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If you use your blender for more than just a once-a-year frozen margarita, it has to pass a few tests to earn a spot on your countertop. Is it powerful enough to make a velvety puree out of your chunky soup but user-friendly enough so your teenage son can whip up a protein shake? Is it goodlooking enough to leave out but light enough to pack away when you need to? As an adventurous home cook, I am not one to shy away from investment gadgets as long as they are sturdy and take my meal up a notch. The Wolf can take on most of your food processor's tasks (aside from shredding and slicing) but with more ease of use and control. Emulsify a dressing, rice some cauliflower, even whip cream. Wolf is our pick for best blender since it is as powerful as most professional models but doesn't feel or sound like a rocket about to take off from your countertop. (I actually jumped back when the Vitamix hit full throttle.) The footprint is a compact 7.5" x 9", which is on average two inches smaller than most powerhouses in the category. And aside from being extremely effective, it's really easy to use and rinse between tasks.

BUY: Wolf High-Performance Blender, $599;

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Covered in finger-proof resistant brushed stainless steel, the Wolf comes with three different knob choices, classic Wolf red (to match the company's ranges), black or brushed stainless. Plus, unlike others in the category—the Vitamix 2500 Ascent ($450) and Kitchen Aid Pro Line Series ($500)—it has responsive speed control to not over-blend your frozen drinks into a syrupy mess, a unique design for quiet blending and fits nicely into a standard-size cabinet. I blended a hot spring pea soup to a smooth puree with no mess or foamy finish. My finicky children had smoothies prepared swiftly on a busy morning. A two-piece cap includes an emulsion cup to add ingredients slowly into the blender jar for foolproof mayonnaise, dressings, and marinades. The filler cap with measurement marks is also a convenient tool for cocktails.

Wins for:Appearance, functionality, ease, and unique design

Noteworthy features:

  • 2.4 peak horse-power motor
  • Ultra-responsive variable speed
  • LCD control panel displays blending time, selected speed or program setting
  • 4 program settings: smoothie, ice crush, puree and soup
  • Unique design for quiet blending

See the rest of InStyle's 2017 Best of Tech picks here.