Instant Pot Ace Blender
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.
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.
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.