When it comes to buying kitchen appliances, the question often comes down to this: what's the difference between a food processor and a blender?
If you’re wanting to make healthier choices by cooking more meals at home, you’re likely debating which kitchen tools you’ll need to make your life easier.
Whether you have limited counter/storage space in your kitchen, you’re on a budget, or you’re very mindful of clutter, buying both a food processor and a blender may not be a good fit for you.
So, how do you decide which one to get?
Keep reading to find out the similarities, differences, and best and worst foods for a food processor vs blender.
Plus my favorite, long-lasting, high-quality brands for each and tips for buying on a budget.
Differences Between Food Processor vs Blender
At first glance, a food processor and a blender seem quite similar. They both have spinning blades and a powerful motor inside the base and they break down solid food.
But, those are the only similarities. They perform quite differently due to their bowl shapes and the way the blades spin.
A food processor has a wide, flat mixing bowl and comes with a variety of blade attachments.
A majority of the time, all you need is the S-shaped blade, which has two very sharp blades at different heights. The higher blade chops while the lower blade mixes by sweeping the bottom of the bowl.
The other blades allow you to shred and slice making it a very versatile appliance.
Although food processor bowls come in many sizes, it's best to get a bigger size bowl. An 8-cup bowl is ideal. If you're feeding a large family, you can opt for an 11-cup bowl.
TOP CHOICE FOR FOOD PROCESSOR: Cuisinart.
A blender has a tall, deep bowl with upward-facing blades at the bottom. When the motor is running, the blades create a vortex motion that pushes the contents down towards the blade to break the ingredients up.
Unlike a food processor's blades, the blades in a blender crush food. This is why a blender works well when liquifying and pureeing food, and also crushing ice. Any time you want a smooth, even consistency, a blender is the best choice.
TOP CHOICE FOR BLENDER: Vitamix.
When to Use a Food Processor vs Blender
If you're still feeling unsure of when to use a food processor vs blender, let's take a look at the best times to use each appliance depending on what you're making.
Best Foods for Food Processors
The food processor is kind of like a bag of tricks. You wouldn't know all the things it's capable of doing just by looking at it.
If you have one, but it's barely been used aka collecting dust in your cupboard, there's still time to put it to great use.
Food processors work well at breaking down hard foods like nuts and seeds, chopping, and combining different textures.
Some of my favorite things to make with a food processor are:
- various kinds of pesto: walnut basil, arugula pesto, pesto rosso, or cilantro pesto
- homemade breadcrumbs - so easy and way more flavorful than storebought
- vegan sundried tomato pâté
- homemade cashew butter
- super creamy roasted red pepper hummus
- vegan cashew ricotta or almond ricotta (both can also be made in a blender)
- mixing dough for homemade pizza or bread
- chopping, shredding, slicing vegetables (especially great for onions - no more crying!)
- apple cabbage salad (made super easy with the shredder attachment)
- 3 ingredient peanut butter oatmeal balls
- granola bars
- dairy free cauliflower mash
WHAT TO AVOID: Food processors don't do well with liquids. So, avoid putting smoothies or soups in there, unless you love a good food tornado in the middle of your kitchen.
Best Foods for Blenders
A blender works best for liquids and getting things smooth and velvety. Their deep base prevents liquids from shooting out the top (just don't overfill the bowl).
The best foods for the blender are:
- smoothies: strawberry banana smoothie without yogurt, green pina colada smoothie, or mango kiwi smoothie
- mocktails: watermelon slushie mocktail
- soups: roasted tomato soup with basil or creamy chicken corn chowder
- making dairy-free milk or cashew cream
- drinks like this naturally sweetened Italian cream soda or an Indonesian avocado shake
- sauces like my egg-free mayo
- salad dressings: poppy seed dressing or any simple vinaigrette
- homemade dairy-free cheeses: dairy free mozzarella or ricotta
WHAT TO AVOID: Avoid using a blender for ricing/chopping vegetables, mixing dough, and anything that's too dry, and will clump up on the sides.
Food Processor vs Blender Conclusion
Now that you know the similarities and differences between food processors and blenders, you'll be able to better judge which one (if not both) you'll use the most.
I like to think of any kitchen tool as an investment in my health and my overall well-being. Learn why in this article: 5 ways cooking can greatly improve your life.
Buying on a Budget?
While it will seem expensive upfront, the majority of food processors and blenders come with long warranties.
For how often you use them, you'll get your money's worth because of the length of time they last.
You can also buy them through a payment plan (that's how I bought my Vitamix, which I've had for more than a decade).
If you can't find a payment plan, another option is to look at second-hand shops, buy a refurbished appliance, ask for your birthday/holiday, etc.
My Cuisinart food processor was a hand-me-down from my mom that I've had for the past 8 or 9 years).
Whichever appliance you decide to go with, you'll see what a huge difference they make by minimizing your time in the kitchen, streamlining the process, and creating variety so you don't get sick of eating the same thing over and over again.