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Food Processors

Food Processor vs Blender | Which to Get Depending On Your Culinary Needs?

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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.).

woman using blender

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 a blender or a food processor handles dry ingredients more carefully than a stand mixer.
1200 wats

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.

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.

Pros

  • Blending is easy. You'll be able to make sauces, purees, dressings, condiments, and nut butter from home.
  • Make iced desserts. Aside from smoothies, you can make homemade ice cream, your homemade Starbucks frappe.
  • Grinding nuts and similar food. Blender blades are not sharp, which is also the reason why they can grind nuts, seeds, coffee beans, legumes, etc. (Note that some standard-sized blenders may not be able to do this job, but high-powered blenders come with a dry bowl with blades specifically designed to pulse these ingredients down to powder form).
  • Make big batches. Unlike food processors that have a smaller bowl (and instructions not to fill the bowl more than halfway), you can make bigger batches of soup, purees, and similar food with a blender.

Cons

  • Even high-powered blenders are not designed to handle dough (buy a stand mixer instead if you're planning to handle doughs).
  • Crushing ice on standard blenders with lower wattage may not be as easy as high-powered ones. In this case, you might need to help the blender by adding liquid.
  • Cannot do prep tasks (slice/shred/chop)
  • Not many attachments available (compared to a blender and stand mixer attachments)
blending food

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
healthy meal in blender

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)
banana in blender

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.

Pros

  • Super sharp blades. This ensures consistency in shredding, chopping, slicing, and grating food such as cheese, carrots, and a mix of vegetables.
  • Multiple attachment options. Even the mini food processors include at least 3 types of blades with the package. Higher-end models include more discs and blades, which means extra functionality as well.
  • Handle all kinds of fruits and vegetables. The standard chopping blade can slice carrots and other harder vegetables with ease. Imagine how quickly it could pulverize a celery stick, spinach, or other leafy greens.
  • Kneading dough is possible. If you purchase a food processor with a kneading attachment included, you might be able to knead bread dough with this equipment.

Cons

  • Super sharp blades. While the parts of a food processor are dishwasher-safe, the sharp blade or disc also means it could be dangerous to handle. I've been cut by a blade in the past before, and it's no small boo-boo.
  • Not ideal for making soup, purees, and other recipes that call for liquid ingredients
  • It could be troublesome to set up and clean.
food processor

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
What size food processor do i need 2

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.
Best food processors for shredding cabbage

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?

Best Large Food Processors

Both types of appliances 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.

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