Which Should You Buy: a Food Processor or a Blender?

Here's how to decide between a food processor and blender

While it might seem like a food processor and a blender are interchangeable, they both have their strengths (and weaknesses) in the kitchen. If you only have the space for one of these appliances or you want to prioritize which one to add to your kitchen arsenal first, it pays to think about what you’ll be using it for most often.

Let’s start with blenders. If the foods you prepare have more of a liquid consistency—soups, smoothies, milkshakes, frozen drinks, and so on—a blender will be your best...MORE bet. Thanks to their tall, narrow jars and lids with a watertight seal, they can handle all those wet ingredients. And some even come with smaller cups or containers to allow you to make single servings of your breakfast smoothie.

Food processors, on the other hand, are better at handling drier ingredients or chopping veggies before you put them into your soup. The wide flat blade and larger, shallower container makes the food processor ideal for mixing pie dough, kneading bread dough, and shredding veggies or cheese.

There are a few areas of overlap, however. Food processors and most blenders (though high-powered ones really shine in this arena) can grind nuts into nut butter, make mayonnaise, whip cream, and some can even grind grains into flour.

Once you’ve decided which type of appliance is right for you, here are some of the best on the market right now to choose from.

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    Ninja has made a number of innovative and popular blenders, while keeping prices affordable. This professional-style blender has 1,100 watts of power and three speeds, along with pulse and single serve functions, so you can blend everything efficiently. The 72-ounce pitcher is large enough, with a 64-ounce maximum capacity, to crush ice into snow for a pitcher of frozen margaritas or to make healthy morning smoothies for the whole family in one batch.

    This also includes two 16-ounce cups with...MORE to-go lids so you can make single drinks without dirtying the large container. The pitcher, cups, and lids are BPA free and dishwasher safe, so cleaning is easy.

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    If you’re looking for a blender that can handle just about anything you throw into it, this is the one you’re looking for. It has 10 speeds, a pulse button, and 10 programmed settings for self-cleaning, smoothies, hot soups, frozen desserts, and purees. Those settings start at a low speed and automatically increase to high speed for better, more consistent blending.

    If snow-like ice without any hard chunks is your dream, this blender can make that dream come true. You won’t end up with chunky...MORE drinks that won’t fit through a straw, or ice shards you have to chew. It can not only blend soup components, but it can heat them as well.

    The blender comes with a tamper that can be used while the blades are spinning, which is much safer than trying to use a spoon or spatula that could get caught in them.

    This model comes with a 64-ounce low-profile jar that makes it easier for the blender to fit under kitchen cabinets, but other jars are also available. While this can be used to grind grains occasionally, there is also an optional dry-blending container that’s designed for making flour from grain or cornmeal.

    A newer model at a higher price has touchscreen controls rather than the dial and buttons on this model.

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    If you don’t need fancy functions or a high-powered motor, this blender is a solid machine that will do a great job making milkshakes and smoothies, and it will do a decent job with frozen cocktails as well.

    It has a 40-ounce glass blender jar, multiple speeds, and high and low pulse functions, so you’ve got a total of 14 options for blending. While it won’t compete with the high-end blenders, it can handle the basic tasks that most people use blenders for.

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    Most food processors come with one or more slicing blades, but the slicing blade on this one is unique since it is adjustable. Even better, it can be adjusted from the outside of the appliance, so you can slice radishes thinly, then switch to a thicker slice for your cucumbers without having to take off the lid or switch the blade. The shredding disk is also reversible, so one blade can make small or large shreds, and a dicing kit is included.

    This processor can run at low or high speed, or it...MORE can pulse. It comes with both a 14-cup bowl and a 4-cup bowl for added flexibility. The bowls seal tightly against the lid, so there’s less chance of liquids splashing out or powdery ingredients drifting away.

    There are chopping blades for both bowls, plus a dough blade that fits the large bowl. There’s a flat lid that can be used when you don’t need to add ingredients during processing. And everything can be tucked away in the included storage container. 

    Continue to 5 of 6 below.
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    If you don’t want to spend a lot on a food processor, but want to keep all the features (and the size), try this model from Hamilton Beach. It doesn’t have quite as many frills and the motor is a bit less powerful, but if you’re only using your food processor occasionally, it will still do a fantastic job.

    This model has a reversible disk that slices on one side and shreds on the other, along with a separate French fry disk. It also includes a chopping blade, but it doesn’t come with a dough...MORE blade. This processor has three speeds, plus a pulse, so it can handle basic chopping, mixing, and shredding, but it might not be powerful enough for kneading stiff doughs.

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    Magimix by Robot-Coupe Food Processor, 16-Cup
    Courtesy of Williams-Sonoma.com.

    This large, 16-cup food processor has all the standard features, like two grating disks and two slicing disks along with an extra 12-cup and 6-cup bowl. It comes with two stainless steel blades (for the large and small bowls) along with a dough blade.

    The heavy duty motor allows it to knead stiff doughs or crush ice that other processors might struggle with, and this also has a few accessories that other food processors don’t.

    The blendermix adapter changes the way liquids move around the bowl so...MORE that it works more like a blender for making smoothies and shakes. A citrus press makes juicing oranges, lemons, and limes easier, and an egg whisk lets you whip up airy meringues.

    There are even more accessories you can buy, like a bread bowl for both kneading and baking bread, and a centrifugal juicer that fits in the bowl so you can juice fruits and vegetables.

    While this food processor doesn’t have a French fry slicer, and speeds are limited to auto, pulse, and stop, it does have options you can’t find in other processors. Finally, it comes with a storage box to hold all of the included accessories.

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