The KitchenAid 5-Speed Diamond Blender is a reasonably-priced blender, especially when you consider all of the things it's capable of. With a generous, 60-ounce pitcher and elegant, vintage-looking design, the $149 KitchenAid offers high-quality performance with a wallet-friendly sticker-price. For all of its modest pricing and design, the KitchenAid would be a welcome addition to any small appliance lineup.
We reviewed seven blenders in what I've been calling the CNET Blender Bonanza. Some models cost upwards of $400 and feature higher-powered motors. I'd be lying if I told you that I began testing this product with high expectations. That's not a reflection on the KitchenAid brand. I have a KitchenAid stand mixer and love it. This lack of high expectations results from the fact that I have come to view the blender as little more than a smoothie machine and occasional frozen drink maker.
These are reasonable expectations, as frozen beverages comprise a primary category of a blender's repertoire, be they milkshakes, smoothies, or margaritas. I was worried, however, when we began to discuss our testing protocol for putting the blenders through their paces. Certainly, I expected the Vitamix (which costs more than my monthly student loan payment) to handle any food we threw at it. But the sweet looking KitchenAid? It seemed unfair to torture it with a block of cheese.
With the KitchenAid, my doubts were completely unwarranted. It performed on par with, and in some cases better than, blenders costing more than $199. It handled our tests with ease and earned our vote as an excellent blender, especially when you consider the price.
Because of its fairly rugged capabilities, the KitchenAid is an excellent option if you’re looking for a multitasking blender that can do more than make frozen drinks. If, however, you’re exclusively a frozen drink maker, don’t spend this kind of money. The $39 Hamilton Beach Smoothie Smart should be more than enough blender for you.
Design and Features
The first thing you’ll notice about the KitchenAid, at least next to other blenders, is its classic-looking design. It looks a lot like the blender my grandma had, though updated and sleeker, making it the perfect blend of vintage and modern. I really like its look. While the base is not smaller than other models, measuring seven inches wide and nine inches deep, it looks like it should leave a smaller footprint than bulkier ones. It is fairly average in terms of footprint, though it is anything but in regards to height. Measuring 17 inches at its highest point, the KitchenAid is only an inch shorter than the Ninja Ultima Blender, which looks like the bulkiest blender among the seven in this group.
As far as measurements go, however, the Ninja isn't dramatically larger. It's an inch taller, but it measures eight inches wide and nine-and-a-half inches deep, making it quite comparable in size to the KitchenAid. It goes to show that looks are deceiving sometimes, as the narrower, more rounded design of the KitchenAid blender, while not much smaller than the Ninja, gives the appliance a sleeker appearance.
The KitchenAid blender comes with a 60-ounce pitcher, which is generous and larger than the 48-ounce Breville Hemisphere Control and Hamilton Beach blenders, and comparable to the 64-ounce Vitamix 7500. Initially, we thought the KitchenAid's tall and narrow pitcher would be a hindrance. Why would more brands favor the wider, short pitcher style if it didn’t work better? It would seem, however, that if it isn’t broke, it doesn’t need to be fixed, and modern-looking isn’t always better.
The KitchenAid performed as well as, if not better, than the wider-pitchered models. I think this is due to the fact that, given how narrow the bottom of the pitcher is, the blades have more contact with food that may be stuck to the sides. In addition, because there is less room at the bottom, the blender forces food upwards. It then slides down the pitcher sides and comes in contact with the blades once more. With the cheese, for example, the blades tossed the block up to the top of the pitcher repeatedly. It fell directly onto the blades every time.
The KitchenAid's lid feels equally well-designed and, as is the standard, features both a primary lid and an inner lid that you can remove during blending to add ingredients. When the inner lid is removed, the space it leaves is large enough that you can add ingredients with ease but not so gaping that the contents of the blender will splatter easily.
I appreciate the control panel’s simplicity, but I also appreciate that its simplicity is balanced with functionality. You won’t find an LCD window or display, nor will you find a timer, but the KitchenAid offers an elegant interface that has every option you’d need in a blender, such as stir, chop, mix, puree, and liquefy buttons. The ice crush button is fairly standard for the category, but I like that the pulse option lets you choose the speed and power of the pulse, ranging from one to five. You may never use this option, but might, on the other hand, enjoy having that additional control without lots of superfluous buttons. This was particularly useful during a delicate test like making whipped cream.
For those who like to customize their lives or like color, you need look no further than this KitchenAid model, which is available in 15 colors, ranging from the traditional white, black, and stainless, to the less traditional apple green, watermelon pink, and tangerine orange. This option for customization is available to most countertop appliances in the KitchenAid brand and is a feature that definitely gives this blender an aesthetic edge.
True to the KitchenAid line, you’ll find this blender easy to use. This is due largely to its easy-to-understand control panel. The pitcher locks onto the base with a clockwise twist. This gesture isn't tricky, nor does it detract from the blender's overall usability, but I sometimes forgot about it. In the midst of testing two other blenders, one which required a different sort of locking gesture and one that required none at all, I’ll admit that I forgot to lock the pitcher in place once or twice. It was a silly mistake, but the KitchenAid pitcher doesn't look like it needs to be locked due to the design. Fortunately, this didn’t result in the geyser of pancake batter that it could have and, instead, just made a lot of noise.
Perhaps the most important element of usability for blenders involves cleaning. You are talking about an appliance with blades sharp enough to crush ice and, in some cases, grind meat. Naturally, you’re not going to be enthusiastic about needing to gingerly hand-wash every piece. Nor, however, will you want a blender with 3,000 moving parts that you will have to reassemble once they're dry. Fortunately, there are only three parts to wash as the blades are inseparable from the pitcher, leaving you to worry only about the pitcher itself, the main lid, and the inner lid or, as KitchenAid calls it, the “ingredient cup.”
I love the fact that you have cleaning options. If you don’t mind the undeniable terror that accompanies sticking your hand down into a new, sharp blender, you may hand-wash with abandon. If you prefer a more high-power, less sharp approach, you can fill the pitcher halfway with warm water and a few drops of dish soap, lock it onto the base, and press the Stir option, running the blender for about ten seconds. Rinse and let dry. Or, for those who appreciate a more hands-off approach, KitchenAid offers the option to use a dishwasher. You’ll still need to hand-wash the lid components, but I appreciate that I can place the pitcher upside down on either the top or bottom rack without worry.