A food processor with butter and graham crackers

TIPS & TRICKS

How to Use a Food Processor Step by Step

Using a food processor quickly expands your possibilities in the kitchen. You can use functions like chop, mix, puree, slice and more all in one versatile appliance, leaving you more time to be the master—and taste-tester—of your culinary creations. Knowing how to use a food processor will open up a world of new possibilities that go far beyond basic prepping. This helpful guide will provide you with step by step instructions on how to use a food processor to its full potential.

A person using a food processor filled with shredded carrots

Instructions to Use a Food Processor

Before you can start to use a food processor, the first thing you will have to do is put it together. Whether you're starting out with a small food chopper like the KitchenAid® 3.5 Cup Food Chopper or something more robust like the KitchenAid® 13 Cup Food Processor, assembly will always come first.

1. Set Up the Base

This is the heaviest part of the food processor that contains the motor. Make sure you set up your food processor on a flat, sturdy surface.

Attaching work bowl

2. Attach the Work Bowl

This is the clear plastic container that attaches to your food processor base. They come in various sizes, depending on the capacity of your food processor. KitchenAid brand makes models varying from 3.5 or 5-cup food choppers, 7-cup, 9-cup and 13-cup food processors and the Pro Line® larger capacity models.

The KitchenAid® 7, 9 and 13-cup food processors feature work bowls and latched lids that click into place for easy, twist-free assembly. Your food processor will not operate if the work bowl is not attached correctly and fully locked in place.

If you have an older KitchenAid® model, you’ll need to line up your bowl at about 90 degrees from the insertion point, then twist it until it drops onto the base and locks into place.

If you’re ready to upgrade to innovative new designs for easier setup, there are many models of KitchenAid® food processors for you to choose from.

Inserting the drive adaptor

3. Insert the Drive Adaptor

Most food processors come with a removable drive shaft adaptor that your blades and discs will slide over. Place the drive adapter in the work bowl, onto the built-in drive pin. On KitchenAid® food processors, this drive adaptor does not click or lock in place. Just lower it onto the drive pin—no need to push or twist.

4. Choose a Blade

Shredding disc

Slicer or Shredder Disc – Most food processors come with a reversible slicer and shredder/grater disc or multiple discs for thicker or thinner slices. To install these food processor accessories, first slide the drive adaptor over the center drive pin, pushing it down as far as it will go. Set the disc on top of the drive shaft adaptor using the hole in the center of the disc. It will rest on the drive adaptor at the top of the bowl.

Multi-purpose blade

Multi-Purpose or “S” Blade – This classic food processor accessory fits over the drive pin in the center of the work bowl and base. It has two very sharp-angled blades opposite each other on the shaft. For the KitchenAid® 3.5 or 5-cup food chopper, press down to lock the blade in place. You will hear an audible click. On larger KitchenAid® models, attach the drive adapter over the pin, then slide the multi-purpose blade over the adapter, pushing down as far as it will go.

Dough blade

Dough Blade – Some food processors come with a special dough blade to use for kneading dough or similar tasks. The smooth edges of this blade assist with a kneading action for things like creating a pie crust with your food processor. This blade attaches in the same way as the multi-purpose blade.

Attaching work bowl cover
Attaching work bowl cover

5. Attach the Work Bowl Cover

This clear plastic lid secures to your work bowl, after you have attached your choice of blades. Again, the lid must fit securely to the work bowl in order for the food processor to operate. On all newer KitchenAid® food processor models, the lid is hinged to the work bowl. Simply flip it to cover the bowl then secure it with the locking tab to make a seal. On older models, you set the lid down on the bowl and twist until it lines up with the bowl and locks in place.

Larger food processor models often have multiple feed tubes for adding ingredients during processing and/or a food pusher for pushing an ingredient slowly toward the blades. Insert the smaller feed tubes/food pushers all the way into the larger built-in feeding tube in the lid until it is flush. On some models, the food pusher locks into place with an audible click. On newer KitchenAid brand models, the feed tube and pushers simply stack inside one another.

6. Select a Food Processor Setting

Now that your food processor is properly assembled, you’re ready to make culinary magic by chopping, pureeing, shredding, slicing, mixing, or kneading your ingredients. You can choose food processor functions like:

  • Chop - Chop or mince vegetables, fruits, meats, nuts and more

  • Puree - Turn cooked fruits and vegetables into a smooth puree or paste

  • Pulse - Quick burst operation for precision chopping or pureeing

  • High - Runs the food processor continuously at a high speed

  • Low - Runs the food processor continuously at a low speed

Refer to your exact model to learn what functions you have for operating your food processor. KitchenAid® 3.5-cup and 5-cup food choppers have a lever to slide from chop to puree as well as a pulse function. Larger models such as the 7-cup and 9-cup have three buttons for high speed, low speed and pulse.

Tips for Food Processor Use

When learning how to use a food processor, it’s important to determine what you need to do with your ingredients to best complement your dish. Depending on what you’re planning to make, there are a variety of ways to use a food processor. You can chop, puree, shred, knead and so much more.

Minced salsa in a work bowl

How Do You Chop or Mince in a Food Processor?

To chop or mince ingredients in a food processor, you’ll want to start with a multi-purpose blade. Before adding ingredients to the bowl, it’s best to cut larger food items like raw fruits, chicken and vegetables into smaller, 1-inch pieces. This helps ensure you end up with consistently chopped pieces. 

 

Evenly fill the work bowl no more than halfway and attach the lid. To control the consistency of your chopped food, use a pulse setting. This allows you to keep an eye on the outcome of your ingredients so they don't become over-processed or accidentally turn into a paste.

Pesto sauce in a work bowl

How Do You Puree in a Food Processor?

To make a puree also requires the use of a multi-purpose blade. This process is similar to chopping. Cut your ingredients into 1-inch pieces to ensure a smooth consistency. Evenly fill the bowl no more than 2/3 full and attach the lid. You can now use the puree setting on your food processor.

Shredded cabbage and carrots

How Do You Use a Food Processor to Shred, Grate or Slice?

To shred, grate or slice your ingredients, you will want to use a slicing/shredding disc. Foods shred best when they are cold. Keep your food items refrigerated until you’re ready to shred, grate or slice them. Attach the disc to the top of the drive adaptor and lock it into place along with the lid.


Set the food processor to your desired speed, and insert your ingredients into the food tube. If your food processor includes a food pusher, use it to press harder food items like raw vegetables and fruits into the food tube.

A food processor with dough

How Do You Use a Food Processor to Knead?

To knead dough with a food processor, you will want to use a dough blade if included with your model. You can use your food processor's multi-purpose blade, but it would be best to use the dull edges of a plastic blade to knead the dough properly.

A food processor with butter and graham crackers

How Do You Fold or Mix with a Food Processor?

To mix ingredients with a food processor, use a multi-purpose blade. This process is also similar to chopping—only for less time. Use quick pulses and monitor your mixture to make sure you don’t overdo it.

You can also use a food processor to cut butter into flour or cream butter with sugar. Fold chocolate chips into your cannoli cream or mix up some delicious sauces and dressings. You can slowly add liquids to your work bowl while the food processor is running if your appliance features a drizzle basin, or through the food tube on larger models.

A food processor with shredded cabbage

Can you Dice with a Food Processor?

To dice with a food processor, you will need a model with that specific capability. The KitchenAid® 13-Cup Food Processor with Dicing Kit includes a dicing kit that quickly creates consistent, uniform cubes. First, you'll need to install the upper drive adaptor and then the dicing kit. 

 

Choose your desired speed. You can then use the included food pusher to push ingredients down the feed tube and into the work bowl to dice them.

A food processor can be a valuable kitchen tool to have in your collection. This versatile countertop appliance offers capabilities that make food prep quick and easy, so you can readily master your next dish. Even a smaller food chopper can be a great addition to your kitchen. With a food processor or food chopper in your hands, the culinary possibilities are endless.

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