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.
Every blender and food processor are different and may include a range of varying accessories depending on the model. However, you can usually count on these factors when considering blenders vs food processors:
Read on for more detailed answers to your food processor vs blender questions, 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.
DIFFERENCES BETWEEN A FOOD PROCESSOR AND BLENDER
DIFFERENT BLADES FOR BLENDERS VS FOOD PROCESSORS
BLENDERS HAVE FIXED BLADES
Traditional blenders usually feature one blade at the bottom of the jar that cannot be switched out. This blade can feature multiple points at various angles that help thoroughly blend ingredients. This single blade is perfect for crushing ice, finely pureeing and even liquifying ingredients.
Select KitchenAid® blenders feature a unique asymmetric blade that blends at four distinct angles to pull ice into the center and power through the toughest ingredients.
FOOD PROCESSORS HAVE MULTIPLE DISCS OR BLADES
Many food processors come with multiple blades and/or discs. The blades are used to puree, chop, mix and sometimes knead in the work bowl. Some food processors also come with a whisk accessory that allows you to whisk, whip and stir. In-bowl blades and accessories usually slide over a drive adaptor and a drive pin at the bottom of the bowl. Food processor discs sit at the top of the work bowl, below the feed tube and allow you to slice, shred and sometimes dice as ingredients are pushed into the disc through the feed tube.
BLENDER VS FOOD PROCESSOR WORK BOWLS AND JARS
BLENDERS HAVE TALL JARS
A blender jar’s tall sides help contain liquid recipes as they blend. The height and shape also help keep ingredients circulating throughout the jar and blades for even blending. The pitcher-like jar usually features a handle and pouring lip or beveled edges, perfect for transferring liquid ingredients.
Select KitchenAid® blenders feature a ribbed jar design that folds content back into the blade to create a powerful blending vortex.
FOOD PROCESSORS HAVE WIDE WORK BOWLS
Food processors feature wide, flat blades and discs to achieve specific cuts like slices or shreds. A wider work bowl gives the appliance space to process whole or larger ingredients like sweet potatoes or cucumbers. Larger food processor bowls also provide more capacity for large batches.
Select KitchenAid® food processors feature a sealed, leak-resistant work bowl with rounded corners and smooth surfaces so less food gets trapped in the bowl and lid for easy cleanup.
SIMILARITIES BETWEEN A FOOD PROCESSOR AND BLENDER
The setup for blenders vs food processors is actually quite similar. In most cases, both blenders and food processors feature a motor housed in a base. The container that holds your ingredients—a jar or work bowl—sits on top of this motor base and contains blades or discs that process or blend your food. You can use the appliances interchangeably for some recipes, though each one has certain tasks it handles better than the other.
WHAT TO MAKE IN A BLENDER: SPECIALTIES, 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 you can drink or eat 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.
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.
Smooth baby food: Use your blender to puree roasted vegetables or fresh fruits for your little one just learning to eat new foods. A blender will let you create smooth flavor creations and help baby learn to love fresh and healthy ingredients. And, you can be in full control of the type and quality of ingredients when you make it yourself. Select KitchenAid® blenders are compatible with a small batch jar so you can also make just a serving or two for ultra-fresh baby food.
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.
Some blenders provide higher power compared to food processors. This enables faster blade rotation, breaking down tough ingredients for smoother results. Get tips and tricks on how to use a blender for a range of recipes.
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BEST FOOD PROCESSOR RECIPES, SPECIALITIES & TASKS
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.
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.
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. Learn more about how to use a food processor for a range of recipes and tasks.
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FOOD PROCESSOR VS BLENDER? TAKE YOUR PICK
Most blenders can handle so much more than merely making smoothies and the versatility of a food processor may surprise you. Use either your blender or your food processor for these foods and ingredients—both can help you explore your own unique take on these recipes and more.
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, 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.
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. If you don’t have a mixer, shop KitchenAid® stand mixers and hand mixers to unlock even more techniques in the kitchen.
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. Want to learn more? Get our tips and tricks for the best ways to use a food processor or let us help you choose the best blender for your kitchen.
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