It's hard to imagine Cinco de Mayo without a pitcher of margaritas, and the frozen drinks liven up any party. Aside from a plentiful supply of tequila, orange liqueur, lime, kosher salt, and ice, frugal hosts need a good blender to keep the cocktails flowing and the festivities humming. Cheapism.com churned through countless online reviews to find the best cheap blenders costing less than $40. These small and relatively simple kitchen appliances are multitaskers in the food prep arena -- they chop, mix, and purée -- but they really stand out when called upon to blend frozen drinks.
Budget blenders under $40
Best budget blenders under $40
Hamilton Beach 58148 Power Elite
Users warm to the power of this blender's 700-watt motor and blade with four sharp tips. An ice-crush function makes it indispensable for all manner of craft cocktails. For those who prefer flavored margaritas, such as strawberry or mango, it deftly churns up chunks of frozen fruit. Some reviewers gripe about lumpy results or a spot of leaking, but hundreds award it 4 or 5 stars. The Hamilton Beach Power Elite (starting at $28) comes with a 40-ounce glass pitcher and features 12 blending functions, as well as a pulse action that comes in handy with more solid ingredients. There's a flip-up cap on the lid for easy pouring. All removable parts are dishwasher-safe.
Oster 6694 Accurate Blend 200
The Oster Accurate Blend 200 (starting at $22) hits all the right buttons: low price, must-have features, and strong performance. This blender boasts a 700-watt motor that powers 14 speeds and a four-tip blade. According to reviewers, the Oster Accurate Blend 200 is as adept at producing purées and smoothies as it is at crushing ice. Only a handful gripe about inconsistent results or occasional leaking. The large 48-ounce glass container is designed to resist thermal shock, so it can blend frozen drinks straight out of the dishwasher. A removable cap in the lid makes add-ins a no-mess affair and measures up to 2 ounces (another shot of tequila, perhaps).
Oster 6647 Simple Blend 200
The Oster Simple Blend 200 (starting at $25) is a good buy for cocktail aficionados and smoothie lovers alike. Users report that the four-tip blade deftly smashes ice and quickly purées fruits and vegetables to a silky finish. A minority consider the model a bit top-heavy, and some report getting chunky shakes or wiping up leakage from around the lid. The 10 speeds include ice-crush and easy-clean modes, and pulsing is an added functionality. The motor hits 700 watts at peak power. The dishwasher-safe glass pitcher holds 40 ounces and a removable filler cap in the lid measures up to 2 ounces.
Ninja Master Prep QB900B
An unconventional machine, the Ninja Master Prep (starting at $30) is a cross between a traditional blender and an immersion blender. There is no base; users set a 400-watt power pod atop a 48-ounce pitcher or 16-ounce work bowl with corresponding blades, and pulse away. The Ninja Master Prep makes its mark turning out slushies and frozen party drinks, according to hundreds of reviewers who award it high ratings. It also gets credit for chopping and puréeing, and some users say it performs better than high-end blenders and food processors. The containers are BPA-free plastic, with lids for storage, and all parts except the power pod are dishwasher-safe.