The Vitamix Ascent Series A3500i Blender is one of the most expensive blenders money can buy. It’s got a big name behind it though, and if you cast a beady eye behind the counter the next time you visit your favourite smoothie shop, it’s likely you’ll see a Vitamix. These industrial-standard blenders are large and heavy, with a generous pitcher size that can be used for family-sized soups and single-serve smoothies alike.
Sitting at the premium side of Vitamix’s blender offering, the Ascent Series A3500i Blender has a sleek display that’s jam-packed with preset modes to make smoothies, desserts, iced drinks, and even soups. It can cook, too, and included with the blender is a comprehensive recipe book that’s got heaps of amazing recipe ideas to try out in your new blender. I used a mixture of these and some of my own recipes to test out the Vitamix Ascent Series A3500i Blender, putting each of its preset modes to the test to see if it warrants the hefty price tag.
The verdict? While I had a couple of issues with smaller recipes, this is one of the very best blenders I’ve ever used. It delivered deliciously creamy soups and blitzed drinks, which explains why many businesses and serious home chefs rely on the Vitamix to get the best out of their ingredients.
Ideal Home rated: 5 out of 5 stars
Reasons to buy:
- It makes next-level soups
- The included recipe book is brilliant
- Excellent self-clean mode
- Hands-free controls
- Large working capacity
- Manual controls also included
- Lift-away jug
Reasons to avoid:
- The blades can heat up ingredients
- Small recipes can get stuck
- Not all parts dishwasher-safe
Vitamix Ascent Series A3500i Blender
- Power: 1200W
- Material: plastic pitcher, stainless steel blades
- Capacity: 2 litre jug
- Pre-sets: 5 one-touch programs
- Weight: 6.7kg
- Size: 40 x 26.8 x 20.8cm (h x w x d)
- Included: tamper, spatula, personal blender cup with lid and blades
The Vitamix Ascent Series A3500i Blender has a lot of heft, but this almost entirely comes from the base. The pitcher is made of plastic, and it’s fairly lightweight. It comes with a lid that clips down into place and a tamper to get stuck in with trickier ingredients.
Included in the box was a recipe book which had lots of great ideas for different dishes to make using the Vitamix. Everything from nut milks to frozen cocktails was covered, and this was paired with a quick start guide that helps you get set up with your first smoothie, and this is exactly what I followed to make my first recipe.
The Vitamix Ascent Series A3500i Blender pitcher slots directly onto the base, which is very interactive thanks to the screen, which shows a countdown timer for different modes and has a dial to help you amp up the power as you blend manually.
For my first smoothie I made a tropical fruit blend with milk, avocado, banana, lime, and frozen mango and papaya. I put my half lime in without taking off the skin or removing pips, to get an idea of just how powerful this blender really is.
The smoothie setting was well equipped to handle all these ingredients, and as soon as I pressed its logo on the control panel the display showed the timer. From there, it was a case of pressing the start/stop button, which is touch-controlled and unlikely to get dirty.
With most of the preset modes you’ll start on a lower speed and amp up to finish at max power, which is 10. There are more than 10 speed setting though, because you can dial from 2 to 2+, to 3, and then 3+ (etc). In all, there are about 20 speeds to choose from.
The Vitamix scores full marks for its smoothie skills. My frozen fruits were pulverised with seemingly little effort and no intervention, and there was not a trace of lime skin or seed in either smoothie. I did note just how loud this blender is on first use. It is seriously noisy, and not one to use first thing in the morning when your partner is still sleeping!
Making oat milk in the Vitamix
I love an oat milk latte, but I find myself spending a lot of money in my weekly shop keeping my coffee machine topped up on my favourite barista blends. It was worth a go in the Vitamix, especially because I had no doubt it could handle very liquidy mixes. To make the oat milk I soaked and then blended oats, water and a bit of maple syrup for sweetness.
I will admit, my first attempt was a complete mess and not the one pictured here. I left my milk to blend for 45 seconds, which I realised was far too long when I attempted to strain my gloopy oat mixture. Because the Vitamix blades heat up when used for prolonged periods (I’ll get onto that later) it had actually turned my milk into a very runny porridge.
For my second attempt, I only blended for about 5 seconds, on a very high speed. This was more than enough time to make a cool, milky mixture without many grains left to strain.
This mixture was a lot easier to strain with a cheesecloth, and had a more milk-like texture that worked well in a cup of milk. After blending I was able to rinse out the jug to remove any leftover pieces of oat, and return it to the base.
Making soup in the Vitamix Ascent Series A3500i
The Vitamix Ascent Series A3500i doesn’t have an in-built heating element, so it won’t replace the best soup makers, but its blades heat up when left at high speeds for long periods of time. The Simply Blending recipe book that came included had a recipe for tomato soup that could be cooked all inside the blender, so I gave it a try. This included adding half an onion, a carrot, some fresh and tinned tomatoes, and a selection of spices and stock to the blender. I then switched on the soup preset and let the blender work through a 10-minute cycle.
This works by slowly increasing the blending speeds, before leaving on high speed to cook the soup through. I was sceptical that the blender would be able to cook out onion and garlic, but I was pleasantly surprised when the noisy blending stopped and the soup was steaming hot and very, very smooth. All of the ingredients had been puliverised, leaving an almost-whipped texture that was creamy and thick. Totally delicious, and done in just 10 minutes.
This mode won’t work on everything, so if you plan on making a leek and potato or a carrot and coriander soup, be prepared to pre-cook your ingredients to take the raw edge off.
Another recipe from the Vitamix book was for a sweet and spicy beetroot dip. I already had beetroot in the fridge, so I thought it would make a nice alternative to my typical hummus recipe. I added chickpeas, roasted beetroot, honey, chilli, tahini and some olive oil to my blender and switched on the dip preset. The blender jumped into action, sending bright red splatters up the inside of the pitcher, but it had no trouble processing more solid ingredients even with minimal added liquid to make the job a bit easier.
The dip was silky smooth when the blending was done, and very tasty. It’s a recipe I’ll definitely follow again, but I did struggle to reach underneath the blades to scoop out every last drop. Because the blades cannot be removed, you’ll have to be prepared to get stuck in to take out more solid recipes.
This one proved tricky to clean. I was worried that the beetroot would leave a stain on the plastic jug, but thankfully it didn’t. However, I found that it took a bit more hands-on cleaning to dislodge stuck-on bits of dip from the inside of the blender. This was made easier with a scrubbing brush.
The Vitamix Ascent Series A3500i has a self-cleaning mode. Yay! I love a self-cleaning mode on any blender, but even if one doesn’t include a self-clean setting, you can still add a little water and some washing up liquid to the blender and blitz it to take excess smoothie or soup away from the blender blades.
You will still likely need to clean the inside of the blender, especially the lid and the spout, by hand, but the self-clean mode on the Vitamix Ascent Series A3500i is very capable and keeps your hands away from the blender blades. If you want the blender jug to last, don’t even think about putting it through the dishwasher.
Should you buy the Vitamix Ascent Series A3500i?
At around £700, the Vitamix Ascent Series A3500i is the most expensive blender I’ve ever tried. It’s a seriously pricey machine, with a very sturdy base and enough power to justify a large price tag, but it only comes with one jug that’s best suited to larger recipes.
If you want a blender that can make a morning smoothie and not much more, the Vitamix Ascent Series A3500i will absolutely be overkill. However, if you’re a keen cook who makes regular use of a blender and wants to make an investment that will last a lifetime, I’d be inclined to say that this is the best blender on the market for you.
About this review, and the reviewer
Millie Fender is small appliances editor at Ideal Home. She reviews everything from coffee machines to air fryers from her own kitchen, meaning these tests have been carried out in the same conditions that you’ll be using the machine.
The Vitamix Ascent Series A3500i was kindly sent to Millie by Vitamix, and she tested it for a month before returning it. This gave her the chance to test all of its functions as well as cleaning, and check for any troubleshooting. Millie drinks a lot of soup and smoothies, and made sure that every mode with the Vitamix Ascent Series A3500i was tried before writing her review.