There are various packages of Ninja® Pulse™ available, but the one reviewed includes the blender/processor with a 40 oz bowl and 700 watts of power, plus three single-serve cups and three blades. Other packages may be different. The capacity and multifunction nature of the Pulse is what first caught my eye.
- Ninja® Pulse™ Kitchen System Model BL204
- 700 Watts of power
- Designed for juicing, food processing and blending including crush ice, blend frozen drinks, process food ingredients for batters, juice fresh fruits and vegetables, knead dough, puree baby food and more
- 40 oz. Processing bowl Pulse™ lid and storage lid
- 4-Blade assembly, cookie dough paddle and dough blade - for 40 oz bowl
- Three 16 oz. single-serve blending/processing cups with drink lids (one with blade)
- BPA free plastics
- Accessories are dishwasher safe
- Watch videos and learn more from the manufacturer
How the Ninja Pulse Performed
The compact footprint (6.5" x 5.5"), the handy accessories (I'm a smoothie nut), the multifunction nature and overall good looks of this unit are most appealing. But of course, it's not good to judge a machine based on its cover, so I took several days to test with a variety of foods and functions - there's just so much you can do with it.
As for power - there's plenty of it, more than the average blender. The operation couldn't be any simpler with one action - Pulse. You decide how many pulses or how long to hold it down (on). But, as I found out, it's pretty quick, so pulsing too long can totally liquify the ice in your frozen drink.
Two to three quick pulses are enough for a smoothie either blended in the bowl or in a single-serve cup. There is really no way you could make a bad smoothie with this machine, because you control the operation. Total serving capacity: A large smoothie for two people from the bowl plus three in the single serve cups. This machine blows my lower-powered personal blender right out of smoothie waters. It does take one or two drinks to get the timing right if you like ice shards in a drink. I also made iced coffee with it. Easy to do with cooled triple-strength brewed coffee, a little milk, sweetening and ice.
When it comes to chopping veggies, it does a fairly uniform processing. The 4-blade assembly definitely helps with processing evenly. You do have to watch the combination of foods, processing similar (soft or hard) foods together to get a even chop - typical of any food processor. I did have the occasional piece of tough celery or onion layer that didn't blend well and that does happen. Again, how long to pulse for (use 4-blade assembly) depends on how fine a chop you want. My initial processing was finer than I really wanted; you'll catch on quickly. Overall, it processed much better than my two-blade unit.
You can juice with this machine. Results were good and straining to remove pulp is optional. Results will depend on what you blend. It does puree very well and did quick work of a large raw carrot with celery, peppers and tomatoes. Juicing is not something I usually do, but I can see experimenting with this compact machine.
Mixing cookie and muffin doughs and pancake/waffle batters worked out very well. Peanut butter cookie dough (cookie paddle) was the only one that didn't quite mix well at the bottom of the jar and required a little hand mixing to finish. I usually use my stand mixer for these but it was convenient mixing them in the Pulse. Keep in mind that cookie or muffin batches must be small, or you may need to halve your recipe. Having to scrape the bowl was minimal.
I wouldn't go much over two cups of flour, especially if you have lots of fruit and nuts to blend in. Foods were well mixed, even though I just threw ingredients in and pulsed. This would work for most of my muffin recipes which are about this size. I do love the smaller Pulse capacity, because I normally ignore my bulky regular-size blender when it comes to these types of batches. But, some may miss the additional 8 oz. of a standard size blender jar, especially those who regularly make large, family-sized batches.
I did try bread doughs (dough blade) and holding down the pulse for twenty seconds as noted in the manual. Note that you do need to hold down the unit for this, because it can quickly become unbalanced when it kneads into a ball. It did require slightly longer pulsing, but it does work for a small bread. Not something I would want to regularly do with the Ninja Pulse. A small pizza crust or flatbread - yes.
This is the perfect size jar to chop a whole package of nuts, or make salsas (good recipe in manual), hummus, egg salad and salad dressings. I was able to do more in it than in my smaller food processor. The versatility of this machine is what can win you over quickly. I usually have a personal blender for smoothies, a bulky large blender just in case, plus a small processor for nuts, veggies, onions and such. The Ninja Pulse can do all these tasks, replacing those three appliances.
Because it could, I did make snow out of ice - picture above, so it does work and pretty quick too, with no groaning. Just had to try it, but not something I usually need. Keep in mind that a full bowl of ice makes about 1-2" of snow.
Something to remember - 'pulse' really means - on and off, unless a manual recipe calls for a 'hold' time. As mentioned in the manual, holding down too long could lead to some rest downtime. And it's important to watch the maximum line if you want to avoid leaks.
As for operating noise, it's not much different than my blender or processor. What I blend mostly involves ice which causes a fair amount of noise with any blender, so not concerned about that. And I usually hold down the unit just out of habit, especially with lightweight blenders.
I do love the quick clean-up, but do it immediately - lots of crevices for food to hide. I know you can clean parts in the dishwasher, but I find it just as fast by hand. The Pulse comes apart easily for cleaning. And be careful, blades are sharp.
Overall Impression and Related Resources
I love the Ninja Pulse™ and that I can do some food prep that I wouldn't think of using a large blender for. It's much better at chopping than my small processor plus it has more capacity. For bread dough, it wouldn't be my appliance choice - I usually make a larger loaf. And I'd like to experiment more with juicing. This smaller scale would be more practical for me than a large juicer.
Smaller than a regular size blender, but larger than a 2 or 3-cup food processor, the Pulse offers mid-range blending and processing. That's a welcome appliance for those like myself, who rarely have a need for a standard size blender. It's also the perfect size to keep on the counter for everyday use. The single-serve cups blend really well and are very useful accessories.
The Pulse has a small footprint, is easy to use and quick to clean. There are however, a few accessories you'll have to store. I can see this machine also being very popular in an RV or tiny kitchen where counter space is limited. The Pulse can certainly reduce appliance congestion; it would for me.
As for price, I've had more expensive blenders that didn't offer this much function or power and it is fairly comparable cost-wise within its appliance class. I highly recommend it for small to medium batch processing. The single serve cups are great accessories for blending dressings, making tiny batches of sauces, baby food, salsas and of course, on-the-go smoothies or protein drinks.