The food processor vs. blender comparison is one of the most debatable kitchen equipment topics there for a reason. These two appliances work very similarly in that they break down regular-sized food into smaller pieces. However, they are designed for different purposes.
If you're confused about which one to buy, this post should help you make an informed decision based on the strengths and weaknesses of both blenders and food processors.
Common Things about Blenders and Food Processors
Note that this comparison doesn't include the immersion blender since a handheld immersion blender doesn't have the powerful motor to compare it with a food processor. Instead, every time I mention "blender" on this post, I'm talking about the standard or high-performance blenders (Vitamix, KitchenAid, etc.).
Let's first discuss the common things of a blender and a food processor:
- A high-performance blender with advanced controls can work as a food processor and break down food just enough to still leave texture for things like salsa, dips, or pesto
- Blenders could chop foods (but you'd need to add some water and stick to a low-level setting)
- Food processors could also handle frozen fruits and vegetables, so if they run the equipment a bit longer, they'd be able to make smoothies just like a blender would (but probably not as smooth).
- Both blenders and food processors are not recommended for kneading dough (see 'Best Food Processors for Pie Crust').
- Both a blender or a food processor handles dry ingredients more carefully than a stand mixer.
If you ask anyone who has owned and used either appliance, the decision to keep one over the other depends largely on that person's lifestyle (someone who does homemade dips vs. someone who gets their daily juicing fix).
Blender vs. Food Processor
The biggest differences between a blender and a food processor fall on how they handle liquid, though Ninja Mega Kitchen System, a mighty 2-in-1 we reviewed here, makes the case for the blenders.
PROS and CONS of Blenders
Blenders are excellent at crushing ice and turning solid ingredients into silky smooth liquid mush when mixed with milk, water, and other liquids. Blenders are the king of making smoothies, and no other type of kitchen equipment could beat them.
Use a Blender if...
If you really just need to pick one appliance to purchase, use a blender if:
- You plan to crush ice (the blades of food processors and stand mixers cannot handle too much ice)
- You plan to make homemade smoothies regularly.
- You want to make soups, sauces, puree, and other recipes that require liquid ingredients.
- You're not looking for an appliance that could help you with multiple prepping tasks.
- You want to make homemade baby food or pet food from scratch
- You have a business that requires turning ingredients into smooth mush
Things to Look for in a Blender
If you decide to go with a blender, buy one that has:
- At least 8 cups (you can find a blender with 3 to 12 cups)
- Around 3-speed settings is good, but if you have the budget to get a blender with 5 or more speeds, then go for it.
- At least a 500-watt motor to blend frozen ingredients with ease.
- Extra attachment options (coffee grinder, additional mixing bowls, grab-and-go jar)
Pros and Cons of Food Processors
Food processors are designed for multiple tasks, from chopping to pureeing, shredding to slicing, and just breaking down big pieces of fruits, vegetables, and other foods into small sizes (see 'Best Food Processors for Dicing') Because of the functions, it can do in one machine, and food processors are dubbed the king of food prep.
Use a Food Processor if...
- If you want finely chopped ingredients with your meals
- If you're not looking to puree or make soups from home
- If slicing, chopping, or shredding tasks feel like a chore to you
- If you're trying to expand your cooking skills and would be preparing meals more regularly
Things to Look for in a Food Processor
If you decide to go with a food processor, compare models first and go with a model that has:
- A quiet motor. If possible, try out the food processor before buying since they typically have noisy motors.
- Feed tube wide enough for the vegetables you want to be chopped. If you're just grating tons of cheese (see our 'Best Food Processors for Grating Cheese' post), this should be an issue. But if you plan to process potatoes, carrots, and other bigger-sized veggies, picking a model with a wide feed tube ensures they could fit.
- Speed controls. Pick a processor with advanced speed controls.
- Blade with serrations. A straight blade is quicker to lose its sharpness. Of course, if you know how to sharpen a blade, this shouldn't be an issue for you. If you don't, stick with a blade with small serrations.
- Size of the food processor. Don't buy a food processor that wouldn't fit on your kitchen counter. When it is big and bulky, there's a tendency that you'll leave it stored instead. Having it placed on top and ready-to-use encourages actual usage, which is why it shouldn't cramp your kitchen.
- Extended warranty. Make sure the warranty of your chosen food processor covers the motor longer than a few months. Because this appliance could cost you more than a hundred bucks, you must protect your investment from unexpected issues that might pop up in the future.
Deciding on the Right Appliances: Food Processors vs. Blenders
The difference between a food processor and a blender is night and day. One can chop food into smaller bits, while the other is designed to mix, shred and crush it until food turns saucy or liquidy.
Both the food processor and blender have their strengths and weaknesses, which is why the decision to go with one over the other will fall on your shoulders. Are you hoping to create fancy dishes and follow different prepping and cooking techniques? Or are you on the path to create the best smoothie in the world?
Both types of appliances - see also food mills - have standard to higher-end models, so depending on the features you want yours to have, prepare to spend about $600 or more. The difference in prices would depend on your personal preference. There are standard blenders that cost $50 and work in blending fruits into shakes, but if you want to crush ice in a snap, you'd have to choose higher-powered blenders that tend to cost much more. This is the same with food processors and the functionalities you need.
Whichever route you take, if you buy from trusted brands like KitchenAid, Cuisinart, Breville, Braun, and Oster (among others), you're one step away from owning a kitchen appliance that has the potential to change your life.