Don't want to spend more on a blender than you would on, say, your monthly car payment? I totally get that. That's why I whirled through a bunch of options that were $100 or less in order to find the best budget-friendly choice. My ultimate pick is a legitimately good model — and it'll cost you less than even a night at the movies.
My Pick for a Budget-Friendly Blender: Black + Decker FusionBlade Die Cast Digital Blender
In my smoothie test (read more on that below), the Black + Decker FusionBlade Die Cast Digital Blender pulverized everything to smithereens, creating a thick but smooth drinkable breakfast. It's shocking that for the very reasonable price, you get an appliance that isn't flimsy.
Buy: FusionBlade Die Cast Digital Blender, $50 at Black + Decker
The base, made of solid aluminum, is hefty and stays put while the blender's seeing heavy action. Its smooth electronic control pad is easy to operate and a cinch to clean. It doesn't have any buttons, which means there's no gunk to scrape out with a toothpick. And, after blending, the glass jar can go in the dishwasher for a thorough cleaning.
In addition to smoothies, this blender can help you make smooth spring soups. And its ability to pulverize ice will come in handy on Friday night when you want to end the week with a frozen margarita. (You deserve a drink — plus, it'll help you cool down just as well as movie theater air conditioning would, which means this blender will save you even more money in the long run.)
The Smoothie Test
Kale is a tough ingredient for any blender to pulverize. Chuck it into an inefficient model and you may find yourself leaving the house with green flecks between your teeth. Another big challenge for a blender: crushing ice. That's why I consider a smoothie recipe — featuring both kale and ice cubes — to be an acid test for any blender. If it can handle both of those things, it can handle anything.
About me: For more than 30 years, I was in charge of testing and reporting on everything from wooden spoons to connected refrigerators at the Good Housekeeping Institute. My street cred? I worked as a chef in New York City restaurants for seven years. In my free time, you'll find me banging pots in my own kitchen.