It’s easy to think that blenders and food processors are the same thing – not only do they have similar parts, but they also operate similarly. Both of them can chop and mix foods.
However, you can’t always use a blender instead of a food processor, as the blades and the intensity of the motor which powers the blades are significantly different.
The most noticeable difference between the two end results is texture. Which may be suitable for some recipes but not for others.
In this post I’ll explain more about what makes a blender and a food processor significantly different and what foods you might be able to mix in both with a similar outcome.
What Is A Blender?
A blender is an appliance used in the kitchen, and it helps turn solid ingredients into liquid form. Basically, it can emulsify, puree or mix various substances and create a liquid.
A rotating metal blade found at the bottom of the unit is the one helping with this process, as it crushes the ingredients you add in the container. There are models that can crush ice and frozen foods as well, as they are more powerful.
Blenders are so popular because they can be used to make cocktails, healthy drinks, and many other things. People who want to stick to a diet will find everything more convenient if they own a blender that can help them maintain that diet.
Blenders are of two types – countertop blenders and immersion blenders. Countertop ones are the common ones you might have been usually seeing in shops or someone else’s home. They have a blending container made of plastic, glass, or stainless steel, and blades meant to chop, crush and mix the ingredients inside for making the soft substance.
On the other hand, immersion blenders don’t have a container. Instead, they are hand-held units that you immerse in a separate container, and they do the same kind of thing as your typical blender. In general, they are used to deal with volumes that are simply too large or too hot to pour into a countertop blender’s container.
What Is A Food Processor?
Food processors are also very useful kitchen appliances. Just like a blender, they are meant to deal with various ingredients and chop, shred, slice, grind, and puree them. They are often used in households to help with cooking, by either simply cutting some ingredients really fast or mixing others.
In general, food processors come with a base where the motor is located, a bowl, a removable lid, and a sharp blade. Some machines come with bigger and stronger motors, making the base weigh more. Despite their heaviness, this can be a good thing as it makes the base sturdier and you would never worry about stability.
As you could tell, the bowl is where the food is introduced, and the blade is the one going to cut it. The knife is very powerful and can be used to cut various ingredients, including nuts, cheese, onions, and even cabbage, carrots, or potatoes.
Food processors can help you make your own sauces and the cool thing is that some models allow you to control how fine you chop the ingredients. Therefore, you can always obtain the desired effect and end up preparing your foods perfectly.
Additional attachments can be purchased for the food processor to allow it to perform multiple other actions. Some attachments you could get include an egg whip, a dough blade, a citrus juicer, a non-citrus juicer, a julienne disc, and a French fry disc.
How A Blender And A Food Processor Differ?
Below I’ll be explaining some of the specific ways in which a food processor and a blender differ;
Both units use blades to chop and mix foods, but the types of blades the units use are different.
Food processors use S-shaped blades sitting on the bottom of the bowl. They are used for chopping and mixing foods, and they can be either serrated or plain edged. With the plain-edged ones, you can obtain clean cuts. They’re often used for cutting vegetables or meat. Meanwhile, serrated blades can puree too, which makes them suitable to use with frozen ingredients or nut butter.
Blenders can have either “wing” blades or x-shaped blades. Wing ones are flat and have blunt edges, which are great at crushing ice and other hard ingredients from the container. In general, they are used to make smoothies or frozen drinks.
The bowls of the appliances are different too. For blenders, you will usually find them in round or square shape and made of plastic or glass. Whichever the material is, the container is meant to stir liquid inside, so the size is not usually that big. Not to mention that glass is sometimes preferred over plastic because it doesn’t absorb odors as easily as plastic does.
Food processors come with wider bowls, and that’s because they are meant to chop foods – so, you need something bigger that fits all ingredients inside. There is a possibility that some food processors come with multiple bowls – some smaller ones for simpler tasks, and bigger ones for more difficult tasks, and for more space to chop meat or vegetables.
Food processors and blenders come with their own accessories, and they are different from each other. Blenders will usually come with go-cups and jars for the drinks you’re making. On the other hand, food processors come with multiple types of blades that can be used depending on the task. Some are meant to chop vegetables, others can cut bread. These accessories can sometimes be purchased separately as not all of them are always included with the product.
Is a Blender Better than a Food Processor?
Well, whether a blender is better compared to a food processor or not depends on the task. Although one could argue one is better than the other, there are simply some tasks that one appliance does better.
So, in some situations, blenders can indeed be much better than food processors. Here are some situations for comparison:
Hummus and Purees
If you’re planning to make yourself some hummus, for instance, a food processor is the more appropriate appliance. There is simply more space in the container to make it work. Blenders can be used too, but the size is just too small which is why a food processor is better. In a blender, you would keep having to add more oil.
For salsa, a food processor is again the better appliance. You can make it in the blender too if you want, but a food processor allows you to control the size of the chopped ingredients in a much better way.
Do you like making pies regularly? If that’s the case, a food processor is a better alternative when making it. It helps quickly cut cold butter into flour, which makes the process much better and easier overall.
For soups, the blender is the better alternative. Although in some situations you can also make soup in a food processor, it’s not exactly recommended. The blender can make the soup quicker and easier. You can either use the regular, countertop blender or use an immersion one in the pot where the ingredients where cooked. If you want to puree or heat your soup, then the blender should be your choice.
It’s better to use a blender to make an icy drink because that’s one of its main “jobs”. Aside from that, ice can also be crushed with blenders, so it’s easier. If you’re a fan of milkshakes or fruit cocktails, you can rest assured that your blender will do an impeccable job.
There’s no doubt that a blender will do a better job at making a smoothie than a food processor. After all, that’s what blenders are known for, right? If you’re planning to stick to a diet that includes smoothies, then better have a blender in your arsenal. You wouldn’t be able to make them with a food processor.
Can You Use a Blender Instead of a Food Processor?
A blender can be used instead of a food processor when it comes to liquids. Drinks or soups are much safer to make with a blender, and they will also have the right consistency. Food processors don’t always have the ability to make drinks or soups the same way, which is why a blender is the better option out of the two.
With food processors, making soups can be pretty tricky as if you overfill the container, it can start leaking, and you definitely don’t want that. Let’s not mention the fact that although it can chop various ingredients, it can’t puree them as blenders do.
So, when it comes to smoothies, drinks or soups, you must use a blender instead of a food processor because the latter is simply not suitable for the job.
Also, blenders can be used instead of food processors as long as you add a certain amount of ingredients inside – that’s because they don’t have the same capacity as a food processor. The blades used in food processors are much sharper, which helps chop the ingredients properly. On the other hand, blenders don’t have such sharp blades – so, they won’t be able to deal with the same amount of ingredients. The container is also not as big as the one used for food processors, so it instantly limits the number of ingredients you can add inside at once.
How to Use a Blender Instead of a Food Processor?
If you still want to use a blender instead of a food processor, there are some tricks you should know. First of all, you should add multiple batches of ingredients inside, instead of one large batch. You will have to operate more batches one after the other if you need to make more food. In general, you should use half of the ingredients used in a traditional food processor. As you keep working your way up, you will obtain the desired result as the consistency will end up being even.
If you add too many ingredients into your blender at once, they will not be mixed and chopped properly and will not have the same consistency – thus, they might ruin your recipe. Basically, the food at the bottom of the pitcher will have one texture, whereas the one on top will have a different one. So, to avoid an uneven mixture, you should just add the ingredients slowly, in smaller groups, and work each portion individually, and consecutively.
Then, using the right settings is just as important. Blenders come with different speeds to give different results. Your typical blender will only have three speeds, but there are other models that can have more, such as six. The speed setting you use depends on what you’re trying to achieve with the blender.
Are you just trying to chop some ingredients? If that’s the case, you should use the lowest speed setting. The highest one will end up crushing them, and that would be too much for what you’re trying to achieve.
On the other hand, if you want to puree your ingredients, the highest setting will do the job.
It all depends on your particular blender so make sure you test the appliance with a small part of the ingredients when you try using it as a food processor. This will allow you to see the results you would get with various speed settings and you will know what to do from that point forward.
Also, make sure you’re not using the blender for slicing, grating, or shredding food. Whereas you can chop the ingredients to some extent, obtaining bigger slices is not possible unless you have a food processor with the right blades. So, if that’s what you’re trying to get, you should manually cut the ingredients with a knife, or use the food processor.
You can only use the blender for chopping or making a puree out of the ingredients. If you remember this, using the blender as a replacement for the food processor will go as intended.