Although food processors and blenders share some functions, they are not interchangeable. Primarily, a blender is used to puree or crush ice. Use a blender if your final product is something you can drink, drizzle, or dip. In addition to pureeing, a food processor can slice, grate, shred, dice, and more. As a general rule, use a food processor if the outcome will be eaten with a fork or spoon.
Read on to get definitive answers for when to use a food processor, when to use a blender, and when you can use either for great results. This article will help you choose the best tool for the job while exploring new recipes and techniques.
How is a Food Processor Different From a Blender?
With many similarities between a food processor and a blender, it can be difficult to know which is best for the job. Reading online recipes can add to your confusion as there are many blogs about using your food processor as a blender and vice versa.
Some recipes and tasks can be made equally well in either a blender or a food processor, and others will not work out unless the proper small appliance is used. Here’s a list of the best ways to use a blender or food processor.
Blender Specialties: Use Your Blender for These Recipes & Tasks
Wet ingredients: In general, if your recipe calls for ingredients that are mostly liquid or soft—like a smoothie or a pureed soup—a blender will be your best bet. In addition, if you are making something that can be drunk or eaten without chewing, use a blender instead of a food processor.
Frothed milk or creamy horchata: if you are looking to warm and froth milk for your coffee, tea, or cocoa, or to blend rice milk and spices for horchata, use your blender. The friction from the blades will warm the milk, and the aeration from the spinning blades and downward draw will create delightful bubbles and some light foam.
Puddings, Custards, & Mousse: You’ll master this smooth and fluffy texture when you use your blender to mix ingredients for these. Make a refreshing lemon mousse or put a new twist on a fruit-filled favorite with pear clafouti.
Soups, sauces & bisques: When you want to make a creamy tomato soup, a smooth lobster bisque, or a unique spiced cantaloupe gazpacho, use your blender for silky smooth results. Try the KitchenAid® ProLine® Blender with a thermal control jar to heat and maintain the temperature of your soups and warm sauces. Consistently mixing a Hollandaise that won’t break is easy in your blender and will make you the hero of your weekend brunch.
Applesauce & fruit blends: A blender makes quick work of homemade applesauce. Add in cinnamon, berries, strawberries, carrots, or mango chunks for a pureed fruit blend that’s all your own.
Frozen drinks: If frappéed frozen coffee drinks or frozen cocktails such as watermelon sangria, daiquiris, or frozen coconut margaritas are on the menu, a blender is your go-to appliance. For frozen ingredients, opt for a blender featuring an ice-crush setting, such as the KitchenAid® K150.
Blender Specialties: Use Your Blender for These Recipes & Tasks
Nut milks and flours: Make your own gluten-free flour by grinding almonds in your high-powered blender or try soaking and blending raw almonds or cashews for delicious and nutritious homemade nut milks.
Nut butters: Make your own peanut, almond, cashew, or sunflower seed butters with a powerful blender. You’ll need to make the nut butter in smaller batches in a blender, and if you have a blender spatula or tamper, the job will be easier. You will need a powerful motor such as the KitchenAid® K400 or High Performance Series blenders to grind hard items like nuts.
Milkshakes: Blenders are ideal for these frozen confections. By adding different ingredients and controlling the amount of milk, you can create frothy shakes to drink through a straw or thicker blends with chunks of fruit, cookies or candy that you eat with a spoon. A simple immersion blender is optimal for single servings, or use your countertop blender for more than one portion.
Coconut oil: Put a bag of unsweetened coconut flakes in your blender and in a few minutes you’ll have creamy coconut oil to cook with. No additives or preservatives!
Confectioners sugar: With granulated sugar and a little cornstarch, you can make fresh baker’s or confectioner’s sugar. If you’re the middle of a recipe and realize you’re out of powdered sugar, you can create some in minutes and carry on with your cooking.
Crushing ice: Feel like pouring your lemonade or iced tea over crushed ice? Your high-powered blender is up to the job.
Smoothies & Protein Shakes: Of course, if you’re a smoothie fanatic who loves to play with different flavors and textures, a blender will bring out the best of your fusions. If you’re making smoothies that contain fibrous ingredients like kale or frozen fruits, a heavy-duty blender, such as the KitchenAid® K400 or a High Performance Series blender, will help you power through these tough ingredients with added ease.
Why the Blender is Better Than a Food Processor in These Cases
The blender’s jar is tall and narrow, creating a vortex that draws ingredients downward toward the blades.
Blenders work best when there is at least one liquid ingredient. Dry ingredients can get gummed around the blades if there isn’t liquid at the bottom to create the vortex.
Some blenders provide higher power compared to food processors. This enables faster blade rotation, breaking down tough ingredients for smoother results.
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Food Processor Specialties: These Creations Call for Your Food Processor
Dry ingredients: Food processors can chop, slice or grate ingredients without adding any liquid.
Bread crumbs: Dried or day-old bread can be ground coarsely or finely in seconds. Try adding herbs for a custom blend.
Dough: Many food processors such as the KitchenAid® 7-Cup Food Processor Plus come with a specialized dough blade to knead without adding heat. Use the pulse setting and do not overdo it. Over-kneaded dough will have tough gluten strands and will not rise well.
Shredding cheeses: Use the shredding disc to get freshly shredded cheese for sauces and casseroles in minutes. Fresh cheese melts better and has more flavor than pre-shredded in the store.
Shredding veggies: The shredding disc can also be used to shred a range of vegetables for salads, hash brown potatoes, and also works great for creating mounds of coleslaw.
Chopping, dicing, or slicing vegetables: Use the multi-purpose blade to quickly chop or mince onions, peppers, carrots, celery and more. Switch to the slicing disc to make sliced cucumbers, carrots, cheese or charcuterie. Get perfect slices for a sweet and savory vanilla bean sweet potato gratin. Although a blender can technically chop vegetables in small batches, it will create more liquid as it performs, which changes the consistency and presentation of your vegetables. Chopping progress is harder to monitor due to a much higher blade speed (even on low settings) which processes very quickly. However, if you have an immersion blender with a food chopper attachment, you can use that attachment to handle chopping vegetables. Only food processors with slicing disc blades can create slices.
Pesto, Pâté, & Tapenades: A food processor will allow you to make quick pesto sauces, pâtés, or olive tapenades. Quickly bring together roasted garlic, spinach, lemon, and cashews for a versatile spread or topping. You control how large the pieces are in your sauce or spread to get a mixed texture you prefer.
Riced cauliflower or other vegetables: Ricing vegetables is an easy way to reduce carbs in your diet, or add versatility to your recipe. The food processor’s sharp blades finely chop florets for easy riced cauliflower or a broccoli-cauliflower blend, plus you can chop to your preferred size.
Mincing meat: If you don’t have a standalone meat grinder or the food grinder attachment for your KitchenAid® Stand Mixer, you can simulate grinding by mincing your choice of meats in your food processor. Use quick pulses until the meat is the texture you prefer. You cannot mince meat in a blender as the raw cuts will get wrapped around the blender blades.
Why the Food Processor is Better Than a Blender in These Cases
The blades rotate slower than a blender to provide greater control. The larger s-shaped blades produce precise cuts at slower speeds.
Food processors have several blades to perform a variety of tasks. The feeder tube allows you to add a little at once and to push or tamp the ingredients toward the blades.
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Take Your Pick: You Can Use a Blender or a Food Processor for these Recipes
If you’ve invested in a powerful blender or one with attachments, it can handle so much more than merely making smoothies. Use your blender or your food processor for these foods and ingredients:
Hummus. Either appliance will successfully blend chickpeas, olive oil, tahini and garlic. You may need to blend in batches in your blender if you are making a large portion. Try this blender hummus recipe from KitchenAid®, or this edamame hummus you can make in your KitchenAid® 3.5 cup food chopper.
Smooth salsas: If you’re looking to make a chunky salsa, use your food processor. But if your salsa or sauce will be a blended, smooth liquid, either your blender or your food processor can create a pureed mixture of vegetables, herbs and spices. A blender will create a smoother, more liquid texture.
Salad dressings: Either an immersion blender, a counter blender, or a food processor will help you create smooth and creamy emulsifications such as salad dressings and mayonnaise. Try this recipe for a delicious homemade Green Goddess dressing.
Pesto: Get the rich taste and texture of pesto sauce in either your blender or food processor. Using an immersion blender is also possible.
Whipped cream: You can make this light and airy topping with a traditional blender, immersion blender, or a food chopper such as the KitchenAid 5-cup model with a whisk accessory that quickly transforms liquid into fluffy, homemade whipped cream. Add your heavy whipping cream, powdered sugar and vanilla to the blender jar or food processor work bowl and use a high speed.
In a Pinch, a Blender Can Do these Tasks
If you find yourself without access to a food processor or mixer, you can use your blender to help with these tasks. Keep in mind that it won’t have precisely the same results, but your blender will make it possible:
Cake or pancake batters: Typically, you mix batters in your stand mixer or with your hand mixer. If you don’t have a mixer on hand, you can mix batter in a blender. Just make sure not to overdo it or your cake will fall flat. Blenders spin faster than a mixer even on its highest setting, so take that into account. Use the pulse setting for best control.
Make bread crumbs: A countertop blender can substitute for a food processor to make bread crumbs, but only if you use a small amount of dried bread at a time. Cut dried bread slices into quarters and add up to one slice to your blender and process on pulse. Empty the blender jar and add an additional piece if needed. An immersion blender is not recommended for making bread crumbs.
Grate hard cheeses: If you have a high-powered blender, you can process hard, aged cheeses such as parmesan or romano. It’ll take a bit more time than using a food processor as you’ll need to cut the hard cheese into 2” chunks, and only grate a small amount at a time. Use your heavy-duty blender’s pulse setting in quick bursts until the cheese reaches your desired texture. Empty the jar between small batches.
KitchenAid® Blender and Food Processor Options for All Your Culinary Creations
A blender and a food processor each allow you to explore new recipes, tastes, and textures with added ease. Each one offers specialized features that make them the best choice for certain tasks. Having the right small appliance to optimize your making is critical to bringing your recipes to reality.
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