Food Processor vs Mixer: What’s The Difference?
There’s no doubt that both food processors and stand mixers are versatile and powerful tools for any culinary endeavor. With a variety of functions, both mixers and food processors allow you to whip, mix, chop, mince and more when using different attachments and accessories. So, no matter where you stand in the food processor vs stand mixer debate, they can both be invaluable kitchen tools.
Understanding the differences between food processor vs stand mixer
The difference between a stand mixer and a food processor comes down to how they interact with ingredients. A stand mixer uses various beaters to mix, knead, whip and mash ingredients. A food processor uses blades and discs to cut food which allows you to chop, puree, slice, shred and sometimes more.
Accessories and attachments for either appliance can extend their basic capabilities. For example, select KitchenAid® food processors come with a dough blade specially designed to help you tackle a range of recipes. All KitchenAid® stand mixers are compatible with attachments1 that transform it into a fully-functioning food processor or help you achieve certain food processing tasks like shredding and slicing.
With their accessories and attachments, both the stand mixer and food processor can tackle a variety of tasks with varying levels of success. Below you’ll find how each tool fares with different tasks.
Whisking and Mixing
Food Processor: If you use your food processor's blade to mix, keep in mind that you may also be pureeing at the same time. This works well for recipes like hummus or pesto where both mixing and pureeing are needed, or liquid recipes where chopping is not an issue. However, if you want to mix without further cutting your food, look for a food processor that includes additional accessories. The same goes for whisking—use a food processor, like the KitchenAid® 5 Cup Food Chopper, that includes a whisk accessory so you can whisk, whip and stir without a blade.
Stand Mixer: A mixer is a powerhouse when it comes to whisking and mixing. Some stand mixers feature around 10 speeds, and can usually whisk delicate egg whites or thoroughly mix different ingredients to the perfect consistency you need, so you can make anything from delicate pavlovas to puffed quinoa granola bars. KitchenAid® stand mixers include a flat or flex edge beater and wire whip to help with all your whipping and mixing tasks.
Chopping, Cutting and Grating
Food Processor: A food processor’s primary function is to cut food so you’ll get great results with tasks like chopping, slicing, grating, or shredding with your food processor. Typical food processors come with a multipurpose blade and various discs specially designed for these tasks. Chop herbs, slice zucchini and grate cheese all with your food processor in a fraction of the time than it would if you were slicing, cutting or chopping by hand, with hardly any mess.
Stand Mixer: Out of the box, stand mixers won’t be able to do any cutting or chopping. However, you can buy additional attachments for KitchenAid® stand mixers that can perform a variety of tasks like shredding, slicing and grinding or grating. You can also buy a food processor attachment with a commercial-style dicing kit that makes your stand mixer a two-in-one appliance (or even a 10-in-1 with over 10 different attachments to choose from).
Food Processor: Food processors will technically puree your ingredients, rather than mash. However, you can achieve a very similar result to hand mashing a variety of ingredients like potatoes, avocados, roasted eggplant and more. If you prefer a more rustic, lumpy consistency, use your pulse function to keep a close eye on your progress.
Stand Mixer: Use a flat beater to effortlessly mash potatoes and other ingredients in the bowl of your stand mixer. A stand mixer can be the ideal tool to help you finish off a range of recipes that require mashing while mixing in other ingredients. Add avocados to the bowl along with chopped cilantro, garlic, peppers and onions for mashed guacamole bursting with fresh flavors.
Thick and Thin Juices
Food Processor: Chopping and pureeing fruits is a simple task for your food processor, but it isn’t made for proper juicing. With some additional ingredients, you can make a smoothie with your food processor, but even this task is better performed in a blender.
Stand Mixer: While you won’t be able to juice with a stand mixer alone, adding the right attachments can give you all sorts of fresh juices. Whether you’re looking for freshly squeezed orange juice, or even cold pressed juices, KitchenAid® stand mixers offer a variety of attachments like the juicer and sauce attachment that would make juicing an effortless task. Or create fresh jams, sauces, baby foods and more with the Fruit and Vegetable Strainer attachment.
Pasta & Doughs
Food Processor: If your food processor comes with a dough blade, you can use it for kneading dough. However, since they typically have smaller work bowls, you may have to work in smaller batches. Since the blade is on the bottom of the work bowl, it may be harder to reach all ingredients, making a stand mixer a better choice for larger batches of dough.
Stand Mixer: Most stand mixers will come equipped with a dough hook accessory as one of the primary functions of a stand mixer is to knead dough. Additionally, some have pasta maker attachments available for purchase. The KitchenAid® stand mixer, for instance, is great for making fresh pasta to serve an authentic Italian Sunday night dinner. With the 3-Piece Pasta Roller & Cutter you can cut spaghetti and fettuccine with ease. Or explore all KitchenAid® pasta and grain attachments to make tube pasta, wide lasagnette noodles and so much more.
Meat & Protein
Food Processor: Since your food processor comes with multipurpose blades that are meant to tackle a variety of ingredients, a food processor is an excellent choice for chopping different types of meats. However, a food processor does not typically have the ability to thoroughly grind meat the way a stand mixer equipped with a grinder can.
Stand Mixer: On its own, you can’t use your stand mixer for the purpose of chopping or grinding meat. However, the beauty of a KitchenAid® stand mixer is that it’s meant to offer versatility, so by purchasing the Metal Food Grinder attachment that can connect to your mixer, not only can you grind meat, you can even go as far as stuffing your own sausage.
Can a stand mixer replace a food processor?
While a stand mixer will offer you extensive help in the kitchen, it cannot replace a food processor by itself. Ultimately, they hold two different roles, and while there are ways to adapt your stand mixer for some functions of a food processor, you’ll have to do so by purchasing additional attachments that can give you the same functionalities.
Stand Mixer & Food Processor Attachments
KitchenAid offers an extensive collection of stand mixer attachments and accessories that can be purchased separately for all sorts of tasks, including a food processor attachment that will allow you to cut, chop and slice anything from vegetables to hard cheeses. Or one featuring a commercial-style dicing kit that allows you to dice and julienne. Or choose attachments for more specific tasks like a spiralizer, vegetable sheet cutter or slicer/shredder.
Do you need both a stand mixer and a food processor?
Whether you need both a stand mixer and food processor will be totally up to you and your cooking needs. Both are incredibly useful and offer tons of versatility, but have different basic functions. A stand mixer on its own is an essential tool for mixing, mashing, whipping and other in-bowl functions that help with baking, large batch meal prep and beyond. A food processor is designed for prepping fresh produce like fruits, vegetables, cheeses and more, along with pureeing or whipping soups, dips, and more. If you frequently bake and cook a wide variety of dishes, you will benefit from having both. If it ultimately comes down to versatility, both are great contenders, but a countertop appliance like a KitchenAid® stand mixer offers just a bit more with all accessories and attachments available.
1. Attachments sold separately
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