The 40 Best Kitchen-Related Stocking Stuffers for the Cooks in Your Life

Including a small, colorful thermometer, some good tea (and a great tea steeper), and a mighty mini whisk.

A closeup look at some vegetable peelers on a grey surface
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

The holiday season is upon us. From baking seasonal desserts to spending extra time with friends and family, there are some things we come to expect as the end of the year approaches. One thing we especially look forward to? Opening our stockings.

No matter what age we are, it is always exciting to unveil the small, sweet items picked out for us. And if you are the one doing the stocking stuffing, here are our top favorite kitchen-related stocking stuffers for the cooks in your life. 

We’d bet you have a few tea drinkers on your holiday gift list. Whether they are just testing the (hot) waters of loose leaf or already have an impressive collection of tea-infusing vessels, we recommend gifting them our top ball tea infuser by Norpro. It is easy to load and clean and rarely lets even a tiny bit of tea dust escape. We love the cute miniature teapot on the end of the chain, too.

Price at time of publish: $7.

a ball tea infuser steeping tea in a glass mug
Serious Eats / Abigail Clarkin

An excellent wine opener is a must in many of our kitchens. This classic Trudeau opener does the job quickly and efficiently, has a grippy handle, and we love that it is small enough to fit in a drawer at home or to tuck into a picnic basket before heading out of the house. Pair it with an amazing wine subscription, and you’ll definitely be in your giftee’s good graces. 

Price at time of publish: $13. 

Carrots, potatoes, apples…fruits and veggies will not just peel themselves, so let this sleek, easy-to-grip vegetable peeler make the activity much easier. Plus, it comes in many colors, and is ultra-small and light—the perfect stocking stuffer! 

Price at time of publish: $8. 

A green y-peeler on a green cutting board surrounded by potato skins and a peeled potato to the side of it
Serious Eats / Amanda Suarez

Meat–we could not help ourselves–one of our favorite thermometers, the ThermoPop 2. It's quick, accurate, and easy to use. Plus, it’s only $35.

Price at time of publish: $35.

There’s just something so satisfying about using tiny tools in the kitchen (when they’re efficient, of course). The OXO Mini Angled Measuring Cup is not only adorable, but also useful for a plethora of things, including measuring small amounts of liquids (for cocktails and vinaigrettes), skimming the top off of simmering dishes, taking up less space in the dishwasher, and so many other tasks.

Price at time of publish: $6. 

It is no secret we are fans of space savers in the kitchen, so we absolutely love this small but super handy whisk. Mix that personal batch of pancakes, beat an egg or two, or tackle any other recipe that does not require the use of a cumbersome, full-sized whisk.

Price at time of publish: $11. 

Dessert is important. So, of course, we think people deserve a dessert tool all year round: an ice cream scoop. We love this lightweight, round-scooping utensil from Zerrol, which creates beautiful curls of ice cream with ease.

Price at time of publish: $24.

a person using an ice cream scoop to scoop pistachio ice cream
Serious Eats / Will Dickey

There is nothing quite like topping a slice of radish toast with a sprinkle of flakey salt. Though we think the larger 3.1-pound tub makes a great gift, it won't quite fit in a stocking.

Price at time of publish: $7. 

Is any stocking stuffer list truly complete if it does not include candy? This creamy, decadent, caramelized white chocolate bar is one of our top choices.

Price at time of publish: $19. 

Nielsen-Massey’s pure Mexican vanilla is one of our favorites. It's rich and flavorful, and a great gift for an avid baker. 

Price at time of publish: $27. 

Tinned fish has had quite a comeback in recent years. We recommend grabbing this delightful trio of smoked rainbow trout, Atlantic salmon, and albacore tuna in all their sweet and salty glory. Each tin’s contents make a fantastic snack, and we think the art on the tin wrappers is cute, too.

Price at time of publish: $33. 

fishwife tinned fish open can of smoked salmon with lemon wedge and bread
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

For those who just want a glass or two of wine without committing to an entire bottle in one go, the Vacu Vin wine stopper does an excellent job of preserving wine in a bottle that's already opened. Simply use the handy vacuum pump to remove all the air from within the bottle and secure it with a rubber stopper that can be used time and time again.

Price at time of publish: $11.

overhead view of vacu vin wine stoppers with one stopper in a bottle of wine
Serious Eats/Irvin Lin

We highly recommend this julep strainer for all those cocktail crafters in your life. It's simple, easy to handle, and fits well on a variety of mixing vessels.

Price at time of publish: $14.

Wrap this stocking stuffer well for those oyster slurpers in your life. (We know you have those who cannot resist those salty bivalves.) While there are many excellent oyster knives to choose from, this one is great for its affordability, grip, and ability to handle every oyster thrown its way.

Price at time of publish: $11. 

oxo oyster knife on a folded towel with shucked oyster
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

For those who love the earthy, slightly bitter flavor of matcha tea–or those who prefer a caffeinated alternative to coffee–a tin of this bright blend is a real treat.

Price at time of publish: $13. 

Whether scraping the sides of the blender or scrambling eggs, a spatula is an irreplaceable tool in every kitchen. This colorful version from OXO is not only incredibly easy to maneuver, but it can also withstand up to 600°F—perfect for stirring a pot of hot, spiced cider, no?

Price at time of publish: $11. 

Aesthetically pleasing storage is a fun, functional way to decorate a kitchen. When it comes to a classic ingredient like salt, look no further than a bamboo salt cellar (also known as a salt pig) to keep salt clean, within reach, and looking pretty.

Price at time of publish: $10. 

Sometimes one set of measuring spoons just is not enough. But if there can be only one set, these shiny, rectangular spoons are great at reaching into the nooks and crannies of spice jars.

Price at time of publish: $21. 

There is nothing quite like sipping a warm mug of tea while the morning light streams through the windows. Some of us cannot begin a day without a cuppa, and Teapig’s Earl Grey makes that easy. Each flavorful sachet brews a rich, strong cup of tea with all the bergamot we dream of.     

Price at time of publish: $14. 

Wooden spoons have a multitude of perks, including sporting handles that don’t get hot and being gentle on a variety of pot and pan surfaces. Who also does not just love the rustic, classic look of wooden utensils? This “spootle” is one of our favorites, and it is excellent for scraping, scooping, and stirring.

Price at time of publish: $28. 

a wooden spoon with an angled head on a white marble backdrop
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

Some kitchen items are always worth the splurge, and quality spices especially can change the flavor profile of any dish. The cooks in your life will likely appreciate a fresh store of cardamom seeds in their stockings.

Price at time of publish: $17. 

Next time a recipe calls for fresh lemon juice, there’s no need to look around at random kitchen items to be used as a stand-in juicer (we have gotten pretty desperate before). Instead, this top-performing, brightly colored handheld citrus reamer is easy to store and easy to use.

Price at time of publish: $12. 

Move aside Nutella, peanut butter, or even avocado: whipped honey is a delicious spread for sweetening any type of toast. This type of honey is crystallized so it is sweet, thick, and easily spreadable. Savannah Bee Company has a plethora of flavor options, but we are partial to the original flavor.

Price at time of publish: $8. 

Keep those hands, as well as the countertop, protected while taking dishes in and out of the oven. This durable suede pot holder is one of our top picks for its insulation (it can withstand temperatures up to 500°F); soft feel; and, of course, its classy appearance.

Price at time of publish: $34. 

Hot sauce is in style all year long. Give this sweet, spicy, and slightly smoky hot sauce a try, as recommended by Kenji.

Price at time of publish: $13.

This chocolate bar is perfect for splitting between dark chocolate and milk chocolate lovers. Sweetened with coconut sugar rather than cane sugar, the simplicity of its ingredients does not take away from the complexity and richness of its flavor.

Price at time of publish: $5. 

Who couldn’t use a few more dishcloths around the kitchen? These reusable and compostable Swedish dishcloths are a fantastic alternative to traditional sponges and paper towels. Plus, we love the brightness they add to our cooking space.

Price at time of publish: $16. 

Anyone who makes lattes at home can benefit from having a reliable milk frother. Our favorite handheld frother is lightweight, easy to store, and has two speed settings that set up the user for success when making both hot and cold drinks. It’s also great for making matcha lattes and London Fogs, if your giftee isn’t into coffee as much. 

Price at time of publish: $25. 

The Golde whisk standing up vertically with its cap off on a marble countertop
Serious Eats / Russell Kilgore

Not every recipe calls for the use of our grandmother’s hefty heirloom rolling pin (no offense, Grandma, we love you). When we are crafting something delicate, such as individual mini pie crusts, we like to use this smaller wooden rolling pin. It is also easy to store if there is limited kitchen space.

Price at time of publish: $8. 

While instant coffee might bring back memories of watery, burnt-tasting brews, our resident coffee expert, Jesse Raub, has vetted this modern iteration. In our tasting, he noted it had “a clean finish with flavors reminiscent of caramel, brown sugar, and pear,” and he thinks it’s a well-rounded option for most coffee drinkers. This would also be a great gift for the avid camper who likes to wake up campside with a cup of Joe.

Price at time of publish: $12.

a box of Intelligentsia's House Blend instant coffee
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

Paring knives are great for small-scale kitchen tasks, like coring and cutting strawberries or supreming citrus. And these affordable ones from Victorinox make a great stocking stuffer for anyone who likes to cook (or who has been whittling away at ingredients with a dull knife for too long).

Price at time of publish: $15.

This cute wine tumbler keeps chilled wine, well, chilled, and also features a slider lid to prevent bugs from getting in and wine from getting out. It kept wine cold for four hours in our testing and is durable enough for oopsy-daisies.

Price at time of publish: $25.

a blue wine tumbler on a marble surface
Serious Eats / Eric King

Maybe you have a friend or family member who likes to indulge—you know, a nice bottle of bubbly, some oysters, perhaps a spa visit? Well, you can add to their lush inclinations with a tin of caviar stuffed into their stocking (with an ice pack), maybe with a pearl spoon for serving to round out the gift.

Price at time of publish: $180.

This is a FANTASTIC gift for a coffee lover, especially one who travels frequently and complains all too often about mediocre hotel coffee. The Aeropress is light and compact, and brews a mean cup of Joe (and espresso!).

Price at time of publish: $40.

The Aeropress with Fellow Prismo Attachment mid-brew
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

This backpacking stove weighs a mere seven ounces (that's less than your average avocado) and folds up to be smaller than a deck of cards. But don't let its tiny specs fool you—it's a powerhouse, boiling water in a mere two minutes. This set comes with a pot (fuel is not provided), and maybe throw in a packet of truly good backpacking food for good measure.

Price at time of publish: $145.

Stash stove folded up on grass
Serious Eats / Grace Kelly

While they might poke out from the top of a stocking, these tongs are truly a wonderful stocking stuffer (Serious Eats staffers swear by them and their 16-inch sibling). They grip assuredly, unlock and lock readily, and really act like an extension of your hand.

Price at time of publish: $16.

These small but mighty sheet pans are great for food prep, cooking up a small batch of sides, holding kitchen tools, and salting meat. Plus, at $6 a pop, you could "splurge" and get yourself a few, too.

Price at time of publish: $6.

A tiny strainer might seem akin in utility to an apple corer or tortilla warmer, but trust us—they're mighty useful. It's great for double-straining cocktails, catching citrus pulp, or even tapping small amounts of cocoa powder on desserts.

Price at time of publish: $23.

Maybe your giftee likes making dainty hand pies, or perhaps they are renowned for their shellacked, shiny barbecue chicken legs—either way, a pastry/basting brush is a handy tool to have in your pocket (er, stocking?).

Price at time of publish: $8.

If your giftee is getting into sourdough (when they've named their starter, you know they're in deep), consider bequeathing them a pretty bread lame to score their loaves. Not only is the handle on this one from Breadtopia shaped like a baguette (cute!), but it was actually nice to grip and let us get precise with our cuts and slashes in our review.

Price at time of publish: $13.

A loaf of bread dough rests on a cutting board next to a bread lame and the bottom of a cast iron pan.
Serious Eats / Jesse Raub

FAQs

What are some ideas for cooking stocking stuffers?

For those people who cannot get enough of creating masterpieces in the kitchen, we recommend some small tools that will make their lives easier. Some of our favorites are the Kuhn Rikon Original Swiss Peeler, Sur La Table Spice Measuring Spoons, and Jonathan’s Spoons Spootle. Adding flavor with special ingredients is also always a good idea. Order Maldon Sea Salt Flakes, or splurge a little bit on Nielsen-Massey Mexican Pure Vanilla Extract.

How much should you spend on a stocking stuffer?

Stocking stuffers are a wonderful way to share small gifts or simply ease into gift-giving during the holidays, so we don’t recommend breaking the bank. A range of products that cost between $5 and $20 is a great idea. And perhaps an extra special item above the $20 range, if you’re feeling fancy.

Why We're the Experts

We Tested Tea Infusers–These Four Stood Out

After testing 10 tea infusers, we have top picks for both ball tea infusers and basket tea infusers.

a number of tea infusers on a blue surface
Serious Eats / Abigail Clarkin

For tea drinkers, a morning feels incomplete without a steaming cuppa. And as dedicated tea people know, loose-leaf tea is where it’s at. But, for that, a tea infuser is needed.

For those new to the tea world, tea infusers are a great way to save waste (by avoiding single-use tea bags) and unlock tea’s fuller flavor. Individual tea bags can actually hinder tea extraction. According to The Spruce Eats, steeping loose-leaf tea allows “room for tea leaves to absorb water and expand as they infuse. This allows the water to flow through the leaves and extract a wide range of vitamins, minerals, flavors, and aromas from the leaves.”

So, to find the best tea infusers, we tested 10 of them—priced between $7 and $31. 

The Winners, at a Glance

Out of the ball tea infusers we tested, we found that the Norpro was the easiest to load, remove, and clean. This stood true for fine leaf, whole leaf, and flower bud teas. The small clasp ensured that the infuser stayed closed during steeping, and the chain—attached to an adorable mini teapot weight—made retrieval easy.

The Fenshine proved an excellent choice when it came to basket tea infusers. From fine-leaf tea to flower bud tea, each tea type was easy to load into this particular infuser. With each test, we found that no leaves made it through the infuser and into the hot water. The handy rubber and stainless steel cap doubled as both a top and a small dish for the infuser after steeping.

For those looking for a larger basket infuser, the Finum was a great option. The depth of the infuser was excellent for making multiple servings of tea, as well as for fitting an entire flower bud with room to spare. Nothing got past this infuser’s mesh (we couldn't say this for all the models we tested.)

During testing, we were very pleased with how this dainty infuser from OXO handled fine leaf, whole leaf, and flower bud teas. From loading to steeping to cleaning, this infuser was excellent from start to finish.

The Tests

  • Fine-Leaf Tea Test: In order to see how the strainers handled fine-leaf tea, we steeped one to two servings (depending on the height of the infuser) of fine-leaf tea in each infuser. We paid careful attention to if any of the leaves fell through the holes.
  • Larger Whole-Leaf Tea Test: We used larger-leaf tea to test each infuser’s usability and performance. We noted if any leaves escaped the infusers.
  • Flower Bud Tea Test: We loaded a dried flower bud into each infuser and then noted how the buds expanded and if they fell apart during the removal process. 
  • Usability and Cleanup Tests: Throughout testing, we evaluated how easy the infusers were to load, unload, and clean. 

What We Learned

We Tested Two Types of Tea Infusers

a ball tea infuser steeping tea in a glass mug
Serious Eats / Abigail Clarkin

The 10 infusers we tested fell into two camps: ball and basket infusers. Ball infusers were great for single servings of tea. These small, orb infusers were comprised of two mesh or stainless steel halves (with tiny holes for straining) and were hinged in the middle. Sometimes a clasp held each half closed, while other models required a twisting or pinching motion to shut them. During steeping, the infusers rested on the bottom of the mugs. When it was time to remove them, we pulled a long handle or chain to tug the infusers back up to the surface.

Then, there were the basket infusers: great for anyone looking to steep more than a single serving of tea. These were cylindrical and open at the top. Loading simply required setting the infuser on the lip of the mug and then dropping the appropriate amount of tea leaves inside. Their lids also doubled as small dishes to rest the infusers on after use. Like the ball infusers, the basket models we tested were made from mesh and plastic or stainless steel, with small holes for filtration.

Some Tea Infusers Struggled, Especially with Fine Loose-Leaf Tea

It’s always great when something meets the basic requirements of its job description. And, happily, nearly all the infusers contained tea leaves well. We were especially pleased with the performances of some of the cylindrical basket infusers, such as the Fenshine and Finum. Both of these infusers passed our fine loose leaf, whole loose leaf, and flower bud tea tests with flying colors.

A few of the other infusers struggled. The Teabloom Universal Glass Tea Infuser leaked leaves with every single test. (Had we wanted to watch pretty petals swirl gently in a glass vessel, we would have purchased a tea-themed snow globe.) Each of the ball tea infusers had shortcomings too, specifically when handling fine loose-leaf tea. While the Norpro Stainless Steel Mesh Tea Infuser Ball was one of our overall top picks, even this model leaked, thought it was one singular, fine leaf.

Certain Infusers Were Easier to Load Than Others

a hand opening a tea infuser
Serious Eats / Abigail Clarkin

Out of all the basket and ball tea infusers we tested, we found the basket models were much easier to load. All you had to do was drop the tea into the infuser's open top, then set it on a mug.

Ball tea infusers, though, required a bit more work. For example, we had to add tea leaves and then twist the handle of The OXO BREW Twisting Tea Ball Infuser to close it. There was also the Jexcull Snap Ball Tea Strainer that relied, annoyingly, on squeezing both of the infuser’s stainless steel arms together to split the mesh orb in two. Much tougher!

When It Came to Basket Infusers, Size and Length Were Important

an overhead look at a basket tea infuser breaking tea in a glass mug
Serious Eats / Abigail Clarkin

Since we removed each infuser at the end of every test, it quickly became apparent which basket infusers had superior handles. The best options had plastic and rubber handles (these stayed cool!) or ones that extended beyond the diameter of the mug. The Fenshine, FORLIFE, and OXO basket handle lengths all excelled here: we could easily pick them up and out of the mug.

The Teabloom had no handles at all, and we admit some strong language escaped us when we removed the hot glass infuser. With its stubby, small handles, the Vahdam Classic Tea Infuser was hard to pick up, as its handles got coated with condensation after brewing.

Cleaning the Infusers Was (Mostly) Easy

Giving the infusers a quick rinse with hot, soapy water immediately after use removed most of the debris. But while cleaning, we did run into some issues. The Teabloom, for example, flaunted a few tiny slits in the glass for filtration. These slits were more of a hindrance than a help, though, since multiple leaves became stuck inside the narrow passageways and were tough to remove.

The Criteria: What to Look for In a Tea Infuser

an overhead look at a mug of tea with a tea infuser in it
Serious Eats / Abigail Clarkin

During testing, we carefully considered each tea infuser’s performance, usability, and cleanup. The best infusers retained almost all tea leaves. Our top picks were also very easy to handle. We looked for minimal spilling when loading tea leaves, handles that did not gather too much heat or condensation (which could lead to burnt fingers), and mesh that did not trap leaves during cleanup.

What we liked: The Norpro was one the easiest ball tea infusers to use. While others required spinning or pinching to open and close the two halves of their orbs, the Norpro consisted of two simply designed but generously sized halves connected by a hinge and closed with a clasp. We really liked the size of this infuser; there was even room for a flower bud to completely unfurl within its confines. Only during our fine tea leaf testing did we notice a small singular leaf escaped it. Unloading this particular infuser was also very easy. We were pleased with the chain that connected the infuser and the adorable mini teapot weight. The chain meant we didn’t have to fish out the infuser after steeping, and the weight ensured that the chain didn't go completely overboard. We’d recommend this infuser for those looking to make a single serving of tea.

What we didn’t like: While we were very pleased, overall, with the Norpro infuser, we did wish that the chain had just a little bit more length. We conducted our testing using a 20-ounce mug, and there was very little give to the chain as it extended down the outside of the cup. This meant the infuser was not resting at the bottom of the mug.

Price at time of publish: $6.

Key Specs

  • Materials: Stainless steel
  • Includes: Infuser
  • Care instructions: Dishwasher-safe
a mug of tea with a tea strainer in it set on a blue countertop
Serious Eats / Abigail Clarkin

What we liked: Loading and unloading the Fenshine was effortless thanks to the two thin stainless steel arms that extended away from the basket itself. The arms stayed cool and dry during steeping since they reached over the edge of the mug and away from any steam. This made removing the infuser from the mug especially easy. The Fenshine also came with a lovely rubber and stainless steel cap that acted as both a lid—it snapped easily into place—and a small dish that the infuser could be placed on top of after steeping. Cleanup was very easy as well. And for those who want to travel with a tea infuser on hand, the Fenshine was one of the smallest, most compact basket infusers we tested and had adjustable handles. (The basket did have room for more than one serving of tea, though.)

What we didn’t like: The slight unsteadiness of the Fenshine was our sole disappointment. The rounded, stainless steel arms did not have any grip on the lip of the mug where it rested. This meant that when we picked up the mug to move it, the infuser did shift from side-to-side (but its contents didn't spill into the water).

Price at time of publish: $9.

Key Specs

  • Materials: Stainless steel and rubber
  • Includes: Infuser and lid
  • Care instructions: Dishwasher-safe
a look at a tea strainer set on a mug of tea
Serious Eats / Abigail Clarkin

What we liked: The Finum was one of the largest infusers we tested (though it should be noted it is sold in a smaller size as well). It handled teas of various sizes well. After steeping fine leaf, whole loose leaf, and flower bud teas, not even the tiniest bit of tea escaped. The entire infuser was quite lightweight, including the lid, and easy to load and unload. The small plastic handles were unaffected by condensation and heat, so removal was painless.

What we didn’t like: When cleaning the Finum, we ran into multiple difficulties. While the depth of the infuser was a plus for capacity, the infuser’s narrowness at the bottom of the vessel meant that reaching it was a challenge. We had to stick our entire hand into the infuser to remove any leaves that were stuck. That said, if you turn it over and give it a rinse with your sink's spray attachment, that should do the trick. We also wish that the lid snapped on a bit more snugly.

Price at time of publish: $13.

Key Specs

  • Materials: Stainless steel and BPA-free material
  • Includes: Infuser and lid
  • Care instructions: Dishwasher-safe

What we liked: We were very pleased to test so many worthy, competitive basket infusers, including the OXO. Loading was very easy since the OXO was cylindrical and did not leave too much room for tea leaves to spill over the side while filling. Unloading was also easy. The infuser’s arms extended beyond the lip of the mug so we did not have to deal with any hot, condensation-flecked stainless steel when removing. We also liked that two out of three of the tests—the whole leaf and flower bud tea—resulted in zero tea leaves escaping the infuser.

What we didn’t like: While the OXO performed very well overall, a few specks of fine tea leaves did indeed make it past the infuser. We also wish that the handles were adjustable (like the Fenshine) so that storing the infuser did not take up as much space.

Price at time of publish: $15.

Key Specs

  • Materials: Stainless steel and silicone
  • Includes: Infuser and lid
  • Care instructions: Dishwasher-safe
a number of tea strainers on a blue surface
Serious Eats / Abigail Clarkin

The Competition

  • OXT 3 Pcs Tea Infuser: For anyone looking for a bargain, this set of three identical infusers might prove tempting! But we did not love the infuser’s clasp (it was stubborn to close) and a few leaves escaped during steeping.
  • Teabloom Universal Glass Tea Infuser: We really liked the appearance of the Teabloom infuser, but it proved very inconvenient (and damp) to remove from the mug. Pieces of leaves repeatedly got stuck in the filtration slits during cleaning.
  • Vadham Classic Tea Infuser: Unfortunately, we were not fans of the Vadham’s tippiness. It was also challenging to clean since leaves got stuck in the infuser’s filtration pores.
  • OXO BREW Twisting Tea Ball Infuser: While we didn't mind the cool twist-to-open feature of this ball infuser, the number of leaves that escaped during steeping made it not worth it.
  • Jexcull Snap Ball Tea Strainer: When measuring out tea, we definitely prefer to avoid a mess. The Jexcull made this difficult since we had to squeeze both handles together in order to open and load the infuser.
  • FORLIFE Brew-in-Mug Extra-Fine Tea Infuser with Lid: Although the FORLIFE was definitely in the running as one of our favorites, a few leaves escaped during steeping and it was a bit of a hassle to clean.

FAQs

How do you use a tea infuser?

Ball tea infusers can be loaded with a serving size of tea leaves, snapped shut, and then submerged in hot water. For basket tea infusers, loose leaf tea leaves can be measured out directly into the basket and then hot water can be poured over the basket. Over time, the leaves will unfurl and the tea leaf flavors and qualities will steep into the water.

Can you use a tea infuser for coffee?

Only a few of the tea infusers we tested also doubled as brewing baskets for coffee. We found that those that were cylindrical and had a tight mesh were sometimes advertised as able to filter both tea and coffee. While this may work fine in a pinch, we recommend just investing in a pourover coffee maker.

How does a tea infuser work?

Tea infusers are usually small, reusable stainless steel strainers, or mesh baskets. Users can spoon loose-leaf tea directly into the infusers, pour hot water over the leaves, and then wait for the tea to steep. These infusers ensure that little to no tea leaves end up in the final cup, while also allowing the tea leaves to fully unfurl and infuse their flavors.

The Best Personal Blenders for Smoothies, According to our Tests

We blitzed and blended smoothies and milkshakes to find the best personal blenders—ones that performed well and were easy to use.

five personal blenders on a countertop with white tile background
Serious Eats / Abigail Clarkin

In many households (including mine) the day begins with the sound of a blender running. Someone is making their colorful breakfast smoothie before rushing out the door to work, or chugging their drink quickly before departing. 

Thankfully, when it comes to blending up a smoothie for one, the days of painstakingly attaching blades, rubber gaskets, and various bits and bobs to a full-sized blender are over. Instead of breaking out the big blender, now you can use a smaller, simpler personal blender. 

In order to find the best personal blender options (we excluded portable blenders from the lineup) we dove into testing some of the internet’s favorite and most highly-rated machines. We conducted tests to examine each blender’s power, usability, and durability and how easy they were to clean. Of the 9 we tested, two quickly distanced themselves from the pack.

The Winners, at a Glance

This personal blender was not only aesthetically pleasing, it was also easy to use, blended silky smooth smoothies, and was effortless to clean. 

This blender’s power, speed, and whopping 32-ounce capacity impressed us immediately. This is a great option for those in a rush since it blends smoothies in a mere 20 seconds.

The Tests

bananas, frozen mango, and kale in a blender jar with blender and orange juice in the background.
Serious Eats / Abigail Clarkin
  • Blend Kale and Mango Smoothies Test: We blended a combination of raw kale, frozen mango, orange juice, and fresh banana in each blender to see how they handled fibrous and frozen ingredients.
  • Ease of Use and Cleaning Tests: While testing, we considered how easy the blender was to set up and use, how it performed during blending, what the final smoothie’s consistency was, and if the blender was complicated to clean.
  • Blend Ice and Water Test: To test the durability of some of the machines (except those that explicitly warned against crushing ice), we combined water and ice cubes and attempted to use each blender to create a slush mixture.
  • Blend Milkshakes Test (Winners-Only): We tested our top picks by blending a hardy mixture of ice cream, ice, and milk. During testing, we paid close attention to ease of use, the consistency of the milkshake, and whether cleaning was a challenge.

What is a Personal Blender?

Personal blenders are often designed for one to two servings and include streamlined settings and instructions. Their control panels are often made up of one to three buttons or knobs, rather than a fleet of options. The blender usually consists of a blending cup, an extractor blade that attaches directly to the cup, and a motor base. Since there is no lid, ingredients are all added ahead of time—once the blender is running, there isn't opportunity to add anything else mid-blend. A handful of personal blenders have automated, timed settings for smoothies, while others rely on the user’s discretion.

What We Learned

Automated Blending Settings Did Not Necessarily Make Blending Easier

a closeup image of the Ninja's auto iq menu and other buttons
Some automated settings performed well, but we also liked having the option of manual settings, too.Serious Eats / Abigail Clarkin

There’s something to be said for convenience, especially when preparing food. When we started testing, we were curious to see if the personal blenders with automated blending settings stood out against the manual-controlled ones. Would we be able to turn on the machine and let it run without paying too much attention? Would the finished product (smoothie, milkshake, etc) be flawlessly blended? The answer was a little more complicated.

Out of the full lineup, three of the personal blenders had automatic settings: the Ninja BN401 Nutri Pro Compact Personal Blender, ZWILLING Enfinigy Personal Blender, and Nutribullet RX.
Typically, each automated blending setting ran for a set amount of time, and during the cycle, the machine would stop and start at certain junctures (we think this was in order to allow for ingredients to settle back down near the blade). Of the three with this feature, only the Zwilling stood out. The Zwilling’s automated blending setting lasted for 40 seconds and resulted in a creamy, well-mixed final product. We also liked that it had an easy-to-use interface with simple options (on/off, pulse, and smoothie), if we didn’t want to go the automatic route. 

On the other hand, the Ninja’s automated setting lasted longer, clocking in at 50 seconds. The setting had allotted stop and start times, during which the ingredients were able to settle and shift so they could catch on the blade during the next rotation. However, it was very, very loud (like our parents at punk concerts, we spent the entire cycle reflecting on the merits of earplugs.) And, when the cycle ended, there was still a chunk of unblended kale in the mix. The Nutribullet RX was also very loud and had the lengthiest setting of the bunch (including when using the manual settings). Though after one minute of blending, the final smoothie was creamy and smooth. However, we did not think the result was impressive enough to warrant sacrificing both our hearing and our time.

Blending Cup Size Mattered 

putting kale into the nutribullet pro blender jar
When it came to filling the blender jars, wider openings and larger jars made it easier.Serious Eats / Russell Kilgore

During testing, we poured out a fair amount of smoothies, slush, and milkshakes. It quickly became apparent that Goldilocks would have had an opinion: some blending cups were too small, some were too big, and some were just right. While we were pleased overall with the performance of the NutriBullet NB9-1301 K Pro, we did find the larger diameter of the opening led to light spillage. When tilting the cup to pour, all of the liquids—and any icy bits—rushed forward at the same time. On the other hand, the size of the cup (which had a 32-ounce capacity) was great for adding ingredients since larger items, such as leafy kale or misshapen frozen fruits, didn’t need to be squished down or added individually in order to fit. These similarities were shared between the Nutribullet RX (which measured the largest with a 4.5-inch diameter opening) Nutribullet Personal Blender, Nutribullet NB9-1301 K Pro, and the BELLA Rocket Extract PRO Power Blender.

Smaller blending cups, particularly the Ninja Fit which had a 3-inch wide opening, were slim enough that pouring was mess-free. However, the Ninja Fit’s narrow mouth made adding ingredients challenging. We had to push the kale leaves down into the cup rather than simply dropping them in. We found the ideal cups measured somewhere in-between: the Zwilling Enfinigy Personal Blender cup measured three-and-a-half inches and was neither too wide nor too narrow, but just right.

Only Some Personal Blenders Were Able to Crush Ice

a blender jar with crushed ice inside
Serious Eats / Abigail Clarkin

This may come as no surprise, but personal blenders did not pack the same punch as traditional blenders. For example, four of the personal blenders had instructions that warned against ice crushing, so we could only test five blenders against the ice and water slushie test. For all five of the machines we tested, we found almost all of them struggled with crushing the ice evenly. 

The Cuisinart CPB-300 350 Watt BPA-Free Blender, Ninja Fit, and the ZWILLING Enfinigy Personal Blender all required multiple stops and starts during blending. This was because the blades stopped catching the ice and water, so we had to shift the ingredients for them to catch the ice again. The final results consisted of slush with a few larger chips of ice.

The real standout was the Ninja BN401 Nutri Pro Compact Personal Blender, which turned the ice and water into a lovely slush. And this machine had a particular advantage in this test: it had a specific “crush” setting which included an automatic timed program. However, the blender was extremely loud while working, especially when the blades were not catching any ice; this was usually because the slush shot up the sides of the cup and all that was left was a thin layer of water on the bottom.

The Less Counter Space Used, the Better

Counter space can be precious. As we tested each blender, we found ourselves moving them from table to counter, to the table again. Not only were the largest machines, such as the Ninja BN401 Nutri Pro Compact Personal Blender and the Nutribullet RX, quite heavy (the bases were four pounds, seven ounces, and six pounds, five ounces, respectively), but they also took up a lot of space. We found the significant weight and size were a hindrance to our limited counter space, and these aspects also made storing and moving inconvenient.

Cleaning Was Easy—As Long As We Did So Immediately

One of our least favorite parts about using a traditional blender is cleaning (we couldn’t count the number of times we almost lost a rubber gasket down the InSinkErator). But we discovered many of the personal blenders were not as high maintenance. For one, each blender only had three parts: the motor base, the blending cup, and the extractor blade (which also served as the lid). That meant only two parts—and maybe a travel lid, if used—needed to be cleaned. 

Even more conveniently, personal blenders were easy to fit into the dishwasher when disassembled. Every personal blender we tested included top rack dishwasher-safe blending cups and lids. On the other hand, whether or not extractor blades were dishwasher-safe depended on the blender itself (though, in general, we don’t recommend washing blades in a dishwasher since it can dull them faster). 

When hand-washing with soap and water, we found the plastic blending cups were easy to grip and less likely to shatter if dropped (unlike some of the glass blending vessels we’ve encountered when using traditional blenders through the years). Washing was painless as long as we made sure to rinse the blending vessels and extractor blades immediately after blending. Otherwise, tough crud stuck in the grooves. Blenders like the Cuisinart and the Nutribullet RX had instructions for cleaning tough messes: simply add soapy, room-temperature water to the cup and blend, rinse, and then dry.

The Criteria: What to Look for in a Personal Blender

A seriously good personal blender has a medium capacity, is easy to use, and is fast and powerful.
Serious Eats / Abigail Clarkin / Grace Kelly

A good personal blender should be easy to use, clean, and store. Ideally, it has a capacity ranging between 20 to 32 ounces, is powerful (and fast), and has a blending cup that pours smoothly.

What we liked: The Zwilling impressed us immediately. It was easy to use since the control knob had three settings: on/off, pulse, and smoothie. We enjoyed that the settings included both a manual pulse option, as well as an automatically timed smoothie setting. This meant the user could choose their own adventure, rather than being stuck with only an automatic setting. Cleaning the Zwilling was especially easy too: typically, other machines had cross blades that were inset, meaning the extractor blade was set inside the lid, with grooved sides rising up on all sides. This made cleaning other personal blenders a little annoying as dried liquids and foods could get stuck in these nooks. The Zwilling’s cross blade, on the other hand, was set on the topmost part of the lid and any nooks and crannies were set along the outside for easy access when cleaning. The machine was also sleek, simple, and aesthetically pleasing. While it had a medium-sized motor base—measuring 5.75 inches wide—the square-shaped personal blender did not take up too much space on the counter. We were very pleased with how the Zwilling handled blending smoothies and milkshakes. The smoothie was even, creamy, and completely blended within the 40-second automated “smoothie” setting. 

What we didn’t like: At first, we assumed that the grooved plastic on the exterior of the blending cup would make it easy to grip. However, this particular blending cup was actually more challenging to open: the grooves on the base were too small for our fingers to actually fit within comfortably while twisting, so we were left at a loss as to where to grip. The machine also did struggle a bit with the milkshake, leading to some chunks of ice in the finished product.  

Price at time of publish: $85.

Key Specs

  • Weight: 5 lbs
  • Dimensions: 5.25 x 5.75 x 14.5 inches
  • Cord length: 36 inches
  • Capacity: 20 ounces
  • Materials: BPA-free plastic, stainless steel
  • Wattage: 500 watts
  • Voltage: 120 volts
  • Accessories: One to-go jar and one to-go lid
  • Care instructions: The blender cup and drinking cup lid can be cleaned either in the dishwasher or by hand with dish soap; the blender lid can be run under running water and cleaned with a damp, lint-free cloth; the base can be cleaned with a damp, lint-free cloth.  
Zwilling blender on countertop with white tile background
Serious Eats / Abigail Clarkin

What we liked: For those looking for efficiency and ease of use, and who might want to make multiple servings, the Nutribullet NB9-1301 K Pro is a good pick. It completely shredded the kale and mango smoothie in a stunning 20 seconds, and we liked the spacious blending cup, which was a whopping 32 ounces, the largest we tested. It was easy to load, so we didn't need to squish or push down ingredients aggressively in order to make sure they fit inside the cup. The blender’s extractor blade lid was easy to grip when twisting and untwisting.

What we didn’t like: Alas, this Nutribullet was one of the machines with an explicit warning against ice crushing. Aside from that, our main complaint was the blending cup was very wide. While the width of it made loading very easy, we had to be careful when pouring so we didn't lean the cup too far forward, which led to the liquid crowding the mouth of the cup and spillage.

Price at time of publish: $110.

Key Specs

  • Weight: 9.68 lbs
  • Dimensions: 7.72 x 12.01 x 15.94 inches
  • Cord length: 30 inches
  • Capacity: 32 ounces
  • Materials: Plastic, stainless steel
  • Wattage: 900 watts
  • Voltage: 110 volts
  • Accessories: Two blending cups, one extractor blade, one cup ring without handle, two cup rings with handle, two lids
  • Care instructions: It was recommended that the rubber gasket not be removed while cleaning; all parts (aside from the motor base and extractor blade) are top-rack dishwasher-safe; the blending cups, lids, and extractor blade can be hand washed with warm soapy water; the motor base can be wiped down with a damp, soapy sponge or dishcloth
the nutribullet pro on a countertop with white tile background
Serious Eats / Abigail Clarkin

The Competition

  • BELLA 15 Piece Rocket Extract PRO Power Blender Set: While we really liked this affordable blender (it blended kale and mango smoothies impressively, mixing all the ingredients together almost immediately during blending rather than simply waiting on the layered ingredients to shift downward and hit the blade), it's currently out-of-stock on multiple retailers.
  • Ninja BN401 Nutri Pro Compact Personal Blender: While we appreciated the multiple buttons and functions, such as “crush,” “smoothie,” and “pulse,” the Ninja was simply too large, too loud, too heavy-duty, and too slow (the automatic smoothie setting took 50 seconds).
  • Ninja Fit: This machine was super easy to use, store, and clean. But we didn't enjoy how much pressure we had to exert by pushing the blending cup down the entire time the machine was running (we prefer to build our muscles in the gym instead, thank you).
  • Cuisinart CPB-300 350 Watt BPA-Free Blender: The slender, tall motor base was great for those with limited counter space. However, the extractor blade was challenging to remove after use, and there were still chunks of kale and ice following the smoothie and slushie tests. 
  • Nutribullet Personal Blender: While we liked many things about this blender, it simply did not have the power or speed to compete with similar models.
  • Nutribullet RX: The sheer size of the machine was intimidating: it measured 15.16 inches in depth and 15.16 inches in width (which is larger than some traditional blenders). It was unnecessarily large for anyone looking for a simple pony of a blender as opposed to a workhorse.
  • Magic Bullet Blender: This blender was so cute! But cuteness didn’t matter when we realized it was quite noisy. It also took a whopping one minute and 15 seconds of blending–manually–when we blended mango and kale smoothies. 
  • The BEAST Blender: Unfortunately, our test model for the BEAST broke before testing, so we were unable to see how the machine performed against other personal blenders. We are going to pursue long-term testing with a new model and will add our findings to this review at a later date. You can read our previous one-off review of this blender here.

FAQs

What can you make in a personal blender?

Personal blenders were great for making small, single-serving portions of smoothies and milkshakes. Out of the machines we tested, none were built to blend dry ingredients. In fact, many of the instruction manuals spelled out specific liquid-to-solid ingredient ratios. Most machines were not powerful enough to handle ice-heavy ingredients, either.

How many servings does a personal blender make?

Each of the personal blenders we tested had the capacity to hold one to two servings. The overall capacity of each blending cup ranged from 16 to 32 ounces, but each machine had a different max line for ingredients.

What is the best way to clean a personal blender?

While perusing various instruction manuals during testing, we found the most popular recommendation was to hand-wash blending cups, lids, and extractor blends in warm soapy water. Many of these parts were also dishwasher-safe. As for the motor bases, submersion in water was to be avoided (as with anything with a plug!). Instead, wipe down the motor exterior with either a damp cloth before drying. For tough messes, some blenders could be cleaned by adding soapy water to the blending cup and then blending. However, we do recommend checking each individual machine’s instruction manual for the best instructions.

What is the best (and quietest) personal blender?

It’s hard to describe any of the personal blenders we tested as quiet. Much of what we blended was fibrous or frozen, so there was a fair amount of grinding noises. But we do think the Zwilling Enfinigy Personal Blender was the best overall personal blender, and much quieter than many of its competitors.