I’d seen the Ninja Master Prep on QVC a couple times and it looked like a nice alternative to the Vitamix (at about 1/10 the price), so since I happened to be buying something else, I tacked this onto my order as well. I got some smoothie ingredients and was all set to try it out as soon as it arrived.
The general idea is that there are two blades, a higher and a lower one, so that things at the very bottom of the bowl get blended, as well as stuff higher up. The motor itself is the “Ninja,” a pod that sits on top of the container and can be moved between the different sized bowls. It claims to be very powerful and can quickly crush ice into “snow,” etc.
First impressions: Wow, there are a lot of components! The set QVC sells comes with an extra bowl and extra pitcher, plus storage lids for each, so you end up with: 1 “ninja” (the actual motor, which sits on top of the bowl or pitcher), 1 set of pitcher-sized blades, 1 set of bowl-sized blades, 1 pitcher splash guard (the lid you use while blending), 1 bowl splash guard, 2 pitchers, 2 bowls, 2 pitcher storage lids, 2 bowl storage lids, and a little recipe booklet. I washed everything as soon as I got it, but I still haven’t figured out where to store all these pieces. They’re not really stackable or anything. The blades are extremely sharp. (I haven’t cut myself yet, but I’m being very careful.) I do like that even though they’re plastic, the pitchers and bowls seem very sturdy and well-made. And they’re BPA free! They have rubber on the bottom that holds them securely to the counter while blending, and the splash guard lids have rubber gaskets around them and fit securely, so nothing comes out. My one complaint/worry is that the blades are on plastic rotors, and it seems like it would be very easy to damage them. I have read many accounts and negative reviews from people who stripped the plastic gears within their first few uses.
My first couple attempts with using this were to make smoothies, and they turned out great! The blades handled frozen berries that were hard as rocks, and everything turned out nice and smooth and creamy. I first tried using the pitcher, since it has the nice pour spout, but it doesn’t really pour that neatly. I made my second smoothie in the bowl, which I think is my preferred container, but that’s also not built for pouring. Oh well.
The blender in action
My next experiment was making chicken salad. I’d seen them chop chicken in the demos on TV, and the recipe book included two chicken salad recipes, so I figured it’d work great. Well, I put my hunks of chicken into the blender (there was too much for the bowl), turned it on, and in a couple of seconds ended up with chicken puree at the bottom, and whole pieces still at the top. So I pulled out the whole parts, dumped the dust at the bottom into my mixing bowl, then put the unchopped pieces back in for a quick pulse. Maybe I just like chunkier chicken salad, but this was sort of gross. It became more of a chicken paste. Luckily, I learned my lesson and didn’t bother trying to chop up my celery in the Ninja.
The next recipe I tried was salsa. There was a recipe in the booklet, but I kind of made up my own. I used a small onion, a few plum tomatoes I’d broiled in the oven (hoping for a charred or smokey flavor), a ton of cilantro, and a little salt and pepper. That was it! Within a couple of pulses, the tomatoes were really well chopped, but there were still some huge pieces of onion. If I’d been smart, I would have chopped the onion a little by itself, then added the rest and chopped it all together. Oh well. I took out the blades and mixed in a little bit of fire-roasted corn. GG says it’s the best salsa ever (even though it’s not spicy!), and wonders why anyone would buy salsa when it’s so easy to make it yourself. I transferred mine to a Rubbermaid container, but I guess I could have left it in the bowl with one of the storage lids on it.
Delicious, fresh salsa
Up next, guacamole! Once again, I was a little disappointed with the consistency. After the first couple chops, it was a little chunkier than I would have liked. So I gave it one more pulse, and it was like the straw that broke the camel’s back – it became more like a chunky paste. It was still delicious, though! But I’ll have to keep practicing to get the consistency that I like.
Still a little chunky
Clean up is super easy. Most of the things I made in it I’ve just been able to rinse out, and it’s totally clean. There’s no little crevices or anything for food to get stuck in. Everything can go in the dishwasher, but I don’t usually trust that. The motor can’t go in the water, of course, but it doesn’t really get dirty since it’s completely seperate from the containers, and doesn’t even have to be in the vicinity until the lids are on.
Overall, I like it. Barring any problems (which, from reading reviews of anyone who’s owned it longer than a few months, seem inevitable), I’m pretty happy with it. The main thing seems to be that either everything is going to be uniformly smooth (e.g. making a smoothie drink), or if you want to keep it chunky you need to blend in small batches (e.g. making salsa or chicken salad).