A top-notch blender could be your Super Bowl party MVP

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Scrambling to plan the menu for a last-minute Super Bowl party? A blender could handle a lot of the meal prep, from pre-game pass-arounds to the post-game desserts. But it has to be the right machine. In our latest report on blenders, Consumer Reports spotted several top models that should be up to the challenge. Here are three brands to consider, along with sample party menus drawn from their respective recipe books, available online.

Vitamix
Why we like it.
Vitamix is one of the premiere names in blenders. The Vitamix 5200 for $450 and the Vitamix Professional Series 750 for $650 each make our list of recommended blenders, offering exceptional pureeing and ice crushing. The 5200 performed better in our icy drinks test, though the newer 750 model is several inches shorter, allowing it to slide under most upper cabinets. Both make hot dishes, which we've included in the menu.
Sample menu
Snacks. California salsa, guacamole, cheese fondue.
Sides. Bacon cheddar potato soup, barbecued artichokes with green goddess dressing*.
Mains. BBQ beef sandwiches*, Jamaican pulled pork*, falafel*.
Drinks. Lime and mint agua fresca, cider and whiskey cocktail.
Dessert. Frozen banana foster with blender-whipped cream.
.

Blendtec
Why we like it. We recommended the Blendtec Total Blender Designer Series Wildside, $460, on the strength of its superb pureeing and ice crushing, and very respectable icy drinks. Like the Vitamix models, the Blendtec is able to whip up heated soups.
Sample menu
Snacks. Creamy spinach dip, salmon pate, guacamole.
Sides.Tortilla soup, Caesar salad, spring rolls* with cilantro chili sauce.
Mains. Sesame flax chicken*, smashed cauliflower and cheese, potato spinach cakes.
Drinks. Honey ginger-ale, whiskey sour slush, frozen mojito.
Desserts. Blueberry ice cream, mango lime pudding, raw lemon cheesecake.
.

Ninja
Why we like it. The Ninja Professional NJ600 for $100 made our winner's circle because it too excelled at producing icy drinks and smoothies, purees, and crushed ice. Unlike the Vitamix and Blendtec, it doesn't make heating claims, but there's still a lot you might try.
Sample menu
Snacks. Roasted tomato and olive bruschetta, pita chips with tangy tahini spread.
Sides. Gazpacho, potato and corn chowder*, tabouli salad, BLT salad with blue cheese dressing.
Mains. Mini crab ramekins*, baked tomatillo chicken*.
Drinks. Blended margarita, sparkling lemonade with fresh basil.
Desserts. Rocky road fudge pie, pure vanilla malts.
.

*Additional cooking required.


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