Blender Battle of the Century: Magic Bullet Vs. Ninja Vs. Nutribullet?

a nutribullet blender on a kitchen counter
Heather Comparetto/The Penny Hoarder
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Whether you want to start your day with a healthy shake or you want to indulge in a batch of frozen margaritas, a blender is a kitchen must-have.

And consumers are increasingly turning to the newfangled “bullet” models, which promise to pair ease of use and cleanup with impressive power.

These bullets usually have smaller capacities than full-sized blenders, and for many, that’s no drawback. On the contrary, it makes them ideal for whipping up a single serving smoothie — often in an attachable cup that doubles as the drinking vessel.

But as more and more bullet brands flood the market, it can be difficult to know which one’s the best buy… especially when you notice the baffling range of prices.

Bullet blender prices range from as little as $10 to almost $300. Presumably, they all perform the same function, more or less.

I mean, what gives?

Magic Bullet Vs. NutriBullet Vs. Nutri Ninja: Which One’s the Best Buy?

Bullet blenders feature a wide variety of motor wattages and included a range of options, which helps explain the seemingly insane spectrum of prices. And it’s certainly conceivable that some models simply do the job better than others.

But between the $10 bargain bullet and the $300 Gucci model, where’s the sweet spot? How do you get maximum crushing power for your hard-earned cash?

Although it would be impossible to compare and contrast every make and model of bullet blender available, three brands in particular have emerged as popular pulverizers.

The Magic Bullet, NutriBullet and Nutri Ninja all boast similar functionalities and share a relatively small footprint, but their prices range from $40 to over $100.

Which one’s the best buy? We did a deep dive — for science.

And, OK, for smoothies.

Magic Bullet: $39.99

Advertising itself as “The Original,” the Magic Bullet does have one immediately attractive feature: It’s only one thing.

That is, unlike other bullet brands, the Magic Bullet only sells one size and style… which means you don’t have to face yet another complicated decision when you buy it.

The Magic Bullet comes in an 11-piece set including the base, a single blade, several cup and lid options, and a recipe book containing a variety of treats that take 10 seconds or less to (literally) whip up. It also comes with a free one-year warranty, which means you get free repairs or a replacement if the bullet breaks due to a manufacturer error.

The current cost* is $39.99 from the company itself, including free shipping; the device is available at a similar price on Amazon (with free shipping through Amazon Prime).

However, the Magic Bullet’s motor is only 250 watts, and the capacity of the included cups is just 18 ounces, making it the weakest and smallest of our three options.

But the real question — the only one that matters — is… will it blend?

“The Magic Bullet works fine for the price if people don’t want to spend money on something they might not use,” wrote Rachael McNeal in a Facebook comment. She uses hers to make a smoothie every day for breakfast.

“It does a fine enough job. And we’ve used it as a coffee grinder… and a food processor and it’s done fine for that too.”

McNeal’s middling review is matched by those of more than 2,000 Amazon users, who gave the device an overall 4.1-star rating. Here’s the full breakdown of reviews*:

5-star: 62%

4-star: 11%

3-star: 6%

2-star: 6%

1-star: 15%

Five-star reviewers call it “a sleek and superb blender that grinds the chunkiest of foods to a smooth consistency” and say it’s the “best ever — simple to use and easy to clean for beginners and the entire family.”

Indeed, ease of use is one of the Magic Bullet’s self-proclaimed fortes: “Using the Magic Bullet couldn’t be easier,” its Amazon page reads. “There are no buttons to press, no complicated manuals to read. Simply place one of cups on to the High-Torque Power Base and press… it’s a snap!”

Less enthusiastic reviewers lament the motor burning out early or report the machine had issues effectively pulverizing frozen fruit — a problem that Magic Bullet says may be caused by overfilling.

NutriBullet: $79.99

NutriBullet offers a range of blending products in different sizes, capacities, and motor power options, but for the purposes of this post, we’ll focus on the least expensive one.

The entry-level option is the original, 600-watt NutriBullet, which boasts a capacity of up to 24 ounces and comes in three colors.

It’s currently available from the website for $79.99 with free shipping — and 10% off if you register for the free NutriLiving program, which includes an app allowing you to track health statistics and interact with dieticians.

With NutriBullet, extra cups and accessories aren’t automatically included; you’d have to upgrade to the $89.99 bundle. It does, however, offer a warranty similar to Magic Bullet’s.

But what it lacks in free extras, NutriBullet makes up for in promised functionality — including its “nutrition extraction” abilities, which purportedly enable smoothie drinkers to “receive the highest degree of nutrition your food has to offer.” (The website’s copy goes so far as to imply it’s more effective than chewing, which leaves this writer, for one, a little skeptical.)

But whether or not it’ll catapult you into nutrient nirvana, the NutriBullet does seem to be well-loved by its users.

“I have a NutriBullet,” my friend Molly O’Steen wrote on Facebook. “It works wonderfully making smoothies of all forms and figures.”

“NutriBullet is my favorite!” gushed another of my contacts, writer and teacher Phillip D. Wentirine. “I like that it keeps the smoothie thick,” he mentions, comparing its abilities to those of the industrial-grade blenders he used in his old job at Tropical Smoothie Cafe.

But despite the extra $40 in the price tag, the Amazon reviews are pretty similar to Magic Bullet’s, with more than 7,600 reviewers giving it the same 4.1 stars as its cheaper cousin.

Here’s the full breakdown:

5-star: 65%

4-star: 11%

3-star: 6%

2-star: 5%

1-star: 13%

Five-star reviewers say that the NutriBullet “makes making a[n] early morning smoothie easy even if you are half asleep” and call it a “must-buy.” They also mention that a leakage problem — often cited by less satisfied reviewers — is due to user error (overfilling).

But my faithful Facebook audience filled me in on a few more drawbacks that might explain the less-than-superb ratings.

“It struggles with anything tougher than fruits, veggies and liquids,” O’Steen says, referencing the nuts and flours she sometimes attempts to blend into her smoothies.

“The cons for me are the noise level,” says Casey Larsen, whose dog freaks out as soon as she plugs it in. She adds,“It isn’t easy to adjust and add contents once you’ve started blending.”

Nutri Ninja Pro: $79.99

a ninja blender on a kitchen counter

Heather Comparetto/The Penny Hoarder

Ninja makes a wide array of kitchen products, both inside and outside the purview of blending, but we’ll stick to bullets for now. And when it comes to Ninja, the closest model to the ones we’ve been scoping out is the Nutri Ninja Pro, which sells for $79.99 with free shipping at the Ninja website — or for as low as $69.99 for the silver color on Amazon (again, with free shipping through Prime).

Like the Magic Bullet and NutriBullet, the Ninja comes with a limited one-year warranty. You’ll also get two cups (one 18-ounce and one 24-ounce), an extra spout lid and instruction and recipe booklets without having to upgrade.

But here’s the real kicker: Although it’s the same price as the NutriBullet, the Ninja Nutri Pro’s motor packs a 1000-watt punch, which means it should stand up to even the most frozen of berries.

That might account for the slightly higher star rating it holds on Amazon, where more than 800 reviewers have given it a 4.4-star rating. The full breakdown also skews higher than it does for the other two:

5-star: 73%

4-star: 11%

3-star: 5%

2-star: 4%

1-star: 7%

Five-star reviewers confirm the motor’s power: “It makes… everything so smooth — like velvet! It crushes ice like nothing.” Less satisfied reviewers in large part complained that their machine stopped working a few months after purchase — which should be covered by the warranty if you buy directly from the manufacturer.

And according to The Penny Hoarder’s Email Specialist, Colleen Rice, you might even be able to get away with pinching a few more pennies by downgrading to the Ninja Master Prep (about $35 on Amazon or $50 at Walmart, for slightly different models).

“I can’t justify the ‘nutrient extraction’ surcharge,” Rice says, but she’s “never had a problem with the texture or quality of [her] final blended product.”

So, What’s the Best Blender for Your Money?

Watt for watt, the Ninja is the most powerful of these products we looked at, and it offers the best value at 8 cents per watt. (NutriBullet rang in at 13.3 cents per watt, while Magic Bullet’s watts cost 16 cents apiece).

In other words, if you’re serious about your smoothies, this might be another one of those instances where it actually makes more financial sense to spend more money up front.

That said, “nutrition extraction” claims are dubious at best, and you can easily get your full daily serving of fruits and vegetables without buying a blender at all: Just eat ‘em.

While many a blending buff has lamented the early burnout problem suffered by cheap models, even expensive blenders occasionally quit prematurely, as evidenced by the Amazon reviews for these products. And conversely, sometimes the bargain basement model ends up being a workhorse.

“I have a Hamilton Beach single serve blender, and it’s just as good as my sister’s NutriBullet,” says Kari Clancy — and she’s been making smoothies in her $15 machine for five years now.

¯\_(ツ)_/¯

*Author’s note: All costs and review information current as of August 30, 2017

Jamie Cattanach (@jamiecattanach) has written for VinePair, SELF, Ms. Magazine, Roads & Kingdoms, The Write Life, Barclaycard’s Travel Blog, Santander Bank’s Prosper and Thrive and other outlets. Her writing focuses on food, wine, travel and frugality.

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Disclosure:

Some of the links in this post are from our sponsors. We’re letting you know because it’s what Honest Abe would do. After all, he is on our favorite coin.