Busy mornings call for smart smoothie solutions, and the latest Nutri Ninja seeks to make life that bit easier. The BL480UK, as well as having the inherent convenience of a dedicated smoothie maker, comes with Auto-iQ – a pair of preset programmes that need just a push of a button to run through a series of pulses, pauses and constant blitzing for perfectly blended drinks.
They’re accompanied by manual pulse and Start/Stop modes for making dips, dressings, batters and desserts while the motor packs 1,000W of fruit, seed, vegetable and ice pulverising power.
Clear some worktop room for the BL480UK – compared to many personal blenders, it’s bigger and heavier. However, its size does make it feel sturdy, as do suckers on the base that keep it shake-free as it blends. The base is finished in no-nonsense black and silver with a touchpad on the front. Four buttons – Pulse, Start/Stop, Blend and Ultra Blend – surround a timer display that counts down as each programme elapses or counts up when using Pulse or Start/Stop.
Related: Nutri Ninja Pro Blender BL450 review
Two cups, a regular 650ml and a small 500ml, are accompanied by a Pro Extractor blade unit, which has four angled blades projecting up and out and two small central blades. This screws into the cups once they’re filled. The cup and blades then twist and lock into the base unit, which activates the display and means any of the manual or auto buttons can be pressed to blend. After, each cup can be topped with a screw-in flip-top lid for drinking on the go.
As well as a book of 30 recipes, there’s guidance in the instructions as to what order ingredients should be added to the cups for the best results, meaning there’s no need to stick to suggested combinations. We started by making the Lean Green Ninja smoothie, a combination of pineapple, mango, banana, spinach, kale, ice and water, in the regular cup. As all the recipes dictate that the ingredients are added in a specific order, this meant the ice at the top would be crushed first.
The blades themselves are quite long so it was tricky to fit them around the solid cubes of ice at first but eventually, the blade unit screwed in securely. We selected the Blend programme, which took around 45 seconds to process the ingredients using a combination of constant blitzing, pulses and pauses. The resulting smoothie was thick and thoroughly blended with no traces of the leaves or fibrous lumps – a common problem with pineapple.
However, the flip-top lids aren’t especially easy to use. They screw into the interior of the cup, rather than the thread on the outside, so can be awkward to fit. The cover for the spout also doesn’t extend far back enough not to be an obstacle to easy drinking.
Next, we tried a recipe with hard ingredients and honey, which can often end up sticking to the side of cups. For Trail Mix in a Glass – a recipe using almonds, pumpkin and sesame seeds, juice, berries, almond milk and ice again – we used the regular cup but this time on the Ultra Blend setting – a similar programme of pulses and pauses but lasting for around a minute.
This time, while the mixture was mostly blended, there were some fragments of nuts and seeds that escaped the blades and sank to the bottom of the glass when poured out. The honey, however was thoroughly incorporated, with no traces left on the blade or sides of the cup.
We finished with one of the dessert ideas – a Vanilla Nut Frozen Treat made with oat milk, walnut, vanilla, stevia, yogurt and ice. This recommended blending using the Start/Stop mode for around 20 seconds. After doing so, the mixture wasn’t firm enough to scoop out. Freezing for another few hours helped it to become firmer, but it was unappetising.
Clean-up was straightforward – all the parts that come into contact with food are dishwasher safe. Washing by hand is fairly easy although cleaning the angled blades by hand without a brush requires caution.
As a progression from previous models, it feels like a missed opportunity to have only improved the power and the programmes of the Nutri Ninja. It’s still awkward to drink from the lids and doesn’t grind, with blades that do a good job but are dicey to clean by hand. Plus, it lacks the minimal styling of comparable personal blenders, yet costs around the same.
That said, the programmes are a great idea for those who like to blend and walk away or aren’t sure how long it’ll take for certain ingredients to be blitzed, making it a good first appliance for novices and busy households.
Could do better but what the Nutri BL490UK lacks in design it makes up for in convenience and usability.