Mixing almonds into a smooth, spreadable butter is a tough task, and a blender that's up to the job can be a versatile tool in any home chef's kitchen. However, you can't count on just any blender to chop and grind hard ingredients like nuts into a uniform mix, and some fail at it completely. We try making almond butter with each model we test so you can get an idea of how a particular blender handles hard ingredients and thicker mixtures.
If you want to use your blender to crush hard foods like nuts into a smooth consistency, you can look at the results of this test to find a suitable machine. You may also find these results useful if you want to use your blender for recipes that involve blending up other tough, dry, or hard-to-process ingredients into butter or paste, such as tahini or hummus, although we don't make those foods as part of our testing currently.
We try to make almond butter in each of the blenders that we test using dry roasted almonds. We use two cups of almonds for all types of blenders but process one cup at a time when we're testing an immersion blender.
If there's an appropriate preset mode or a specific speed setting for almond butter in the manual, we follow those instructions for the test. Otherwise, we set the blender to the speed setting closest to or under 24000 revolutions per minute (RPM), which is often the maximum speed setting.
We use the main jar for this test, which is usually the biggest one. For immersion blenders, we don't use any included jars; instead, we use our own 32-oz OXO beaker. This is because the beakers included with immersion blenders can be thin plastic, easily scratched by dry ingredients like almonds. It also means the test is more consistent for this type of blender since the results aren't affected by the size or shape of the included beaker.
We run the blender for a maximum of 10 minutes, respecting any instructions in the manual around maximum runtime and any cool down periods. When we're testing an immersion blender, we alternate between one minute of blending and one minute of cooldown unless there are different instructions in the manual. We may stop the process to shake the jar or use the tamper or another tool to push the ingredients towards the blades, if necessary.
When the almond butter finishes, we spread some on a piece of toast using a single stroke. We don't spend time trying to cover the entire slice if the butter doesn't spread easily. Then a photo is taken with a standardized set up so that the pictures are easy to compare between models. Finally, the tester tastes the almond butter to get an idea of the texture and the taste.
The score for almond butter is subjectively assigned based on the following combination of traits: the texture of the almond butter, how easy it is to spread ("spreadability"), whether there are any unprocessed almonds in it, and the total preparation time. We also consider how other blenders have scored to ensure consistency in our results. Blenders that quickly make smooth, easy to spread almond butter score the highest. Conversely, blenders that aren't meant to blend hard ingredients or break or fail when blending the almonds fail this test.
Preparation time is how long it takes for the blender to make the best almond butter it can. We time the test with a stopwatch, and we also film the process in case there's any doubt about when the almond butter finished. We respect any continuous runtime and suggested cooldown times listed in the manual. For an immersion blender, if there are no instructions in the manual, we run it for one minute at a time and allow it to cool down for one minute before blending again. We also clean almond butter from under the blades during the cooldown time; this helps the blending process.
Otherwise, we run the blender until the nuts are fully processed and smooth until the consistency of the mixture hasn't changed in 30 seconds or for a total of 10 minutes at most. Any cooldown periods are included in the preparation time result, rounded up to the nearest minute. If we had to pause the blender to scrape the sides of the jar or shake it to incorporate ingredients, we include that time in the preparation time.
Blenders with a shorter preparation time receive a higher score on the almond butter test. We take into account the type of blender as well. For full-size and personal blenders, the process shouldn't take more than three minutes, while we expect immersion blenders to take longer, and seven minutes is considered reasonable. The Vitamix Explorian E310 and the Ninja Foodi Power Nutri DUO are some of the highest-scoring blenders for almond butter and can make it in under a minute. Most blenders that take the full 10 minutes are personal blenders, like the Magic Bullet Mini, or immersion blenders like the Bamix The Original.
The texture is subjectively evaluated based on the look and taste of the almond butter. Blenders that make smooth almond butter score higher on this test. Models that make crunchy almond butter can also score well, while sticky or dry almond butter receives a lower score on this test.
The result for the spreadability is subjectively assigned based on how easy the almond butter is to spread on toast. The best almond butter has great spreadability. Blenders that receive a lower score on this test make almond butter with poor spreadability or sometimes fail to process the nuts altogether.
Finally, we check if there are any unprocessed almonds or chunks of almonds left in the mix, and record the result as 'Yes' or 'No'. Blenders that produce evenly blended, uniform almond butter score higher on this test. However, mostly smooth almond butter with a few unprocessed pieces can still score very well on this test, like the Ninja DUO.
Our almond butter doesn't have anything in it but dry roasted almonds. This is a common way to make it, but some recipes call for oil and other ingredients, which we don't test. If a blender has a hard time processing almonds on its own, you may get better results by adding a liquid, like oil, to the mix. Also, we use the main jar and blade assembly for this test. Some blenders come with food processor attachments or additional blades that may produce a different result, but we don't currently test these extra accessories.
Because almond butter has a thick and sometimes sticky consistency, we consider how easy it is to clean out a blender after performing this test. However, that information is factored into the blender's score for cleaning and doesn't affect the almond butter score.
While blenders may be most often used for smoothies, soups, and other liquid foods, some can also work well for tasks that you may associate more with a food processor, such as breaking down hard ingredients like almonds into creamy almond butter. If you're looking for a versatile blender, the results of this test can give you an idea of how a blender performs when it comes to mixing tougher, drier ingredients.