Vitamix vs. Ninja: Our Editors Reviewed Three Popular Blender Models to Find the Best

Smoothies, soups and sauces await

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vitamix vs ninja: frozen margaritas, vitamix ascent and ninja duo on a marble background
Paula Boudes for PureWow

Face it: The teeny-tiny blender you’ve been using since college has seen better days. The blades are dull, it smells like smoke if you run it for more than ten seconds and your smoothies are half ice chunks. Before you buy the first one you see (or splurge on the most expensive), you’ll want to read this Vitamix vs. Ninja review, featuring honest feedback from our team about the brands’ performance and capabilities. Our editors tested the Vitamix Ascent A3500 ($667), Vitamix 5200 Standard ($416) and the Ninja Detect Duo ($180) to find out how the popular models compare. Read on for details.

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How We Tested the Vitamix Ascent 3500, Vitamix 5200 Standard and the Ninja Detect Duo

To determine the effectiveness of these three blenders, we tested their abilities to make frozen drinks, crushed ice, purée, nut butter and hot soup (if applicable). We also had our testers try any settings and included accessories.

PureWow’s VP of Editorial Candace Davison and Executive Editor Alexia Dellner have used the Vitamix Ascent 3500 and Vitamix 5200 Standard for years, respectively. They retested the blenders’ abilities according to our testing process for this review. PureWow Assistant Editor Delia Curtis received a new Ninja Detect Duo Power Blender Pro for this review. After completing the tests, all three editors rated their blenders based on the following five factors:

  • Value: Is the blender worth the spend, given its quality and how it performs?
  • Ease of Use: Could a newbie figure out how to operate the blender? How easy it is to clean and store?
  • Aesthetics: Does the blender look good on your kitchen counter? Is it clunky or compact? Sleek and modern?
  • Versatility: Given the blender’s settings, accessories and functions, can the appliance do it all or is it a one-trick pony?
  • Noise Level: The louder it is, the lower the score.

What Sets Vitamix and Ninja Apart?

Both brands are go-tos in the blender world. Vitamix is known for its all-purpose, very powerful appliances that can make a wide range of recipes in minutes (or seconds). Ninja blenders are also known for their sturdiness and power, but none of the current models are designed to make hot soups. They’re also generally much cheaper than Vitamix blenders.

Our Vitamix Blender Review

*Note: These scores reflect the average scores for both Vitamix blenders.

  • Value: 18/20
  • Ease of Use: 19/20
  • Aesthetics: 17/20
  • Versatility: 19/20
  • Noise Level: 18/20

TOTAL: 91/100

Ascent 3500

Davison found it a total breeze to make frozen drinks in this Vitamix model, which she has been using for more than seven years. “Margaritas in less than 30 seconds—honestly,” she explains. “Since I was pulverizing the ice into slush, there was no need to scrape down the sides. Just dump everything in, switch to a medium-high setting (like a 6 out of 10) and in less than 20 seconds, the drink is ready. This machine is a beast.”

Crushing ice is simple too. “If you don’t start on a low speed, you’ll have shaved ice in ten seconds flat. I needed to pause after five seconds and mix it up a bit, just because some cubes were turning into snowflakes while some remained chunky. But it did the job with hardly any effort.”

Purées are a breeze as well. “I steamed berries, per Vitamix’s recommendation, then put them in the blender on high speed. Within seconds, the purée was ready. No scraping necessary or stops midway; it just pulverized the softened berries, making an easy baby food for my son.”

As for hot soups, they’re a cinch too. “I made a copycat Panera broccoli cheddar soup. Since you sauté the veggies first, everything blends pretty easily. The actual blending takes less than two minutes, and there’s minimal cleanup.”

Nut butter seemed to be the most challenging task for the Ascent. “It’s definitely powerful enough to make nut butter; there’s even a button that allows you to whip it up in one minute, but you need at least three cups of nuts and some oil to create a creamy consistency. I tried halving the recipe to make snickerdoodle almond butter, but I had to scrape down the sides three times and run it continually to get a decently smooth result. The nuts got stuck under the blades, so I had to use a spoon to scrape them out, and it was definitely the messiest to clean.”

5200 Standard

Dellner had the most success with liquid-based blends. “I made a frozen berry smoothie,” she explains. “It made a puree in no time at all (maybe 10 seconds), so I quickly realized I needed more liquid and added some more milk. After that, it made a smooth drink in another 10 seconds. My kids don’t like clumps, so a smooth consistency is key. I didn’t have to scrape the sides or use the tamper. Sometimes I’ll add more interesting ingredients, like flaxseeds, chia seeds and spinach, and then some scraping is necessary, but very minimal.”

She also uses her blender to make baby food, purées and soups in mere seconds. However, she stresses that adding liquid as you go to achieve your desired texture and loosen the ingredients for the blades is key.

As for crushing ice, this Vitamix model was less successful than the Ascent. “I added the ice, turned on the blender and had what looked like snow!” Dellner explains. “I figured I must’ve taken my eyes off the blender, so I repeated the test and this time kept a close eye on it, turning it off after about 5 seconds or so, and the same thing happened. I had still chunks of ice up top and powder below.”

The same goes for making nut butter. “I’m allergic to nut,s so I made pumpkin seed butter instead, adding canola oil, maple syrup and vanilla extract. I had to constantly stop to scrape down the sides (like, every 10 seconds) and still no luck. I read a recipe online that said I should be able to make pumpkin butter without any add-ons, but even with additional ingredients, it was not a success. I gave up after 20 minutes and you can see from the pictures that it’s not so much a butter as it is a grainy paste.”

Both Models

What We Like

  • Can blend cold and hot liquids
  • Not excessively noisy (especially the Ascent)
  • Easy to clean

What We Don’t Like

  • 3500 is particularly expensive
  • 3500 is bulky and takes up a lot of space
  • Nut butter is a bit of a chore to prepare in the 5200


Both are very easy for newbies to use. The 3500 has button-operated presets, while the 5200 has a no-frills knob that controls speed. Cleaning them is just as simple. “The cleaning function is awesome. With a drop of soap, a little water and the push of a button, the container is gleaming in 30 seconds. I also like that it comes with a hardcover mini cookbook to help you get more out of your blender and learn its functions,” says Davison.

Of the 5200, Dellner advises users to be careful when using the tamper: “Don’t let it touch the blades! Also, the cord coils around the bottom of the blender in a bit of an annoying way. It’s held in place by little plastic bits that we’ve already lost two out of four of.”

Both editors find their blenders a bit clunky. “It does take up quite a bit of precious countertop space, but we use it a few times a week and it makes cooking so much faster and easier,” asserts Dellner of the 5200. “It’s considerably bulky and not so attractive, so I tend to keep it in a cabinet when it’s not in use. It’s not an eyesore; it’s just that if I had to choose between displaying it or my aqua KitchenAid mixer, the mixer wins,” explains Davison of the 3500.

As for noise, these two models vary. “It gets a little noisier than a Roomba, but that’s to be expected when it’s really pushing to make nut butter or crush ice. You can still carry on a conversation, though you may have to raise your voice a bit,” says Davison of the 3500. The 5200 gets loud if used on a high setting, though. “If my kids are napping, I'll take it down to the basement to blend so I don’t wake them up,” says Dellner.

That said, cost will likely be the biggest turnoff for most shoppers. “It’s extremely high quality, but the price is hard to justify unless you’re a smoothie stan or make soups, nut butters or your own baby food on the regular. If you plan on making margaritas once or twice a summer, stick to something more affordable,” recommends Davison.

Fast Facts (Ascent 3500)

  • Capacity: 64 ounces
  • Programs/Settings: 5 (smoothies, hot soups, dips & spreads, frozen desserts, self-cleaning)
  • Voltage: 120 volts
  • Color Options: brushed stainless metal, black stainless metal, white, copper metal finish, graphite metal finish, candy apple red

Fast Facts (5200 Standard)

  • Capacity: 64 ounces
  • Programs/Settings: 10 speeds, plus adjustable pulse feature
  • Voltage: 120 volts
  • Color Options: black

Buy the Ascent 3500

Our Ninja Detect Duo Blender Review

  • Value: 18/20
  • Ease of Use: 19/20
  • Aesthetics: 20/20
  • Versatility: 19/20
  • Noise Level: 16/20

TOTAL: 92/100

This powerhouse boasts BlendSense Technology, which automatically adjusts the blend speed and time for impeccably smooth results that require minimal guesswork. When used with the single-serve cup, the blender also alerts you when more liquid is needed, and single-touch presets make it a breeze to use. That said, you’ll still need to mind the blend as it’s happening: “For some of the recipes I made, I stopped the BlendSense a bit early as to not overmix the contents,” explains Curtis. “It does a great job, but you have to keep an eye on it to get the consistency you’re looking for.”

Simple tasks like smoothies and cocktails are painless to prepare. “It was incredibly easy to make a frozen drink,” they add. “I decided on frozen strawberry daiquiris, and it took about 45 seconds to blend everything together. The crushed ice took about 60 seconds to turn powdery—no scraping or tampering to get the job done.” Pureeing was similarly easy and low lift.

Even nut butter was relatively simple to pull off. “I figured it might be a challenge, given how the blender needed to grind the nuts finely enough for it to smoothen. Because almonds are naturally oily, I didn’t need to add any additional oil. But I did have to scrape down the sides a couple of times and blend in intervals, just in case the blender got too hot, but the BlendSense feature kicked in and I was able to make the nut butter in about 6 minutes and 45 seconds.”

What We Like

  • More affordable than the above Vitamix blenders
  • Very large capacity
  • BlendSense and manual controls are both very user-friendly

What We Don’t Like

  • Not designed for hot ingredients or soups
  • A bit challenging to clean stickier, thicker blends


As for cleaning and ease of use, Curtis says the buttons and settings are very straightforward, and it’s simple to wash the pitcher—albeit harder when it’s covered in nut butter. “Getting the nut butter out of the corners of the pitcher was sort of a challenge and required a bit of elbow grease,” they add. Luckily, the pitcher, blade and lids are dishwasher safe.

The main downsides? Ninja blenders aren’t currently designed to make hot soup (although we bet they can pull off a mean gazpacho), and Curtis notes this model can be pretty noisy when used for a longer period of time. That said, it’s high quality and comparatively inexpensive. “It’s worth the splurge because of the technology alone. I was surprised to find out it was less than $200.”

Fast Facts

  • Capacity: 72 ounces
  • Programs/Settings: 14 manual, 4 automatic
  • Voltage: 120 volts
  • Color Options: black

Vitamix vs. Ninja: What Are the Main Differences?

  • Vitamix offers blenders that can make hot soup, while Ninja currently doesn’t
  • Ninja blenders are generally cheaper
  • The Vitamix Ascent 3500 comes in many colors; the Vitamix 5200 Standard and the Ninja Detect Duo don’t
  • The Vitamix Ascent 3500 can successfully make nut butter and crush ice, while it’s a tougher task for the Vitamix 5200 Standard; the Ninja can also accomplish these tasks
  • The Vitamix 5200 Standard and Ninja Detect Duo are louder than the Ascent 3500

The Bottom Line

If you’re willing to splurge on a blender that can make just about anything without breaking a sweat, the Vitamix Ascent 3500 is worth every penny. If you want a quality blender, don’t make nut butter or crushed ice too often and don’t mind an older model, save a few hundred with the Vitamix 5200 Standard. If you only need to tackle the basics (or don’t use your blender on the daily), are looking for your first blender or aiming to save as much as possible, the Ninja Detect Duo is your best bet.

taryn pire

Food Editor

Taryn Pire is PureWow’s food editor and has been writing about all things delicious since 2016. She’s developed recipes, reviewed restaurants and investigated food trends at...