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Instant Pot Ace Blender

Published February 2019

How we tested

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 (priced at about $100), 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, this model is an excellent option, truly the first of its kind.


Methodology

We used the Instant Pot Ace Multi-Use Cooking & Beverage Blender to make smoothies, crushed ice, soup, mayonnaise, almond butter, and almond milk. The blender did not come with any recipes, so we made up our own versions of carrot-ginger, asparagus, cauliflower, and tomato soups to cook entirely in the blender jar. When we discovered that this blender couldn’t successfully make almond butter, we tried the same recipe in our backup copy of the blender, and it failed similarly. We noted how easy the blender jar was to clean, handle, and use; we also evaluated how loud the machine was throughout testing, measuring its volume with a decibel meter.

RATING CRITERIA

Blending and Ice Crushing: We made fresh kale, frozen pineapple, and orange juice smoothies and crushed ice in the blender. A good blender should make completely smooth drinks, incorporating minimal air, and fluffy, white, fully pulverized crushed ice.

Soup: We evaluated how well the blender cooked and blended ingredients into soup.

Mayonnaise: By attempting to emulsify eggs and oil into mayonnaise, we evaluated the effectiveness of the blender’s lower speed and the hole in its lid, through which we added ingredients while the blender was running. An ideal blender should produce smooth, creamy mayonnaise on the first try.

Almond Butter: We tried to make almond butter in the blender; an ideal blender should produce smooth almond butter on the first try.

Almond Milk: We tried to make almond milk in the blender; an ideal blender should produce smooth, creamy almond milk on the first try.

Cleaning and Handling: We rated the blender on how easy its jar and lid were to attach and remove, how easy the jar was to pour from, and how easy it was to clean.

Controls and Operation: We rated the blender on how logical, intuitive, and easy it was to operate.

Noise Level: Noise is measured in decibels on a scale of zero to 140. We used a decibel meter to measure how loud the blender was throughout testing.

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The Results

Winner
Recommended

Design Trifecta 360 Knife Block

Admittedly expensive, this handsome block certainly seemed to live up to its billing as “the last knife block you ever have to buy.” The heaviest model in our testing, this block was ultrastable, and its durable bamboo exterior was a breeze to clean. Well-placed medium-strength magnets made it easy to attach all our knives, and a rotating base gave us quick access to them. One tiny quibble: The blade of our 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a little.

$248.64*
Recommended

Schmidt Brothers Downtown Block

This roomy block completely sheathed our entire winning knife set using just one of its two sides—and quite securely, thanks to long, medium-strength magnet bars. Heavy, with a grippy base, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard made this model extra-safe but also made it a little trickier to insert knives and to clean; the wood block itself showed some minor cosmetic scratching during use.

$141.90*

Schmidt Brothers Midtown Block

This smaller version of the Downtown Block secured all our knives nicely, though the blade of the slicing knife stuck out a bit. With a base lined with grippy material, this block was very stable. An acrylic guard afforded extra protection against contact with blades but made it a little harder to insert knives and to clean; the wood itself got a little scratched during use.

$67.99*
Recommended with Reservations

Swissmar Bamboo Magnetic Knife Block

This small, scratch-resistant model had a stable, rubber-lined base and could hold all our knives, though the blade of the 12-inch slicing knife stuck out a bit. But inch-long gaps between its small magnets made coverage uneven and forced us to find the magnetic hot spots in order to secure the knives. Its acrylic guard made it safer to use but harder to insert knives and to clean.

$49.93*
Not Recommended

Messermeister Walnut Magnet Block

This handsome block was done in by its shape—a tippy, top-heavy quarter-circle that wasn’t tall or broad enough to keep the blades of three knives from poking out. It lacked a nonslip base, and its extra-strong magnets made it unnerving to attach or remove our heavy cleaver. Finally, it got a bit scratched after extensive use.

$129.95*

Epicurean Standing Knife Rack 12"

This magnetic block sheathed all our knives completely, though with a bit of crowding. But it was hard to insert each knife without hitting the block’s decorative slats on way down, and because the block was light and narrow, it wobbled when bumped. Worse, we couldn’t take it apart, so splatters that hit the interior were there to stay. Additionally, the outside stained easily, and when we wiped it down, the unit smelled like wet dog.

$99.95*

Kapoosh Rondelle Knife Block

This model stabilized knives with a mass of stiff, spaghetti-like bristles that shed and nicked easily after extensive use, covering our knives with plastic debris. While all our knives fit securely, several of the blades stuck out, making this unit feel less safe overall. Finally, though the bristles could be removed and cleaned in the dishwasher, their nooks and crannies made this block hard to wash by hand.

$24.99*

Kuhn Rikon Vision Knife Block, Clear

This plastic block required us to aim each knife into the folds of an accordion-pleated insert that was removable for easy cleaning but got nicked easily with repeated use. Because we could only insert the knives vertically, longer knife blades stuck out; a cleaver was too wide to fit. The lightest model in our lineup, this block was dangerously top-heavy when loaded with knives.

$35.88*