Vitamix 5200 Blender | Best Smoothie Maker
Why on earth would someone want to spend upwards of $500 (or more) on a Vitamix blender to simply make green smoothies? That’s the question I repeatedly asked myself as I began to get involved with making green smoothies for my health nearly a year ago.
I was quite content using my cheapo, single-serve blender to make my smoothies each morning, but as the months progressed and my taste began to migrate towards “eating” (drinking) more natural, whole foods, I began to research purchasing a high speed “do everything” blender for myself.
A high-speed blender is used for many more things than just making ordinary smoothies, such as whole foods soups, nut butters, hummus, all-natural, and sugar-free ice cream (yummers!). I wouldn’t suggest getting a high-speed (and expensive!) smoothie maker unless 1) you have a need to make a lot of smoothies at one time, 2) you want to add ingredients that may not blend sufficiently in lower cost, lower speed blenders, or 3) you are ready to convert your dietary habits to more natural foods as a way of life.
If any of those three match your goals or current needs, a high-speed blender, such as the Vitamix 5200 Blender, may be the perfect blender and investment (in your health) for you.
Let’s see what this “best in class” blender has to offer.
- 7 YR Warranty
- Performs functions of a juicer, smoothie maker, blender, food processor, hand mixer, ice crusher, ice cream maker, grain grinder, chopper, and coffee grinder
- 2 peak horsepower motor
- 64-oz blending container with a stainless steel hammermill and cutting wet blades processes whole foods
- Snap-on, spill-proof lid
- High-efficiency radial cooling fan with thermal protection system prevents overload and burnout
- Assembled in USA with 70% USA content
Motor / Control / Speeds
If you’re a fan of the latest whiz-bang computerized control panels, the Vitamix blender will underwhelm you. It’s simplistic design consist of two switches and one knob. Going from left to right there is a high/low switch, an infinitely variable rotary speed control, and and on/off switch.
I grew to appreciate the simplicity of the design and layout because frankly, for what I make in the Vitamix I have a pretty simple requirements for speed and duration for my blends.
I never found the need for all the fancy speed controls found on other blenders. Nor did I find myself lacking in blending anything I wanted to make using the high/low switch along with the rotary speed control. To me, it was simple and very efficient.
Need more power to blend up those dates? Flip the blender on high and crank up the speed control until the tips of those blades are spinning at nearly 240 MPH! Only need a mild blend to mix up that salad dressing, sauce, or hummus? Start on low and move the rotary switch somewhere between three and five. Done.
Speaking of speeds, the Vitamix blender can match the low-speed of a food processor if say, you want to quickly process an onion for dinner, all the way up to a mind-boggling 30,000+ blade RPM to pulverize an avocado seed if that’s what you want to do.
Why, I don’t know but I did hear of a gentleman doing just that in order to test the capabilities of his Vitamix – the seed was completely pulverized and blended into the smoothie though the overall taste contribution of doing such didn’t lend itself to doing it ever again.
Never once in well over 300 uses of my Vitamix 5200 did it ever fail to give me a perfect blend, everything from mild to wild. It’s great not having to worry about removing seeds or stems from your fruits or veggies, or having to cut everything up into small pieces in order for it to blend.
The 2 peak HP, 11.5 amp, 1380 watt motor will handle anything you can fit into the blender that you might want to drink or eat. And judging by the overall quality of this blender, I don’t think you’ll have to worry about the motor performing in that capacity for decades.
- Base – 7 1/4” wide x 9” deep
- Container (64 Oz) – 13.4” high; combined with base – 20 1/2” high
- Container (48 Oz) – 10 1/4” high; combined with base – 17 3/8” high
- Container (32 Oz) – 9.8” high; combined with base – 17” high
- Cord length – 6 feet
Container & Base Info
As with everything else pertaining to the blender, the base is of very high quality. I would guess it weighs approximately 10 or 11 pounds and is fairly large, especially when compared to something like the Blendtec. It measures 7 1/2” wide and 9” deep. Add the 64 ounce jar on top and the whole unit stands right at a hair over 20″ tall – too tall to fit under most cabinets unfortunately. The base sits on four rubber feet that are approximately 3/4″ in diameter.
These feet do an excellent job in dampening vibrations.
On the bottom of the base there is room to store the 6 foot long cord or any portion thereof. This is a nice feature in that you can only have as much cord extending as you need and the rest sits out-of-the-way underneath the unit.
The exterior the base is made of a smooth, wear resistant plastic that comes in several different color choices: white, black, red, platinum, or there’s a brushed stainless steel finish as well.
The base is very easy to clean – the only area I had trouble easily accessing was on top of the base where the rubberized mounting platform for the jar meets the plastic of the base. Again, everything is of a simplistic, no-frills design that just seems to work beautifully.
The 64 Oz jar is made of what Vitamix calls a copolyester Eastman Tritan BPA-free polycarbonate. The jar has a nice thickness to it which seems to muffle some of the sound during operation, especially when compared to other high-speed blenders. Now, I didn’t say “quiets the sound,” only “muffles” it.
The jar is of a taper design that is round and wide at the top narrowing to a square shaped bottom. There are markings on the side that go up to 68 ounces and 8 1/2 cups (metric on the other side), but you can add another 12 ounces of liquid for maximum of 80 Oz without overflowing the top of the jar. There is a single pour spout that does a good job of not dripping when used.
The same rubberized material used on the switches is also used on the handle which is very convenient if you happen to have wet hands. The top of the handle has a small indentation for your thumb which makes it easier to handle the weight of 80 ounces of your favorite smoothie beverage.
The four, 1 1/4″ long blades are stainless steel and shaped into a ‘hammermill’ design. Now honestly, I have no idea what a hammermill design blade is, but I can tell you what it does – it cuts through anything you can throw into the blender (that you’re willing to drink afterwards).
As I mentioned earlier, the blade design has no problem liquefying an avocado seed, but is equally at home doing a quick chop of that onion you need for your dinners recipe without pulverizing it.
The rubberized lid is, in my opinion, a wonderful design. There are two tabs on each side of the lid that extend over the lip of the jar and snap into place, absolutely ensuring that the contents within the jar will not spill over.
That is why, with confidence, you can fill up the jar to max capacity of 80 ounces without a worry. And since the lid is rubber, it is still easy to remove when the time comes without having to worry about sloshing the drink mix over your favorite t-shirt or party blouse.
There is an approximately 2″ x 2″ hole at the top center of the lid that allows you to add additional ingredients while the blender is blending. This opening is also where you insert the plastic tamper into the jar (more on that in a second).
Sealing the opening is a removable, copolyester stopper that serves a couple different functions. It seals the opening but also vents steam when making soups or syrups in the blender. And yes, you can make piping hot soup in about four minutes. The stopper also has 1 and 2 ounce markings should you choose to invert it and measure out your favorite ‘beverage’ prior to adding it to your smoothie.
If there’s one area of controversy with all Vitamix blenders, I believe it rests with the tamper. I debated this same issue in my mind for weeks before forking out $450 for my own Vitamix. I believe I speak for most people in saying, “Why do I have to tamp the ingredients into the blades of a $450+ blender?”
I believe there are two answers to this question. The first answer has to do with cavitation – an air pocket that forms around the spinning blade which prevent the ingredients from falling down into the jar and being chopped.
Cavitation happens with all blenders, not just the high-speed ones. The tamper allows you to push the ingredients down through this air pocket and into the blade.
The second answer lies with the design of the blade. I don’t have scientific fact to back this belief up, it comes after many months of using my Vitamix blender making hundreds and hundreds of smoothies.
The blades have one edge that is very sharp (as in knife-edge) tapering out to a flat edge on the other side. The blade is designed to cut the foods into smaller and smaller particles until they are liquefied.
Since the blades are designed to cut rather than pulverize (which is what the Blendtec does), it’s very easy for them to simply slice through whatever ingredients are at the bottom of the jar (cavitation) rather than “cut and agitate” the ingredients at the same time.
When blending a jar full of leafy greens, or a few cups of nuts into a butter, you have to tamp the ingredients into the cutting blades rather than depending on the blades pulling the ingredients into itself.
Frankly, it’s a bigger deal in the buyer’s head pre-purchase then it turns out to be once you start using the blender along with the tamper.
You add the ingredients to the jar, snap the rubber lid on, stick the tamper through the hole, turn the blender on, and start blending. I can tell you from personal experience it’s not a big deal – inconvenient at times, yes, but in no way overwhelms the overall quality and blending experience of the Vitamix.
What does tend to overwhelm the blending experience, at least for this reviewer, is the maddening taper design of the jar, along with the vertical ‘humps’ that are present along the entire height of the jar. These are present to break up the swirling action of the liquefied ingredients and force everything back through the blades.
Now keep in mind, I have no problem with the jar design when making smoothies or any other recipe that is “liquidy” and easily poured from the jar.
However, I don’t believe you buy a $500 blender to only make smoothies. I am not saying that’s a bad thing if that’s all you want to do with your Vitamix blender, but it’s capable of doing so much more to help you eat a healthier diet and have much more vitality.
If you blend anything that requires spooning or using a spatula to remove the finished product, the narrow taper of the jar combined with the large blade diameter make scooping those ingredients out of the bottom of the jar nearly impossible – you’ll probably accomplish it, but you’ll be gritting your teeth in the process. It’s also difficult to scrape ingredients off the side of the jar due to those vertical “bumps”.
I wish Vitamix would come out with a jar similar to Blendtec’s Twister Jar for those times when I need to make a few cups of hummus, ice-cream, or a nut butter. The Twister Jar is completely smooth on the inside and has a unique lid that you turn while blending which forces the ingredients down into the blades – no tamping needed.
It also comes with a spatula specially designed to fit the curves of the jar to assist in getting every last ounce of blended health out of the jar and into your belly. Nice (the spatula, not your belly – though it might be nice as well).
These frustrations aside, I do feel the benefits of the jar and lid combo outweigh the few frustrations. Everything made by Vitamix screams “quality blender” and the jar is no exception.
Use & Cleanup
I really appreciate the simplistic approach Vitamix takes to blending. Even though I’ve spent nearly 30 years as an IT engineer as well as a confessed electronic gadget junkie, for me, simpler is better when it comes to a blender.
I like being able to flip a witch to turn the blender on and then decide what speed I want to blend everything to get the perfect consistency and blend – whether I’m making my morning smoothie or a dish of ice-cream following dinner.
No wondering what computerized button to push or wondering if it will blend long enough to get all the ingredients mixed or liquified. I love my gadgets but for blending – simpler is better. Your mileage may very.
About the only thing you need to put some thought into before using this blender is what order you’re going to add the ingredients to the jar. When making a smoothie I’ll and all the green leafy vegetables first and use the tamper to blend everything into a liquid before adding my vegetables and fruits.
By the way, the tamper is designed so it will not reach the blades when using. You can tamp away without worrying about your dear mother-in-law mistaking bits of tamper for nuts in her ice-cream dessert.
I really like that the lid sits up high enough above the rim of the blender that I don’t have to worry about the ingredients splashing out when I remove the stopper to add more material. The 2 inch opening is large enough for uncut cucumbers, oranges cut in half, and quartered apples.
The jar sits rock solid on the base and given the overall weight of the unit I know it’s not going to vibrate around on the counter while running. The lid snaps onto the top of the jar so I know it won’t fly off no matter how full I fill the jar up or how quick I flip to high-speed during the blend cycle – these high-speed blenders pack an incredible amount of torque.
I’ve actually blown the lid off while using my Blendtec blender when going quickly from low-speed to high. I don’t have to worry about that with the Vitamix blender.
Another inherent side effect, if you will, of high-speed blenders is their high-noise output, and the Vitamix is no exception here. It’s loud. Not as loud as the Blendtec in my opinion, but if you plan on running this thing at 6 AM to make your breakfast smoothie while the rest of the family sleeps nearby, you better plan on having a special, hearty breakfast made when they show up with tired eyes and a cranky look on their face.
To solve this problem I actually bought an inexpensive smoothie blender that’s not nearly as loud to make my early morning smoothie and then I crank up the Vitamix after everyone is awake, or at least when I think everyone should be awake.
The base is very easy to clean and so are the switches and dial. To clean the jar and lid simply add 1 to 2 cups of water and a few drops of dish soap, snap the lid on, and blend on high for a few minutes. You want to add only enough water to cause the water to “bounce around” in the jar and lid while running on the highest speed, just as in a dishwasher.
The friction caused by the high speed will actually heat the water depending on how long you run the blender. Normally that’s all that’s required to get everything clean, although a few times I’ve had to use a sponge to finish cleaning the jar when I’ve made nut butters or had some super-glue strength honey stuck to the side of the jar.
The lid and tamper can be placed in the dishwasher but it’s not recommended to do the same with the jar. Frankly, since everything is so easy to clean there’s not much need to anything but a quick hand rinse or wash.
You will notice over time that the bottom of the jar will become cloudy on the inside. This is perfectly normal with high-speed blenders that use plastic jars and is not to be concerned about. The speed at which everything spins near the blade causes the plastic to become cloudy, especially if you grind your own grain or something like whole flax seeds.
Every so often I’ll add a few drops of bleach to the jar fill it full of water, stick the tamper down through the lid (secure with a rubber band), and give everything a good disinfecting soak. I don’t know that that’s really needed but it makes me feel better so why not do it?
There aren’t any accessories included with the Vitamix blender per se. Depending on where you buy the blender and what package you choose there may be one or more cookbooks included in the box. There was in mine and I found some great recipes to make – a whole food version of V-8 juice without all the sodium, delicious mushroom soup, and some awesome smoothie recipes to name a few.
Vitamix does sell a few versions of their container. There is a 32 ounce or a 48 ounce wet container as well as a 32 ounce dry container designed specifically for grinding grains. This container has a different blade design then the containers designed for wet ingredients.
Pros and Cons
- Powerful – will blend just about anything
- 64 Oz (80 Oz max) capacity jar with pour spout and rubberized handle
- Snap-on yet easy to remove lid – no leaks or “lid blow-off”
- Silky smooth drinks, even when blending cores, seeds & stems
- Simple to use controls
- 80 year company reputation (same blender in many bars & smoothie joints)
- Easy to clean
- Looks good – contemporary styling
- Performs many functions – grind, kneed dough, cooks soups, ice cream
- Built to last several decades
- Very Pricey
- Jar clouds up over time
- Difficult to scrape and remove non-pourable ingredients
- Must use tamper for mixing some ingredients
- Base and jar (64 Oz) combo will not fit under most cabinets