Bar blenders have just one function. They turn ice, liquid, and fruit, into creamy, smooth, frozen cocktails. Of course most bar blenders can do more than that, but creating frozen drinks is their primary function. To do the task, a bar blender needs a motor of somewhere between ½ and 1 horsepower. Consistency from drink to drink is important, as is ease of operation. So a simple on/off switch, and perhaps a high and low power switch is all that’s really needed. A pulse feature gives the user a bit more control, and a timer with auto shut-off really ensures blend consistency.

Food Blenders are designed to do a much greater variety of tasks than a bar blender, with a greater variety of ingredients. A food blender can be used to blend frozen fruits for a smoothie, puree cooked vegetables for a soup, chop fresh vegetables for a salsa, or grind dry grains into flour for artisan baking. Power settings and timing will be different for each application. To allow maximum flexibility in the kitchen, most food blenders have a larger motor, typically 3 horsepower, with a wider variety of speeds. A variable speed dial with pulse action provides chefs with complete control, and a chop function runs the blades at an extra slow speed to chop, rather than puree, foods.

There are many models that blur the lines between bar blenders and food blenders. Blenders are extremely versatile pieces of equipment. Extra powerful bar blenders, with additional features for high volume and specialty applications, can perform many tasks in the kitchen. Similarly, an entry-level food blender, stripped free of extra features, may begin to look more like a bar blender.