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KitchenAid K400 Review

So much capability hides behind the clean, retro facade of this no-frills blender
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KitchenAid K400 Review (The retro-styled KitchenAid K400 is an excellent, no-frills blender at a very reasonable price point.)
The retro-styled KitchenAid K400 is an excellent, no-frills blender at a very reasonable price point.
Credit: Natalie Kafader
Price:  $290 List
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Manufacturer:   Kitchen Aid
By Genaveve Bradshaw and Aaron Rice  ⋅  Jun 4, 2024
78
OVERALL
SCORE


RANKED
#7 of 16
  • Smoothies - 30% 7.1
  • Convenience - 25% 7.4
  • Ice - 20% 10.0
  • Pureeing - 15% 6.8
  • Grinding - 10% 8.1

Our Verdict

The KitchenAid K400 offers a smart, sleek design whose simple outward style belies its impressive capability. Sticking to the principles of its retro-styled aesthetic, the K400 forgoes a digital screen in lieu of a single dial to cycle through five speed settings, a pulse feature, and four presets. In particular, we love the efficient Ice Crush and Icy Drink presets — this model should be on the radar of anyone who covets a high-quality blended margarita. Even though it struggled to blend liquid-less smoothies and to puree nut butter, we were impressed with its ability to mill dry ingredients. Considering the price of the K400 against the best blenders in our lineup, the overall performance of this stylish, no-frills blender is remarkable.
REASONS TO BUY
Excellent at crushing ice
Sleek retro appearance
High-quality smoothies and shakes
REASONS TO AVOID
Struggles with thicker recipes
Mediocre pureeing

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Bottom Line For the frozen beverage fan, this simple, retro-styled blender offers plenty of capabilityConvenient and affordable, this blender is the perfect balance of price and performanceA blender with a pitcher fit to make many drinks, great for smoothies and margaritas but not so great for flour grinding or making soupA solid option for blending frozen beverages, without the same versatility as more expensive blendersA barebones, budget-friendly blender capable of making smoothies but not much else
Rating Categories KitchenAid K400 Nutribullet Combo Ninja Professional... Ninja Professional... Hamilton Beach Powe...
Smoothies (30%)
7.1
7.5
6.5
6.2
5.1
Convenience (25%)
7.4
6.7
6.7
6.3
4.7
Ice (20%)
10.0
6.6
8.4
8.1
5.0
Pureeing (15%)
6.8
7.4
5.4
5.6
3.0
Grinding (10%)
8.1
7.9
6.5
4.9
2.0
Specs KitchenAid K400 Nutribullet Combo Ninja Professional... Ninja Professional... Hamilton Beach Powe...
Model Number KSB4027KG NBC-12A BN701 BL610 58148A
Power Peak 1.5 HP Peak 1.6 HP Peak 1.9 HP Peak 1.3 HP Peak .94 HP
Pitcher Capacity 56 oz 64 oz 72 oz 72 oz 40 oz
Presets Yes, 4
-Ice Crush
-Icy Drink
-Smoothie
-Clean
-5 speed settings
Yes, 2: Extract, Pulse, 3 speed settings Yes, 3: Smoothie, Ice Crush, Ice Cream Yes, 1: Pulse, 3 speed settings None
Measured Dimensions (base with pitcher) 17" x 9" x 9" 17" x 7" x 9.5" 17.5" x 9" x 6.8" 18" x 10.5" x 7.5" 14.7" x 8.7" x 6.5"
Dishwasher Safe Yes Yes Yes Yes Yes
Accessories No Yes
-32oz Cup with blade attachment
-24oz Cup with blade attachment
-2 To-Go lids
-Tamper
-Recipe book
No No No
Digital Timer No No Yes No No
Meant for Heating? No No No No No
Cord Length 3.5 ft 2.5 ft 2.5 ft 2.8 ft 2.2 ft
Wattage 1200 watts 1200 watts 1200 watts 1000 watts 700 watts
Measured Decibels for Standard Smoothie 77.2 83.7 *not measured 84.1 83.6
Measured Soup Temperature 125 145 74 73 105

Our Analysis and Test Results

The KitchenAid K400 includes a 56-ounce, BPA-free jar that sits atop a powerful, 1.5-horsepower motor base. The jar is designed with ribbed features that work in conjunction with an asymmetric blade design — where all four blades point in different directions — to better generate the vortex critical to efficient blending. The motor base incorporates their proprietary Intelli-Speed Motor Control, which adjusts the speed of the blades based on the weight and hardness of the ingredients being blended. The single dial offers five variable speed settings, a pulse feature, and four presets: Ice Crush, Icy Drink, Smoothie, and Clean. KitchenAid is known for their eye-popping color palette, and this blender is no exception — you can choose from a diverse series of retro-styled color blocks to suit the style of your kitchen.

Performance Comparison


The K400 is surprisingly quiet, yet powerful enough to mill corn flour and blast through all but the heartiest recipes.
Credit: Natalie Kafader

Smoothies


Although the K400 turns out beautifully crafted, creamy smoothies and shakes, it all depends on the recipe. More simplistic, liquid-based recipes were a breeze to mix, while the K400 had a more difficult time with heartier green shakes and thicker breakfast blends. Depending on the recipe at hand, we opted for either the Smoothie preset or we adjusted the power level manually by using the variable speed dial.


For a basic, berry-based smoothie, we had the greatest success using the variable speed dial, starting on low and gradually increasing it to maximum speed over 90 seconds. The resulting smoothie was thin yet velvety smooth, a great consistency mirrored by an equally delectable flavor. To make an Oreo malt, we ran the same cycle for just under one minute. The process was effortless, and the texture was smooth and creamy — a nearly perfect milkshake. Notably, the K400 was surprisingly quiet compared to similarly powerful blenders, just as long as there was plenty of liquid to work with.


On the other hand, our attempts to make a hearty green shake were less inspiring. We opted for the Smoothie preset, though in hindsight it may have been better to run the process manually. While the end result was delightfully creamy, with a smooth texture and a bright flavor profile, it took two full cycles to get there. An attempt to blend a notoriously thick fruit, nut, and oat smoothie was even more tenuous. After two rounds of running the Smoothie preset, the K400 was still struggling to generate a vortex to blend the dry ingredients. It wasn't until the third cycle, where we added a splash of juice, that the K400 was able to turn out a very thick, yet creamy breakfast smoothie. While this outcome might seem reasonable, we tested other comparably powerful blenders that had little difficulty processing this recipe.

kitchenaid k400 - even though this blender was able to work its way through an...
Even though this blender was able to work its way through an ingredient-packed green shake, it was helped along by the addition of more juice.
Credit: Natalie Kafader

Convenience


It may not have the same digital layout as other modern blenders, but don't let the elementary interface fool you — the K400 includes many of the same useful, user-friendly features as other premium blenders in our lineup. Less a matter of convenience than a sense of style, we appreciate the elegant simplicity of the single dial of this blender. It is this no-frills design that first caught our attention, and ultimately the reason it landed amongst our favorites.


The retro styling of the K400 invokes a sense of 1950s nostalgia, but behind that style lie the modern conveniences we've come to expect of a premium blender. The K400 offers the best of both worlds: a variable speed control for high-quality craftsmanship and easy-to-use presets for a more hands-off experience. Although this blender doesn't feature a digital timer, manual speed controls will automatically shut off after three minutes, while the four presets — Ice Crush, Icy Drink, Smoothie, and a Clean cycle — run on different programs based on optimized time and blade speed. The Intelli-Speed Motor Control also has a hand in adjusting blade speed based on the container size and food hardness.

kitchenaid k400 - the capability of the k400 only becomes evident upon close...
The capability of the K400 only becomes evident upon close inspection of the single dial that controls every feature of this blender.
Credit: Natalie Kafader

Even though we needed to pull out the user manual to decipher the preset images the first time we used this blender, the interface is otherwise very intuitive. The K400 is similarly easy to clean. If you have access to a dishwasher, all of the parts are dishwasher-safe. If you do not, we opt for the 13-second Clean cycle — with a little bit of warm water and soap, the program quick pulses the blades at high speeds to quickly clean the blender jar. For those with minimal counter space, the sturdy, square base makes the perfect frame for air drying the jar.

kitchenaid k400 - all of the pieces of this blender come apart for easy cleaning of...
All of the pieces of this blender come apart for easy cleaning of every nook and cranny, including the small cup in the center of the lid that doubles as a measuring cup.
Credit: Natalie Kafader

Ice


The K400 truly shines for its ability to process ice, and this model should be at the top of anyone's list who covets a well-blended frozen beverage. Very few blenders in our lineup earned perfect scores in this metric and those that did cost nearly twice as much as the K400. The optimized Ice Crush preset will literally crush dry, cubed ice into a powdery, snow-like consistency in 30 seconds flat.


Once you introduce liquid into a recipe, the user manual indicates that the optimal setting is the Icy Drink preset. This hands-free feature made quick work of a big batch of blended margaritas. The texture was smooth and super creamy, with an even consistency throughout the pitcher and no detectable iciness. Considering the outcome of our smoothie tests alongside these results, the K400 is clearly designed for, and excels at, blending liquid-based beverages.

The Ice Crush preset puts the speed and power of the K400 on full display, pulverizing ice cubes into powder snow.
Credit: Genaveve Bradshaw

Pureeing


Recognizing that the K400 excels at blending recipes with plenty of liquid in the mix, it should come as no surprise that our pureeing tests were a bit of a mixed bag. Even though this blender shut itself off halfway through the six-and-a-half-minute manual cycle, the resulting soup was smooth with an even consistency and a delicious flavor profile. While the soup warmed up a little bit during the process, at a maximum temperature of only 125 °F, you would want to heat it additionally before serving.


Despite the success making soup, the K400 certainly struggled to make a batch of nut butter. As we previously mentioned in numerous tests, liquid is key for the K400 to generate the vortex necessary to efficiently blend ingredients. Despite additions of oil throughout the manual cycle, the blender shut itself off after just four minutes of pureeing. The resulting nut butter was so sticky it was even difficult to stir, with a thick, gummy texture that was spreadable but not very appetizing. Needless to say, cleaning was a nightmare, and we don't ever intend to use this blender again for this type of task.

kitchenaid k400 - the asymmetrical blades all stick out at slightly different angles...
The asymmetrical blades all stick out at slightly different angles. Coupled with the ribs on the side of the jar, the design forces a vortex for more efficient blending.
Credit: Natalie Kafader

Grinding


While pureeing was certainly the low point of our testing, the K400 redeemed itself with its ability to grind and mill dry ingredients. Similar to pureeing, we consider this a “non-traditional” task for a blender. But any model that can successfully pass these strenuous tests earns extra points in our book for versatility, and even present themselves as viable options for replacing a food processor in your kitchen.


We ran manual cycles to grind crystal sugar into powdered sugar and to process chunks of parmesan into a finely ground cheese. To achieve the ideal consistency for either, the K400 certainly requires some babysitting, as you need to cycle through different power levels to maintain an efficient vortex. But for milling flour, in particular, the outcome is well worth any minimal amount of extra effort. This is one of only a handful of blenders that processed 99% of corn kernels into fluffy, evenly ground flour.

Apart from its struggles with dry recipes, we were amazed by the K400's ability to mill light, fluffy corn flour.
Credit: Natalie Kafader

Should You Buy the KitchenAid K400?


We are very impressed with the K400 on many levels. Considering its overall performance, this blender stands among some of the best on the market, yet costs half as much. While it struggles with efficiently blending heartier recipes, especially those without liquids, that is a tall order for any blender and outside the boundaries of everyday use for most people. If you are looking for a no-frills workhorse of a blender — with a stylish sense of retro flair, to boot — then then KitchenAid K400 is well worth your investment.

What Other Blenders Should You Consider?


Surprisingly, we tested very few blenders in this mid-tier price point. Aside from top-tier, premium models like the Breville the Super Q, we suggest comparing the KitchenAid K400 against the Blendtec Total Classic. Even though the Blendtec is more expensive, it improves upon the performance of the K400 in many ways, notably its ability to blend liquidless recipes. If the price tag of any of these blenders is off-putting, check out the Nutribullet Combo, our favorite for its overall balance of performance for a more reasonable price.

Genaveve Bradshaw and Aaron Rice