Blendtec vs. Vitamix, Part 4 of 5: Ice Cream

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This video is the fourth of five in a series comparing the Blendtec Total Blender and the Vitamix 5200.  The goal of the video series is to help you, the consumer, select a high-performance blender that best suits your and/or your family’s needs.  While the Blendtec and Vitamix are both excellent machines, there may be differences in appearance, operation, and/or performance that draw you toward one over the other.  Hopefully, this series will shed some light on these differences and assist you in making the best possible decision.

In this video we run a test on a popular, fun practical application of high-performance blenders: making ice cream. The goal of the test is to determine if there is any significant difference in the textures of the strawberry-banana ice cream made by each blender.

This test incorporates the same simple ingredients in each blender: milk, banana, sugar, strawberries, and ice.  This recipe was created by me and cannot be found in either recipe book that comes with its respective machine. I elected to use my own recipe so that identical ingredients could be placed in both jars for the purpose of comparison. The Blendtec features a pre-programmed “Ice Cream/Frozen Yogurt” blend cycle and it was selected for this test. The Vitamix comes with a tamper to help guide ingredients into the cutting path of its blades. It was used in this test.

This video has not been edited.

We can conclude from this test that both blenders do an outstanding job of making ice cream.  The texture difference in the two results is negligible, with only the slightest edge going to that made in the Vitamix. This is possibly because the duration of the blend in this particular instance using the Vitamix was 9 seconds longer than the pre-programmed cycle on the Blendtec. As always, the Vitamix is completely manually controlled and, as such, a range of textures in ice cream may be achieved simply via the user controlling the duration of the blend.

It is possible to extend the blending time of the Blendtec, too, by using its manually-controlled, Speed Up/Down buttons. Keep in mind, however, that extended blending times from either blender will introduce increased amounts of friction, thereby creating the counter-productive effect of melting the ice cream.

 

38 Comments
Questions? Comments? Let’s talk about it here!
  1. This video series was so helpful in my decision to purchase the right blender for our family. Based on your results, what we’re looking for and finally, prices, I’m buying the Blendtec Total Blender. Thank you!!! Love your site.

    • bd

      Lisa, thank you very much for the kind words about hte site and congrats on getting your Blendtec! Here’s to many, many years of happy, healthy blending for you and your family.

  2. Is there a way to make Vanilla Ice Cream in the VitaMix?

    • Blenderdude

      Susan, Vanilla ice cream is one of those elusive recipes for any high-performance blender. There just doesn’t seem to be the right combination of ingredients to yield the right combination of flavors and textures from a blender. There are some good ones that are close that include banana as a recipe, but this may not be what your’re after. I would think eventually somebody will come up with a good one. When and if that happens, I will be sure to post it on the site. Likewise, if you come across a good one, please let me know about it. Good luck!

  3. Hey so I just bought a Blendtec. (that I have been saving for, for years!) And the ice cream bogged down the motor so bad that it quit. I couldn’t get in any thicker than a smoothie… any suggestions? Then I did some soup and it was lukewarm at best… why do you see it come out steaming hot at the Costco demonstration? Also even with the lid on, my soup exploded everywhere… sheesh, I’m about to return it.

    • Blenderdude

      Michelle, I’m sorry you’ve had such an inauspicious introduction to your Blendtec. The motor shutting down from anything you are blending should be a very rare occurrence. This has happened to me no more than 2 or 3 times in tens of thousands of uses. The key to the right consistency ice cream with the Blendtec is a perfect balance of liquid and dry/frozen ingredients. There must be enough liquid in the container to allow the blades to create the vortex needed to circulate ingredients, but not so much that the result is too thin to resemble ice cream/frozen yogurt. The ice-cream recipes in the book are the best guide as far as ingredient ratios go. With your own recipes, you really need to mimic those in the book until experience teaches you just how much of each ingredient to use.

      Even with careful attention to ingredient ratios, there will still be occasions where the Blendtec blades simply do not circulate the ingredients well enough to create the perfect ice cream consistency. It would be helpful at times like these to have a tool which keeps the ingredients moving in the container. Vitamix includes a tamper with its blenders which does just this. Blendtec came out with the Twister Jar which accomplishes the same task although it is primarily sold separately. Without a Twister Jar, you will really need to practice with your ingredients, tweaking them as necessary, until your ice cream recipes turn out “just right.” This can be frustrating at times, as you are noticing.

      The steaming hot soups you noticed at the demonstration you attended are the result of one of two factors. Either the demonstrator started with hot liquid (most likely water) inside the container, or he/she ran the Soups cycle multiple times. With cold to room-temperature starting temperatures, 2, 3, or even 4 cycles is not unusual in order to reach really high temperatures. The warmer your starting ingredients, the less time the blender will have to run to reach the temperature you enjoy.

      If the lid is on properly, ingredients should never escape the vents unless more than the recommended amount of straight liquid has been added to the container. Blendtec recommends not exceeding the halfway point of the container with straight liquids. In my experience you can increase this to about 2/3 the height of the jar without issue, but don’t go higher than that.

  4. I’ve had the Vitamix 5200 for about 9 months. When using it to make nut butter or ice cream, it would do the twisting, spinning thing that I noticed yours do as well. I contacted VM and they said to send to them, which I did. They sent back without any information about what they did or what they found. They didn’t say this was a normal VM result. I’ve continued to use it with the same experience but feeling very frustrated that there must be something wrong. On a recent trip to costco saw a Blendtec demo and decided to purchase. But with one of my main purposes being fruit sorbets, sounds like unless I get the right ingredient ratios, I may be just as frustrated with Blendtec. Did I miss something with the VM literature that said you should expect the spinning with thick recipes?

    • Blenderdude

      Debra, “walking,” as I like to call it, is a common occurrence with any high-performance blender, including both the Vitamix and Blendtec. It occurs as the result of a specific level of vibration generated by the motor during blending. Exactly what causes this vibration can any of a number of factors, including the types of ingredients being used and also the amount of current the blender is pulling from the circuit. It should not be an every-use type of circumstance, though. This would be indicative to me of an issue with either the blender motor or electrical current.

      The first thing I would recommend is to make sure that no other appliance or electronic device is sharing current with the blender on the same circuit during use. If you experience the same frequency of this vibration with the Blendtec as you did the Vitamix, I would definitely investigate your circuit. If the Blendtec does not “walk” like the Vitamix did, then the issue was probably with your former blender.

  5. So I bought and tried the wooden tamper for the blendtec because I love thick frozen recipes. Short review is that it helped but not very much. It can’t reach the far corners of the jar, and I believe the blendtec’s jar design and lack of low speed operation make it a poor choice for truly thick recipes like dole whip (2 cups frozen pineapple, 1/4 cup of milk, tablespoon lemon juice, 2 tablespoons sugar). Videos on making peanut butter also show blendtec’s poor performance on thick recipes.

    After a couple months trying to get the blendtec to make thick frozen recipes, I gave up and returned it for a vitamix 6300 with presets. Its true low speed capabilities, and the tamper, made much better consistency dole whip in less time than the blendtec (and with zero hassle as compared to the pain in the butt that it was to make in the blendtec).

    Bottom line, for this much money, and with competition that can do it flawlessly, you shouldn’t have to manually intervene so much on thick frozen recipes as you do with a blendtec. Sure their own handful of frozen recipes work, but that’s only because they are specifically designed to be liquidy enough for the machine to handle. Anything thicker than that, you can forget about it.

    The twister jar is too small, too expensive for what you get, and adds unnecessary clutter to a kitchen. If blendtec made something like a giant twister cap for the wild side jar and included it free with the blender, then would the blendtec might satisfy the needs of someone who likes thick frozen recipes.

    Hope this helps some thick recipe lovers trying to decide between the two.

    • Blenderdude

      Brandon, the concerns you raise are all legitimate. I think Blendtec would be doing a great service to their customers by developing a tamper-like tool to assist with the thicker and/or frozen ingredient recipes. The Twister Jar is a nice addition, but, as you mentioned, is limited by its size. Thanks for sharing your experience.

      • You know, one thing I have come to respect about Vitamix is that they acknowledge their flaws and correct them, such as with that blade recall with the new generation models.

        Blendtec, on the other hand, seems to rather just turns a blind-eye to their problems such as not fixing their jar seals and ignoring the tamper issue. I have got to believe that the folks over at Blendtec have seen the countless comparisons of the Vitamix & Blendtec where the tamper is essentially the deciding factor in giving the Vitamix the edge (nut-butters, non-liquid blends, very dense blends). The Twister is of little help, because if I wanted to make a large batch of frozen banana “ice cream” for a group of people, how would I do that easily in the Twister? The Vitamix can handle this with no problem at all.

        Btw, I also found out that if you have the old Blendtec lid, the Omni’s plastic tamper can fit it perfectly.

        One gripe about the Vitamix, though, is that there is almost no point in having such a variable control speed because 99% of all blends seem to be, “Turn machine on, immediately speed up to speed 10, then flip on high”. It seems that there are very few times to ever use the variable speed for anything other than just a “buffer” to go from being off to high. I mean, I do use it sometimes like when I am making guacamole, or chopping vegetables, but these are functions that the Blendtec could do too (assuming there was enough ingredients). In fact, I would almost say that one could easily just get away with the two-speed Vitamix.

        • Blenderdude

          Joe, you make some valid arguments. I do not know that Blendtec is ignoring the apparent issue with the seals/gaskets on their containers. Given that they continue to replace all such problematic jars under warranty, it would not surprise me if an R&D team was working on the issue if for no other reason than cost effectiveness. While the Twister Jar is not ideal for large recipes, obviously, it does work tremendously well. I use mine frequently.

          Omni’s “mixing rod” will fit through the center pop-out plug of the old Blendtec lids. There is no reason it shouldn’t work reasonably well with it. However, the rod does not extend down close enough to the blade assembly to achieve maximum effectiveness. This is a relatively moot point anyway as those lids are increasingly more and more difficult to find, and were re-designed due to their relative ineffectiveness for tasks such as hot soups and dry grinding.

          I do agree that the vast majority of blending tasks with a Vitamix – or any high performance blender for that matter – should be performed on the highest settings. That said, I use my Variable dial quite often. Not only for chopping and/or course blending as you mentioned, but also as a method for removing unwanted air out of certain recipes. You certainly could get away without it, but I think it’s a great addition to the interface, personally.

          • BD,

            I guess the reason I felt that Blendtec is ignoring the jar problem is because this complaint dates back for several years now. I’ve read reviews as old as 2010 complaining about this problem and it still continues. In fact, there is now a video online that someone posted which documents her jar leaking and her Blendtec had only 118 uses on it at the time of the video. Mine had just under 3000 (owned it for 11 months).

            Hopefully Blendtec does do something about it and fast. I can’t imagine why it is taking them so many years to fix what seems like a relatively simple issue.

            It still bothers me even after I now own a Vitamix because I talked a few friends into the Blendtec over the time I had mine, so I feel sort of responsible if something were to go wrong with theirs.

            Yes, I forgot that I do often use the variable speed control to take the foam (or decrease it) out of my blends, like when I make almond milk. I definitely would not be as happy with the two-speed Vitamix, because if I had a choice, I would always take the more versatile model. One thing I learned about high powered blenders is that you’ll end up being surprised at what you use them for.

            BTW, what is the low speed equivalent to on the 2-speed? Is it literally like going from speed 1 to the high speed?

            • Blenderdude

              I think your position is completely understandable. Blendtec did in fact redesign the WildSide containers a few years ago shortly after their debut. I noticed a significant lull in the frequency of complaints about jar failures after this, and my assumption was that the issue was addressed as part of the redesign. In the last year I have noticed a steady increase in the complaints once again. I would hope Blendtec is taking appropriate action if they are experiencing a similar correlation in feedback. We will see.

  6. As you may know, omniblend sells a wooden tamper that’s compatible with the blendtec jars. Have you used this?

    Would this accessory bring the blendtec up to the level of the vitamix when it comes to making thick frozen smoothies, ice creams, and nut butters without

    1: worrying that liquid/frozen ratios and food physics are perfect, and
    2: requiring other manual intervention steps?

    The wooden tamper is one 10th the price of the twister jar, and wouldn’t limit you to the twister jar’s small batch size.

    • Blenderdude

      Brandon, excellent question. I am aware of the tamper you referenced. I also have a professional relationship with the dealer who sells them and believe him to be quite reputable. I haven’t, however, used this specific product before, so I am reluctant to speak to just how effective it will be. You have prompted me to acquire one, however. I will look into getting one for myself and try it for future reference on questions like these.

      That said, I can’t imagine how it wouldn’t help to at least some extent regarding thick and/or frozen recipes. This is precisely what a “tamper tool” is for. If it is effective, it would definitely loosen the ration requirements of your recipes and reduce the number of start/stop cycles or any other steps you’ve developed to achieving your end results.

  7. If you make ice cream using frozen fruit and.or ice cubes can it be frozen again Thanks

    • Blenderdude

      Anne, yes, you can re-freeze your ice creams. Oxidation is normal when doing so, however. Don’t be surprised if you see your desserts turning brown if not eaten soon!

  8. Hello,

    Quick question. I just bought a blendtec because my mother and I do a lot of juicing with vegetables and frozen fruits. It seems like both would equally work well with these ingredients. I am trying to eat more healthy but one of my weaknesses is ice cream. I’m hoping to be able to do a 0% fat free Greek yogurt recipe (vanilla favored). Would you have any idea how I can make it using the blendtec, or is this a type of recipe that would be best with a vitamix (I still have time to exchange it for a Vitamix)

    My main concern is which one is designed for daily use, up to 3 times a day. (My mom and i kept blowing out the motor on $60 blenders every 3 months)…. So we need a blender with longevity. Again we use the blender mainly for juicing raw ingredients but I want to start making ice cream with fat free options and also hummus. So are we ok with the blendtec or should we consider going for the vitamix??

    Thanks for your time 🙂

    • Blenderdude

      Judy, let me start with your second question. Both the Blendtec and Vitamix can easily be counted on as “daily use” blenders. You won’t have any worries from either in that department. You can use either as often as you’d like.

      Regarding your question related to ice cream, without knowing the exact recipe you’re using, it is difficult for me to tell you which blender would be preferable. What I can tell you is that, if you are not following Blendtec ice cream recipes, specifically, you are more likely to experience difficulty with it than you are a Vitamix. The reason being the Blendtec uses precise ingredients and ingredient ratios which allow the blade and pre-programmed settings to yield just the right ice cream consistency without any additional help from the user. With experience you will learn how to construct your recipes to get similar results to Blendtec’s (as in my video, for example).

      With the Vitamix, however, the inclusion of the tamper makes it significantly less difficult to produce ice cream textures without regard to ingredient ratios. As long as you have predominantly frozen ingredients in your recipe, the tamper will allow you to make sure all your ingredients become fully incorporated, and you can simply stop the blender when the desired consistency is reached. For improvised and/or non-Blendtec recipes, when it comes to ice cream, I give Vitamix the edge.

      Should you wish to purchase the Twister Jar, general ice cream recipes become easily made in the Blendtec, too.

  9. I’m looking to buy a blender and thinking about getting the NutriBullet. However I read many negative reviews on it. The Vitamix is out of my budget. Do you have any suggestions? Thanks!

    • Blenderdude

      Yuna, without knowing you or your exact budget it is tough for me to say. The OmniBlend V is a very good value in my opinion but it is not inexpensive at about $270. If that is out of your budget I might suggest the Ninja. It is not in the class of any of the blenders discussed on this site but it makes a decent smoothie. The NutriBullet works okay, too. With all of these blenders I mentioned the quality of the machines and results they produce are usually going to be commensurate with their price tags.

  10. Hi Blenderdude,

    Question for ya: If i’m going to be blending a lot of green,leafy vegetables- like kale, spinach and collards- which blender has the advantage? Also can you use the manual control exclusively if you wanted to on the blendtec? the main reason I am thinking of the blendtec is I want to make hot soups from raw leafy greens and asparagus without haveing to cook the ingredients 1st.

    Txs.

    • Blenderdude

      Ron, both the Blendtec and Vitamix have more than enough power to easily handle all your leafy greens. Both are perfect for soups made primarily from these ingredients. You really won’t go wrong with either.

      Regarding the Blendtec, I use the manual controls almost exclusively. I like to be in complete control of my blends in terms of both speed and duration.

  11. Hi there,

    I’m still torn between the Vitamix and the Blendtec. I find your videos and reports extremely helpful. I also think you are highly skilled at using both machines, which is great.

    Now I will be using these machines to make hot soups, frozen fruit smoothies, frozen banana ice cream, and healthy no oil salad dressings (with whole walnuts and fruit). Could you make a video comparing the 2 on making ONE ingredient ice cream with just 4 frozen bananas, and a salad dressing video? Or at least comment on how they both perform these tasks?

    It would be GREATLY appreciated and aid my decision immensely!!!

    Kind Regards,

    J

    • Blenderdude

      JM, I can safely recommend the Vitamix for you simply based upon your expressed desire for frozen banana ice cream. Both machines will be great for soups, smoothies, and salad dressings. However, when it comes to ice creams, the Blendtec is designed to be very recipe-specific. If you are following a recipe that Blendtec designed (those in their recipe book) it will be very easy: load ingredients, press button. But if you want to create your own version of ice cream your recipe must mimic those of Blendtec’s in terms of both ingredient consistencies and their respective ratios or you will be forced to manipulate the blender yourself in order to get the results you’re after, just as you would with a Vitamix, yet without the benefit of a tamper.

      Though the recipe in my video was one I created on the fly, I knew exactly “what” and also “how much” to load into those containers to get a good result. If my ingredients consisted solely of frozen bananas I would have used the Vitamix the exact same way – by using the high speeds along with the tamper to direct the bananas into the cutting path of the blades until it was to my liking. With the Blendtec, however, I would have had to draw upon my experience manipulating the blades with a combination of starting and stopping the blender combined with manual speed adjustments in rapid succession that, honestly, are just not practical ways of using a blender for a typical user.

      The Blendtec is incredibly powerful but, as originally designed, works optimally with liquid in some form incorporated into your recipes. The Twister Jar eliminates this requirement to a large extent, but is still an added up-front expense as of now. I never discourage anybody from adding accessories to their current blender package if they really want them. But I am uncomfortable suggesting a blender package that requires an additional purchase in order to achieve everything the customer wants from his or her investment.

      • Wow, thank you so much for the prompt and honest response.

        I did not want to say but I was leaning towards the Blendtec simply because of the counter clearance and pre-set buttons. So what you are saying is that if I use frozen bananas, a little almond milk and the ice on top similar to this video i SHOULD in theory get the same result…plain banana ice cream? And I’m happy to hear about the soups and the dressings (I saw the temp was higher on the Blendtec after 2 cycles which was nice).

        Thanks again!

        JM

        • Blenderdude

          JM, you would definitely be on the right track if you added those additional ingredients, and even if it didn’t come out perfectly to your satisfaction after using the Ice Cream cycle, a little additional manual blending would do the trick. But it’s not always going to be as simple as just substituting one fruit for another and/or one cold ingredient for another. As trivial as it may sound, frozen strawberries have a slightly different texture than do frozen bananas. Also, the sugar I added definitely plays a role as a dry and therefore absorbent ingredient, much like powdered milk, protein powder, or superfoods might. This affects the blend.

          I hesitate getting caught up in culinary physics – first, because I’m no expert and second, because it sounds pretentious. But it really is the symbiosis of all your ingredients which will dictate how efficiently the Ice Cream cycle on the Blendtec will work. With a tamper or something like the Twister Jar, you bypass all the technical talk and simply combine brute force and the power of the blenders’ motors to give you what you want.

  12. Thanks so much for the comparison videos!

    The reason I would like to buy one of these products is so that I can safely make my morning smoothie. I chop a banana into 1″ slices and freeze it the night before. My recipe is one frozen banana, 1 cup of vanilla soy milk, and two teaspoons of Hershey’s baking cocoa. If the banana is ripe, it doesn’t need any additional sugar or agave. I made this for several years using a Waring blender, but one morning a portion of the blade broke off while it was mixing. Since then, I have not used frozen bananas. Would either of these products work with chopped, frozen bananas?

    Thanks again for your demos – you would be a GREAT science teacher!

    • Blenderdude

      Joanne, thanks for the kind words about the videos. Either the Blendtec or the Vitamix would easily handle these ingredients and others like them.

  13. I’m enjoying your videos on this Thanksgiving morning (2012). I think you and I have the same couch.

    I’ve had my Vitamix about a year now and use it a lot, but you’ve made me happy about it anew.

    • Blenderdude

      Sneadly, thanks for the feedback. Glad to hear you’re enjoying the Vitamix!

  14. Thanks BD for the series of comparison videos. Very helpful. Also, good job on staying impartial.

    • Blenderdude

      Hardik, thanks for the nice words about the videos. I’m glad you found them useful.

  15. Hi, I made this recipe and was left with several solidly, whole, frozen strawberries. Has this happened to you? I used the pulse then speed up buttons, still frozen. This is making me want a V.M. Help…..

    • Blenderdude

      LuLu, without knowing exactly what happened in your instance, my guess is that your strawberries were so large that the “Ice Cream/Frozen Yogurt” cycle was not long enough to fully incorporate them into the recipe. Next time, either use smaller strawberries or do some “pre-blending” of the berries to decrease their size before adding the remainder of your ingredients. If you do this, you may need to “manually” make the ice cream with the Speed Up/Down buttons instead of using the preset Ice Cream button.

  16. Yumm! Ice cream looks delicious. Hard to believe these blenders will make hot soup and this ice cream as well. Very informative videos.

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