The Ninja Professional Blender looks cool, feels solid, isn’t too loud, and has a short but sweet range of speeds. It’s easy to clean, and you can toss the pitcher components in the dishwasher.
The lid design makes using the Ninja a little clumsy, and the cord's too short.
The Ninja does an adequate job with simple tasks like blending drinks. It looks cool, but for less cash you could get a basic blender that performs the same or better.
The manufacturer, Massachusetts-based Euro-Pro, has made a specialty of marketing midrange housewares and small kitchen appliances under various names (Bravetti, Shark), positioned as gadgets with stepped-up design and performance. The Ninja has been marketed on TV, infomercial style, and the cool-looking packaging has the brash look and bold call-outs we'd expect.
Stainless-steel blades sprout from the bottom and near the top of the tall blade assembly tower, so instead of all the action happening at the bottom of the pitcher, puréeing and pulverizing can theoretically happen at dual shred points. There’s a large, 72-ounce pitcher made of BPA-free SAN plastic; it's not recommended for foods hotter than 180 degrees Fahrenheit. The cord is a short two feet, and there’s a stuff box in the base. The 1,000-watt motor is relatively powerful, with four options: a pulse setting and three speeds, labeled simply 1 through 3. The control pad is flat for easy cleanup. The pitcher locks into the base, and the rather complicated-looking square lid locks into the pitcher, with a handle that has to be secure before the motor turns on—understandable as a safety feature, considering the ferociousness of the multitier blade assembly. You don’t want to be able to stick your fingers into the machine. There’s a relatively small pour spout situated off-center, at one of the lid’s corners. You can clean the pitcher, the lid, and the blade assembly in the dishwasher.
The Ninja’s instruction manual comes with recipes covering a pretty wide range of tasks. We chose five for testing: chopping vegetables for pico de gallo salsa; crushing ice; chopping almonds; grinding Parmesan; and making a frozen pineapple daiquiri.
Pico de gallo salsa: The instruction manual’s salsa recipe says to pulse large pieces of fruits and vegetables three to four times, and shows a picture of beautifully diced mango and tomatoes. For our pico de gallo, we dropped in half a quartered onion, four Roma tomatoes (each cut into eight pieces), two quartered serrano chiles, and a few cilantro sprigs, then pulsed six times. The results were uneven: some parts slushy and puréed, others still in big hunks. We scraped down the jar and gave it six more pulses. The results were foamy, pink, and slushy, more like soup than salsa. Score: F.
Crushed ice: The instruction manual says to use speed 2 for crushing ice. We dumped 6 cups of cubes into the pitcher, turned it on at speed 2, and let it run for 15 seconds. The result: fluffy drifts of crushed ice. Score: A.
Chopped almonds: We dumped a cup of whole almonds into the jar and, following the instructions in the manual, turned it on at speed 2. After 10 seconds the nuts were a pretty even medium-fine chop—perfect for a crumble topping or to decorate the sides of an iced carrot cake. After another 30 seconds at speed 2, the almonds were a nice, fine meal, just right for a nut torte or to mix into muffin batter. Score: A.
Ground Parmesan: Our Parmesan started out as 2-inch hunks in the blender jar. We closed the lid and turned it on at speed 2. The Ninja seemed a bit unstable—we felt like we had to keep our hand on top of the lid to steady the machine so it wouldn’t wobble off the counter. After 20 seconds, we had a medium-coarse grind; after another 45, it was medium fine—good for topping gratins or melting into sauces, though perhaps too grainy to sprinkle over pasta at the table. Score: B-.
Frozen daiquiris: The ultimate test of any blender—can it make a good frozen drink? We loaded the pitcher with frozen pineapple chunks, ice cubes, rum, simple syrup, and lime juice and turned it on at the Ninja’s highest speed, 3. After nearly 30 seconds, we still saw chunks of ice being hoisted up the blade assembly tower. Our standard KitchenAid blender turned the same ingredients into a perfectly slushy drink in 30 seconds, but the Ninja still had clunkers lurking here and there. We gave it another 30 seconds, and there were still small ice chunks. Finally, after 2 minutes of blending at speed 3, the daiquiri was slushy and relatively smooth, with lingering mini ice shards. Score: C+.
Photos by Chris Rochelle