A blender and a food processor… Do you really need to buy both?
Could you manage to do everything using only your regular blender? If you only have the money to buy one, which one is the most useful appliance to have?
Luxury or necessity? Does every household really need a blender and food processor?
They both have blades and operate similarly if you generalize their function. Both machines were created to cut, process and blend food. But not quite the same kind of food.
So can you just use a blender as a food processor? Yes, you can use a blender as a food processor for some things as long as you use smaller batches. Bread, hard cheese, baby food, and things like pesto can be made in a blender. Other foods may be best in a food processor.
It might take you longer to process a certain preparation in a blender, because you will need to work in smaller batches, so take that into account when getting ready to cook.
Keep reading this article to clarify, once and for all, the doubts you have about blenders and food processors and their uses.
Blender Vs. Food Processor
Before getting into the discussion of whether you can use a blender as a food processor and vice versa, you need to understand the main differences between the two.
A huge difference is that the blenders have been designed for mostly liquid foods. You can use it to make a delicious smoothie or a frozen margarita, for example.
Food processors, on the other hand, are designed to be used for various food preparation tasks. They are used for more strenuous and/or monotonous tasks, such as mixing dough and slicing veggies.
Food processors also excel at tasks that you’d otherwise have to do by hand, such as chopping and shredding.
Some blenders are pretty powerful and can step into role’s typically thought of for food processors, but there are also some distinctive differences.
If you’ve ever looked into buying a food processor, you’ve probably seen the list of all its capabilities, including chopping, slicing, grating, blending and even puréeing.
If you are looking for blenders, though they have become more capable over the years, you will realize they still don’t do much besides blend.
A powerful blender will be able to crush ice, and higher-end models are capable of blending and mixing more difficult recipes and textures, from ice cream to almond butter.
But normally, a regular blender won’t be able to match the number of things a food processor can do.
Take into consideration that most blenders are often built with features that make them ideal for making purées, smoothies and soups.
Some blenders have a built-in easy pour cup, and others are smaller and have been created for you to drink directly from the same container you made your protein shake in.
Blenders were designed to contain liquids and handle them in the best way. Blenders are able to pulverize and combine wet ingredients with dry ones.
For example, if you are making a creamy soup, you can blend cooked pumpkin and onions with chicken broth to get the desired consistency.
By using a food processor, it will be very difficult to include liquids like chicken broth. In fact, it’s not advised.
Can You Use A Blender As A Food Processor?
Technically, yes, you can use a blender as a food processor, but it won’t work for everything.
Most blenders are not powerful enough to shred and seriously chop rubbery veggies. But some blenders are powerful enough to chop some things smaller on settings like “pulse.”
Softer items you would put in a food processor are more likely to work in a blender. But just make sure they’re not too sticky or likely to clump up, like flour. This will likely be too tough for blender blades to work through adequately.
Blender Vs. Food Processor, Which To Use?
So, which of the two appliances is the one for you? Let’s make it simple: if the preparations you usually make are liquid-heavy, you probably would benefit more from a blender.
If you deal with bulky ingredients like flour or butter a lot, you probably would make the most of a food processor.
Nevertheless, the line between food processors and blenders is becoming thinner, and you can now find high-end appliances that handle the tasks of both greatly. These multi-function appliances can save money and precious counter space.
You’re probably not surprised to hear that, according to the Association of Home Appliance Manufacturers (AHAM) more than 90% of households in the United States own at least one personal or full-size blender.
So, there’s a large market of people who can benefit from scaling down to one appliance that does it all.
How Do You Use A Blender As A Food Processor?
First of all, you always need to begin by setting your blender’s speed to low.
Then, you need to make sure that all the blender’s settings are changed to “normal,” rather than “purée” or “liquid” modes.
A very important thing to remember: Do not add liquid if you’re trying to use a blender as a food processor.
For a course food, such as bread crumbs, you will want to use the pulse setting. This way you can slowly and smoothly get to the desired texture.
If your blender does not have a pulse setting, run the blender on the highest mode possible for 30 seconds at a time.
If you are looking for a purée consistency, you can simply set your blender on purée mode and blend until everything is smooth.
Remember, you need to be willing to work with smaller batches if you want this to work smoothly. If you add a whole lot of ingredients at once, you might cause your device to be damaged.
In the next few paragraphs, you will be able to get detailed instructions on how to process certain foods in a blender and get the results a food processor would have given you:
For Bread Crumbs
Working in smaller batches is key when processing food in a blender, but especially with bread crumbs
Here’s how to make bread crumbs in a food processor:
- Start with two or three pieces of toasted bread and slice them into quarters.
- Start by placing a maximum of four quarters of crispy/toasted bread in the blender jar.
- Work with the pulse button until you process your bread into bread crumbs in the desired size.
- Repeat the process with the remaining bread quarters.
You will get about half a cup of bread crumbs this way.
What happens if you do not have a pulse button? You need to run the blender on high for 30 seconds at a time, and you will get similar results.
For Shredded Cheese
What? You can shred cheese in a blender? Yes, if you are patient enough, you will be able to achieve it. But only with a HARD cheese.
Here’s how to shred cheese in a blender:
- Dice your hard cheese (cheddar, parmesan, gouda, swiss, etc.) into two to three inches chunks.
- Place a maximum of ¼ cup of cheese in the blender jar at a time.
- Then, turn it to high speed for 30 seconds at a time. You can do so several times until you get the desired consistency.
This is perfect for shredding cheese for a pasta or a lasagna, or even an eggplant parmigiana.
For Chimichurri Or Pesto
You will be able to make homemade pesto or chimichurri in a blender, too:
- Place 3/4 cup of extra virgin olive oil, 3/4 cup Parmesan cheese, 2 cups basil leaves (or parsley if you are going for Argentinian Chimichurri), 3 minced garlic cloves, and 1/4 cup pine nuts (if it’s pesto you are making) in the blender jar.
- Turn the blender on medium speed and begin processing for 30 seconds to 1 minute.
- Checking the consistency as you go, continue processing until smooth and creamy.
For Baby Food
You can definitely use your blender to make your baby delicious and soft foods.
All you need to do is place a quarter cup of cooked veggies in the blender jar. Then turn the blender on purée mode (or high mode if yours does not have a purée mode) and blend everything until smooth.
Here’s a great low-down of different blenders and other tools you can use to make baby food, if you’re looking to make more at home:
When To Use A Food Processor Instead
You can use a blender as a food processor with a lot of recipes.
For example, you can turn oat flakes into gluten-free and high protein flour for your morning pancakes using a blender and a food processor, and the result will be very similar.
The only difference is that with a food processor you could do a couple of cups at a time, while with the blender you might want to go a half a cup at a time just to make sure you do not force its power.
And for some things, it’s just wayyyyy better to use a food processor.
If you are willing to make peanut butter or almond butter, you might want to use a food processor, unless your blender is very powerful.
If you use a blender, you might have to add some water or extra oil to get to a creamy consistency, and that might cause that your nut butter becomes more liquid than you intended to.
You will not have that problem with a food processor, because you won’t need to add anything but the nuts to get them to a creamy and buttery point.
Another thing you really shouldn’t try to process in a blender is meat.
If you’re trying to create your own beef patties for a tasty homemade burger, you would be better off using a food processor to make ground meat.
The truth is, you never really know what’s in the ground meat they sell at the supermarket. If you own a food processor, you can buy whole cuts of chuck, sirloin, or whatever you prefer, and grind it yourself!
A fun family homemade pasta night can turn into a nightmare when the time to clean your kitchen comes. By using a food processor, you can make pasta dough with less mess.
If you own a food processor, you can generate a batch of pasta dough and have it ready in no longer than two minutes.
The food processor blade mixes those eggs into the flour faster than your fingers ever could; and it gives the dough a good kneading at the same time.
You will have your dough ready in no time, without getting the table all messy with flour and eggs.
The famous Middle Eastern chickpeas spread is, in fact, very easy to make. You will need cooked chickpeas, tahini, extra virgin olive oil, some paprika and salt and pepper.
These are the basic ingredients, and you can always get creative with lemon juice or even avocado or beet, to add a different flavor twist.
Although some people say that they have made hummus in a blender (and you can try, of course!), the texture you get when making it in the food processor is way different and way better.
Since the blender has come to this world to process mostly liquid foods, you will for sure end up adding water or more extra virgin olive oil than needed and your hummus will become runny.
So, it is better to make it in a food processor, hands down.
Blender Vs. Food Processor, Food Summary
Here is a table that might give you a better idea on which device to use depending on the recipe you are looking forward to creating:
|Soups and purées
|Dips and spreads
|Doug and crust for pastries, pasta, and breads
Should I Get A Food Processor Or A Blender?
With all the information you have by now, you should already know that the answer is not universal. It basically depends on what you generally cook.
Of course, you can benefit from having both kitchen appliances, but sometimes you don’t have the money or the space for both.
If purchasing both is not possible, you should determine what to tend to cook most frequently: are you thinking soups, purées, smoothies and dressings? The blender is your answer.
If you need help with mincing or chopping vegetables and fruits, making butters or making dough from scratch, then the food processor is best for you.
Also, you should know that there are other appliances and kitchen supplies that can be used instead of a blender to helps you grind, chop or grate ingredients for your recipes.
Some of your options are:
- A mixer
- A chopper
- A grinder
- A rolling pin and a plastic bag
- A grater
- A set of knives
- A mortar
To mince meat, you can try a grinder. To shred cheese, a grater is the perfect alternative. You get the idea! It might take you a bit longer, but it will get you to the result you are looking for without using a food processor.
Can A Food Processor Be Used As A Blender?
Now that we know that a blender can, sometimes, substitute a food processor, it’s only normal to wonder if it also goes the other way around.
Well, you can use a food processor as a blender, to an extent. There are some exceptions of course.
Food processors are not meant to handle liquids like a blender does. Anything that is extremely fluid or watery, like a smoothie, a soup or crêpe batter, has to be made in a blender.
But if you are making salsa, for example, you can make it in a food processor and in a blender, with slightly different textures (the first one more chunky than the second one).
If you need to chop large amounts of produce, a food processor if your best friend. You cannot use a blender to chop, but you can use it to blitz cooked veggies.
To conclude, and if you are having a hard time deciding, you should know that there are some high-end blenders that come with a food processor attachment. These perform some of the functions of a whole food processor.
Take for instance the Nutribullet Magic Bullet Kitchen Express. This blender and food processor combo might be the best way to go for you.