Over the years, we’ve tested a lot of blenders, with quite a few of them promising to make hot soup and none keeping their promise. This is because they all relied on friction from their spinning blades to heat the food, and it wasn’t enough: They all delivered lukewarm soup at best. So we were intrigued when Instant Pot, the maker of the incredibly popular multicooker, launched the Instant Pot Ace Multi-Use Cooking & Beverage Blender ($99.00), a blender with a heating element built into the base.
To see how well it worked, we bought multiple copies and used them to make smoothies, mayonnaise, almond butter, crushed ice, and almond milk, as well as several soups that we made right in the blender jar, adding raw ingredients such as chunks of carrot, cauliflower florets, and asparagus stems.
The Ace couldn’t make almond butter; it wasn’t powerful enough. But neither can our winning inexpensive blender, which is priced similarly. However, the Ace did everything else well, most notably the soups. It has two presets. After a preheating cycle (which takes anywhere from 5 to 20 minutes, depending on the contents), one preset cooks the contents of the jar for 20 minutes before blending them into a chunky soup; the second preset cooks the jar’s contents for 22 minutes and 44 seconds before vigorously blending them into a smooth soup. The soups were all piping hot and easy to make.
The blender jar is glass, which is a plus for those avoiding plastic but a downside for maneuverability: At 5.5 pounds, it was heavy to pour from. Also, you can’t submerge the jar in water because its electronics are located in the base, which makes cleaning a bit cumbersome. The recommended cleaning method is blending soap and water in the jar, but this doesn’t get the top clean, so you have to finish washing it by hand, taking care to keep the base dry.
For these reasons, we think that if you’re looking for a blender only to make smoothies, mixed drinks, and other typical blender recipes, we have better models to recommend to you. But if you’re interested in cooking in your blender, the Instant Pot Blender is an excellent option, truly the first of its kind.