Vitamix A3500 Ascent Series Smart Blender

We purchased the Vitamix A3500 Ascent Series Smart Blender so our reviewer could put it to the test in her kitchen. Keep reading for our full product review.

When it comes to the best blenders on the market, Vitamix is a trusted name. So we were eager to try out one of the brand’s newest smart-series offerings: the Vitamix A3500 Ascent Series Smart Blender. Before it arrived, we made sure we had a good supply of blend-worthy foods. After it arrived, we ran out of ingredients before we ran out of things we wanted to try. From healthy to decadent and from hot to cold, we blended it all. Read on for all the juicy details. 

Setup Process: So simple

The instructions suggest filling the blender jar halfway with water, adding a drop of dish soap, and then running the cleaning cycle. It’s a great way to familiarize the user with the machine and clean the container at the same time. Then it’s ready for the first use.

The Spruce Eats / Donna Currie

Design: Digital interface

Vitamix blenders aren’t particularly sleek, thanks to the large base that houses the powerful motor, but this one has an interface that looks modern compared to those with rocker switches. It still has a central dial for adjusting the speed, but mode selection, on/off, and pulse are on a touch screen, along with programs for smoothies, frozen desserts, hot soups, dips and spreads, and self-cleaning. When the machine is on low-power mode, a Vitamix logo, looking like a spinning gear, bounces slowly across the display. A touch of one of the controls, and the logo disappears and the display becomes more informative.

If the blender doesn’t sense an appropriate container, an icon indicates that on the display and it won’t turn on. This feature is what sets this series apart from its predecessors. The containers communicate with the blender, letting it know which container is in place. While the included container can use any of the machine’s programs, smaller containers, available for separate purchase, can’t handle long blending times that would heat the ingredients. The risk with overheating is that the sealed containers, with no vent at the top, could break or even explode if the heat built up. This machine won’t let that happen.

While a blender is never going to be silent, this one is surprisingly less noisy than we’d expect, given its power.

One downside of this Vitamix blender’s jar design, which has the blades permanently installed in the bottom, is that it can be difficult to get the last bits of food out of the container. There’s not a huge amount of waste, but there’s no sane way to completely scrape the bottom of the jar.

While a blender is never going to be silent, this one is surprisingly less noisy than we’d expect, given its power.

Performance: Powerful, for silky blends

The Vitamix has a reputation for being the gold standard in blenders. It’s expected that it can handle basic kitchen tasks, so we weren’t surprised when our chocolate-banana smoothie was perfectly blended. We also weren’t surprised at the perfectly emulsified mayonnaise. We loved that we could add ice to blended drinks and end up with something that didn’t have shards of chunky ice, and instead had a perfect slushie texture.

The Spruce Eats / Donna Currie

That was just the beginning. Like other Vitamix blenders, the blades of the A3500 spin so fast that it can heat the food until it steams and cooks when the blender is run for long enough. We tossed ingredients for tomato soup into the blender jar, and in under 7 minutes, we were able to pour it, steaming hot, into a bowl. We also experimented with the heating capability when we made chocolate pudding that cooked and thickened in less time than it would have taken on the stove—and it was smooth and lump-free.

When we used the blender to mix a cheesecake batter that we normally make in a food processor, we got a slightly airier texture than normal, but it was still very good when baked. That airiness was just what we wanted when we made a small batch of whipped cream. We also liked adding flavors to cream cheese and whipping it to create a fluffier, spreadable version that was easy to smear on bagels and crackers.

Although it seems like an odd use of a blender, this beast of a machine has the power to knead dough.

The pulse button came in handy for potato pancakes. First, we blended the egg, flour, onion, and some of the potato until it was almost smooth. Then, we added the rest of the potato and pulsed to get the texture of shredded potatoes without the work.

Although it seems like an odd use of a blender, this beast of a machine has the power to knead dough. Our dough came together in record time and emerged from the machine slightly warm and ready to rise.

Features: Must-have app

One of the features we loved most was the Vitamix Perfect Blend App. The app wasn’t mentioned in the manual or cookbook that came with the blender, but we knew it existed since it was mentioned online. We found it easily, installed it on our phone (it’s free), and connected it to our blender. The app can pair with a wireless scale (sold separately) that makes it easy to measure ingredients right into the blender jar, but the recipes can be made without the scale as well.

Not only does the app have a huge range of recipes, but it also allows the user to create and save recipes, or adjust existing recipes. When we made salad dressing, we liked that we could add more garlic and less dill and save our new version to the app. Additionally, the app can be used to control the blender, but we don’t think we’ll need to do that often since we’ll be close enough to turn the blender on after we’ve added the ingredients. Still, it’s amusing to stand back and turn the blender on.

One option on the app that we liked was the warning when our recipe wouldn’t fit in the container. When we modified a recipe, telling it that we would be using the 8-ounce cup, the app warned us that the ingredients wouldn’t fit until we reduced the quantities.

The Spruce Eats / Donna Currie 

Cleaning: Almost automatic

The cleaning function on this blender does a great job of making sure the blades and most of the container is clean, but it’s not a cleaning miracle. The spout, the upper part of the container, and the lid will need a little hands-on attention or at least a good rinse. Still, we loved the self-cleaning mode when we used the blender for thick, sticky, or goopy foods, like peanut butter or bread dough.

We tossed ingredients for tomato soup into the blender jar, and in under 7 minutes, we poured it, steaming hot, into a bowl.

Included Items: Just what you need

This machine comes with a 64-ounce low profile blending jar that brings the total height to about 17 inches. That’s short enough to slide under standard-height upper cabinets for countertop storage, and of course, it can be stored with the jar removed for shorter spaces. In use, the machine will need to be in front of the cabinets to allow space to remove the lid and add ingredients. The blender also includes a custom tamper that fits through the hole in the center of the lid, which allowed us to push food into the blades without worrying about the tamper hitting the blades.

A small (less than 100-page) hardcover cookbook is included with recipes designed for this blender. We tried a few of the recipes and used a few others for inspiration. While the mayonnaise from the cookbook was a success, we thought it was a bit too eggy—but that’s easy to fix the next time. Of course, other blender recipes can be used with this machine. 

Besides following recipes, we also had fun making smoothies and shakes using what we had on hand. The important thing, according to the manual, is the order for adding ingredients, with liquids on the bottom, soft foods and dry ingredients in the middle, and frozen foods, ice, and hard ingredients on top. That ensures proper blending, no matter what the flavors are.

 The Spruce Eats / Donna Currie

Optional Accessories: You need some of these

While the included blender jar was all we needed, the accessory jars are appealing. We particularly liked the new 8-ounce cup for single servings of dip or for chopping herbs for recipes. A 20-ounce container would be useful for to-go drinks and for large amounts of salad dressing. The Aer Disc Container has a unique blade for whipping, emulsifying, and muddling, while the Dry Grains Container is made for grinding grains into flour.

Unfortunately, old-style containers (without the embedded wireless capabilities) can’t be used with this machine. However, all of the new, wireless-embedded containers designed for this machine will work on older machines.

The wireless scale that pairs with the Vitamix app isn’t necessary, but it’s useful. The scale can be used without the blender for normal kitchen tasks and there are two additional apps that can be used with the scale.

Price: Expensive

With a list price of around $700 (you can find it on sale for under $600), there’s no doubt about it: This is one of the most expensive home blenders you’ll find. It’s even expensive compared to other Vitamix models.

Vitamix A3500 Ascent Series Smart Blender vs. Vitamix E310 Explorian Blender

For someone who longs for the powerful blending of a Vitamix but can’t afford the A3500, the Vitamix E310 Explorian Blender (view at Amazon) has the ability, but not the glitz. It’s about half the price (and can be even less expensive if it’s a refurbished model). The Explorian has toggles for on/off and pulse functions, and a dial for speed control, but it doesn’t have any programs for automatic blending. While the A3500 would win our vote for its digital interface and app, the Explorian is obviously more affordable and still has the blending power that Vitamix users love.

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