
  • Puree - 15% 9
  • Grind - 15% 3
  • Noise - 10% 7

The Skinny

The Ninja Ultima is this manufacturer's attempt at a Vitamix-strength blender. This blender is a combination of a traditional blender with the bottom blades, and the vertical blade mechanism that the Ninja blenders are well-known for. This "Dual Stage Blending" is supposed to both crush and liquify your ingredients, and for some tests it did do a better job than the traditional setup from this manufacturer, like the Nutri Ninja DUO with Auto-iQ that we tested. That being said, it didn't quite measure up to all of the other high-performance blenders that we tested, leaving us wondering if the vertical blade is more of a gimmick than a truly good way to blend ingredients. This machine also made a high-pitch whine, and the top pour spout continuously popped open on us during use, which automatically shuts off the motor. If you are looking for a great blender without the hefty price tag, then our Best Buy winner, the KitchenAid 5-Speed Diamond, is a better and less expensive option, or you can also consider the $400 The Breville Boss, which offers near Vitamix-like performance for several hundred dollars less.


Our Analysis and Test Results

The Ninja Ultima is a 1500 Watt blender (2.5 Peak Horsepower) with a two blade mechanism: a bottom set of four blades and a vertical insert with four additional blades. The vertical blades are removable for making dips or emulsifying salad dressings, when only the bottom blades are preferred. This blender has only three settings (Low, Med, and High) and a Pulse feature, with no presets or digital timer display. It comes with a two-year warranty.


Performance Comparison


This blender comes with the traditional bottom blade as well as the signature Ninja vertical blade insert.
This blender comes with the traditional bottom blade as well as the signature Ninja vertical blade insert.

Ease of Use


The Ninja Ultima's settings are fairly basic (three speed settings only and no presets), which makes it a little more hands-on to use compared to a model like Blendtec Designer 675 with its handy one-touch programs. The lack of a timer is a bit of a disappointment too considering that the slightly less expensive Nutri Ninja DUO with Auto-iQ has one.

The speed settings are limited and this model has no timer or presets.
The speed settings are limited and this model has no timer or presets.

This model received the lowest score for Ease of Use because of the lid. The lid has to be on correctly for the motor to engage. While it's fairly easy to line up and close thanks to markings on the container and lid, the lid handle kept popping up during our testing, which caused the motor to automatically shut off. During our almond butter grinding test the handle popped up repeatedly, causing some frustration.

The motor won't engage unless the pin on the lid is pushed down  which is good from a safety perspective  but annoying when the jostling of the machine causes it to pop open.
The motor won't engage unless the pin on the lid is pushed down, which is good from a safety perspective, but annoying when the jostling of the machine causes it to pop open.

This machine also jumps around during use. There are suction cups on the bottom to try and help it stick better, but they didn't work that well and we could see it slowly jiggling forward during our tests. If you buy this blender, just remember to keep it far back on the counter. Finally, if you are used to other blenders where you take off the lid and start pouring, DO NOT do that with this or the Nutri Ninja! The vertical blades are not attached and can easily fall out of the container, making a mess and potentially cutting you. Always use the pour spout with the Ninja blenders.

The suction cups on the bottom are a good idea  as this blender like to move around a lot  but don't actually do much to stop it.
Either use the pour spout or remove the blades before pouring. Also make sure to latch it down tightly before blending  as it can be easily left open  resulting in a messy kitchen.

Smoothies


Green Smoothie

This blender made a fairly good green smoothie. The contents were well-blended and incorporated, as opposed to the Oster Versa, which could not break down the tough kale and broccoli in the mixture that we used. The smoothie was slightly thick though, particularly compared to the Vitamix Pro 750 and Blendtec Designer 675, and it wasn't as bright green as those smoothies.

While the greens were well-incorporated  the mixture was on the thick side and not the most pleasant shade of green.
While the greens were well-incorporated, the mixture was on the thick side and not the most pleasant shade of green.

This machine's green smoothie was drinkable  but not on par with the Vitamix's version.
This machine's green smoothie was drinkable, but not on par with the Vitamix's version.

Berry Smoothie

The Ninja Ultima actually tied the Blendtec for second best berry smoothie. The skins were broken down and well-incorporated, and the seeds were not as numerous or as large as the Oster Versa or Nutri Ninja.

Very little pulp and seeds were left in the strainer.
Very little pulp and seeds were left in the strainer.

The Ultima (left) broke the seeds down into much smaller pieces than the Oster Versa (right).
The Ultima (left) broke the seeds down into much smaller pieces than the Oster Versa (right).

Frozen Drinks


This machine made our least favorite margarita. The drink was aerated as opposed to slushy, and didn't taste very good.

Puree


This was the category that the Ultima scored the highest in. It perfectly pureed our carrot soup, resulting in a creamy and velvety mixture that was similar to The Breville Boss and Blendtec Designer 675.

Fibrous carrots were no problem for this blender. It pureed our soup perfectly.
Fibrous carrots were no problem for this blender. It pureed our soup perfectly.

Grind


This blender scored lowest out of all the models we reviewed for grinding. We ended up taking the vertical blade out, as the two cups of almonds sat below those blades and they were getting in the way for the constant scraping we had to do. After more than 15 minutes of opening and scraping and trying to get the grind going, we gave up and finished it in the Vitamix. The difference was pretty striking.

The Ultima (left) could not get the nuts to break down into a creamy mixture  unlike the Vitamix (right)  which made a smooth almond butter.
The Ultima (left) could not get the nuts to break down into a creamy mixture, unlike the Vitamix (right), which made a smooth almond butter.

Noise


This machine didn't have too high of an overall decibel rating, but it did produce a high pitch whine that was more annoying to listen to than the other models.

While this blender wasn't too loud with an average noise level of 104 decibels  it produced a high pitch whine that was irritating.
While this blender wasn't too loud with an average noise level of 104 decibels, it produced a high pitch whine that was irritating.

Best Applications


This blender worked best for smoothies and purees. If you don't plan on doing some heavy duty grinding and milling, then this model will work just fine.

Value


This blender is available as a standalone machine, or with a food processor and single serve cups. As a standalone blender, it doesn't deliver the same performance as the Vitamix Professional 750, but it's about a third of the price. So, if you use your blender only occasionally, or like the versatility of a food processor option, then this model would be a good value.

Conclusion


Ninja touts this blender as having "more versatility than a traditional blender" thanks to the double-blade system, but we just didn't see it making that much of a difference, and it struggled to make with eight blades what the Vitamix Professional 750 did with four.

Other Versions and Accessories


The Ninja Ultima is also available with two individual blending cups, and as the "Kitchen System" with a food processor attachment in addition to the two cups.


Cam McKenzie Ring