In most kitchens, you will find either a blender or a food processor and sometimes both. While both appliances share some similarities as they are both motorized tools meant to combine ingredients with a blade, these devices are not interchangeable, and each has a specific role in the kitchen.
You do not need a blender and a food processor unless you want to make a wide range of recipes. Blenders are better for smoothies, iced drinks, and soups. Food processors make a better hummus, pesto, and salsa. The differences between them include the bowl shape and blade style.
This article will detail the differences between the two kitchen appliances and go over a few foods that work well and some recipes to avoid in each. By the end, you should have a better idea of whether you should have both or if one will do the trick.
An Overview: Blenders
Blenders are great kitchen appliances, especially for smoothies, soups, and fancy cocktails, as this appliance is designed predominantly to liquefy or puree ingredients, from the motor to the shape of the blade to the container.
The tall, elongated bowl shape makes the ingredients swirl around much better, producing ideal smoothie or soup consistencies. The narrow bottom of the blender uses gravity to create a vortex with your ingredients, pulling them down towards the blade until they are all blended, which is why blenders do not perform well with solid foods.
A blender will do the trick if the liquid is involved.
Important Components Of Blenders
Typically, when choosing a blender, you have a few options of bowl types to choose from. Most blenders have either a plastic or glass container in a circular or square shape. The differences mostly come down to preferences, although glass is heavier, it is easier to clean. Plastic blenders are much more likely to absorb odors and colors from your foods.
The other most significant difference between blenders and food processors is the blade type, which comes with either an X-shaped blade or a Wing blade.
You have likely seen blenders with X-shaped blades, as these are the most common in household blenders, which have four blenders that look a little bit like a star. The more expensive blenders will have six blades, which is more efficient than four blades.
Because the efficiency of the blender relies on food coming into contact with the blades, the six edges are viewed as preferable, although less common.
Wing blades are better for making smoothies or crushing ice, as they have four flat blades with blunt edges, whose ends point either up or down. More advanced blenders come with multiple blades, allowing you to swap them depending on what you are making. However, most blade types will still blend what you need them to blend.
The last thing to consider is the motor power.
Most blenders will not reach a power higher than 1475 watts at maximum power, although this is slightly higher than that of food processors. The higher power is mainly because its primary purpose is to liquify cooked or already softened foods. Because it must completely liquefy them, it requires more power than the food processor.
Best Uses For A Blender
Some foods do much better in blenders over food processors.
A few examples are:
- Smoothies that contain honeydew and almond, strawberry banana, mango, and pineapple.
- Soups, such as baked potato soup, carrot soup, or roasted tomato soup.
- Sauces, such as hollandaise, chimichurri, or alfredo.
- Purees, such as pumpkin, plum, or apple. You can also make baby food in your kitchen blender.
There are also some things that you should avoid in a blender, such as:
- Cauliflower rice
- Pie crusts
- Anything with butter
Types of Blenders
There are several types of blenders on the market today, each with a specific purpose. Let’s take a look at the different types of blenders, their purpose, and a quick pro and con.
Countertop blenders are the classic blender that you think about when you envision a blender. They are great for large quantities of foods or liquids because the containers tend to be 64 ounces or larger. They don’t perform well with hot liquids because their seals don’t hold as well when exposed to heat.
The biggest drawback to a countertop blender is its size, but its multiple blending options and power make them a great kitchen appliance.
2. Immersion Blenders
Immersion blenders are best suited for creamy soups and quick sauces that you want to keep in the cooking pot. They have quite a different look than a counter blender in that they don’t have a container for the liquids. Instead, it is a long stick with a protected blade at the end that is inserted into your food.
This type of blender is perfect for soups, protein shakes, and instant jello. While they are easy to clean, they have an exposed blade, so be careful.
3. Single-Serve Blenders
Single-serve blenders have become popular in recent years, particularly the NutriBullet brand. While this type of blender can make smoothies, baby food, and small soup portions, they are too small to use for family-sized portions. They also have a unique process because you put the ingredients in the container, close it, and attach that to the blade portion.
4. Portable Blenders
Portable blenders are the newest fad in the blender world because they are so small that you can throw them in your diaper bag, purse, or gym. You can bring the ingredients with you, toss them in your bag, and have a freshly made smoothie on the go. However, ensure both ends are tight to avoid spills and take all of your utensils out before blending.
An Overview: Food Processor
The food processor is one of the most versatile kitchen appliances available today. They have sharper blades, allowing them to chop, shred, slice your more coarse and solid foods like nuts, cheeses, and doughs.
It has a much different shape of a bowl compared to a blender and tends to be much larger and with a larger mouth, perfect for larger pieces of food. When you decide between these two appliances, remember that food processors do much better with more dry ingredients and whole foods.
Important Components of a Food Processor
The wider bowl on a food processor makes it much easier to add ingredients while your foods are getting chopped. For example, you might add more flour to your dough or more basil to your pesto as the blade is turning. The bowl size and shape also make it easier to scrape the sides of the bowl, which becomes necessary as you add more ingredients.
You can also make homemade mayo while slowly pouring your oil through the spout on the lid while running the processor.
Food processors are more likely to come with different container attachments for different jobs. You might want a small food processor if you are chopping nuts for a pie, but a larger bowl would be better if you are making salsa for a dinner party.
As mentioned previously, the blades are the other big difference between food processors and blenders. Food processors have only one type of blade, which is an S blade that is shaped like an S and sits close to the base of the container.
Food processors often come with two blade attachments. One is smooth, while the other one is serrated. The serrated blade is better for nuts or frozen ingredients, while the plain blade is suitable for vegetables and meats. They have a slightly less powerful motor than blenders, peaking at 1300 watts.
Their super sharp blades are enough to slice through all of the foods you need shredded or chopped.
Best Uses For Food Processor
Some foods do much better in food processors over blenders.
A few examples are:
- Salsa, such as classic pico de gallo, mango salsa, or pineapple salsa.
- Pie crusts, such as this recipe by Inspired taste.
- Dips like hummus, creamy avocado dip, feta dip, or roasted eggplant dip.
- Chopped nuts for pies, salads, and soups.
- Homemade mayonnaise or other sauces that need a continuous ingredient feed.
There are also some things that you should avoid in the food processor, such as smoothies or soups, due to the excessive liquid content.
Types Of Food Processors
Fewer varieties of food processors exist, perhaps because they are already so versatile.
The main difference between models of food processors is their size and attachments, as some come with blades or lids with a chute to toss in ingredients safely while the blade is spinning. Let’s take a look at the different variations in food processors, their purpose, and a brief pro and con.
1.Mini Food Processors
Mini food processors are incredibly powerful and compact appliances, perfect for couples or people who may only want to process small quantities at a time. While the main drawback of this is the quantity of food you can process, it is easy to store and perfect for small kitchens.
And if you want to try a new recipe without wasting food, a mini food processor is ideal for this purpose.
2. A Full-Sized Food Processor
A full-sized food processor is more likely to come with multiple attachments such as blades or specialty shredding discs, or even a dough hook. Many of them can hold up to seven cups in volume, which is better suited for family meals or when you’re cooking in bulk for the week.
This type of food processor is a bit more expensive, although well worth the investment if you plan on using it a lot.
3. All-in-One Food Processors
All-in-one food processors are the final option, and as the name suggests, they are the most versatile of the food processors, as they can blend, chop, and mix all types of foods efficiently. While they tend to be more expensive than the other types, you might save money in the long run if you have to buy fewer kitchen appliances.
You can also choose between electric or hand-operated food processors.
Electric processors are the most common types, but hand-operated food processors have plenty of benefits. Hand-operated processors allow you to take it camping or anywhere you might want to prepare food without electricity. But they are not strong enough to chop large amounts of food at one time, so that is one limiting factor to consider.
Electric food processors are extremely powerful and can process almost anything you throw its way. The biggest drawback to these versatile kitchen appliances is the price tag, but it may be worth it for avid chefs.
How Are They Similar?
Despite several significant differences between these two kitchen appliances, they both have some similarities. Most notably, they are both motorized kitchen appliances that use a blade to blend foods.
They also include two main components, including a base where the motor is located and the bowl or container where the ingredients go, which also houses the blade.
Both products typically have multiple speed settings to adjust the power and strength depending on your recipe. For example, the blender might have buttons for specific purposes like crushed iced, puree, or blend, whereas a food processor might only have varying levels of power and pulse options.
Even though some foods or recipes will certainly do better in a blender or a food processor, some types of food can be made on both appliances. For example, some dips and sauces do well in both the blender and the food processor.