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Vitamix Explorian E520 Blender Review

Tested using Methodology v1.0
Review updated Dec 07, 2023 at 03:00 pm
Vitamix Explorian E520 Picture
9.2
Multi-Purpose
8.9
Smoothies (Single Serving)
9.5
Smoothies (Multiple Servings)
9.4
Ice Crushing
9.5
Soups
9.3
Professional Use

The Vitamix Explorian E520 is a full-size blender that's part of the same product line as the Vitamix Explorian E310 and is only available at Costco (U.S.). Like most Vitamix blenders we've tested, it delivers versatile performance and is safe for hot blending. There's a pair of 22-ounce tumblers included with matching lids and stainless-steel straws, but you can't use them for blending.

Our Verdict

9.2 Multi-Purpose

The Vitamix E520 is incredible for multi-purpose use. It has a big 64-ounce capacity and a versatile performance, since it can hot blend, make a smooth puree with fibrous ingredients, and easily handle tough ingredients like nuts and ice cubes. It's very sturdy, and all of its components are dishwasher-safe. However, it's very loud. Tumblers are included for bringing your smoothie or protein shake on the go, but you can't use them for blending.

Pros
  • Makes snow-like crushed ice.
  • Can hot blend.
  • Fantastic build quality.
  • Smoothly blends fibrous ingredients like kale.
Cons
  • No additional jars you can use for blending.
  • Very loud.
8.9 Smoothies (Single Serving)

The Vitamix E520 is amazing for making single-serve smoothies. Using the 64-ounce jar, it makes a nearly perfectly smooth blend with single-serve batches of fibrous ingredients like kale or fruit skin. It's also easy to clean by hand after whipping up a personal smoothie, and the jar and lid are dishwasher-safe. There are tumblers with straws included that you can pour your smoothie into, but you can't use them for blending.

Pros
  • Makes snow-like crushed ice.
  • Fantastic build quality.
  • Smoothly blends fibrous ingredients like kale.
Cons
  • No additional jars you can use for blending.
  • Very loud.
9.5 Smoothies (Multiple Servings)

The Vitamix E520 is fantastic for making multiple servings of smoothies. If you fill the 64-ounce main jar to its full capacity, it makes an extremely smooth puree with fibrous ingredients, so you can make silky smoothies even if your recipe includes tough additions like leafy greens. It's very well-built and easy to clean by hand.

Pros
  • Fantastic build quality.
  • Smoothly blends fibrous ingredients like kale.
Cons
  • Very loud.
9.4 Ice Crushing

The Vitamix E520 Blender is fantastic for ice-crushing. It's easy to make snow-like crushed ice for cocktails and frozen drinks. It's also very sturdy. That said, some blenders can crush ice a little faster or have automatic blending programs for a hands-free process.

Pros
  • Makes snow-like crushed ice.
  • Fantastic build quality.
Cons
  • Very loud.
9.5 Soups

The Vitamix E520 is superb for making soups. It's very well-built and comes with a 64-ounce main jar that you can use to blend hot ingredients. It can incorporate fibrous ingredients like kale into your mixes and is easy to clean by hand. The jar, lid, and tamper are all dishwasher-safe as well.

Pros
  • Can hot blend.
  • Fantastic build quality.
  • Smoothly blends fibrous ingredients like kale.
Cons
  • Very loud.
9.3 Professional Use

The Vitamix E520 is incredible for professional use. It's very well-built and has a 64-ounce main jar with a two-part lid, so you can add ingredients or use the tamper without stopping the machine. It has a very versatile performance and is safe for hot blending. It's also easy to clean by hand, and the jar, lid, and tamper are dishwasher-safe.

Pros
  • Makes snow-like crushed ice.
  • Can hot blend.
  • Fantastic build quality.
  • Smoothly blends fibrous ingredients like kale.
Cons
  • Very loud.
  • 9.2 Multi-Purpose
  • 8.9 Smoothies (Single Serving)
  • 9.5 Smoothies (Multiple Servings)
  • 9.4 Ice Crushing
  • 9.5 Soups
  • 9.3 Professional Use
  1. Updated Dec 07, 2023: We've updated this review's text to improve its accuracy and clarity.
  2. Updated Dec 15, 2022: Made minor updates to the text.
  3. Updated Sep 26, 2022: Revised text to reflect Test Bench 1.0.
  4. Updated Sep 07, 2022: Added a comparison between this blender's tumblers and the Vitamix Venturist V1200's additional jar.
  5. Updated Aug 24, 2022: Converted to Test Bench 1.0.
  6. Updated Oct 26, 2021: Review published.
  7. Updated Oct 19, 2021: Early access published.
  8. Updated Oct 15, 2021: Our testers have started testing this product.
  9. Updated Oct 13, 2021: The product has arrived in our lab, and our testers will start evaluating it soon.
  10. Updated Oct 06, 2021: We've purchased the product and are waiting for it to arrive in our lab.

Differences Between Sizes And Variants

The Vitamix E520 comes in either 'Βlack' or 'Gray'. We tested it in 'Gray', and you can see the label for the unit we've tested here. Since the differences are purely cosmetic, we expect both color variants to perform similarly.

If you come across another variant, let us know in the forums, and we'll update our review.

Compared To Other Blenders

The Vitamix E520 is on the lower end of the price range for Vitamix blenders. It has a similar design to the Vitamix Explorian E310, except it has a few automatic blending programs on its dial. Its 64-ounce capacity is bigger, and it comes with a pair of 22-ounce tumblers with straws. You can't use these tumblers for blending, unlike the personal jars that come with blenders like the Vitamix Venturist V1200 and the Blendtec Designer 725, but you can buy a personal jar and adapter separately from Vitamix. Unfortunately, this blender is very loud, so it can be annoying if you do a lot of blending.

If you're looking for more options, look at our lists of the best blenders, the best blenders for smoothies, and the best blenders for frozen drinks.

Vitamix 5200

The Vitamix 5200 and the Vitamix Explorian E520 are very similar blenders with slight differences. While both blenders have a fairly similar overall performance, the 5200 model is quieter than the Explorian E520. However, the Explorian E520 come with two tumblers for on the go use, and have a couple of programs for blending specific recipes like smoothies.

Vitamix Explorian E310

You may prefer either the Vitamix Explorian E310 or the Vitamix Explorian E520. The biggest difference is their capacity: the E520 has a 64-ounce jar, and the E310 has a 48-ounce jar. The E520 is a bit better-suited for processing large batches of fibrous ingredients and ice-crushing. It also has a few automatic blending programs and has a pair of tumblers with straws. They're meant for serving drinks like smoothies, but you can't use them for blending, unlike the personal jars that usually come with blenders. On the other hand, the E310 is slightly better for making single-serve smoothies.

Vitamix 7500

The Vitamix 7500 is a bit better than the Vitamix Explorian E310. The 7500 is sturdier and much quieter when it's running. That said, the Explorian's 48-ounce main jar offers better performance for some uses, like processing small amounts of fibrous ingredients. It's also better for making nut butter, but the 7500 is great for that purpose too.

Vitamix 5300

The Vitamix Explorian E520 and the Vitamix 5300 perform very similarly. The Explorian is a bit louder, but it has a few automatic blending programs in addition to a speed dial. You may also prefer it because it comes with a pair of tumblers and straws that you can use to bring a smoothie to go, but they can't be used for blending.

Vitamix Propel 510

The Vitamix Propel 510 and the Vitamix Explorian E520 are similar blenders with different strengths. While both blenders offer a fantastic overall blending performance, the Propel 510 is a lot quieter at max volume. However, the Explorian E520's jar is larger, and it comes with two tumblers and straws so that you can take your drinks with you on the go.

Vitamix Propel 750

The Vitamix Propel 750 is a little better than the Vitamix Explorian E520, mostly because it's much quieter. The Propel also has a few extra blending programs. However, the Explorian comes with a pair of tumblers with straws that you can transfer your drink into, but they aren't blending jars.

Blendtec Classic 575

The Vitamix Explorian E520 is better for most purposes than the Blendtec Classic 575. The Vitamix is much sturdier and does a much better job of processing hard ingredients like nuts. On the other hand, the Blendtec is easier to clean by hand and has a bigger 90-ounce capacity.

Blendtec Designer 725

You may prefer either the Βlendtec Designer 725 or the Vitamix Explorian E520. The Βlendtec comes with a bigger 90-ounce main pitcher and a 24-ounce personal jar that you can use to blend single-serves. It's quieter and easier to clean by hand. However, the Vitamix blender makes a smoother blend with fibrous ingredients like kale and hard ingredients like nuts.

Breville The Q

The Vitamix Explorian E520 is slightly better than the Breville The Q. The Vitamix is better built and has a speed dial that gives you more control over the blending speed. It's somewhat better for making nut butter. However, the Breville has the edge when it comes to ice-crushing. It's also much quieter when it's running and easier to clean by hand.

NutriBullet Smart Touch Blender Combo

The Vitamix Explorian E520 is better than the NutriBullet Smart Touch Blender Combo. It has a better build quality and does a fantastic job of crushing ice and making nut butter. It offers a wider range of speed settings and it's easier to clean by hand. On the other hand, the NutriBullet is just as good at processing fibrous ingredients like kale and comes with a personal blending jar, meaning you may prefer it for single-serve smoothies.

Ninja Blender Duo with Auto-iQ BL642

The Vitamix Explorian E520 is a better blender than the Ninja Blender Duo with Auto-iQ BL642. The Vitamix is studier, offers more speed settings, and it's easier to clean by hand. It's better for processing fibrous ingredients like kale and making nut butter. It can also hot blend. On the other hand, the Ninja comes with personal jars that you can use to blend single-serve smoothies. It's a bit easier to use to crush ice, and it's quieter when it's running.

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Test Results

perceptual testing image
Design
Design
Dimensions
Blender Type
Full Size Blender
Height
17.3" (44.0 cm)
Width 7.7" (19.5 cm)
Depth 9.4" (24.0 cm)
Weight
10.1 lbs (4.6 kg)
Shaft Length (Immersion Blenders)
N/A

The Vitamix E520 is quite a big, full-size blender. If you don't have a spacious cupboard, you likely need to store it on your counter. You can remove the jar for easier storage, though.

9.0
Design
Build Quality

This blender is very well-built, placing it on par with other models from this brand, like the Vitamix Explorian E310 and Vitamix 5200. It's mostly made of high-quality plastic with a metal and plastic transmission gear on both the motor base and jar. There are four feet to elevate the blender off of your counter and to keep it from moving around when in use. There's also a place to wrap up the sturdy power cord for easy and tangle-free storage and a dedicated on/off switch on the bottom left side, which glows blue when on.

It comes with two tumblers, which feel durable. They come with lids that screw onto the tumblers for a secure fit. There's a mechanism that closes the straw hole when not in use, so you don't have to worry about your drink spilling on you by accident.

9.0
Design
Jar Capacity
Main Jar Capacity
64.0 oz (1,893 ml)
Additional Jar Capacity
N/A

It comes with a 64-ounce main jar, similar to other Vitamix blenders like the Vitamix 7500. There's also a pair of 22-ounce tumblers with straws, but you can't use them for blending. You can purchase additional jars from Vitamix, including a personal jar for blending (with an adapter). However, unlike 'Ascent' series blenders like the Vitamix A3500, it's not compatible with Vitamix's line of 'Self-Detect' containers. If you want a similar blender with a personal blending jar included, check out the Vitamix Venturist V1200.

Design
Jar/Beaker Materials
Jar/Beaker Material
BPA-Free Plastic
Dishwasher Safe
Yes

The pitcher and lid are made of plastic and are dishwasher-safe. While this blender comes with tumblers, you can't use them for drinking. Unfortunately, Vitamix doesn't specify if the tumblers and straws can go in the dishwasher.

If you're looking to add an additional pitcher, the Vitamix Legacy (C Series and G Series) containers are compatible with this motor base.

Design
Blades
Blade Type
Sharp
Blade Count
4
Removable
No
Dishwasher Safe
Yes

The blade assembly has four blades you aren't meant to remove from the main jar. The jar and blades are dishwasher-safe, though.

Design
Lid
Two-Part Lid
Yes
Lid Closing Type
Friction

The Vitamix E520 comes with a rubberized two-part lid. You can remove the lid's clear plastic centerpiece to add ingredients mid-blend and use it as a small measuring cup. The manual says it has measuring marks, but ours doesn't have any.

The tumblers have a two-part lid, which allows you to secure your drink on the go.

Design
Power Cord
Stow-Away Compartment
Yes
Cord Length
6.2 ft (1.9 m)

The power cable is long and thick, and there's a space to wrap it under the blender with tabs to hold it in place.

Design
In The Box

  • Blender motor base
  • 64-ounce jar
  • Two-part lid with plastic cap
  • 2x 22 oz tumblers
  • 2x tumbler lids
  • 2x stainless steel straws with rubber sheaths
  • Manuals and recipe book

Performance
9.7
Performance
Fibrous Ingredients (Small Batches)
Jar Used
Main Jar
Fibrous Ingredients Processing
8.5
Fibrous Ingredients Texture
10

This blender does an outstanding job of processing fibrous ingredients in small batches. It produces a silky smooth puree with ingredients like kale. Food can splash against the sides of the jar, though, so you may need to pause blending and use a spatula to scrape down the sides.

10
Performance
Fibrous Ingredients (Full Capacity)
Jar Used Main Jar
Fibrous Ingredients Processing
10
Fibrous Ingredients Texture
10

It does an outstanding job of processing fibrous ingredients at full capacity. It makes a nearly perfectly smooth, grain-free blend if you're making a big batch of broccoli soup or kale smoothies for a crowd. It's an extremely easy process since you can switch on the blender and let it run for a few minutes.

9.6
Performance
Crushed Ice
Crushed Ice Preparation
8.5
Crushed Ice Texture
10

It's fantastic for crushing ice. The dedicated switch to manually pulse turns ice cubes into snow-like crushed ice in seconds. There's also a 'Frozen Dessert' setting, but if you use it to try and crush ice cubes, the blender can't fully process them, so it's better to save this mode for making margaritas or slush.

9.6
Performance
Nut Butter
Nut Butter Preparation
9.0
Nut Butter Texture
10

This blender is superb at making nut butter. After ramping up from low to high speed, you must use the tamper to push the ingredients towards the blades for the best results. You need to stop and use a spatula to scrape any ingredients stuck on the sides down towards the blades. Still, it doesn't take very long to make outstanding nut butter.

4.6
Performance
Noise
Noise @ Max Speed
100.7 dB

Unfortunately, this is one of Vitamix's noisiest blenders. It's extremely loud, so it can be very irritating to stand near it when in use. If you're looking for a quieter full-size blender, you'll want to check out the KitchenAid K400 and the Vitamix 7500 instead.

Performance
Blade Speed
Min Speed
1,460 RPM
Max Speed
21,200 RPM
Power
1,400 W
Speed Adjustment Based On Jar Type
No

The speed dial gives you access to a wide range of blending speeds, so you can easily start at low speed and slowly ramp up or fine-tune the speed to suit your recipe.

Ease Of Use
Ease Of Use
Controls And Programs
On/Off Switch
Yes
Speed Presets
0
Speed Dial
Yes
Hot Blending
Yes
Pulse/Turbo Mode
Yes
Programs
3
Blending Time Indicator
No
Programmable Timer
No

This blender has a speed dial that allows you to make small adjustments to the speed. Unlike the Vitamix Explorian E310, you can choose between three automatic blending programs: 'Smoothie', 'ฮ—ot Soup', and 'Frozen Dessert'. There's a switch for pulse mode to the left of the dial and a start/stop switch to the right. To start the blender, you also need to flip the ON/OFF switch located on the bottom left side of the motor base. The switch lights up in blue when in the 'ON' position and acts as a safety feature to prevent the blender from being switched on accidentally.

7.5
Ease Of Use
Cleaning

It's easy to clean by hand. You can easily run it for a minute or so at top speed and remove most of the residue. You'll still need to wipe down the jar, blades, and lid with a sponge to clean the blender fully. To clean the blades effectively, you'll also want to use a brush with a handle to clean it thoroughly.