Ninja Chef High-Speed Blender Review
Pros: Fantastic at crushing ice, very convenient, great value
Cons: Motor felt underpowered for pureeing nut butter
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Our Analysis and Test Results
This model finished right ahead of the Vitamix 5200, mainly having an edge by being quite a bit more convenient to use, but the 5200 makes slightly higher quality smoothies. However, it also costs over double the price of the Ninja. The Ninja is only outperformed by the top-tier of products, like the Cuisinart Hurricane Pro, Vitamix A2500, and the Vitamix Pro 750, but all of these products cost 2 to 3 times as much.
To see which blenders are really the best you can get, we bought all of the highest-rated and most promising of these kitchen appliances, then compared their performance head-to-head in a handful of different tests, ranging from making the perfect blended margarita to how easy they are to clean. We split these tests into five weighted rating metrics, with the results of the Ninja Chef discussed below.
The most important of our testing metrics, the four tests that compose our Smoothie metric are responsible for 30% of the overall score for each blender, as this is what most people primarily use these appliances for. We made an Oreo malt, as well as a green smoothie, a berry smoothie, and a fruit & oat smoothie in each
The Ninja got off to a great start in our green smoothie test, leaving almost no unblended pulp behind. The smoothie was the perfect thickness, though the texture could have been slightly better. We found it to be a bit grainy, as it didn't blend up the hard-to-blend kale quite as well as some of the other blenders in the review.
This blender continued its excellent performance in our berry smoothie test, completely obliterating almost all of the seeds. However, we found that it still tasted slightly seedy if we drank the unfiltered smoothie.
The quality dropped a little with the fruit and oat smoothie, with the Ninja easily dealing with the lack of liquid in the recipe, but it did fail to completely blend all of the oats, with some remaining stuck to the sides of the pitcher. We also like that this blender didn't heat up the smoothie as much as some of the others did.
The Ninja finished out this group of tests by making an almost perfect Oreo malt. It had just a tiny bit more texture than the velvety-smooth malt made by the top-of-the-line Vitamix blenders.
The Ninja delivered another top-notch showing in our Ice metric, making an excellent frozen margarita and crushing plain ice with ease. Altogether, these results earned the Ninja Chef a 9 out of 10 for this metric, which accounts for 20% of the overall score.
For the ice-only test, the Ninja easily crushed the ice without issue, though the cubes did bounce around quite a bit at the start. Almost all of the ice was crushed up into small, even pieces, with the exception of a few stray chunks that were a bit larger.
To mix up the margarita, we used the frozen drink preset, which ran for about 60 seconds. It made an exceptionally good blended drink that was exceptionally smooth, but again had just a tiny bit more texture than the very best models.
Next, we moved on to evaluating how much of hassle it is to actually use and operate each of these appliances. We rated and scored everything from how difficult it is to clean each blender to the effectiveness and number of preset functions it had. The Ninja Chef again did very well, receiving a 7 out of 10 for its showing.
This blender's pitcher is one of the easier to clean by hand, having a relatively roomy pitcher, with it only feeling a little cramped down by the blade. However, there isn't a ton of ventilation around the bottom of the pitcher if you put it back on the base and could very easily mold, so we would recommend drying it on a towel or dish rack.
Additionally, the pitcher, lid, and blades are also dishwasher-safe — fortunate, as the lid is a bit difficult to clean manually.
This blender has a ton of preset functions: Flour/Mill, Frozen Drink, Extract, Smoothie, Soup, Ice Cream, Puree, Dip/Salsa, Dressing, Nut Butter, and Clean. These are all labeled with clear, easy-to-read labels, though having this many presets can actually offer you too much choice until you get them all figured out. Finally, this blender has a digital timer that will count down the presets, count up when using manual speed, or can be set to countdown for a certain amount.
Moving on to scoring how well the Ninja did at pureeing food, we made a batch of peanut and almond butter in each appliance, as well as mixing up some tomato soup and seeing how much the blender could heat it up. The Ninja Chef did quite well, meriting an 8 out of 10 for its almost perfect pureeing skills, but we wouldn't necessarily recommend this blender if you are planning on making tons and tons of nut butter.
The Ninja did eventually make very smooth and creamy almond and peanut butter, but it definitely struggled a bit. We used the manufacturer recommended setting, but this only ran the blender for about 2 minutes and it took running that multiple times — until the blender had been going for about 7 minutes for it to actually puree the almonds and peanuts into butter. Additionally, the motor sounded like it struggled quite a bit with this test, with the blender apparently overheating at one point and needing a brief pause before restarting. We were pretty convinced that it was going to break in our test, but it did eventually churn up some high-quality nut butter.
The Ninja Chef had a much easier time with the tomato soup, very easily mixing it with its soup setting. However, it was a little on the thicker side and didn't pour through the sieve quite as well as some of the other products.
The preset definitely wasn't long enough to heat up the soup and even running it for four full cycles only heated it up to around 133°F — not quite the piping hot, 150°F we would have liked. Altogether, this trio of tests accounted for 15% of the overall score for the Ninja.
For the remaining 15% of the total score, we assessed how well each blender dealt with hard food items, namely popcorn, parmesan cheese, and granulated sugar. We milled corn flour, grated the parmesan, and made powdered sugar in the Ninja, which did again did very well, receiving an 8 out of 10 for its great job at grinding.
This blender milled some extremely fine corn flour, with 99% or so of the flour passing through our sifter, and showed no sign of struggling — a stark contrast to its nut butter performance. It did equally well with the powdered sugar, totally obliterating all of the granulated particles and making a light and fluffy powder.
It still did well when tasked with grating parmesan cheese, but its performance did drop a little, with a few larger pieces of cheese left behind and an overall coarser grate of the cheese than some of the other blenders.
The Ninja Chef High-Speed Blender is a fantastic value, holding its own with blenders that cost 2 to 3 times as much.
If you still want a fully-featured blender and are shopping on a budget, then the Ninja Chef is a perfect choice. Its performance at pureeing nut butter did give us some cause for concern, but as long as you aren't planning on doing that all that much, the Ninja should be a great choice.
— David Wise and Austin Palmer