Our test kitchen ran 20 through the wringer, pulverizing ice and turning raw veggies and frozen fruit into liquid gold. Biggest takeaway: To get great results, you might have to bend your budget a bit. But these five models offer a tasty return on your investment.

blender with fruit smoothie
Photography by The Voorhes
| Credit: Photography by The Voorhes

1. Power Player

vitamix s55 blender
Credit: Photography by Peter Ardito

If you're looking to join the cult of Vitamix, you're gonna shell out some cash. But the small-scale S55, which comes with a tamper and a to-go cup, can hang with the brand's higher-priced pro models. It aced our ice-crushing test and blitzed beets and carrots into pulp-free juice. Smooth nut butter was no biggie, either. Vitamix S55, $450, vitamix.com

2. Big Rig

black and decker performance fusionblade blender
Credit: Photography by Peter Ardito

Want to make a huge batch of bisque? The Performance FusionBlade Blender was a top performer by all of our testers' standards, and with a 64-ounce pitcher, it's the fastest way to puree a lot of soup or make Mudslides for a crowd. Black & Decker Performance FusionBlade Blender, $100, blackanddeckerappliances.com

3. Space Saver

magicbullet nutribullet pro 900 blender
Credit: Photography by Peter Ardito

Our test kitchen loved the straightforward MagicBullet NutriBullet Pro 900. No buttons or dials here—just screw the blade to the jar like a lid (24- and 32-ounce sizes are included), then flip the whole thing over and twist onto the base for one-speed whirling. MagicBullet NutriBullet Pro 900, $100, bedbathandbeyond.com

4. Ice Breaker

crux 7-speed blender
Credit: Photography by Peter Ardito

The Crux 7-Speed Blender "crushed ice like a champ," said our tester—just five seconds for a pitcher full of fluffy shavings! Along with party drinks, this unit can tackle smoothies and soups and features a self-clean cycle for a little help after a crazy night. Crux 7-Speed Blender, $90, macys.com

5. Quiet Type

hamilton beach peak power blender
Credit: Photography by Peter Ardito

The Professional 1500 Watt Peak Power Quiet Blender has a noise-dampening shield that fits over its blending jug, so morning smoothie making emits only a "light whir," according to one tester. The 4-cup-capacity container is on the smaller side, but the dial offers lots of control over blending speed. Hamilton Beach Professional 1500 Watt Peak Power Quiet Blender, $150, hamiltonbeach.com

Good to know!

The order you put your ingredients in the blender matters. First liquids, then solids. Add ice last. Start on a low setting, then build up speed.