Product Review: Cuisinart SmartPower 15-Piece Compact Portable Blending/Chopping System
It is long-since established that I love to blend. I blend something pretty much every day of the week, much to poor 2Chili’s chagrin.
A few months ago, I went in search of a smaller blending solution for times when I didn’t want to get my Ninjadirty. The Ninja works best for volume, but I don’t always need a two quarts of smoothie. Some days I’m just not that hungry. Just sayin’.
When I decided I needed something for smaller blending needs, I read a lot of reviews about the Magic Bullet, the de facto blending system in most people’s minds for this type of job. While it seemed most people were pretty happy with it, a common complaint is that it doesn’t last long before it burns up.
So, I decided to try a different manufacturer’s “Magic Bullet”-like system. I settled on the Cuisinart SmartPower 15-Piece Compact Portable Blending/Chopping System because it seemed to get decent reviews on Amazon. I have always been happy with Cuisinart appliances, so figured it was worth a shot. And, at $69, it wasn’t really a huge investment. It was more than your average Magic Bullet bundle of goodies, but I reckoned maybe that would mean it would last longer than the ‘Bullet seems to.
Over the past few months, I have blended a wide array of items, from smoothies to applesauce to mashed potatoes, and have come to my conclusion about this blending system, so I thought I’d share.
My topline is this: Convenient blending for small jobs. Not really the right tool for large or dense blending jobs, including lots of frozen fruit. If you just like to whip up smoothies with soft fruits and the occasional frozen banana, this will do the trick. If you want to blend large amounts of frozen fruit, nuts, or large volumes, look elsewhere.
What comes in the box:
- One blending blade
- One chopping blade
- Four travel blending cups
- One chopping cup
- One blender jar
- A small recipe booklet
What I Like – Pros
- Convenience. If you get the balance of ingredients right, this little blender can make a very creamy and convenient smoothie in the same cup you will drink it out of (see cons for what happens if you don’t get it right).
- Options! With several to-go cups, a chopping cup, and a blender jar, you have lots and lots of options. I didn’t think I’d use the blender jar much, but have used it quite a bit in addition to the travel cups. The blender jar is close to the size of a normal blender jar.
- Very resilient BPA-free plastic. I have used the blender a ton, and all of the pieces and parts have been through the dishwasher a lot. The plastic still looks brand new.
- Cost. $69 doesn’t buy a lot in this world, and this is a full complement of blending tools for not much cash.
Really, my favorite thing about this blending system is that I can blend a smoothie in the same cup that I will drink it from – fewer dishes makes for a happy me.
What I Don’t Like – Cons
- Needs more power. In theory, 300 watts of power should be fine for a blender. Eh. Not so if you’re blending frozen fruit. I am spoiled because I can put whole frozen bananas in my Ninja blender no problem. For this blender, you have to be very careful that the items you’re blending are small enough and you have enough liquid not to clog up the blade in both the to-go cups and the larger blender jar. Once the blade is clogged you can get dangerously close to burning up the motor. It took me some time to understand the right proportions of ingredients to not risk burning up the motor when blending in the to-go cups. Basically, less is more for this blender when it comes to ingredient volume, especially frozen fruit – you need quite a lot of liquid to safely blend. Order is important too, for the travel mugs. You need to put everything in reverse so you end up with liquid near the blade when it is time to blend.
- Leakage. Okay, it’s not that bad, but the top of the blender jar has holes in it. If you clog the blades and go to shake the jar to loosen things up, you could get smoothie all over the place (and I have). This doesn’t happen with the to-go cups, though.
- Storage. With lots of options comes the need for a fairly substantial storage area for all the accoutrements that come with this blender. Maybe not the best choice for someone who is shy on cabinet space.
Will it Blend That?
|Nuts into nut butter?||Yes, in small amounts with the chopping blade – don’t go crazy, 1/2 cup nuts, tops. You don’t really need to add oil to get nut butter with the chopping blade.|
|Big chunks or lots of frozen fruit||No, the fruit has to be in small, one inch-ish chunks, and you need to add plenty of liquid|
|Apples into applesauce||Yes, with the blending blade in either the travel cup or the blender jar|
|Potatoes into mashed potatoes||Yes, with the blending blade in the blender jar, but add plenty of liquid and go with mostly pulsing to get started. This will produce very creamy potatoes, so may not be for everyone.|
|Smoothies with fresh fruit||Yes, in either the travel cup or the blender jar – be sure to use plenty of liquid and pulse to combine before blending|
|Pancake batter||Oh, yeah, you betcha. Not a problem at all in the blender jar.|
Should You Buy It?
If you have the right expectations going in, I think most people would be happy with this blending system.
Let’s be clear on said expectations: It is no Vitamix, Ninja, or Blendtec, but, it also doesn’t come with their price tags. It really is meant for small jobs.
If you blend a lot of soft things (applesauce, mashed potatoes, soft fruit smoothies), it’s a home run. It makes the creamiest smoothies that are just awesome. In fact, my favorite thing to make with it is a Faux Frosty. But, if you mostly blend frozen fruit and don’t want to use a lot of liquid, I’d consider something else.
I hope you find this review helpful if you’re considering a Magic Bullet-type blending system. And, happy blending!